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Three new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday – The Kingston Whig-Standard

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Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health. (Steph Crosier/The Whig-Standard)

Steph Crosier / Steph Crosier/Kingston Whig-Stan

After reporting zero new cases of COVID-19 on Canada Day, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health added three cases to its total on Thursday.

The additional cases bring the region to 33 total active cases, and 150 contacts of those cases who are actively being monitoring. More than 600 people have been asked to self-isolate as a result of the outbreak.

Dr. Kieran Moore, local medical officer of health, said that only one of the three new cases was linked to the recent outbreak at Binh’s Nail and Spa in the west end of Kingston. One was connected to Georgia Nail salon in Amherstview and the other was linked to a returning traveller from Europe, which Moore said public health believes to be an independent case.

As well, another individual who tested positive — but wasn’t a part of the three cases reported Thursday — had no exposure to Binh’s but has been in contact with individuals from the Greater Toronto Area. Public health is pursuing contact tracing on the matter.

“We’ll continue to investigate this new case, which we cannot find any association with the (Binh’s) outbreak in our community. … That investigation is still ongoing,” Moore said.

One person is currently in the intensive care unit at Kingston Health Sciences Centre receiving supplemental oxygen after testing positive, according to Moore, but is not intubated. The case was connected to the Binh’s Nail salon outbreak.

“I’m sure our community wants the best outcome with this individual and sends our best wishes to the family,” Moore said.

Moore said 746 people were tested on Canada Day, which solely operated at the temporary drive-through testing clinic at St. Lawrence College. Over the past two weeks, nearly 5,000 people have been tested.

Public health is still investigating where the outbreak at Binh’s salon started. Moore said there is still no conclusive evidence regarding how COVID-19 started spreading through the salon, maintaining the position that it’s most likely a result of community spread.

“That’s still a question. We’re fairly confident that the individuals who visited there didn’t bring it with them, and we’re now looking at the travel and contact history of the individual workers,” he said.

Kingston Police are currently investigating whether Binh’s Nail Salon was operating before the non-essential business shutdown was lifted on June 12.

In contacting every individual who’s required to self-isolate, Moore said many bring new information regarding possible areas of transmission every day.

“New information comes to light every day that we try to validate and verify every day … the first time someone’s interviewed, they may not have recalled every single event, so we accumulate more and more information all the time,” he said. “It is fluid; it is ongoing.”

While the number of cases in the region continues to slowly grow, Moore said the risk of infection remains low and that the community “must remain vigilant.”

“This recent second wave peaked, in our opinion, on June 25. … We have not seen it propagating heavily in our community,” he said.

Public health unit said that those who visited Georgia Nail salon between June 12 and 25 and have tested negative for the virus are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Given this evidence that exposure was more significant than we thought, we’re asking all those individuals to isolate themselves … our nurses will be back in contact with them to make sure they adhere to (the requirements),” Moore said.

Last week, all Binh’s clients — the nucleus of the initial outbreak — were required to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.

Earlier this week, one employee of Georgia Nail salon tested positive for the virus and had been a contact of a worker from Binh’s. On Thursday, public health confirmed the employee had provided services to the public.

“The first employee at Georgia’s … there was a clear connection back to Binh’s. We’re not sure of the second employee at Georgia’s of their relation to Binh’s, but we know they must have had interactions with their (co-worker),” Moore said.

Public health hasn’t confirmed whether the second employee had provided service to the public.

On Tuesday, one case was linked to Amherstview Golf Club, but public health hasn’t had any further positive tests connected to the club. As such, it will remain open for the time being.

“If there’s any further exposure there, we may make (testing and isolation) a requirement, but at present, we always thought that risk was low given it was an outdoor environment, predominantly. Our investigation is ongoing with that situation,” Moore said.

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U.S. vaccination rate hits the highest pace in weeks – CTV News

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The rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States continues to rise, a positive sign amid skyrocketing cases and hospitalizations after weeks of lagging inoculations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday that 816,203 additional doses were administered, the fifth straight day the agency recorded more than 700,000 shots in arms. That brings the total number of doses administered to 346,456,669, according to the CDC numbers released Sunday.

The seven-day average of administered doses is now 662,529 per day, the highest average since July 7.

Additionally, Sunday was the third day in a row that the seven-day average of people getting their first shots topped 400,000. The last time that metric was over 400,000 was the July Fourth weekend.

That’s still less than a quarter of the peak in mid-April, when nearly 2 million people were getting their first shot each day.

If the U.S. picked up vaccinations to the April pace, it would take only a month and a half to reach all eligible people.

Per CDC data released Sunday, 168.4 million people are fully vaccinated, or 49.6% of the U.S. population. Among vaccine-eligible Americans — meaning those who are 12 and older — 58.1% are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, hopes the recent surge in cases driven by the Delta variant is changing the minds of the vaccine hesitant, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday. Collins noted that in the last two weeks, vaccination rates have increased 56% nationally.

“This may be a tipping point for those who have been hesitant to say, ‘OK, it’s time,'” Collins said. “I hope that’s what’s happening. That’s what desperately needs to happen if we’re going to get this Delta variant put back in its place.”

Overall, the seven-day average of people becoming fully vaccinated each day is at 247,385 people per day.

Twenty states have now fully vaccinated more than half of their residents, including Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state, as well as Washington, DC.

On the other hand, the states with the lowest percentage of their population vaccinated are Alabama and Mississippi, which have 34% and 35% of their residents vaccinated, respectively.

Correction: An earlier version of this story and headline gave the wrong timing for when the doses were administered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the additional doses Sunday, but it’s not clear when they were all administered.

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Delta spreads 'like wildfire' as doctors study whether it makes patients sicker – CTV News

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LOS ANGELES —
With a new wave of COVID-19 infections fuelled by the Delta variant striking countries worldwide, disease experts are scrambling to learn whether the latest version of coronavirus is making people – mainly the unvaccinated – sicker than before.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Delta, first identified in India and now dominant worldwide, is “likely more severe” than earlier versions of the virus, according to an internal report made public on Friday.

The agency cited research in Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing that people infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients earlier in the pandemic.

In interviews with Reuters, disease experts said the three papers suggest a greater risk from the variant, but the study populations are limited and the findings have not yet been reviewed by outside experts. Doctors treating patients infected with Delta described a more rapid onset of COVID-19 symptoms, and in many regions an overall increase serious cases.

But the experts said more work is needed to compare outcomes among larger numbers of individuals in epidemiologic studies to sort out whether one variant causes more severe disease than another.

“It’s difficult to pin down increase in severity and population bias,” said Lawrence Young, a virologist at the UK’s Warwick Medical School.

In addition, it is likely that the extraordinary rate of Delta transmission is also contributing to a greater number of severe cases arriving at hospitals, the experts said.

Delta is as contagious as chickenpox and far more contagious than the common cold or flu, according to the CDC report.

Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, said the clearest indication that the variant may cause more severe disease comes from the Scotland study, which found that Delta roughly doubled the risk of hospitalization compared to an earlier version.

The majority of hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus in the United States are occurring in people who have not been vaccinated. But there is evidence that the shots are less effective in people with compromised immune systems, including the elderly.

For vaccinated, otherwise healthy individuals, the odds are that if they contract COVID-19 they will only experience asymptomatic or mild disease, said Dr. Gregory Poland, infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic.

“But they can pass it on to family members and others who may not be so lucky,” Poland said. “We have to be vaccinated and masked or we will, for the fourth time now, endure another surge and out of that will come worse variants.”

‘FULL-ON FLAMES’

The rate of severe illness, especially in regions where vaccination rates are low, is again straining healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

“This is like a wildfire, this is not a smouldering campfire. It is full-on flames right now,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control at Colorado’s UCHealth.

Research from China suggesting that the Delta variant replicates much faster and generates 1,000 times more virus in the body compared to the original strain highlights the biggest danger of this new wave, Barron said.

“It is hard to tell if they are more sick because of the Delta variant or if they would have been more sick anyway,” she said.

Other doctors said patients infected with Delta appear to become ill more quickly, and in some cases with more severe symptoms, than those they treated earlier in the pandemic.

“We are seeing more patients requiring oxygen sooner,” said Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer at American Family Care, a 28-state chain of urgent care clinics.

At his clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, Barlow said that around 20 per cent of patients are testing positive for COVID-19, compared with two to three per cent a few weeks ago. Patients are assessed at that time for potential hospital admission and oxygen support.

David Montefiori, director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development at Duke University Medical Center, said the Delta variant is more infectious and leads to faster onset of illness – particularly for the unvaccinated.

“Frankly there’s a severity that comes from this variant that is a little more severe,” Montefiori said on a webcast last week. “It’s not just easier to transmit, it makes you sicker.”

(Reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles, Josephine Mason in London and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Daniel Wallis)

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COVID-19: Canada to receive 2.3 million Pfizer vaccine doses this week – GuelphToday

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OTTAWA — The federal government is expecting to receive more than 2.3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, as public health officials brace for a potential fourth wave of infections.

Ottawa has already received more than 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, enough to fully immunize all eligible Canadians.

As of Tuesday, the federal government had 6.7 million COVID-19 vaccines in its national reserve, an amount that provinces and territories can draw from if they need more doses.

The new COVID-19 vaccine shipments come as Canada’s top doctor warns that the country could be headed towards a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases if public health restrictions are lifted before vaccination rates pick up.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Dr. Theresa Tam said an updated national modelling for the pandemic trajectory suggests that the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 could drive a fourth wave of infections.

“The trajectory will depend on ongoing increase in fully vaccinated coverage and the timing, pace and extent of reopening,” Tam said.

“While some resurgence is expected as measures are eased, this updated model shows that if we maintain current levels of community-wide contacts, we would expect to see a modest increase in cases.”

Tam said the country could see a high increase of COVID-19 infections if reopening continues quickly before enough people are fully immunized.

“We could expect to see a sharp resurgence by the end of the summer,” she said.

She said the new forecast “reaffirms the need to take a cautious approach to relaxing public health measures to remain vigilant and responsive to signs of resurgence and to continue to increase first and second dose vaccine coverage.”

Canada reported an average of 640 new cases over the past seven days, she said, which is still 93 per cent lower than the peak of the third wave.

As of Friday, 80.3 per cent of those eligible had received a first dose, while 63.7 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

Tam said the country has made “great progress” on vaccinating those who are eligible over the last month, but there is a need to increase numbers of vaccinated even more.

“This means increasing fully vaccinated coverage above 80 per cent across all age groups and particularly in younger age groups where most of the transmission is occurring.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2021.

——

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

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