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'Unfortunately, we are still number one': KFL&A reaches 1557 active COVID-19 cases – Kingstonist

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Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for Kingston, Frontenac and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, speaks at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021.
Screenshot by Yona Harvey.

With 154 new COVID-19 cases, 1,557 active, and two new school outbreaks, the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) region still has the highest rate of COVID-19 infections in the country, according to Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for KFL&A Public Health.

“Unfortunately, we are still number one on that table,” Oglaza said at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021. “There is strong evidence that there is spread happening throughout the community. The predominant variant is Omicron.”

Despite high testing rates, the KFL&A region also continues to see a very high positivity rate of around seven per cent. What that indicates is that there is significant community spread, and that there may be a number of cases that have not been reported yet.

Oglaza warned that the incubation period of the new Omicron variant is as early as two days. That means that if someone was exposed to the virus, they start being symptomatic in two days and are already transmitting the virus to others — There might be significant spread already occurring from that one case and their contacts before they get tested, Oglaza explained.

“We might be reaching a point where contact management will have diminishing returns. The message to the public is to stay home when sick. It is now [even] more important with the Omicron variant.”

According to Dr. Oglaza, the rate of infection in KFL&A—as of end of day yesterday—is 500 cases per 100,000 people, with the cases of infection highest in the 18 to 29 age group.

“The incubation period of the new Omicron variant is as early as two days. That means that if someone was exposed to the virus, they start being symptomatic in two days and are already transmitting the virus to others.”

– Dr. Piotr Oglaza, MOH, KFL&A Public Health

“We continue to see the spread among the younger demographic. The reality with the spread among [those aged] 18 to 29 [is that] this is the segment of population who value social interactions. They are less likely to be sick, [and are] likely to engage in social interactions, despite symptoms. We urge those individuals to be really mindful of symptoms and not engage in social interaction while symptomatic. That is the key to slowing this spread,” the MOH explained.

Another way to minimize the impact of the Omicron variant is through booster shots, Oglaza said. KFL&A has so far administered over 56,000 doses for third dose coverage.

“That is a high number considering that third dose roll-out started only recently. On December 20, we administered 9,000 doses throughout the region in one day,” he said,noting that the region has also reached a milestone 90 per cent first dose vaccine coverage for its population who are five years and older.

For those individuals who tried to get the third dose of the vaccine, but were unsuccessful, Oglaza had this to say: “Please, please be patient with us. We will get that third dose to you. We have sufficient doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Our clinics and other avenues are not impacted by [shortage of supplies]. I’m pleased to see the strong demand for third doses.”

Indoor gatherings pose the highest risk for the spread of the virus. Oglaza acknowledged that many individuals in the community have already altered their holiday plans.

“We know that many individuals are planning a cautious approach. Those who are fully vaccinated—the vaccines (will) prevent severe disease, but we will still see spread happening,” he said.

Dr. Oglaza advised that anyone who feels sick needs to self-isolate, whether or not they are tested, as “they are most infectious when they are symptomatic. For those [who test[ positive, the most at-risk are household contacts.”

Ultimately, according to the MOH, it is up to the public to take the advice of the KFL&A Public Health. He offered “three principles” for all KFL&A residents to follow with Christmas weekend ahead.

“Protect themselves, protect each other, protect the community,” Dr. Oglaza stated. “I trust that we can do that in this community.”

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Canada Dec retail sales seen down as COVID restrictions bite

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Canadian retail sales most likely fell by 2.1% in December as authorities imposed restrictions to fight the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and retailers faced challenges, Statistics Canada predicted on Friday.

Statscan also said retail sales rose 0.7% in November, which was less than the 1.2% gain forecast by analysts.

The flash estimate for December was based on responses from 50.6% of companies surveyed. The average response rate is 90.0%.

Statscan also said some shoppers decided to pull forward their purchases to November to avoid shortages caused by endemic supply chain issues.

Andrew Grantham, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said the December dip was a little larger than he had expected.

“Bricks-and-mortar retailers will have likely continued to struggle in January due to Omicron-related restrictions and staff shortages,” he said in a note.

This weakness, he suggested, might “tip the scales slightly” in terms of persuading the Bank of Canada to hold steady when it makes a rate announcement on Jan 26. Money markets see about a 70% chance that the central bank will lift its key overnight rate from the current record low 0.25%. {BOCWATCH]

The bank has previously said it could raise rates as early as soon as April.

Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics, said the December decrease in sales was likely to be more than 2.1%, given the rapid spread of Omicron that month.

November’s gain was fueled by higher sales at gasoline stations, and at building materials and gardening equipment and supplies dealers.

Sales rose in six of 11 subsectors, representing 63.8% of retail trade. In volume terms, retail sales edged up 0.2%.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.1% lower at 1.2520 to the greenback, or 79.87 U.S. cents.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Fergal Smith in Toronto; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Canada's energy patch sees 'significant' boost in investment – BNN

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Investment in Canada’s oil and natural gas industry will rise 22 per cent this year to $32.8 billion (US$26.3 billion) amid higher prices for hydrocarbons, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The $6 billion gain in investment marks the second straight year of “significant” increases, the oil and gas industry association said Thursday in a report. Spending on Canadian energy is rising as U.S. oil prices surge to their highest in seven years. West Texas Intermediate futures are trading at more than US$85 a barrel and natural gas up about 60 per cent in the last year amid an energy demand recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Investment in Canadian oil sands, the world’s third largest oil reserves, will jump by a third to $11.6 billion while investment in conventional oil and gas will climb 17 per cent to $21.2 billion from last year.

Still, CAPP warned that Canada is losing out to other energy-producing regions. Canada was viewed as a “top tier” jurisdiction for international investment in 2014, when it attracted $81 billion or more than 10 per cent of global upstream gas and oil investment. Forecasts suggest Canada’s market share has fallen to 6 per cent — a drop that represents more than US$21 billion in potential investment. 

This year’s investment growth will leave the industry about where it was in 2018, before the pandemic slashed demand, Tim McMillan, CAPP’s president and chief executive officer, said by phone.

Many Canadian energy companies, similar to their U.S. peers, are paying down debt and returning cash windfalls from oil price gains to shareholders through stock buybacks and higher dividends as investors seek higher returns over growth. Meanwhile, concern about the impact of higher-than-average carbon emissions from Canada’s oil sands prompted some banks and funds to pull investment from the industry in recent years.

“There has been pressure put on the banking industry and through other mechanisms, which is pushing investment to other jurisdictions,” McMillan said.

Investment in Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil industry will rise about 6.7 per cent to $1.6 billion this year, according to CAPP. In comparison, the Gulf of Mexico’s offshore investment is expected to jump 21 per cent to $13.1 billion this year.

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Peloton stock is crashing on reports it's halting production of bikes and treadmills – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The bad news flywheel continues to be spinning in warp speed at Peloton (PTON). 

Shares of Peloton crashed 24% to $24.22 on Thursday after a CNBC report that the struggling fitness company would temporarily halt production of its bikes and treadmills due to sluggish consumer demand. Shares fell below the company’s September 2019 IPO price of $29. 

The company will reportedly stop producing its bikes for two months and treadmills for six weeks. 

A Peloton spokeswoman didn’t return Yahoo Finance’s request for comment. 

“Peloton’s inventory build at the end of last quarter made it clear that they were still operating a supply demand mismatch. Unfortunately, unlike the pandemic, this time supply meaningfully outpaced demand,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel told Yahoo Finance. 

Siegel has been a long-time bear on Peloton with an Underperform rating on its stock. 

Shares are now down 30% in December amid bad headlines from a product placement in the new “Sex and the City” reboot. One of the show’s lead characters, Mr. Big, suffers a heart attack after a Peloton bike ride at the end of its premiere episode. 

Earlier, Peloton’s stock crashed more than 30% on Nov. 5 after the company said that connected fitness subscribers of 2.49 million was roughly in-line with analyst estimates. The number of workouts on the platform trended lower for the second consecutive quarter. Sales fell well short of analyst estimates, and the company posted a wider loss than expected.

Peloton also slashed its full-fiscal year outlook.

The company sees full-year sales of $4.4 billion to $4.8 billion, down sharply from $5.4 billion previously. Peloton expected a full-year adjusted operating loss of $425 million to $475 million. The company had expected an operating loss of $325 million.

Shares are down 83% in the past year.

More bad news could be right around the corner: Peloton’s earnings release on Feb. 8. 

“We expect that guidance, if given, will be kitchen-sinked at this point and await more color on these various news items on the call,” Macquarie analyst Paul Golding said. Golding rates Peloton at outperform with an $85 price target, which assumes 254% upside from current price levels.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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