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Why some snowbirds are still heading south this winter despite COVID-19 and a closed land border

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Despite the U.S. having the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases, Canadian snowbird Elizabeth Evans is determined to head south next month. That’s because her only winter home is parked at an RV resort in Williston, Florida.

“I don’t have a [winter] home here,” said Evans, who’s currently living in her summer trailer at a campground in Niagara Falls. “I don’t have any winter clothes.”

Evans is one of a number of snowbirds set on going to the U.S. this winter, despite the ongoing pandemic. But getting there may not be easy: To help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to non-essential traffic until at least Oct. 21.

Evans believes the closure will be extended, so she plans to fly to Florida on Oct. 30 — two days before the campground where she’s living closes for the season.

“There’s no way I am staying here,” she said. “Even if I had to get on the plane buck-naked, I’d be on it.”

 

Elizabeth Evans and friend Susan Walley at at RV resort in Williston, Florida, where Evans lives during the winters. (Submitted by Elizabeth Evans)

 

The Canadian Snowbird Association — which has more than 110,000 members — said it’s hard to gauge at this point what percentage of its members will actually head south this winter.

Some snowbirds have already nixed their plans, while others are undecided.

“A significant portion of them are in a holding pattern, just to see what shakes out at the land border,” said spokesperson Evan Rachkovsky.

WATCH | Alberta snowbirds planning to spend winter at home:

 

Snowbirds who would normally be preparing to head off for warmer climates are now stuck in Alberta preparing for winter thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 3:32

Some experts predict the Canada-U.S. land border could stay closed to non-essential travel until the new year.

Although Canadians can still fly to the U.S., Rachkovsky said many snowbirds won’t go without their cars but can’t afford the big fees — between $1,500 and $6,000 — to ship their vehicles.

“It’s not really an option for some of them to fly.”

 

Elizabeth Evans’ RV, which is parked year-round at an RV resort in Williston, Florida. (Submitted by Elizabeth Evans)

 

Evans is one of those who would typically drive down to the U.S., which allowed her to transport her household supplies in her truck. She said she’s can’t ship her truck packed with luggage, so this year she’s leaving it behind, along with many household necessities.

But she’s still bent on going to the U.S., even as health experts warn of a possible surge of COVID-19 cases in the fall.

Evans said she plans to take precautionary measures such as social distancing and keep to her RV resort.

“I will take the risk because I know how to protect myself, and everybody — at least in my resort — follows the rules,” she said. “I’m more concerned about falling off my bicycle than I am of COVID.”

Escape winter while isolating

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said so far less than 10 per cent of his snowbird clients have made firm plans to go south this winter. He said those who are going say they will aim to avoid crowds, just as they would in Canada during the pandemic.

“They’re going to be prisoners in their developments or their condos,” said Firestone, with Travel Secure in Toronto. “They’re saying, ‘I guess I’d rather sit down in Florida than sit here in Ontario and face the harsh climate.'”

 

Perry Cohen said he and his wife, Rose, plan to take all necessary precautions when they head to their condo this winter in Deerfield Beach, Florida. (Submitted by Perry Cohen)

 

That about sums up Perry Cohen’s itinerary. The snowbird — who is one of Firestone’s clients — aims to head to his condo in Deerfield Beach, Fla., in early December as long as the COVID-19 case count remains low in that area.

Cohen, who lives in Toronto, said he plans to take the necessary precautions and stick to his gated community — all while enjoying the warm weather.

“Why would I want to be cooped up here when I can be there, out in the sunshine, in the fresh air?” he said. “You have more positives to go than to stay here.”

Cohen also plans to fly to Florida and has a car parked at his condo. He said an added reassurance for him is that he can now purchase COVID-19 medical insurance — just in case he or his wife did get the virus.

“I like a complete package to know I’m looked after [if], God forbid, I have a problem.”

COVID-19 medical coverage returns

Several travel insurance providers recently restarted selling COVID-19 medical coverage, after dropping it in March when the pandemic began its global spread

Firestone said that even with the coverage, snowbirds could face problems if the community where they’re living has an outbreak.

“The hospitals will get filled, the intensive care units will get filled, and then the fun will begin, regardless of whether you have insurance or not.”

Cohen argues Canada could also experience overrun hospitals. Currently, COVID-19 case numbers are surging in Ontario and Quebec.

“You take a chance and go, because we can have the same problem here.”

Source:- CBC.ca

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Oil prices rise on Middle East tensions; crude stock build caps gains – CNBC

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Oil pump under the blue sky with beam pumping unit in the oil field.
Zheng Zaishuru | iStock | Getty Images

Oil prices edged higher on Thursday, supported by tensions in the Middle East, but failed to regain most of the previous day’s losses after a surprise build in crude stockpiles in the United States, the world’s top oil consumer.

Brent crude oil futures rose by 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $70.52 a barrel by 0132 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures increased by 18 cents, or 0.3%, to $68.33 a barrel. Both benchmarks fell by more than $2 a barrel on Wednesday.

Israeli aircraft struck what its military said were rocket launch sites in south Lebanon early on Thursday in response to earlier projectile fire towards Israel from Lebanese territory.

Two rockets launched from Lebanon on Wednesday struck Israel, which initially responded with artillery fire amid heightened regional tensions over an alleged Iranian attack on an oil tanker in the Gulf last week.

The exchange came after an attack last Thursday that Israel blamed on Iran on a tanker off the coast of Oman. Two crew members, a Briton and a Romanian, were killed. Iran denied any involvement.

The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday it believed Iranians hijacked the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess tanker in the Gulf of Oman but was not in a position to confirm.

Helping check gains, a rise in locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in China, the world’s second largest oil consumer, that has prompted restrictions in some cities and cancellation of flights is threatening demand, analysts said.

Prices also fell steeply in the previous session after the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude stockpiles rose by an unexpected 3.6 million barrels last week.

Still, some analysts pointed to a bigger-than-forecast 5.3 million barrel fall in fuel stockpiles.

“The fall in U.S. gasoline stockpiles to the lowest level since November 2020 suggests that fuel demand conditions in the U.S. are still quite resilient,” analysts from Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a note on Thursday.

The bank expects Brent oil prices to rise to $85 a barrel by the fourth quarter as oil demand outpaces supply growth. 

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Ontario removes one COVID-19 case from Ottawa total Wednesday – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
Ottawa Public Health says five more people have tested positive for COVID-19 but the health unit removed 12 cases from its pandemic total after it was found those individuals did not live in Ottawa.

Cases are sometimes removed from totals for a particular health unit when investigations reveal the individual or individuals who tested positive live in another health region.

“On Aug. 3, 2021, some cases were removed from the OPH dashboard because it was determined that the individuals did not live within the city of Ottawa,” Ottawa Public Health said in a statement. “As such, OPH’s cumulative case count has decreased since the previous report.”

A previous version of this article reported an increase of three new cases and the removal of 10, based on changes in daily figures for total cases by age category. Ottawa Public Health later told CTV News Ottawa the correct figures in terms of daily new cases and cases removed via data correction was five new cases and 12 cases removed. The overall change to the pandemic total remains the same.

The correction brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ottawa down to 27,821, seven fewer than what was reported Tuesday. Eight of the cases removed from Ottawa’s total were considered resolved. The number of confirmed active cases in Ottawa rose by one.

Hospitals and ICUs in Ottawa remain free of COVID-19 patients and there are zero active COVID-19 outbreaks in the city.

Across the province, Public Health Ontario said 139 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 11 more Ontarians have died, while noting that seven deaths are from 2020 and were added following a data cleanup. Another 155 cases are now considered resolved.

Two new cases were reported in the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health region on Wednesday. No other eastern Ontario public health unit reported new COVID-19 infections.

OTTAWA’S KEY COVID-19 STATISTICS

Ottawa is now in Step 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan.

Ottawa Public Health data:

  • COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (July 27 to Aug. 2): 3.8 (down from 4.0)
  • Positivity rate in Ottawa (July 28 to Aug.3): 0.5 per cent (unchanged from July 23-29)
  • Reproduction number (seven day average): 0.95 (down from 1.16)

Reproduction values greater than 1 indicate the virus is spreading and each case infects more than one contact. If it is less than 1, it means spread is slowing.

COVID-19 VACCINES IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health updates vaccine numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

As of Monday:

  • Ottawa residents with 1 dose (12+): 768,618 (+1,266)
  • Ottawa residents with 2 doses (12+): 668,736(+6,771)
  • Share of population 12 and older with at least one dose: 83 per cent
  • Share of population 12 and older fully vaccinated: 72 per cent
  • Total doses received in Ottawa*: 1,333,790

**Total doses received does not include doses shipped to pharmacies and primary care clinics, but statistics on Ottawa residents with one or two doses includes anyone with an Ottawa postal code who was vaccinated anywhere in Ontario. 

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

There are 43 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, up from 42 on Tuesday.

Ottawa Public Health removed eight resolved cases from its pandemic total on Wednesday. The total number of resolved cases of coronavirus in Ottawa is 27,185. The eight cases were removed upon investigations revealing these individuals did not live in Ottawa.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health is reporting zero COVID-19 patients in local hospitals and zero in intensive care.

Local ICUs have been COVID-19 free for more than a month.

These data are based on figures from Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, which refer to residents of Ottawa and do not include patient transfers from other regions.

COVID-19 CASES IN OTTAWA BY AGE CATEGORY

  • 0-9 years old: Three new cases (2,307 total cases)
  • 10-19 years-old: Zero new cases (3,586 total cases)
  • 20-29 years-old: Three cases removed from total (6,243 total cases)
  • 30-39 years-old: Three cases removed from total (4,251 total cases)
  • 40-49 years-old: One case removed from total (3,662 total cases)
  • 50-59 years-old: Two cases removed from total (3,332 total cases)
  • 60-69-years-old: One case removed from total (1,964 total cases)
  • 70-79 years-old: Zero new cases (1,097 total cases)
  • 80-89 years-old: Zero new cases (856 total cases)
  • 90+ years old: Zero new cases (520 total cases)
  • Unknown: Zero new cases (3 cases total)  

VARIANTS OF CONCERN

Ottawa Public Health data*:

  • Total Alpha (B.1.1.7) cases: 6,834 (-1)
  • Total Beta (B.1.351) cases: 406
  • Total Gamma (P.1) cases: 35 
  • Total Delta (B.1.617.2) cases: 52 (+1)
  • Percent of new cases with variant/mutation in last 30 days: 40 per cent
  • Total variants of concern/mutation cases: 9,154 (+1)
  • Deaths linked to variants/mutations: 101

*OPH notes that that VOC and mutation trends must be treated with caution due to the varying time required to complete VOC testing and/or genomic analysis following the initial positive test for SARS-CoV-2. Test results may be completed in batches and data corrections or updates can result in changes to case counts that may differ from past reports.

COVID-19 TESTING IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health says 525 Ottawa residents were tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday. The daily positivity rate was 0.95 per cent.

The weekly average positivity rate for Ottawa residents for the week of July 28 to Aug. 3 is 0.5 per cent.

CASES OF COVID-19 AROUND THE REGION

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit: Zero new cases
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health: Two new cases
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health: Zero new cases
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: Zero new cases
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit: Zero new cases

Correction:

A previous version of this article reported an increase of three new cases and the removal of 10, based on changes in daily figures for total cases by age category. Ottawa Public Health later told CTV News Ottawa the correct figures in terms of daily new cases and cases removed via data correction was five new cases and 12 cases removed. The overall change to the pandemic total remains the same.

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Feds say 82000-plus doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to be sent to Trinidad and Tobago – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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OTTAWA – The federal government has announced it will send more than 82,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Trinidad and Tobago.

International Development Minister Karina Gould said in a release Wednesday that Trinidad and Tobago was selected to receive the excess doses that had already arrived in Canada based on need and the country’s capacity to deploy them immediately.

Gould said the doses will be delivered in the coming days and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago will manage the administration of the vaccines in accordance with manufacturing guidelines and public health best practices.

Last month, the federal government said it would donate nearly 18 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to poorer countries.

At the time, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said after talking to the provinces, the federal government determined these vaccine doses were excess supply, as demand for the AstraZeneca vaccine had been met.

She said Canada would donate 17.7 million doses that were supposed to flow into Canada from the United States through an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca and that they would be made available to lower-income countries through the global vaccine-sharing alliance COVAX.

In her statement Wednesday, Gould said vaccinating the world against COVID-19 continues to be the best strategy to end the pandemic.

“By redirecting excess doses we do not need here in Canada, we are supporting global efforts to fight this virus, and ensuring vaccines get to those in need,” she said. “Canadians know that no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

At the G7 meeting in June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged that Canada would give back at least 13 million doses it was set to receive through a contract with COVAX, on top of millions of dollars already set aside for the global vaccine effort.

Global Affairs Canada said Trinidad and Tobago is a key partner for Canada, with more than 100,000 Canadians with connections to the country, and many thousands of Trinbagonians with connections to Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2021

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