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With COVID-19 cases trending down in Ontario, could small businesses see the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel? – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com

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Ontario business owners are eagerly looking for the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel as COVID-19 cases steadily drop each day — but public health experts say we’ve got a long road ahead before the province can safely open its doors again.

COVID-19 cases in Ontario have been trending downward by the day — the province announced 1,958 new cases Monday, down from 2,417 on Sunday and 2,578 last Monday. The Monday before that, Jan. 11, the province reported 3,338 new cases.

But on Sunday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said it’s too soon to know whether this trend will continue.

“While community-based measures may be starting to take effect in some areas, it is too soon to be sure that current measures are strong enough and broad enough to maintain a steady downward trend across the country,” she said in a statement.

The threat of the new virus variants also looms; one disease forecasting company told the Star that the province could see nearly 4,000 cases a day by the end of March if the new U.K. variant takes hold and schools reopen as planned.

Peter Jüni, scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said the U.K. variant and South Africa variant are both quite worrying, and make it all the more important to stay in a strict lockdown until cases are under control.

“We may be over the hill, but we’re not out of the forest,” he said.

Epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto Colin Furness said the downward case trend combined with mobility data show the lockdown restrictions are working. But past the short term, he’s less optimistic, especially if the new variants take hold.

“I worry that we’re going to be up to several thousand cases a day, many thousands … if a new variant really takes hold,” he said.

Furness is advocating for widespread testing as a way of loosening the lockdown restrictions.

“I think if businesses want to open, they need to start demanding rapid testing,” he said.

On Jan. 18, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams said the province’s daily case count needs to fall below 1,000 before the lockdown measures can be lifted. He added he’d like to see the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units drop below 150.

But Furness thinks the decision to lift the lockdown can’t be made based on a single number.

“It’s not the number, it’s the trajectory and the narrative,” he said.

Andrew Morris, an infectious disease specialist at Sinai Health and University Health Network, said while the downward trend is encouraging, he too would look for more than that before undoing the current restrictions.

Morris would prefer to wait until cases are “very, very low” and then begin reopening bit by bit, beginning with schools.

He agreed that the province should look at “a bunch of factors” before deciding to ease restrictions, not simply the daily case count — such as health care capacity, but not just in terms of beds and ventilators.

“I think what we also need to be thinking about is the effects on the workforce,” he said. “It’s not just the numbers.”

Ryan Mallough, the director of provincial affairs, Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said the organization is calling on the government to come up with a plan to reopen small businesses at a limited capacity — even by-appointment shopping would be better than nothing, said Mallough.

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He added that business owners want to have some kind of certainty, some date or number to look forward to, instead of being surprised with a reopening and scrambling to prepare.

“It has been incredibly difficult for business owners to survive with no in-store customers. And the longer this goes, the more difficult recovery is going to be and, honestly, the more businesses will wind up losing,” said Mallough.

Mallough also noted the ongoing frustration over big-box stores still being allowed to sell non-essential items alongside groceries and essentials, something the CFIB has deemed unfair since the lockdown began.

“At bare minimum from a fairness perspective, if we’re going to continue with a lockdown, then those big box stores really should be limited,” said Mallough.

Jüni said the government should be making clear the difference between essential and non-essential, and agreed that the government could also be “more stringent” about that distinction to make the lockdown as effective and fair as possible.

“If feasible, if one is able to distinguish between essential and non-essential parts (of a big box store), this would make a difference,” he said.

The province recently launched the Small Business Support Grant, which provides up to $20,000 for eligible businesses struggling under lockdown restrictions.

For many businesses, this has been helpful, and easy to access, said Mallough.

But the CFIB is also asking the government to expand the grant, since there are some small businesses that aren’t eligible, he said, such as businesses deemed “essential” that are nevertheless seeing dramatic drops in revenue.

Emily Hogeveen, a spokesperson in the Minister of Finance’s office, said as of 7 a.m. Monday morning, the province has received around 51,000 applications for the Small Business Support Grant.

Hogeveen said the ministry is aware that many businesses are facing revenue shortfalls, and the government is reviewing the program to ensure that it best serves the businesses that need it most.

With files from Kenyon Wallace and The Canadian Press

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 – The Record (New Westminster)

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The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.

There are 858,217 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 858,217 confirmed cases (30,335 active, 806,017 resolved, 21,865 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 3,094 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 79.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,722 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,960.

There were 59 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 367 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 52. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.53 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 24,030,155 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 973 confirmed cases (338 active, 630 resolved, five deaths).

There were 10 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 64.74 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 170 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 24.

There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 0.96 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 183,360 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 117 confirmed cases (three active, 114 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 1.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. 

There have been 100,063 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,624 confirmed cases (27 active, 1,532 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were eight new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 2.76 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 320,343 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 1,427 confirmed cases (50 active, 1,351 resolved, 26 deaths).

There was one new case Thursday. The rate of active cases is 6.4 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.33 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 234,030 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 285,330 confirmed cases (8,090 active, 266,879 resolved, 10,361 deaths).

There were 858 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 94.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,443 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.

There were 16 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 120.83 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 6,150,337 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 297,311 confirmed cases (10,071 active, 280,324 resolved, 6,916 deaths).

There were 1,138 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 68.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,690 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,099.

There were 23 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 143 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 46.94 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 10,659,698 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 31,657 confirmed cases (1,206 active, 29,563 resolved, 888 deaths).

There were 70 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 87.44 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 514 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 73.

There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.38 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 524,667 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 28,191 confirmed cases (1,493 active, 26,318 resolved, 380 deaths).

There were 211 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 126.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,092 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 156.

There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 18 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.22 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.24 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 564,295 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 132,432 confirmed cases (4,484 active, 126,074 resolved, 1,874 deaths).

There were 399 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 101.4 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,402 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 343.

There were eight new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 69 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.22 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.38 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 3,369,409 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 78,673 confirmed cases (4,544 active, 72,781 resolved, 1,348 deaths).

There were 395 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 88.27 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,346 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 478.

There were 10 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 27 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.19 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 1,892,930 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 8,096 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (four active, 38 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 8.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. 

There have been 14,327 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 355 confirmed cases (25 active, 329 resolved, one deaths).

There were four new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 63.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 8,524 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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COVID-19 in B.C.: 10 deaths, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister on threats and personal attacks, and more – Straight.com

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B.C. continues to remain in a risky period for sudden increases in COVID-19 case numbers.

At today’s briefing from Vancouver, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the weekly average for new cases has slightly increased in recent weeks, more so in the Lower Mainland region (and particularly in Fraser Health).

She said an upward trend in the virus reproductive number indicates that there remains “potential for rapid growth if we’re not careful”, particularly in the Lower Mainland.

Henry said that “we’re not quite there yet” for relaxing restrictions but that they are looking ahead into March to figure out when there could be potential for that.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix pointed out that after the winter holiday season, there was a significant increase in cases and hospitalizations in Interior Health but that has since decreased over the past few weeks.

“It shows again what we can do together as communities,” he said.

In January, there were a number of incidents of police shutting down parties and makeshift nightclubs in Surrey, Richmond, and Vancouver that were violating provincial health orders.

That has since given way to a handful of increasingly vocal or violent examples of individuals resisting health measures, including:

  • a few incidents involving male customers yelling and refusing to leave businesses after being denied service for not wearing a mask, including one in Kerrisdale, and another in Burnaby;
  • a male suspect physically assaulting another gym user who had asked him to wear a mask at a Downtown Vancouver gym;
  • two female passengers being arrested in Nanaimo and fined over $900 for yelling and verbally abusing staff aboard a B.C. Ferries sailing after they refused to wear masks aboard the ship;
  • a male customer allegedly assaulting and then becoming embroiled in a physical altercation with staff at Canadian Tire in Burnaby as they tried to handcuff him after he refused to wear a mask or leave the premises;
  • a male suspect allegedly stabbing a 50-year-old man during a fight that erupted after the victim’s daughter asked the suspect to physically distance in a Nanaimo parking lot.

Meanwhile, the antimask protest movement continues on with rallies, including one held in Vancouver last weekend (February 20).

In addition, the B.C. Supreme Court also denied a request from Henry and the province for an injunction against three churches in the Fraser Valley that are continuing to hold in-person services in defiance of provincial health orders. Those churches are also attempting to take legal action to overturn provincial health orders that prohibit church services from being conducted indoors.

Henry had previously spoken in September about abusive phone calls and letters, as well as death threats, that she has faced over the course of the pandemic.

When she was asked at today’s news conference about how she is dealing with threats and protests, Henry said that the part that she finds most challenging and disturbing is how it affects the people around her, including the people she works with and her family, but she added that they do have strong support systems.

She said her colleagues across the country, who are contending with similar issues, meet regularly and they support each other.

Henry did offer some insight into the psychology of those who are acting out in emotional or extreme ways.

“I recognize that when people are in crises, part of the way they respond or react is to lash out, to become angry,” she said. “That is a reaction that is sometimes fed by certain groups, by certain media, social media posts, et cetera, and it’s not to condone it but it’s to recognize the psychology of what we’re dealing with leads some people to react that way.”

She said “our collective support for each other that helps mitigate the impact of these things”.

However, she said it “really is not unacceptable”, and Dix agreed with that sentiment.

“We live in a democratic society and it is absolutely legitimate to disagree, even about issues such as the pandemic, but some of the disagreement is totally unacceptable,” he said. “Dr. Bonnie Henry is an extraordinary leader and that doesn’t mean she’s right all the time…but the kind of personal attacks on some of them are completely unacceptable.”

He condemned threats made against Henry, and pointed out how she never loses sight of people and shows compassion “for every single person” during the pandemic despite all of the criticism she receives.

“We need to have a slightly more respectful debate,” he said. “All of us have to find ways to disagree without personal attack.”

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
Province of British Columbia

Henry announced that there are 395 new cases (including 12 epi-linked cases) in B.C. today, which includes:

  • 207 new cases in Fraser Health;
  • 86 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
  • 41 in Northern Health;
  • 37 in Island Health;
  • 24 in Interior Health;
  • no one from outside of Canada.

At the moment, there are 4,489 active cases, which is a drop of 179 cases since yesterday.

Hospitalized cases also decreased—with nine patients discharged since yesterday, 228 individuals are currently in hospitals, and 62 of them are in intensive care units (two fewer patients since yesterday).

Public health is monitoring 7,931 people for exposure to identified cases, which is only seven more people since yesterday.

Unfortunately, the number of deaths has risen. There are 10 new COVID-19-related deaths. The cumulative total of number of fatalities during the pandemic is now at 1,348 people who have died in B.C.

With 562 more recoveries since yesterday, a cumulative total of 72,781 people have now recovered.

During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a total of 78,673 cases.

Since the last variant update on February 22, there have been 16 new confirmed COVID-19 variant cases, bringing the total to 116 cases.

By region, that includes:

  • 71 cases in Fraser Health;
  • 39 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
  • four in Island Health;
  • two in Interior Health.

Of the total cases, nine cases are active and the remaining people have recovered.

So far, the total cases include:

  • 95 of the B117 variant (U.K.);
  • 21 of the B131 variant (South Africa);
  • two of the B1525 variant (Nigeria), which Henry said is still a variant under investigation.

Henry said the source of transmission remains uncertain for about 25 percent of the cases.

Investigations into variants in schools remain ongoing.

As of today, 239,883 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 68,157 of them are second doses.

Henry said active outbreaks remain in 13 longterm care facilities and five acute care facilities for a total of 18 outbreaks, involving 611 cases (398 residents and 213 staff members).

There is one new healthcare facility outbreak at the Revera Sunwood Retirement Community in Maple Ridge.

Northern Health gave an update today on the outbreak at Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert, which was declared on January 19. there is now a total of 56 cases—33 residents and 23 staff, and 14 residents have died.

In Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), restrictions were lifted today from Unit 9C at St. Paul’s Hospital, where restrictions were imposed on January 4.

In an update today on cases in Whistler, VCH said that transmissions continue to decline. From February 16 to 21, there were 26 new cases (which is 36 fewer new cases than from February 8 to 15). With 671 people having recovered, there are currently 31 active cases left. Since January 1, a total of 702 cases have been confirmed in Whistler.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added seven domestic flights to its list of COVID-19 exposures:

  • February 10: Air Canada/Jazz 8236, Vancouver to Terrace;
  • February 12: Air Canada 115, Toronto to Vancouver;
  • February 14: Air Canada/Jazz 8069, Vancouver to Victoria;
  • February 14: Air Canada/Jazz 8239, Terrace to Vancouver;
  • February 18: Air Canada 106, Vancouver to Toronto;
  • February 20: Air Canada 251, Edmonton to Vancouver;
  • February 21: Flair 8101, Vancouver to Edmonton.

Affected row information can be found at the BCCDC website.

Loblaw stated that several employees (specific number and dates not provided) at the Real Canadian Superstore (6–291 Cowichan Way) in Duncan have tested positive. 

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AM740 – Zoomer Radio

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The latest provincial projections suggest 40 percent of cases will be COVID variants of concern in Ontario by mid-March and hospitalizations and ICU admissions will likely increase in the coming weeks. But it’s not all bad news according to the health experts advising the government.

“A better summer is in sight, if we work for it now,” said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown who co-chairs the advisory table.

The modelling suggests a third wave is still possible and the drop in cases has bottomed out but are moving up again. Dr. Brown adds the province can keep gains made by watching spread very closely and by loosening public health measures only carefully. In a worst-case scenario, the province could see around 4,000 new cases per-day by the end of March and best case around 1,000 daily.

But Dr. Brown points to positive trends in long term care.

“We have seen a substantial reduction in the daily death rates in long term care homes and a substantial reduction in the cases both among residents and staff.”

Currently there are 42 homes in outbreak with resident cases.

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