U.S. President Joe Biden wants $ 2 trillion US to re-engineer America’s infrastructure and expects the nation’s corporations to pay for it.
The president travels to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to unveil what would be a hard-hatted transformation of the U.S. economy as grand in scale as the New Deal or Great Society programs that shaped the 20th century.
White House officials say the spending over eight years would generate millions of new jobs as the country shifts away from fossil fuels and combats the perils of climate change. It is also an effort to compete against the technology and public investments made by China, the world’s second-largest economy and fast gaining on the United States’ dominant position.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the plan is “about making an investment in America — not just modernizing our roads or railways or bridges but building an infrastructure of the future.”
Biden’s choice of Pittsburgh for unveiling the plan carries important economic and political resonance. He not only won Pittsburgh and its surrounding county to help secure the presidency, but he launched his campaign there in 2019.
The city famed for steel mills that powered America’s industrial rise has steadily pivoted toward technology and health care, drawing in college graduates from western Pennsylvania in a sign of how economies can change.
Mostly aimed at transportation
The Democratic president’s infrastructure projects would be financed by higher corporate taxes — a trade-off that could lead to fierce resistance from the business community and thwart any attempts to work with Republicans lawmakers.
Biden hopes to pass an infrastructure plan by summer, which could mean relying solely on the slim Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate.
The White House says the largest chunk of the proposal includes $ 621 billion for roads, bridges, public transit, electric vehicle charging stations and other transportation infrastructure. The spending would push the country away from internal combustion engines that the auto industry views as an increasingly antiquated technology.
Another $ 111 billion would go to replace lead water pipes and upgrade sewers. Broadband internet would blanket the country for $ 100 billion. Separately, $ 100 billion would upgrade the power grid to deliver clean electricity. Homes would be retrofitted, schools modernized, workers trained and hospitals renovated under the plan, which also seeks to strengthen U.S. manufacturing.
Could spur economy
The new construction could keep the economy running hot, coming on the heels of Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — economists already estimate it could push growth above six per cent this year.
Separately, Biden will propose in the coming weeks a series of soft infrastructure investments in child care, family tax credits and other domestic programs, another expenditure of roughly $ 2 trillion to be paid for by tax hikes on wealthy individuals and families, according to people familiar with the proposal.
Funding the first $ 2 trillion for construction and “hard” infrastructure projects would be a hike on corporate taxes that would raise the necessary sum over 15 years and then reduce the deficit going forward, according to a White House outline of the plan.
Biden would undo the signature policy achievement of the Trump administration by lifting the corporate tax rate to 28 per cent from the 21 per cent rate set in a 2017 overhaul.
To keep companies from shifting profits overseas to avoid taxation, a 21 per cent global minimum tax would be imposed. The tax code would also be updated so that companies could not merge with a foreign business and avoid taxes by moving their headquarters to a tax haven. And among other provisions, it would increase IRS audits of corporations.
Critics take aim
White House officials led by National Economic Council director Brian Deese offered a private briefing Tuesday for top lawmakers in both parties. But key GOP and business leaders are already panning the package.
“It seems like President Biden has an insatiable appetite to spend more money and raise people’s taxes,” Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the GOP whip, said in an interview.
Scalise predicted that, if approved, the new spending and taxes would “start having a negative impact on the economy, which we’re very concerned about.”
The business community favours updating U.S. infrastructure, but it dislikes higher tax rates. An official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who insisted on anonymity to discuss the private talks said the organization fears the proposed tax hikes could undermine the gains from new infrastructure.
The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs, would rather have infrastructure funded with user fees such as tolls.
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce is expected to announce on Wednesday afternoon when schools in 16 public health regions in the southern half of the province will reopen for in-person learning.
Lecce indicated on Monday that he would provide parents with “certainty” about reopening dates. The government says he will speak at 4 p.m. ET before taking questions from reporters. CBC News will carry that news confrerence live in this story.
“We want all students in all regions back to class,” Lecce said in a tweet.
Dr. David Willams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, has confirmed to Premier Doug Ford that he would finalize his advice on Wednesday about how schools still closed can reopen safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All elementary and secondary school students began January with online learning as part of a provincial lockdown. Since then, the provincial government has taken a staggered approach to reopening physical classrooms.
Investments needed to make schools safe, NDP says
NDP education critic Marit Stiles, MPP for Davenport, said on Tuesday that the reopening must be accompanied by public health measures to ensure the schools can remain open. She said parents, education workers and students are eagerly awaiting the announcement.
“What I’m looking for, though, is not just clarity about when kids are going to be returning to school,” Stiles told CBC News.
“What I want is the government to spend the dollars that they have been hoarding on action. Small class sizes, paid sick leave, in school testing — anything less is a recipe for future school closures.”
Stiles said the province has not spent the full $ 381 million of COVID-19 relief funds recently received from the federal government.
She said investments are needed to keep schools safe because of high daily case counts and new COVID-19 variants in circulation. Ventilation in schools should be improved and education workers should be vaccinated as front-line workers, she added.
“The success of the announcement really is going to depend on what investment and action this government is willing to take to ensure that our schools are safe when they reopen,” she added. “Anything less than that will be a failure.”
Province has said it will expand testing
On Monday, Lecce said the province plans to expand COVID-19 testing for students and that it will allow school boards to bring in student teachers to fill supply roles as more schools reopen amid the second wave of the pandemic.
Officials said the targeted testing will be available in all public health units where students have returned to class. They said they expect that Ontario can complete up to 25,000 laboratory-processed and 25,000 on-site, rapid antigen tests per week but offered no timeline on how long it could take to get to that level.
Expansion of the testing program accompanies the injection of another $ 381 million Ottawa recently released as part of Phase 2 of the Federal Safe Return to Class Fund. A previous $ 381 million in federal funds for school reopenings came last August.
On Jan. 11, students resumed in-person learning in all northern Ontario public health units. On Jan. 25, students in some areas of southern Ontario went back to in-person class.
On Feb. 1, students in four public health units — Eastern Ontario, Middlesex-London, Ottawa and Southwestern — were able to resume in-person learning.
A total of 520,000 students were able to learn in person in Ontario as of Monday, according to the ministry.
Wednesday’s decision will affect schools in the following public health units:
Brant County Health Unit.
Chatham-Kent Public Health.
City of Hamilton Public Health Services.
Durham Region Health Department.
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.
Halton Region Public Health.
Huron Perth Public Health.
Lambton Public Health.
Niagara Region Public Health.
Peel Region Public Health.
Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce sweeping new public health measures later today as the province tries to curb a climbing number of COVID-19 cases and increasing strain on hospitals.
Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 1 p.m. ET at Queen’s Park. The premier’s office says he will be joined by the ministers of health and education, as well as the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams.
You’ll be able to watch the news conference live in this story.
Sources told CBC News on Sunday that new measures will include a 28-day lockdown for all parts of the province south of Sudbury.
The restrictions in these areas will look much as they did during Ontario’s initial shutdown in the spring, with only essential businesses remaining open. The specific list of closures and guidelines was still being fine-tuned over the weekend, the sources said.
Areas north of Sudbury, however, will move into a two-week lockdown, the sources said, and winter break for elementary students across Ontario could be extended by up to two weeks.
The measures come against a backdrop of modelling that forecasts, under any scenario, Ontario could see up to 300 patients with cases of COVID-19 in intensive care units by the end of December.
In a worst-case scenario, that number could balloon to more than 1,500 by mid-January, said public health officials at a morning briefing.
You can see the full government modelling at the bottom of this story
During the height of the first wave of the illness in Ontario, some 264 patients required intensive care. As of this morning, there were 265 people with COVID-19 in Ontario ICUs.
Over the past four weeks, officials said, there have been a 69.3 per cent increase in overall hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 and an 83.1 per cent jump in the number of patients requiring intensive care.
Experiences in other jurisdictions, such as in Victoria, Australia and France, four to six-week “hard lockdowns” have resulted in “dramatic reductions” in case numbers, officials said.
The forecasts come as hospitals in some of Ontario’s hardest-hit regions are warning of unsustainable pressures on front-line staff and rippling effects throughout the health-care system. Last week, CBC Toronto reported nearly half of all ICU beds at one Scarborough hospital were taken up by COVID-19 patients.
In a joint statement over the weekend, hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, along with the Ontario Hospital Association, said that health-care workers are “stressed and overstretched.”
Rising admissions of patients with COVID-19 mean that some hospitals have already been forced to postpone or cancel unrelated procedures, many of which were already put off in the spring.
“This level of strain is simply not sustainable for much longer,” the statement said, adding that a potential surge following the holiday season will only make things worse.
2,123 more cases of COVID-19
Meanwhile, Ontario reported another 2,123 cases of COVID-19 this morning as admissions to intensive care topped those seen during the first wave of the pandemic.
It is the seventh straight day of more than 2,000 further cases in the province.
The new cases include 611 in Toronto, 480 in Peel Region, 192 in York Region and 138 Windsor-Essex. All four public health units, along with Hamilton, are currently in the grey lockdown tier of the province’s COVID-19 response framework.
In lockdown zones, restaurants can offer only takeout and delivery service, and only retailers that have been deemed essential can stay open.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in today’s report were:
Waterloo Region: 94
Halton Region: 92
Durham Region: 91
Niagara Region: 68
Simcoe Muskoka: 61
Brant County: 16
Eastern Ontario: 11
(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario Health Ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)
Combined, the additional infections push the seven-day average to 2,276, the highest it has been at any point during the pandemic.
The Ministry of Education also reported 154 new cases that are school-related: 119 students and 35 staff members. Around 976 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools, or about 20.2 per cent, have at least one case of COVID-19.
There are currently 19,019 confirmed, active cases of the illness in Ontario, also a new record high.
The province’s network of labs processed 54,505 test samples and reported a test positivity rate of 4.7 per cent.
Public health officials also reported 17 more deaths of people with COVID-19, pushing the official toll to 4,167.
Here’s the latest modelling on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario:
B.C.’s top doctor says the province is facing its “most challenging” period of the pandemic to date as hospitalizations climb and transmission in long-term care increases.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that “we are all feeling the strain” as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on.
“This virus doesn’t pause, though, when we’re tired and frustrated and we want it to be over,” she said. “It spreads quickly and doesn’t wait for us to catch up.”
Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced 1,933 new cases of COVID-19 over three days, along with 17 additional deaths, bringing the province’s pandemic death toll to 348.
Monday’s update brought the number of active cases in the province to 7,360. Of those, 277 were in hospital and 59 were in critical care or ICU.
The chief public health officer said that over the next two weeks, people in the province need to “urgently” work to reduce transmission in order to keep schools and workplaces open and relieve the “very real stress” on the health-care system.
As of 12:55 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 339,700, with 56,578 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,580.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is expected to make an announcement about COVID-19 measures later Tuesday after the province’s chief medical officer of health said the province had hit a “precarious point” in the pandemic.
“Waiting any longer will impact our ability to care for Albertans in the weeks and months ahead,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday, as the province reported 1,549 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths.
In Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe is self-isolating after a potential COVID-19 exposure at a restaurant in Prince Albert. A spokesperson for the premier said Moe was not experiencing symptoms but had been tested out of an abundance of caution. Saskatchewan reported 235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and four additional deaths.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said that as of Nov. 1, the province had reported a total of 75 deaths due to COVID-19. As of Monday, that figure stood at 236.
“It might be easy just to think of these as numbers, but we all know these are Manitobans,” he said. “These are people who are loved, who are missed right now.”
WATCH LIVE | Manitoba’s premier talks about COVID-19:
British drugmaker AstraZeneca has said the COVID-19 vaccine it’s developed with the University of Oxford is 70 per cent effective on average. The vaccine is one of several that Canada has already preordered and is considered more globally accessible. 4:04
Ontario reported 1,009 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 14 additional deaths. However, Health Minister Christine Elliott noted on Twitter that due to a technical issue, “case numbers were overestimated yesterday and underestimated today.” The province had reported a record high of 1,589 cases on Monday.
Newfoundland reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, while P.E.I. reported no new cases.
WATCH | New Brunswick weighs COVID-19 risks in Atlantic bubble with Nova Scotia:
Qantas airline CEO Alan Joyce said his company is looking at requiring international passengers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before boarding a flight, as the industry appears headed in that direction. (Dean Lewins/AAP Image/Reuters) 0:48
Premier Blaine Higgs said Monday that New Brunswick won’t be making any changes to its participation in the Atlantic bubble “for the time being.” The province reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 and one death on Monday.
Nova Scotia reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. One of the cases was detected over the weekend as part of a rapid COVID-19 testing program for employees and patrons at a bar in downtown Halifax.
Nunavut reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases reported in the territory to 144, with 142 of those considered active.
Nunavut is in the midst of a lockdown to try to beat back an increase in cases. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson cautioned on Monday that case numbers will “go up and down from day to day regardless of what’s happening in the community” because of the timing of testing and “variability of flights.”
Nunavut reported 10 new COVID-19 cases today, raising the total number of active cases to 142.<br><br>9 new cases in Arviat; 1 in Rankin Inlet.<br><br>”There remains no evidence of community transmission in Rankin Inlet or Whale Cove.” – CPHO Dr. Michael Patterson <a href=”https://t.co/KBGTPhiuWJ”>pic.twitter.com/KBGTPhiuWJ</a>
There were six new cases in Yukon on Monday. Yukon increased restrictions last week as infection rates jumped in jurisdictions around it, requiring all but critical services workers to self-isolate for two weeks when they enter the territory.
There were no new COVID-19 cases reported in the Northwest Territories on Monday, leaving its total case number at 15.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:05 a.m. ET
As of early Tuesday morning, there were more than 59.2 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide with more than 37.9 million of them considered recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll was approaching 1.4 million.
In the Americas, new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. have rocketed to all-time highs, averaging more than 170,000 per day, and deaths have soared to over 1,500 a day, the highest level since the spring. The virus is blamed for more than a quarter-million deaths in the U.S. and over 12 million confirmed infections.
“There is so much community transmission all over the United States that the chances of you encountering somebody that has COVID-19 is actually very, very high, whether it’s on an airplane, at the airport or at a rest area,” said Dr. Syra Madad, an infectious-disease epidemiologist for New York City hospitals.
The largest county in the U.S. is on the brink of a stay-home order after a coronavirus surge surpassed a level set by Los Angeles County public health officials to trigger such an action. A swell of new cases Monday put the county over an average of 4,500 cases per day.
In Mexico, church and civic leaders cancelled an annual gathering that attracts massive crowds of Catholic pilgrims to protect people.
In Europe, state and federal health authorities in Germany say they are shortening quarantine periods for people who have come into contact with a confirmed COVID case from 14 days to 10, if they provide a negative test.
The European Medicines Agency could produce a scientific opinion on COVID-19 vaccines seeking regulatory approval by the end of the year in a best-case scenario.
WATCH | Trials show AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ‘highly effective’:
In the Asia-Pacific region, China has reported new coronavirus cases in the cities of Shanghai and Tianjin as it seeks to prevent small outbreaks from becoming larger ones.
The National Health Commission said Tuesday that there were two new locally spread cases in the previous 24-hour period, one in each city. It also reported 20 cases among people who had arrived from overseas.
Malaysia’s Top Glove Corp., the world’s largest maker of rubber gloves, said Tuesday it expects a two- to four-week delay in deliveries after more than 2,000 workers at its factories were infected by the coronavirus, raising the possibility of supply disruptions during the pandemic.
WATCH | Qantas looking at mandatory COVID-19 vaccine for international flights:
Top Glove said it has temporarily stopped production at 16 factories in Klang, a town outside Kuala Lumpur, since Nov. 17 to screen workers, with its remaining 12 facilities in the area operating at much reduced capacities.
The government on Monday ordered 28 Top Glove factories in Klang to shut down in stages to allow workers to undergo screening and mandatory quarantine after 2,453 factory workers tested positive for COVID-19.
The health ministry reported 1,511 more cases in the area on Tuesday, but didn’t say how many were factory workers. The cluster contributed to a record daily high of 2,188 cases nationwide, bringing Malaysia’s total cases to 58,847.
Top Glove says it produces about 90 billion rubber gloves a year, about one quarter of the world’s supply, and exports to 195 countries.
Hong Kong, meanwhile, will close bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues for the third time this year.
In Africa, Nigeria will bar passengers who fail to follow the country’s COVID-19 protocol from flying for six months.
In the Middle East, Iran reported a record high 13,721 new cases and a near-record 483 deaths in the past 24 hours.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s first cabinet picks are coming Tuesday and planning is underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration in January as his team moves forward despite roadblocks from the Trump administration.
Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, offered no details Sunday about which department heads Biden would first announce, but multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning told The Associated Press that Antony Blinken is the leading contender to become Biden’s nominee for secretary of state.
Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which U.S. President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances.
In nominating Blinken, Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his short list to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons.
Rice would have faced significant Republican opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Coons’s departure from the Senate would have come as other Democratic senators are being considered for administrative posts and the party is hoping to win back the Senate. Control hangs on the result of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.
For his part, Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.
Biden’s secretary of state would inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.
Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30 per cent in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.
Biden pledges diverse government
Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America.
He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first Black American at the top of the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.
Biden said last week he had settled on his pick for treasury secretary.
Klain said the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the cabinet selection process
Trump’s General Services Administration (GSA) has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.
“We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s This Week.
Some GOP politicians break with Trump
Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to accept the results of the election.
“I, frankly, do think it’s time to — well, it was past time to start a transition, to at least co-operate with the transition,” Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
He said the GSA’s designation should happen Monday “because it didn’t happen last Monday morning,” to give the incoming administration “all the time they need.”
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said there was a “very good chance” Biden would be president and that Biden and his team should have access to relevant information for the transition.
After a federal judge’s ruling against the Trump campaign in an election challenge in Pennsylvania on Saturday, the state’s Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said the president had “exhausted all plausible legal options” and Toomey congratulated Biden on his win.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said in a statement Sunday that courts had so far found Trump’s claims to be without merit and called a “pressure campaign” on state legislators to influence the electoral outcome unprecedented and inconsistent with the democratic process.
“It is time to begin the full and formal transition process,” she said.
Also Sunday, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, said on ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome.
Christie said Trump’s legal team was a “national embarrassment.”
Inauguration altered by pandemic
Looking ahead to the Jan. 20 inauguration, Klain said it is “going to definitely have to be changed” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that the Biden team is consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.
“They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honours the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.
Inaugurations typically include a traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, remarks by the president and vice-president from the Capitol, a lunch with lawmakers in the Capitol rotunda and numerous balls across Washington.
All are events attended by hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people who travel to the nation’s capital. It’s unclear how public health concerns will affect those traditions.
During the campaign, Biden drew a contrast with Trump on the coronavirus by paring down his own events in response to the pandemic.
Biden held smaller gatherings where people were asked to wear masks and adhere to social distancing recommendations from public health experts. Since he won the presidency, Biden has emphasized the importance of mask-wearing.
Two-time soccer World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe and 11-time WNBA All-Star Sue Bird are getting hitched.
The sports power couple announced their engagement with a photo posted to Bird’s Instagram account on Friday and a representative for Rapinoe confirmed the news to Reuters, as congratulations for the couple poured in across social media.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Bird, 40, won her fourth WNBA title with the Storm earlier this month, bouncing back after missing all of the 2019 season due to a knee injury.
Rapinoe, who claimed the Ballon d’Or in 2019 after a career-defining year in which she won her second World Cup title, along with the Golden Boot and Golden Ball, was a regular fixture on the sidelines during the 2020 WNBA season, which took place entirely inside a quarantined setting in Bradenton, Florida, due to the new coronavirus.
Ultimate power couple <a href=”https://twitter.com/mPinoe?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@mPinoe</a> and <a href=”https://twitter.com/S10Bird?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@S10Bird</a> are ENGAGED 💍🙌 <a href=”https://t.co/S6YUlIRTa4″>pic.twitter.com/S6YUlIRTa4</a>
The pair, who have been an item for more than three years, became the first openly LGBT couple to appear in the ESPN “Body Issue” in 2018, and have together been vocal advocates for a variety of political and social causes.
The announcement prompted well-wishes from numerous high-profile figures in sport and politics.
“Love will always win,” tweeted former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee. “Congratulations, @S10Bird and @mPinoe!”
Friday also saw an increase in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. There are now 18 patients in hospital, including two in intensive care, up from 15 a day earlier.
As of Friday, B.C. has had 3,198 confirmed cases of the virus, including 207 that are still active.
A spokesperson for Providence Health, which operates St. Paul’s Hospital, said the NICU has been shut down and the patients transferred to a temporary satellite unit.
St. Paul’s NICU provides 24-hour care for premature babies and other newborns with serious health problems who need specialized attention. It is separate from the hospital’s maternity unit, which remains open and ready to deliver babies, according to Hussain.
Kelowna outbreak major concern, Henry says
Interior Health said the positive cases in Kelowna General Hospital employees has not affected regular operations.
“We have no indication that any patients have been exposed to the disease,” the health authority said in a written statement.
Henry labelled the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Kelowna as “one of the more concerning issues to us.”
“Once you have been exposed, there is nothing that can prevent you from getting this disease,” Henry warned.
Henry said that many of the new Kelowna cases are people in their 20s and 30s, with transmission connected to those social events.
The severity of the illness she said is typically much lower for that age group, adding they may not recognize they are ill, despite being able to still spread the virus.
Meanwhile, the gatherings involved in these exposure events were relatively large, which has made it difficult for public health workers to trace everyone’s contacts and find potential routes of transmission.
“If you are hosting an event, you have an obligation to keep your gatherings small, know everyone who is attending and be able to reach them afterwards, if necessary,” Henry said.
“The best way to do that is to have a designated-contact-keeper. And if you are attending an event, make sure you give your contact information to the host when you arrive.”
‘Use your influence’
Henry urged people in younger age groups to use their voices on social media platforms and spread the word about socializing safely to protect each other.
“Use your influence to share a message with your friends and connections around the province: and that message is to make sure we don’t let COVID steal our summer,” said Henry.
Henry also said Vancouver Coastal Health has issued an alert for potential community exposure at the Sandman Suites Hotel on Davie Street between July 7 and July 16.
As a precaution, anyone who may have been exposed needs to closely monitor for symptoms and arrange for testing if any symptoms develop.
The NHL has seemingly decided on its hub cities for when the league returns to play, according to multiple reports on Wednesday: Toronto for the Eastern Conference and Edmonton for the West.
A formal announcement has not been made, but the reports follow weeks of speculation about which cities the league would resume play in after games were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The CBC has not independently confirmed the reports.
According to Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health, Toronto Public Health has not been notified of any league decision.
“As of July 1, 2020, Toronto Public Health has not been notified that Toronto has been designated as a hub city for the NHL,” Dubey said in a statement released Wednesday.
Toronto Mayor John Tory was also not able to provide confirmation, but said during an unrelated news conference Wednesday that he’s got his “fingers crossed” for the prospect of hosting.
League plans to reopen training camps July 10
Vancouver had been regarded as the Canadian favourite before B.C. health officials reportedly expressed concern about the fallout of a positive coronavirus test. Earlier in June, the Canadian federal government agreed to the NHL’s cohort quarantine proposal, which allows incoming players to the country to bypass the mandatory 14-day isolation period.
The league plans to reopen training camps July 10, but has yet to release a schedule for the 24 teams still in the running for the Stanley Cup.
WATCH | The challenges of choosing a hub city:
While the NHL tries to narrow down the list of hub cities from ten to two, Rob Pizzo looks at the problems they face. 3:00
Part of Toronto’s bid is the number of rinks it has available for the league. Beyond Scotiabank Arena, home of the Maple Leafs, the AHL Marlies’ Coca-Cola Coliseum could also be used, as well as the Leafs’ practice facility that houses four sheets of ice.
Toronto has hosted multi-team hockey tournaments in the recent past, such as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and has the hotel infrastructure to handle 12 NHL teams.
Edmonton would earn its bid after a hard push from the city, which included Mayor Don Iveson tweeting out a promotional video. While Ontario is still managing over 100 new cases of COVID-19 per day, Alberta hasn’t reached that mark since May 2. The province is also a world leader in per-capita testing, and could keep players isolated because the downtown home arena Rogers Place is linked by pedway to hotels and other amenities.
The Vancouver Canucks announced Thursday the city was out of the running as a hub for the NHL’s return.
The decision from the league means Toronto and Edmonton are the lone Canadian cities remaining in contention to host the NHL’s Stanley Cup tournament.
“We sincerely thank Premier [John] Horgan, Minister [Lisa] Beare, Dr. Bonnie Henry and their teams for their incredible support as we worked through the opportunity to host NHL teams in Vancouver,” the Canucks tweeted.
“Now we look forward and are very excited to welcome our Canucks players back for training camp at Rogers Arena in the coming weeks. An exciting finish to the season is just around the corner, and we can’t wait to drop the puck.”
<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canucks?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Canucks</a> statement on <a href=”https://twitter.com/NHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NHL</a> hub city bid. <a href=”https://t.co/qs6v4EOO7w”>pic.twitter.com/qs6v4EOO7w</a>
Horgan said he was disappointed by the news, but wouldn’t bend public health rules for the NHL.
“Protecting the health and safety of people in BC is our number one priority,” he tweeted.
Dr. Henry echoed those sentiments at a news conference before the team made its announcement, saying public health was her main focus.
“I’ve not had direct conversations with the NHL,” she said. “What we provided was our advice and basically the fact that we would take the health of our players and the health of our province as the primary concern in terms of having the NHL play in Vancouver.”
Under B.C.’s plan, a team would have stayed in one hotel and travelled together to Rogers Arena for games using private transportation. Each team would also be responsible for any COVID-19 testing and agree not to interact with the public during a 14-day isolation period.
Horgan previously expressed hope that B.C.’s plan would give Vancouver an economic boost.
I’m disappointed the NHL playoffs won’t be coming to Vancouver, but we will not bend the rules on public health guidelines and risk the progress we’ve made. Protecting the health and safety of people in BC is our number one priority.<br><br>Wherever they hit the ice, go <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canucks?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Canucks</a>! <a href=”https://t.co/ud6zUAd9L4″>https://t.co/ud6zUAd9L4</a>
Restaurant owners in B.C. are allowed to open their dining rooms starting Tuesday as the province lifts more coronavirus restrictions, but customers and workers are in for a different experience, with restaurants cutting back capacity and following stepped-up public health guidelines.
The protocols include moving to disposable or big board menus, limiting the number of people at a table and keeping space between customers at different tables.
“I would say, ‘Take it slow,”‘ she said Monday. People are still learning about safer ways of having social interactions and “doing things we’ve never had to do before.”
WATCH | Infectious disease specialists break down what we know, and what we don’t know, about COVID-19:
Two months into the pandemic, infectious disease specialists break down what we know about COVID-19 — the information that sounds true, but probably isn’t, and what we still need to find out. 6:11
B.C. isn’t the only province moving ahead with further reopening. In Saskatchewan, stores, hairstylists and massage therapists are allowed to open their doors, also with restrictions on how many people can be in a space and guidelines around hygiene. Hairstylists operating in Saskatchewan, for example, will need to wear a face mask, a face shield and an apron.
Hard-hit Ontario is also lifting some restrictions on Tuesday as it allows retail stores with street-facing entrances to reopen. Provincial officials are expected to make an announcement about the rest of the school year in the afternoon.
The province announced Tuesday that it will launch an independent commission into the province’s long-term care system in the fall. Long-term care facilities have been the site of several devastating, deadly outbreaks in Ontario and several other provinces, including Quebec, B.C., Alberta and Nova Scotia.
Speaking outside his home at Rideau Cottage on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the partial closing of the border with the United States will be extended by another 30 days.
The border has been closed to all but essential traffic and goods since mid-March, in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Trudeau said the two countries have agreed to maintain current conditions at least into June.
As of 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 78,500 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, with 39,521 cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of coronavirus deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 5,944.
The novel coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the risk associated with the coronavirus varies between communities, “but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.”
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia enters Phase 2 of its reopening plan on Tuesday, which allows a range of businesses including restaurants, retail, medically related services, hair salons and offices to reopen. Organizations like museums, art galleries and libraries are also listed in the province’s Phase 2 plan, as are parks, beaches and child care. Though the businesses are allowed to open, the plan provided by the province still calls on people to stay close to home. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Some Ontario businesses will be allowed to open their doors Tuesday after being closed for two months in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The province is giving the green light to retailers, some sports centres, vehicle dealerships and other businesses to resume. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, where health officials reported 427 new cases on Tuesday.
Toronto Mayor <a href=”https://twitter.com/JohnTory?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@JohnTory</a> says he hasn’t heard explicit assurances from the feds about money to help cities. <br><br>”I can’t take encouraging words to pay for child care, transit, housing… I need more than encouraging words. I need some explicit assurances and so do the other mayors.” <a href=”https://t.co/tEIQ6Z9gKD”>pic.twitter.com/tEIQ6Z9gKD</a>
WATCH | Cities verging on financial crisis with rising costs, reduced revenue:
Canadian cities are on the verge of a potential financial crisis caused by dropping revenues and rising costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’re asking the federal government to step in. 1:52
Nova Scotia reported one new coronavirus case and one new death on Tuesday, bringing the provincial total to 1,044 cases, with 956 of those considered recovered. The province has reported 56 coronavirus deaths, with the majority of those at a Halifax long-term care home, including the death announced on Tuesday. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
A Nunavut resident who is currently out of the territory getting medical treatment has tested positive for COVID-19. “We are confident this poses minimal risk of bringing the virus to Nunavut, as any travellers who might have come into contact with the patient have to isolate for 14 days prior to their return to Nunavut,” Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory’s chief public health officer, said in a news release. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
WATCH | Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure:
U.S. President Donald Trump has revealed he is preventatively taking hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that is not proven to be effective in fighting COVID-19. 1:58
WATCH | Infectious disease specialist tackles key topics related to COVID-19:
Dr. Isaac Bogoch says a small, new vaccine trial by a U.S. company has passed some preliminary hurdles, but notes ‘it’s very, very early’ on the path to finding a safe vaccine. 7:17