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Canadian striker Jonathan David sidelined for several weeks with ankle injury

Canadian international striker Jonathan David will be out for several weeks after rupturing the lateral ligament in his right ankle playing for Lille.

The 21-year-old from Ottawa went off after scoring the winner Saturday in Lille’s 1-0 win over defending champion Paris Saint-Germain in a top-of-the-table Ligue 1 clash.


David scored his 10th of the season in the 20th minute with a slightly deflected strike that had PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas going the wrong way. The Canadian exited 15 minutes later after a challenge from an opponent, with Lille offering the medical update Monday.

David has 11 goals in 12 appearances for Canada, whose next matches are World Cup qualifiers June 5 and 8 against Aruba and Suriname.

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Ontario sees 1,138 new COVID-19 cases as number of active infections climbs for 1st time in weeks

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s science advisory group, is expected to present updated COVID-19 projections for the province at a news conference scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.

You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.


Ontario reported another 1,138 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the number of active infections provincewide increased for the first time in more than six weeks.

The upward climb was small — in total, there were just 21 more active cases yesterday than the day before (10,071 compared to 10,050) — but it could be notable, given that until now infections marked as resolved have outpaced newly confirmed cases every day since Jan. 12.

The new cases in today’s update include 339 in Toronto, 204 in Peel Region and 106 in York Region.

Thunder Bay also saw another 44 cases. The local medical officer of health in the unit told CBC News this morning that residents should prepare to go back into the grey lockdown phase of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions system. Thunder Bay is currently in the red “control” tier.

Other public health units that logged double-digit increases were:

  • Ottawa: 64
  • Waterloo Region: 56
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 44
  • Halton Region: 40
  • Hamilton: 37
  • Windsor-Essex: 33
  • Durham Region: 28
  • Eastern Ontario: 20
  • Brant County: 19
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 18
  • Niagara Region: 12
  • Southwestern: 11

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’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 on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.)

The seven-day average of new daily cases increased for a fifth straight day to 1,099.

Ontario’s lab network completed 66,351 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and reported a test positivity rate of two per cent.

According to the province, there has been a total of 449 cases involving the COVID-19 variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom. That is 54 more than there were in yesterday’s update. There have also been 11 cases of the variant first found in South Africa, and two linked to the variant identified in Brazil.

Later today, the co-chair of Ontario’s science advisory group is expected to present revised projections of how the variants could impact the spread of the virus. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown previously said that the variant identified in the U.K. could become dominant in the province by mid-March.

Researchers from the University of Guelph and University of Waterloo independently ran modelling simulations based on Ontario’s most recent reopening plan, with stay-at-home orders possibly lifted in Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound on March 8. The results suggest that the spread of the variant, which has been shown to be more contagious, could have profound effects on case numbers in latter half of March.

School-related cases

The Ministry of Education also reported another 83 school-related cases: 70 students, 12 staff members and one person who was not identified. There are currently 18 schools closed due to the illness, or about 0.4 per cent of all schools in the province.

In a news release issued late yesterday, Toronto Public Health said that there are eight schools within the health unit where at least one case has screened positive for, or is most likely due to, a variant of concern.

“The affected individuals and cohorts have been dismissed from school with guidance based on their level of risk. TPH has followed up with close contacts in affected class cohorts and has recommended testing,” release said.

Public health units also recorded the deaths of 23 more people with COVID-19, pushing Ontario’s official toll to 6,916.

Meanwhile, the province said it administered 19,112 doses of vaccines yesterday, the second-most on a single day so far. As of 8 p.m. yesterday, 255,449 people had received both shots of a vaccine.

WATCH | Ontario’s vaccine rollout likely to be accelerated, says task force member:

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, says vaccinations of Ontarians in certain age categories are likely to move more quickly than initially planned. 0:56

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COVID-19 vaccine deliveries back on track following weeks of delay, says Public Health Agency

Deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine doses from two approved vaccine makers — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — are back on track following weeks of reduced shipments, officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada said today.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada’s vaccine logistics, said 403,650 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Canada this week. That’s the largest single delivery since shipments began in December.

Fortin said that both companies are on track to meet their targets by delivering a total of six million doses — four million from Pfizer and two million from Moderna — by the end of March.

And an updated delivery timeline released by PHAC says Canada should receive millions more doses than originally anticipated between now and September.

“We’re now coming out of this period of limited supplies. It’s an abundance of supplies for spring and summer, where we can have a significant scaling-up of immunization plans in provinces,” Fortin said.

Pressure on government

The federal government has come under intense pressure from opposition politicians and other critics in recent weeks as the country’s vaccine rollout slowed. Pfizer began reducing shipments in January as it retooled its plant in Puurs, Belgium, so that it could expand its manufacturing capacity. Moderna also has cut its shipments in recent weeks.

The delays have caused Canada to fall behind dozens of other countries in measurements of doses administered by population, according to a global vaccine tracking database maintained by University of Oxford researchers.

As of last Saturday, only 2.7 per cent of Canadians had received one shot of a vaccine and less than one per cent had received both doses.

WATCH | Fortin says increased COVID-19 vaccine supply expected in spring

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin provides details on the increased supply of COVID-19 vaccines expected to arrive in Canada this spring. 1:48

Pfizer has locked in a delivery schedule for the next six weeks to meet the end-of-March deadline. The company plans to ship 475,000 doses next week and then 444,600 per week next month, according to the federal government’s vaccine distribution tracker.

Moderna, which has delivered 500,000 doses so far, will deliver a reduced shipment of 168,000 doses next week. Negotiations are still underway with Moderna on specific delivery dates for the remaining 1.3 million doses it’s committed to delivering by the end of March, but they are expected to arrive in two shipments, Fortin said.

The territories — which already have administered vaccines to 32.9 per cent of their adult populations — will have enough doses from Moderna’s next two deliveries to vaccinate 75 per cent of adults by the end of March, Fortin said. 

Accelerated rollout schedule

The updated timeline provided by PHAC shows millions more doses arriving between now and September than previous projections anticipated.

It projects that Canada should have enough doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to fully vaccinate 14.5 million people by the end of June, and 42 million by the end of September. If the companies follow through with deliveries on schedule, that means Canada would have more than enough doses to fully vaccinate the country’s entire population by September.

Part of that increase is due to Health Canada acknowledging that each vial of the Pfizer vaccine carries six doses, not five. That change means more shots can be squeezed out of each vial — and the company can ship fewer vials and still meet its contractual obligations to send a certain number of doses to its customers.

But the updated number also reflects recent deals Ottawa negotiated with Pfizer and Moderna to accelerate deliveries. 

Arianne Reza, assistant deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said today that negotiations led the companies to commit to moving up the delivery of 5.1 million doses — scheduled originally to arrive in the third and fourth quarters of this year — to the second quarter between April and June.

The timeline shows that Canada could have enough doses to vaccinate even more people — 24.5 million — by the end of June. But that calculation is based on an optimistic scenario where three other vaccines currently under review — from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax — are approved by Health Canada and delivered on time.

Vaccine effectiveness in LTC

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said preliminary data from provincial and territorial health authorities show that vaccinations in long-term care homes are starting to have a positive effect at preventing disease. He cautioned, however, that more robust data is needed as the vaccine rollout ramps up.

“The early indications are it’s starting to have an impact. The rates of infection and … subsequently the hospitalizations and deaths as a result of COVID-19 exposure and having the disease are starting to go down,” said Njoo.

He also said that federal and provincial health experts are looking at evidence that one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 might be almost as effective as two. Njoo said data presented by two Canadian doctors in the New England Journal of Medicine this week are compelling.


Two Canadian doctors who analyzed vaccine efficacy data from the U.S. wrote in the New England Medical Journal this week that one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be almost as good as giving two. (Andrew Vaughan-Pool/The Canadian Press)

Dr. Danuta Skowronski from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Dr. Gaston De Serres from the Institut national de sante publique du Quebec say data in the U.S. suggest the Pfizer vaccine was 92 per cent effective against COVID-19 two weeks after just one dose.

Original data suggested one dose gave about 52 per cent protection and two doses gave 94.5 per cent protection — but the doctors say those estimates failed to allow two weeks for vaccine recipients’ immune systems to respond.

The doctors suggest that with vaccine doses in scarce supply, more of the most vulnerable could be protected by delaying second doses for now.

Njoo said the doctors recently presented their evidence to a committee of federal and provincial public health officers. He added that PHAC officials are actively discussing the issue with the provinces and territories and with members of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which makes recommendations on how vaccinations should be prioritized.

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Don’t Miss This Week’s Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter and Saturn, our solar system’s two largest worlds, have been drawing ever closer to each other in the sky in recent months as seen from our Earthly vantage, an event that has come to be known as a great conjunction. The two planets will appear closest together on Monday, December 21, the day of the Winter Solstice, when—depending on your eyesight—they may seem to briefly merge into a single bright point of light before drawing apart again.

The last time they appeared this close together was in Galileo’s time, but because the two planets were near their conjunction with the Sun and would have been lost in bright twilight, there is no record of anyone having seen the event. You would have to go back nearly 800 years, to 1226 AD, to find a more favorable great conjunction, with the planets approaching even closer and visible in a dark sky.

The Cosmic Racetrack

Picture the solar system as a cosmic racetrack. In accordance with a precise set of natural laws (Kepler’s laws of planetary motion), the planets on the inside tracks move faster. While it takes the Earth a year to orbit the Sun, Jupiter’s orbital period is 11.9 years, and Saturn circles our star in 29 years. Every 19.86 years on average, Jupiter “laps” Saturn from our perspective, and we see the two planets’ proximity to each other as a so-called “great conjunction.” Scott Orshan prepared the chart below showing their position on December 21 using the Web-based astronomy-mapping app, In-The-Sky.org.

In reality, although Jupiter and Saturn are on the same side of the Sun during such an event, and appear more or less in line with each other, in reality they never come much closer than about 400 million miles. On average, Jupiter orbits 483 million miles from the Sun, while Saturn averages 887 million miles from the Sun. When the two planets are on opposite sides of the Sun, they are much farther apart.

Because the orbit of each planet is tilted slightly with respect to the others, in a great conjunction the two worlds don’t always pass the same distance apart. The Moon is about half an angular degree in diameter. In many of these so-called great conjunctions, Jupiter and Saturn pass a degree or more from each other.

What You Might See

The December 21 conjunction is especially close, the two worlds appearing just a tenth of a degree apart, or a fifth of a lunar diameter, at their closest. Keen-eyed people may see them as a very close double “star,” with Jupiter outshining Saturn by about a dozen times, while near-sighted folks like myself may see them as blended together as a single object. Eyeglasses may resolve them, and the view will be even better in binoculars or a small telescope, where the two worlds should be visible in the same low-power field of view.

The chart above, which I made using the SkySafari app, shows the relative position of these objects at 6:05 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, December 21, when the two planets are nearly at their closest, about a tenth of a degree (6.1 arcminutes) apart. It is a generalized diagram; the extent of your field of view (which will be circular) depends on the focal length and magnification of your telescope or binoculars. A pair of 7x binoculars should be enough to show Jupiter’s four largest moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto—appearing as a line of “stars” to either side of the planet. All except Europa are larger than Earth’s Moon, and Ganymede is actually larger than the planet Mercury—as is Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Jupiter’s moons—especially Io and Europa—move rapidly relative to the planet and to one another, and they are constantly changing position in a never-ending cosmic dance.

Large binoculars may show Saturn as an oval, and a small telescope should resolve it into a ringed planet, tiny yet perfect. It will also show Jupiter as a slightly squashed disk (due to its rapid rotation), as well as reveal its equatorial cloud belts. The scope may also discern Titan as a faint “star” at Saturn’s side. (A larger scope may show several additional moons, especially when Saturn is visible in a dark sky, and most especially around opposition, when Saturn is opposite the Sun in our sky, near its closest to Earth, and visible all night.)

Past and Future Great Conjunctions

After December 21, the two worlds will slowly appear to recede from each other. By Christmas, they will already appear a lunar diameter apart. The next two great conjunctions, in November 2040 and April 2060, are relatively wide ones, with Jupiter and Saturn staying more than a degree apart even at their closest. Some of our younger readers should be around for the next one, on March 15, 2080, in which the two planets will actually be a smidge closer (6 arcminutes) than they will be this week.

The last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close together was on July 16, 1623, 13 years after Galileo first turned his telescope to the heavens and a decade before his run-in with the Inquisition. However, the two planets were very close to the Sun; Saturn, at least, would have been invisible to the unaided eye, and there is no record of anyone having observed this pairing.

To have actually seen these two planets this close in our sky (in fact, even closer), you would have to go back to March 4, 1226, more than four centuries before the telescope was invented. St. Francis of Assisi died that October and would be canonized just two years later. Genghis Khan and his horsemen had conquered much of Asia and parts of Europe; he would die the following year. The Sufi mystic poet, Jalal Ad-Din Rumi, was a young man of 19. He and his family had fled what is now Afghanistan due to the Mongol invasion and settled in Antalya, Turkey. Two years later, the Holy Roman Emperor would lead the Sixth Crusade, gaining control of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which encompassed Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jaffa, and surrounding lands through a negotiated settlement with the Sultan of Egypt.

The German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler claimed in the 17th Century that the Star of Bethlehem may have had an astronomical origin, namely the great conjunction of 7 BC. That year’s event was actually a rare triple conjunction, with Jupiter and Saturn approaching and receding from each other over a period of months due to the planets’ apparent retrograde motion.

It is possible for Jupiter to even occult (pass in front of—wholly or partially) Saturn from our vantage, but this happens incredibly rarely. The last one happened in 6858 BC, with the next due in 7541—the latter year will actually feature two occultations, as part of a triple conjunction: a partial occultation on February 16, and a full occultation on June 17, in which Jupiter’s disk will obscure all but the very tips of Saturn’s rings. Hopefully, there will still be people around on Earth to see this amazing event.

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As COVID-19 cases rise, N.L. and P.E.I. exit Atlantic bubble for at least 2 weeks

The Atlantic bubble is no more.

Both Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I are exiting the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks as COVID-19 cases rise in parts of the region.

Newfoundland Premier Andrew Furey said the province will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in the other Atlantic provinces to see if the two-week break needs to be extended. Travel to and from Newfoundland and Labrador will only be for essential reasons, he said.

“The Atlantic Bubble has been a source of pride … but the situation has changed,” Furey said at a news conference.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King delivered a similar message during a nearly simultaneous news conference, saying his government would re-evaluate over the next two weeks.

King said the changing epidemiology in the region was concerning, “and it forces us to use what I believe are the tools in our limited toolbox to do everything we can to avoid an outbreak here in P.E.I.”

He said that given the province’s small size, it wouldn’t take much for its health-care system to become overwhelmed.

Atlantic bubble established July 3

Newfoundland’s heightened travel restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday, and P.E.I.’s come into effect Monday at midnight.

Since July 3, residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I and Newfoundland and Labrador were able to travel relatively freely across each other’s borders without quarantining.

COVID-19 case numbers in all the Atlantic provinces were low throughout the summer and fall, but that began to change last week in parts of the region.

New Brunswick tightened restrictions in Moncton and Saint John last week as cases rose, and the province reported its highest ever single-day case count on Saturday with 23 new cases. As of Sunday, that province had a total of 77 active cases. 

Nova Scotia also started recording a spike in cases last week and public health confirmed there is community spread, with most transmission happening in the Halifax area. As of Sunday’s reporting, the province had a total of 44 known active cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador is currently reporting 23 active cases — including two new cases announced Monday — and P.E.I has two, with the latest one reported at Monday’s news conference.

No plans to burst N.S.-N.B. bubble

In a news conference Monday afternoon, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said the change will not affect New Brunswick’s rules.

He said he and the other Atlantic premiers held a teleconference last night when they discussed the decision.

“We certainly understand the situation that Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. are in, and their concerns with our current situation in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia,” he said.

Still, Higgs said he and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil have decided not to burst the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick bubble for now.

He said most cases in Nova Scotia are in the Halifax region. He said there has been a focus on testing there, and people in the Halifax area are being encouraged to not travel outside of the region.


The Atlantic bubble was lauded as a success throughout the summer and fall when COVID-19 case numbers were low. Numbers started rising again last week in parts of the region, causing Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. to pull out of the bubble. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Higgs said enforcing an isolation requirement for Nova Scotia would not be a good use of resources.

“We want to keep our resources deployed along our northern borders between New Brunswick and Quebec, and to enhance our activity along the border between Maine and New Brunswick,” he said.

“We’re aligned in containing this in Nova Scotia and in New Brunswick independently, and I think we’re best served to ensure that we each follow our own protocols.”

He said any New Brunswickers travelling to P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador, including for work, should contact the government in the two provinces to see how the changes will affect them.

Higgs also said the change does not affect New Brunswickers coming home after working in P.E.I. or Newfoundland and Labrador.

While the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border remains open, Higgs still urged New Brunswickers to avoid non-essential travel. That message was also in a news release from the Council of Atlantic Premiers on Monday morning, which advised caution while travelling within the Atlantic bubble.

The office of Premier Stephen McNeil confirmed Monday that travellers from all other Atlantic provinces can still enter Nova Scotia without quarantining.  

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Trump says COVID-19 vaccine will ship in ‘a matter of weeks’ — but excludes New York

Gliding over significant challenges still to come, U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday offered a rosy update on the race for a vaccine for the resurgent coronavirus as he delivered his first public remarks since his defeat by president-elect Joe Biden. He still did not concede the election.

Trump spoke from the Rose Garden as the nation sets records for confirmed cases of COVID-19, and as hospitalizations near critical levels and fatalities climb to the highest levels since the spring.

He said a vaccine would ship in “a matter of weeks” to vulnerable populations, though the Food and Drug Administration has not yet been asked to grant the necessary emergency approvals.

Public health experts worry that Trump’s refusal to take aggressive action on the pandemic or to co-ordinate with the Biden team during the final two months of his presidency will only worsen the effects of the virus and hinder the nation’s ability to swiftly distribute a vaccine next year.

As states impose new restrictions in the face of rising caseloads, Trump asked all Americans to remain “vigilant.” But he ruled out a nationwide “lockdown” and appeared to acknowledge that the decision won’t be his much longer.

WATCH | Trump makes closest nod so far to U.S. election result:

President Donald Trump made his closest acknowledgement of the U.S. election result Friday during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, saying his administration would not initiate a lockdown in the future. He then added: “Who knows which administration it will be. I guess time will tell.” 0:54

“This administration will not be going to a lockdown,” he said. “Hopefully whatever happens in the future, who knows, which administration it will be I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”

Biden, for his part, has not endorsed a nationwide shutdown, but he appealed for Trump to take “urgent action” to curtail the spread of the virus.

“The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now,” he said in a statement Friday.

Trump said vaccines would “arrive within a few weeks,” saying they were ready and merely awaiting approval — and would be given “to high-risk individuals right away.”

In fact, there’s no guarantee that Pfizer’s shot, the front-runner, will get rapid authorization for emergency use. 

WATCH | What Pfizer’s vaccine trial means for the pandemic:

Infectious disease doctors answer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and what the announcement by Pfizer about its early results from its vaccine means. 6:07

Even if it does, there’s no information yet indicating if the vaccine works in older adults or just younger, healthier adults. Nor does Pfizer have a large commercial stockpile already poised to ship; initial batches of shots would be small and targeted to certain still-to-be-determined populations.

Trump, aiming to settle political scores, said he would not ship vaccines to hard-hit New York until Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs off, noting that the state has promised to do its own review to ensure their safety.

“The governor will let us know when he’s ready,” Trump said.

WATCH | Trump singles out New York Gov. Cuomo:

U.S. President Donald Trump said a vaccine will be available for the country’s entire population by April, but claimed it won’t be delivered to New York state because Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to take his time authorizing it ‘for political reasons’ and because he ‘doesn’t trust’ the Trump administration. 1:27

Cuomo pushed back in a CNN interview, saying New York is one of several states that set up their own scientific panels to give residents greater confidence to take the vaccine if it is safe to use. He accused Trump of “politicizing the process.”

“As soon as they get us the drug, we are ready to distribute it,” Cuomo said.

Meanwhile, his campaign prediction that the U.S. was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic has met a harsh reality, with his own White House becoming the focus of yet another outbreak.

Trump’s aggressive travel despite the virus has taken its toll on his protectors as well. The U.S. Secret Service is experiencing a significant number of cases, many believed to be linked to his rallies in the closing days of the campaign, according to one official.

Transition delays

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, said Trump is “not even at that point yet” when it comes to conceding to Biden.

Trump has levelled baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, even as his own administration has said there is no evidence to support the claims.

His aides suggest he is merely trying to keep his base of supporters on his side in defeat.

WATCH | Stalled presidential transition disrupts U.S. COVID-19 response:

For the first time since Joe Biden was declared the winner of the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump acknowledges the possibility that it might not be his administration dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic going forward. 1:56

With more than 100,000 new confirmed U.S. cases reported daily for more than a week, Trump has been more focused on tracking the rollout of a vaccine, which won’t be widely available for months.

He has fumed that Pfizer intentionally withheld an announcement about progress on its vaccine trial until after Election Day, according to a White House official who was not authorized to publicly comment and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pfizer said it did not purposely withhold trial results. 

The president has consistently played down the pandemic, which has killed more than 240,000 Americans and infected more than 10 million people in the U.S.

WATCH | New Yorkers fear a repeat of COVID-19 situation from the spring:

For the third day straight, the U.S. has broken its own COVID-19 case record, with more than 150,000 new infections in just 24 hours. New Yorkers are scared about the situation getting as bad as it did in the spring. 1:43

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tested positive last week after attending an election night party at the White House.

Others at the party also have tested positive, including White House political director Brian Jack, former White House aide Healy Baumgardner and Trump campaign advisers David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski said Thursday that he believes he contracted the virus in Philadelphia while assisting the president’s election challenge there.

Biden, for his part, largely framed the election as a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic. He has made addressing the virus his top priority as he moves forward with his transition.

WATCH | Biden lays out plan to fight COVID-19 pandemic:

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has laid out his plans for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, urging people to wear masks, and naming his coronavirus task force. 2:09

He spoke by phone Thursday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about the intensifying pandemic and prospects for passage of a COVID-19 relief bill in the lame duck session of Congress.

Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Biden will appoint a “COVID co-ordinator” who will lead the administration’s pandemic response.

Klain, speaking on MSNBC Thursday night, said the individual will have “direct access” to the president and will brief him daily on the pandemic. A team of people under the co-ordinator will supervise vaccine distribution, address supply chain disruptions and improve access to testing.

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B.C. announces new COVID-19 restrictions for Metro Vancouver health regions for 2 weeks as cases surge

British Columbia’s top health officials have announced sweeping new COVID-19 restrictions for the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions for a two-week period as cases in the province surge.

The new orders focus on social gatherings, travel, indoor group exercises and workplaces.

“We need to keep essential services and activities from schools to workplaces open and operating safely. And right now this is in jeopardy,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a rare Saturday briefing.

Residents of the two affected health regions are being told not to engage in social interactions outside their immediate households. Weddings and funerals can proceed, as long as they include only immediate household members.

She said people who live alone can maintain a small bubble of one to two people, but that advice does not apply to people who live in a larger household.

WATCH | ‘I know this is hard’: Dr. Henry explains need for new COVID-19 restrictions in Metro Vancouver 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the measures are necessary to keep schools and essential services open, and curb the surge of cases in the province. 2:39

Henry strongly recommended that travel in and out of the Fraser Health region and Vancouver Coastal Health region be limited to essential travel only.

The new public health orders are in effect from Saturday night at 10 p.m. to Monday Nov. 23 at noon. A number of communities in the health authorities are exempt including Hope, Bella Coola, the Central Coast, Sunshine Coast and Howe Sound areas.

Indoor group fitness ordered to close

Businesses and recreation centres have been ordered to stop holding indoor group physical activities for two weeks, including yoga, spin, dance, and group fitness classes. Fitness centres that cater to individuals, where physical distancing can be maintained, can remain open.

Indoor sports where physical distancing can’t be maintained are suspended, though this does not apply to physical activities in schools.

Henry said workplaces must ensure physical distancing, especially in break rooms and kitchens. She said businesses that can’t maintain COVID-19 protocols will be shut down by health officers and restaurants that can’t adhere to safety plans may have to revert to take-out only.

Party buses and limousines are ordered to stop operating immediately.

The restrictions do not apply to religious gatherings, so long as physical distancing can be maintained, and gatherings remain under 50 people.

“This is the road we must walk and must walk together … we are all in this together,” said Henry. “We will get through these challenges. We have flattened our curve in the past and we will do it again. These next two weeks will be critical for us.”

Henry said that while businesses that fail to comply with safety protocols could be shut down, B.C. has no plans to increase enforcement on shutting down social gatherings.

“We don’t necessarily need to enforce it. These are the rules and we know that people understand the rationale and, for the most part, they follow them,” she said.

“Having said that, we do have the ability to enforce rules through PHO and bylaw officers and police, but I don’t believe this is necessary.” 

Cases surge to record highs

The restrictions come as B.C. reports 567 new cases of COVID-19 in the most recent 24-hour period, and one new death. The province reported 589 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 425 on Thursday and 334 on Wednesday.

The province also reported two new deaths on Friday, bringing the total to 276.

Henry said the new number of cases in B.C. have become”dangerously high,” with health officials noting that a linear growth pattern, which had been manageable, had turned into exponential growth.

“Provincial health orders are always a last resort but right now these measures are necessary,” she said.

“I know this is hard. I know we don’t want to have to be doing this.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the increase over the past two weeks has been worrying and encouraged people living in other health regions to remain vigilant.

“As all of you know the level of COVID-19 have been lower in B.C. than other jurisdictions, than other places in the world … that said, we need to take urgent and focused action now,” he said.

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Alphonso Davies out 6-8 weeks with right ankle injury suffered in Bayern Munich win

Robert Lewandowski scored a hat trick to help Bayern Munich continue where it left off in the Bundesliga with a 5-0 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday in Berlin.

However, the winning side suffered an early blow with midfielder Alphonso Davies of Edmonton going off with a right ankle injury in the third minute. Lucas Hernandez came on for the 19-year-old Canadian.

Bayern later confirmed the former Vancouver Whitecaps star would be sidelined up to two months with ligament damage.

Lewandowski didn’t score in Bayern’s 4-0 defeat of Atletico Madrid in their Champions League opening game on Wednesday and evidently felt the need to atone as the Polish star took his tally to 10 goals in five Bundesliga games.

WATCH | Canada’s Alphonso Davies suffers ligament damage in right ankle:

19-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder Alphonso Davies of Edmonton injured his right ankle at the start of their match against Eintracht Frankfurt and is expected to be out of action for 6-8 weeks. 1:59

The forward was left in too much space and broke the deadlock in the 10th, then grabbed his second with a header inside the left post from a corner in the 25th, and he completed his hat trick in the 61st.


His job done, Lewandowski was taken off in the 68th as Bayern coach Hansi Flick made three changes at once.

Leroy Sane came on for his injury comeback and marked the occasion with a fine goal inside the far post five minutes later, and the 17-year-old Jamal Musiala wrapped up the scoring in the last minute.

WATCH | Alphonso Davies’ meteoric rise through soccer ranks:

Canada’s breakout soccer star, 19-year-old Alphonso Davies, is now the first member of Canada’s national team to play for — and win — the coveted Champions League as a member of the victorious German team Bayern Munich. Davies, born in a refugee camp in Ghana, has become an inspiration to a new generation of Canadian soccer fans. 2:02

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Ontario waited weeks to trigger restrictions while COVID-19 spread. Did changes come too late?

For months, Ryan Imgrund has meticulously tracked the ebbs and flows of coronavirus transmission in Ontario.

New weekly COVID-19 cases per capita. Infections tied to community transmission. The shifts in impacted regions and age groups.

After the Civic Holiday weekend in early August, one rising metric stood out to the biostatistician: The virus’s Rt value — the number of cases linked to every primary infection — went above 1.0 after a summer lull. 

It signalled a shift to exponential growth, where every one person carrying the virus could infect 1.1 more, and so on. 

“That’s when my alarm bells started going off,” said Imgrund, who works at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont..  

As the weeks passed and summer turned to fall, those alarms rang louder and louder. Clinicians, epidemiologists and hospital leaders all started sharing other concerning metrics — including rising demand for testing, spikes in hospital admissions, long-term care outbreaks — and pushed Ontario to take action.


Several hundred people line up on a soccer field in Ottawa to wait for COVID-19 testing on Sept. 15, as urban areas of Ontario saw a surge in new cases. The provincial government on Friday announced a return to earlier restrictions for Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

But it wasn’t until Friday that provincial health officials announced a sweeping rollback to earlier restrictions for the hot zones of Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, including the closing of restaurants, gyms, movie theatres, casinos and other indoor gathering spots.

A bid to curb runaway case growth before yet another holiday weekend, the move came the same day Ontario reported a new record high of more than 900 COVID-19 cases.

So why now? 

Why not take action on Thursday, when critical-care physicians flagged a one-day spike in ICU admissions not seen since early June?

Why not a week ago, when Toronto’s medical officer of health called for indoor dining and fitness centre closures to stop “exponential growth” in infections?

Why not in early October, after the province’s own modelling data projected 1,000 new cases each day?

Why not sometime in September, when cases and hospitalizations were rising while new infections shifted from mostly younger adults to more older, vulnerable Ontarians?

Why not back in August, when the reproductive number Imgrund kept tracking hit the tipping point for case growth — an early signal of trouble to come?

“A couple weeks ago, we didn’t see these numbers,” Premier Doug Ford told reporters on Friday, referring to this week’s record-breaking case growth, which spiked despite lagging testing data and a hefty processing backlog.

“We saw them creep up, creep up, and then, over a day or two — bang — they doubled.”

WATCH | Ontario premier’s changing message on COVID-19:

Just days ago, Premier Doug Ford said the province was “flattening the curve.” Now, cases are hitting record highs and he has different advice for the public. 1:04

Ford said closing businesses wasn’t an easy decision and involved balancing both public health and the economy. He also said not acting would leave the province in “worse shape” down the road.

“But it’s not too late, folks,” the premier said.

Others worry there’s been a dangerous delay.

Cases shifting to older adults

“I think we’re two to four weeks too late,” warned physician epidemiologist Dr. Nitin Mohan, a partner at ETIO Public Health Consultants and an assistant professor at Western University in London, Ont.

“And frankly, even delaying a week we’re going to see unnecessary cases and deaths,” said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Sinai Health in Toronto.

That’s because the concerning metrics of today foreshadow worse problems to come, and there’s no going back in time to change the past.


Dr. Nitin Mohan, a partner at ETIO Public Health Consultants and an assistant professor at Western University in London, Ont., says while the new restrictions are a ‘step in the right direction,’ it will take some time before their impact is clear. (Zoom)

According to Imgrund’s data analysis, the number of new cases reported among adults over 60 has tripled over the last month. The finding suggests more vulnerable seniors could soon be facing serious forms of COVID-19 as their illnesses progress, including hundreds of residents — and staff — infected amid outbreaks in long-term care.

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients over the last three weeks have also increased 250 per cent, the province revealed on Friday, while the number of intensive care unit beds being occupied is expected to cross the 150-bed threshold within the next 30 days. 

“This will have a direct, negative impact on the ability of some hospitals to provide access to other vital surgeries and procedures,” Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association said following Friday’s announcement.

And while Mohan said the restrictions are a “step in the right direction,” it will take some time before the impact is clear — with many recently infected Ontarians set to become sicker as the days pass.

“We’ve now created a situation in the province where we’re going to have weeks of hardship,” said Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital. “The damage still needs to be mopped up.”

Ontario aiming to avoid full lockdown

To provincial officials, bringing Ontario back to a cleaner state involves curbing case growth enough to not only avoid an overwhelmed health-care system but also a lengthy lockdown.

Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters on Friday that rolling back to earlier restrictions now is a better bet than waiting until the situation “spirals out of control.”

Given that the risk that could still occur, Mohan said officials need to refocus their communication to the public during this next phase of the pandemic, since even with targeted restrictions, the takeaway for Ontarians may remain unclear, and enforcement could be a challenge.


Patrons wearing masks sit on the patio of a Toronto restaurant in June, as the city entered Stage 2 of reopening. Under COVID-19 restrictions announced in Ontario on Friday, indoor dining is prohibited in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, but patios can remain open. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The closures apply to Toronto and Peel but not to the neighbouring regions of Halton and York; the province is pushing residents to avoid non-essential outings and has halted indoor dining in the three hot zones, yet patios can remain open.

“What we should be doing is providing these businesses with additional support to help them close down safely so we can curb the spread of the virus and drive case counts low,” Mohan said. “If we take this sort of half-step approach, then we can’t expect the results we really need to see.”

Ford said the province is investing millions of dollars to help businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes and hydro and gas bills, while the federal government announced targeted aid, including rent relief for some businesses hit by shutdowns.

The question after weeks of alarming metrics and, for many, even more alarming inaction is whether all of the efforts will be enough to bring Ontario back from the edge of disaster.

“Have we missed the opportunity?” Stall said. “I still think we can control this — we can deal with this — but it’s going to delay things.”

How damaging that delay proves to be only time will tell.

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Nvidia Pushes RTX 3070 Launch Back 2 Weeks to Avoid Bot Debacle

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Nvidia’s RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 sales were the worst examples yet of how badly online bots are damaging product launches, and the company wants to prevent a similar event from happening when it launches the RTX 3070. To that end, Nvidia will delay the RTX 3070 debut by two weeks, from October 15 to October 29, in order to build inventory and ensure an adequate supply of cards.

Nvidia-Announcement

This is going to be an interesting stress test of the bot armies, OEM manufacturing, and retailer attempts to identify real orders versus scalpers. I’m not terribly optimistic about the outcome. As I wrote earlier this week, Nvidia has every reason to crack down on bots and scalpers, but other companies in the distribution chain don’t necessarily see things that way.

According to Rob Fahey at GamesIndustry.biz, Amazon apparently took no action to prevent people from buying pre-order stocks before immediately re-listing those exact same products for sale at a substantial markup compared with previous listings. Companies like eBay have no reason to attempt to block preorder scams and scalping, given that they literally make their money from online auctions and will earn more from an inflated sales price than a normal one.

Fahey writes:

Up front, we have to acknowledge that the first come, first served paradigm is a disaster; it’s meaningless in the age of the Internet, when even a tech company with the prowess of Amazon can’t build store pages that keep up with the speed of traffic at a popular launch. The result is confusing, contradictory and frustrating for consumers who add the product to their cart only to see it disappear a screen later, or go out of stock while they’re choosing a delivery address, or flicker in and out of availability as they refresh browser pages. Using this kind of hare-brained system only gives the advantage to the scalpers, who can afford to set up bots and web crawlers to secure stock for themselves.

Fahey suggests the use of lotteries as one method to create a more fair distribution system. I’ve suggested either validated pre-orders or a return to retail distribution as a means of fighting scalping, though the latter obviously depends on the degree to which your state is open for business and how comfortable you feel shopping in it.

Image credit: Twitter

After the RTX 3080 debut/debacle, screenshots surfaced of individuals successfully ordering 18 to 42 GPUs for themselves. We don’t know if Nvidia or any other reseller successfully caught these orders and terminated them. If they did, then waiting an extra two weeks to build inventory might be sufficient to keep the market fed for longer than 2-5 minutes, which is how long Ampere stocks lasted in some online stores. If, on the other hand, the bot detection methods were less successful than previously believed, no reasonable amount of additional stock is going to solve the problem.

If the customer who bought 42 GPUs was an outlier, Nvidia is fine. If he represents the median bot purchase — or is even within one standard deviation of it — then we’re talking about bots sucking down 1-2 dozen cards apiece. If 1,000 to 2,000 bots can account for 12,000 to 48,000 video cards, it’s going to be much harder to overwhelm the collective credit limits and resources of the botters. Some scammers might take whatever profits they earned from the first wave of RTX 3080 and 3090 order abuse, then pour those profits into buying more RTX 3070s in the hopes of pulling the same trick again.

I’m glad to see Nvidia taking the situation seriously and I hope retailers and manufacturers do the same in order to make certain hardware gets into the hands of customers attempting to buy it as opposed to flipping it for profit, but the bots have definitely won Round 1 of our metaphorical match-up. Here’s hoping better detection methods and more inventory can hand a win to the good guys in Round 2. Nvidia has claimed the $ 500 RTX 3070 will outperform the $ 1,200 RTX 2080 Ti, and that’s going to have a lot of people eyeing the RTX 3070 as a potential upgrade.

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