By Star staff
Wed., Oct. 6, 2021timer6 min. read
updateArticle was updated 0 mins ago
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Wednesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
7:45 a.m. The York Region District School Board’s own staff strongly objected to implementing a controversial and seldom-used hybrid learning model for elementary schools, saying it would be “detrimental” to students and families and leave marginalized students behind.
Sources told the Star an internal report from staff to senior leaders also noted that five Ontario school boards, which had previously used a hybrid system — in which teachers instruct students online and in person simultaneously — “strongly discouraged” the York board from pursuing the model for its elementary schools.
But soon after they submitted their report in May, staff were informed a decision to move forward with the hybrid model had already been made, leaving them to wonder if any of their work had been considered by the board leadership.
7:30 a.m. As Ontario enters the third month of its fourth pandemic wave, case counts continue to be stubbornly high despite growing vaccination levels and widespread restrictions on businesses.
Provincial public heath data indicates a key factor could be the lack of widespread vaccination requirements for workers at warehouses, manufacturers and construction sites, the workplaces where the majority of COVID-19 transmission is now taking place.
Data from Ontario’s Ministry of Health shows that outside of the education system, such workplaces continue to be the leading source of active outbreaks in the province. But a survey of employers in those sectors by the Star shows that many are still not requiring that workers get vaccinated to enter work sites.
5:50 a.m.: Russia’s daily toll of coronavirus deaths surpassed 900 for the first time of the pandemic Wednesday, a record that comes amid the country’s low vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to impose tough restrictions to control new cases.
Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 929 new deaths on Wednesday, the fourth time this month that daily COVID-19 deaths reached record highs. The previous record, of 895 deaths, was registered Tuesday.
The task force also reported 25,133 new confirmed cases Wednesday.
The rise in infections and deaths began in late September. The Kremlin has blamed it too few Russians getting vaccinated. As of Tuesday, almost 33% of Russia’s 146 million people had received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, and 29% was fully vaccinated.
Despite the surge, government officials rejected the idea of imposing a lockdown and said regional authorities would take steps to stem the spread of the virus.
5:49 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make good today on his election promise to require all federal employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Trudeau is expected to announce at a news conference this morning a new policy of mandatory vaccinations for employees in federally regulated workplaces.
That will include mandatory vaccinations for anyone wanting to board a plane or a train in Canada.
The policy is expected to go into effect by the end of this month.
Trudeau promised in August, just before calling the election, that his Liberal government would make vaccinations mandatory for federal employees.
Since then, Treasury Board officials have been working out the details — including the consequences for workers who refuse to get vaccinated — in consultation with the affected unions.
5:48 a.m.: British Columbia’s seniors advocate is set to release a review of COVID-19 outbreaks in the province’s care facilities.
Isobel Mackenzie said last spring the review will examine more than two dozen of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks at care facilities for seniors to better understand what happened.
Recent data posted by the province’s Centre for Disease Control says there were 368 COVID-19 outbreaks at B.C. care facilities from January 2020 to September 2021 and 1,092 deaths of residents.
Mackenzie has said factors leading to the outbreaks could be results of the age and size of buildings, whether residents shared rooms, staffing levels, sick leave policies for workers, infection control protocols, and the age and conditions of the residents.
The B.C. government says it has embarked on initiatives to hire more care facility staff and it is aiming to have more single rooms available for residents.
Mackenzie says she has been heartened by the public’s response to calls for improvements to long-term care.
5:47 a.m.: Canadian military nurses will begin work at an Edmonton hospital today to help alleviate pressure on a critical care unit overburdened with COVID-19 patients.
The Canadian Armed Forces says eight critical care nursing officers – from Ontario and Nova Scotia – are to begin shifts as early as this afternoon at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
Alberta requested assistance from the military last month as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions spiked.
The military support is to be in place until the end of October.
New measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta also come into effect today, including a reduction in the outdoor gathering limit to 20 people from 200 and the resumption of public reporting of schools with at least two known infections.
Additionally, Albertans 75 and older and First Nations, Inuit and Métis people aged 65 and older can now book a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
5:47 a.m.: More than 30 national and provincial health organizations are trying to decide which of the devastating effects COVID-19 has taken on Canadian health care to tackle first, as they work to steer the country out of crisis.
The Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association held an emergency summit Tuesday night to discuss how to move forward since the pandemic brought the health system to a breaking point, with no end in sight.
The organizations are particularly concerned about growing surgical backlogs and the effect that will have on patients’ quality of life for the years to come.
The well-being of health workers is also top of mind, as they report feeling exhausted, demoralized and short-staffed for 18 months straight.
CMA President Dr. Katharine Smart is expected to brief reporters about the meeting Wednesday morning.
5:46 a.m.: When it comes to misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines, health advocates have heard it all.
During a recent round of surveying farmworkers, there were a number of concerns ranging from misguided and inaccurate to specific and head-scratching, such as that the shots will somehow alter a recipient’s sexuality.
“Every single week, it’s a new myth,” Hernan Hernandez, executive director of the Central Valley-based California Farmworker Foundation, said last week.
Even with the COVID-19 vaccine campaign now nearly 10 months old, officials and immunization advocates throughout the state say persistent misconceptions and disinformation are hobbling efforts to promote the shots in certain parts of California, including among some Latino communities.
In Orange County, only 47% of Latino residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose, compared to 73% among white residents, according to state data.
And in Fresno County — where hospitals were thrown into crisis as they effectively ran out of available intensive care unit beds — 54% of Latino residents in the same age group have received at least one dose, compared to 67% of white residents.
Wednesday 5:41 a.m.: With Idaho Gov. Brad Little out of the state on Tuesday, Lt.-Gov. Janice McGeachin issued an executive order involving COVID-19 vaccines.
Oh no you don’t, said Little, who promised to rescind it in quick order.
The manoeuvring of Idaho’s top leaders came while Little was in Texas meeting with nine other Republican governors over concerns on how President Joe Biden is handling border issues. McGeachin, a far-right Republican, is running for governor. In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor don’t run on the same ticket.
McGeachin’s executive order issued Tuesday afternoon seeks, among other things, to prevent employers from requiring their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. Most mainstream Republicans prefer to stay out of the employee-employer relationship.
“I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf,” Little said in a statement shortly after arriving in Texas on Tuesday. “I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return.”
Little was expected to be back in the state Wednesday evening.