Archive for July, 2020

Coronavirus: Is Canada’s economy starting to bounce back? – Global News

July 31st, 2020

Apple acquires startup that turns iPhones into payment terminals, reportedly for $100 million – 9to5Mac

July 31st, 2020

COVID outbreaks from large gatherings could impact Minnesota school reopenings – Minneapolis Star Tribune

July 31st, 2020

Small-town surges in COVID-19 are often fueled by large group gatherings and events, with a campground concert causing one southwestern Minnesota county to have one of the highest per capita infection rates in the state.

Lincoln County on the South Dakota border went from eight infections with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 at the start of July to 53 infections at the end of the month. State contact tracing identified 28 infections as likely occurring at a July 4th concert at the Stoney Point Recreation and Campground in the county — with many of those cases involving local residents.

“We think this is under­reported,” said Kris Ehresmann, state infectious disease director, noting that one infected concertgoer knew of 20 cases in his friend group.

The outbreak is one of several that state leaders have identified since the June 10 limited reopening of indoor bars and restaurants along with campgrounds, fitness centers and entertainment destinations.

Individual event outbreaks are just a “stone in a lake,” Ehresmann said Friday, with the ripples being attendees who then spread the virus into their communities and to others who might be more at risk for severe COVID-19 cases or death. “As we see cases associated with a particular event and then those case beget additional cases, it’s that ripple effect that gets you to the point where you’re seeing cases in the community that don’t have a direct link,” she said. “And that’s what we’re concerned about.”

Minnesota is now reporting its highest rate in the pandemic of 35% of known COVID-19 transmissions involving unknown sources in the community. That means the virus is spreading beyond the ability of state health officials to track it.

While cases linked to bars in particular have involved younger adults — who are less prone to severe COVID-19 illnesses — health officials have found that they spread to higher-risk individuals. Some infected bargoers work in child care facilities and in long-term care or assisted-living facilities. So far, 76% of COVID-19 deaths have involved residents of such facilities due to their advanced age and underlying health problems.

In addition to health concerns, local communities now have the additional pressure of knowing that local school reopenings will be tied to COVID-19 case rates.

Gov. Tim Walz’s school reopening plan encourages full in-person classes for schools in counties with fewer than 10 infections per 10,000 people in the preceding two weeks. Restrictions gradually increase with higher rates until the state recommends all-remote learning for schools in counties with 50 or more cases per 10,000.

Lincoln, with a population of fewer than 6,000 people, has a case rate of more than 70. Neighboring Pipestone and Murray counties also have rates above the 50 per 10,000 threshold.

The ripple-effect concern is what prompted state health officials late Friday to disclose an infection involving an attendee at the North Star Stampede rodeo in Itasca County. The event was held in northern Minnesota last weekend with what health officials described as disregard for COVID-19 rules regarding social distancing and crowd sizes of 250 or less.

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the risk level for transmission at this event was elevated by the lack of people wearing masks, even though it was outdoors, and she asked attendees to be on the lookout for symptoms and to stay home if sick.

“People may have been infected with the virus, and we have an opportunity to prevent additional spread of the disease if we can get those in attendance to take the necessary precautions,” she said.

The infection involved a person in the 20s age range who suffered symptoms but didn’t need hospitalization.

Minnesota reported 779 coronavirus infections and six COVID-19 deaths on Friday, bringing the state’s pandemic totals to 1,600 deaths and 54,463 infections.

The state also reported that 312 Minnesotans with COVID-19 were admitted to hospitals and that 151 of them needed intensive care. That is the highest ICU number reported since June 27.

Regional highs and lows in COVID-19 activity have been part of the pandemic in Minnesota from the start.

Fairmont and surrounding Martin County had an early spike in cases this spring, but Lake of the Woods County in the far north didn’t have a case confirmed until last weekend.

Nobles County had an outsized 1,738 reported infections that were largely tied in early May to an outbreak in the JBS pork plant in Worthington. Its cumulative case rate is one of the highest in the nation, but its current two-week case rate is only 20.15.

That would permit schools in the county to consider a blend of in-class and online instruction for K-12 students this fall. Hennepin County has a similar case rate — though as the most populous county it has reported 17,317 cases in the pandemic.

At least some of the increase in infections since mid-June is being traced to large group activities, including two funerals and 12 private gatherings that included graduation parties, a group barbecue and a tubing party.

Case growth also is occurring in the northern resort region, with Beltrami County seeing case growth from 27 on July 1 to 184 now.

Not all spikes have been rural. The city of Edina showed an increase in teenager cases traced in part back to a party in June, but new cases have since declined.

Health officials said people can help manage case growth — and by extension help their schools reopen — by covering coughs, staying home when sick, wearing masks in public and maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet from other unrelated individuals.

The state school reopening “plan alone won’t work if community spread accelerates,” Walz said.

Lincoln County saw its cases rise following the campground concert and then a community testing event in Tyler that found even more infections. The latest trends suggest that the identification and isolation of these cases might be paying off, though.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen far fewer new cases,” said Carol Biren, a division director for Southwest Health and Human Services, a regional public health agency for multiple counties in southwest Minnesota. “Due to our smaller population, when we have one family of six test positive that can skew the data as well.”

Correction: Previous versions of this article misstated the Minnesota county that, along with Lincoln and Pipestone counties, has a COVID-19 case rate above the 50 infections per 10,000 people threshold. It is Murray County.


Fresno County teenager is the first California child to die because of COVID-19 – KFSN-TV

July 31st, 2020
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — A Fresno County teenager is the first child to die from coronavirus in California.

“I’m speechless when it comes to anything that I could say to the family. It’s a heartbreaking case,” said county health officer Dr. Rais Vohra. “It just brings home the reality that this is not sparing even the youngest member of our community.”

Public health officials confirm the victim was a teenager and had underlying conditions, but privacy concerns are keeping them from giving many more details.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Tracking Central California COVID-19 cases

The patient got treatment at Valley Children’s Hospital, where CEO Todd Suntrapak reminded the public just the day before that children are not immune to this virus.

“These are extraordinary times and they are absolutely being affected. There’s no doubt about it,” he said.

CDC data show more than 40 American children who were 15 or younger have died from COVID-19, a much lower death rate than for older patients.

And research shows kids up to the age of 9 are less likely to spread the virus, with a transmission rate of about 5%.

From the age of 10 and up, though, they’re transmitting it just as much as adults.

But Valley Children’s reported 69 pediatric patients needed to be hospitalized as of last week.

RELATED: Valley Children’s Hospital warns of dangerous COVID-19 complications in kids

And now one of those patients has passed away.

“It’s a huge trauma for everyone that’s involved, including the hospital workers who are still coping with this case,” said Dr. Vohra.

The death comes as Central California coronavirus cases have continuously surged over the last several weeks, and as local politicians in Fresno County debate whether children should return to schools for in-person learning.

Valley Children’s Hospital has spoken out against children returning to campuses while COVID-19 transmissions levels are still high in the area.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to

Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.


More than 200 kids test positive for coronavirus after attending Georgia summer camp – CBS News

July 31st, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that more than 200 children have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a summer camp in Georgia at the end of June. That’s more than a third of the nearly 600 Georgia residents who attended, according to the CDC’s report

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order on June 11 allowing campers and workers to attend overnight camps if they received a negative COVID-19 test within 12 days of starting camp. The camp ran from June 21 to 27, and more than 500 of the campers and staffers were children ages 17 and younger, the CDC reported. Out-of-state attendees were not included in the CDC’s reporting.

On June 24, a teenage staff member who had been experiencing chills while at the camp tested positive for the virus. While campers began to be sent home that same day, the camp did not officially close until three days later, the CDC said. 

While the camp “adopted most components” of the CDC’s official suggestions for summer camps, the CDC reported that the camp did not require campers to wear cloth face masks and did not open windows and doors of the buildings to allow increased ventilation. People sleeping in the same cabins and “engaging in regular singing and cheering” also “likely contributed to transmission,” the CDC said.

Children between the ages of 6 and 10 had the highest attack rate — the number of positive cases divided by the total number of attendees — at 51%, followed by teens between the ages of 11 and 17 at 44%. But these rates, the CDC said, “are likely an underestimate.” 

The CDC said that what happened at the camp indicates that “children of all ages are susceptible” to the coronavirus, especially when placed in large group settings, and “might play an important role in transmission.” 

“The multiple measures adopted by the camp were not sufficient to prevent an outbreak in the context of substantial community transmission,” the CDC report said. 

“Correct and consistent use of cloth masks, rigorous cleaning and sanitizing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing strategies, which are recommended in CDC’s recently released guidance to reopen America’s schools, are critical to prevent transmission of the virus in settings involving children and are our greatest tools to prevent COVID-19,” the CDC added.  

Although the CDC did not identify the camp, CBS affiliate WGCL reported on an outbreak at a Georgia camp in June. On June 24 — the same day that the CDC reported a camp staffer testing positive — a YMCA Camp High Harbour counselor reported testing positive for coronavirus, according to WGCL. 

Campers were sent home from the camp over the following few days, according to a statement by YMCA of Metro Atlanta CEO Laurent Koontz. By July 10, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that about 85 people at the camp had tested positive for coronavirus. 

The camp, with locations at Lake Allatoona and Lake Burton, has been closed for the summer, according to its website


Halo Infinite Multiplayer Will Be Free to Play – IGN Daily Fix – IGN

July 31st, 2020

Houston-area doctor agrees with use of controversial drug to treat COVID-19 – KPRC Click2Houston

July 31st, 2020

KATY – “You should use hydroxychloroquine early.”

This statement is just one of many Dr. Stella Immanuel told KPRC 2 Investigates Joel Eisenbaum during an eyebrow-raising interview featured Thursday.

“If they put everybody on hydroxychloroquine, schools would open back up,” said Dr. Immanuel.

Dr. Immanuel passionately touted the positives she says she has seen surrounding the drug hydroxychloroquine.

“We see patients day one. We put them on hydroxychloroquine. They come back day seven and day 10, and they are negative. It eradicates the virus. It is a cure,” she said,

Dr. Joseph Varon is another Houston doctor that believes in the controversial drug, hydroxychloroquine.

“I use it for every patient,” said Dr. Varone at his north Houston medical facility, United Memorial Medical Center. “I have no problem telling people about this is a drug. I would take myself if I were to get ill and required to be in the hospital.”

Dr. Varon says he has experienced success in over 300 patients. The drug is a component in his recipe for success.

“I tell them this is part of a cocktail that we are going to do,” he said.

Dr. Varon believes in it because of what he has seen from patients who were never provided the drug prior to seeing him.

“We’ve had patients that actually get better when we give hydroxychloroquine,” he said.

When asked if these are patients that went to other hospitals first, Dr. Varon quickly responded: “That is correct.”

Since KPCR 2 Investigates first highlighted Dr. Varon’s facility and his use of hydroxychloroquine in May, national media has visited his facility and chronicled his success. It comes during a time when there has been much debate over the drug.

“It is a drug that has been politicized up the wazoo,” said Dr. Varon.

Varon was quick to admit he is uncertain of the drug’s ability all on it own.

“Does this by itself make a difference in survival? This the bottom line is I don’t know,” said Varon.

Varon admits to having concerns over the fallout from some of Dr. Immanuel’s comments, considering the success he has seen with his cocktail approach.

“The small amount of credibility you had with hydroxychloroquine, because of some of the statements she made, may go away.”

Varon made one thing clear during his interview with KPRC 2: Hydroxychloriquine should only be administered if a COVID patient is in a hospital receiving medical treatment.

On Friday afternoon, the Texas Medical Board put out a statement reminding the public there is no definitive cure for the coronavirus at this time.


Good Samaritan Southgate now Alberta’s deadliest long-term care outbreak –

July 31st, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally said that, to date, there have been no staffing shortages at the care home. It has been updated after an official with the care home clarified that there are currently no staffing shortages.

As of Friday, 22 residents had died at Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre, which remains in an active COVID-19 outbreak.

This makes it even more deadly than the outbreak earlier in the pandemic at McKenzie Towne care facility in Calgary, which where 21 people died.

Read more: New COVID-19 case at Calgary’s McKenzie Towne care facility a ‘setback’ for families

There are currently 49 active COVID-19 cases among residents at Good Samaritan Southgate, along with 16 positive cases in staff. On Friday, Good Samaritan said six residents have recovered, as well as eight employees.

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The company’s interim president and CEO, Michelle Bonnici, spoke on camera for the first time since the outbreak began, calling the situation tragic.

“It’s heartbreaking for the staff. It’s a very tight knit community at Southgate Care Centre so they’re grieving alongside all of the families as well,” Bonnici said.

“It’s not an easy situation.”

She repeatedly emphasized the number one priority of the Good Samaritan Society as being the well-being of residents and staff.

“We continue to try and mitigate the spread of the virus in every way we can,” Bonnici said.

2:07Family raises concerns amid COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton care centre

Family raises concerns amid COVID-19 outbreak at Edmonton care centre

One measure that’s being taken is the separation of residents.

“Those that are infected with the virus are cohorting so that they’re not mixing in with healthy residents.”

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Garnet Brown’s father, Murray Brown, has lived in the Southgate Care Centre for nearly four years as he battles Parkinson’s Disease.

“You always just hope it wasn’t going to happen in your parent’s long term care facility,” Garnet said.

He speaks to Murray for at least 30 minutes a week via video conference. Garnet says in those calls, he sees staff wearing a lot of personal protective equipment.

“Everyone was following AHS (Alberta Health Services) guidelines, they’re doing their pre-screening. So I’ll be honest, I’m totally surprised this is the one that it happened at,” he said.

Read more: Concerns mount as nearly 30% of residents contract COVID-19 at Good Samaritan Southgate

Murray has been tested for COVID-19 multiple times, as asymptomatic testing began on June 13, but so far – he’s in the clear, despite rising numbers of positive cases among his neighbours.

“Every single time I check it and I see the cases go up, I reach out to my brothers and I’m like, have you gotten a phone call from them? I haven’t gotten one. It’s almost like no news is good news,” Garnet said.

Garnet said he believes staff are doing their best, but worries about his Dad’s limited social interactions.

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“That’s probably one of my biggest concerns is how much socializing he’s actually getting in there. It’s probably a big concern a lot of families have,” he explained.

Bonnici said there are currently no staffing shortages at Good Samaritan Southgate.

“At this point we have been able to source a variation of staff, HCAs, LPNs and RNs. There are some individuals that are hesitant because we are a COVID positive site, but we are fortunate that many have come to help us as Southgate,” she said.

AHS is supplying between 20-25 workers to the site daily, with GSS staffing levels varying between 90-100 workers.

Garnet is sympathetic to what those employees are experiencing as well.

“Give the staff kudos here, because they’re still going into an outbreak scenario – and they’ve got their own families to think about,” he said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Ontario government cuts ties with WE Charity –

July 31st, 2020

The Ontario government says it won’t be continuing its relationship with the WE Charity.

The Ministry of Education says it has been told not to renew its contract with WE, and to investigate expenditures to date. 

“Hard working people in this province deserve to know that their money is delivering value,” ministry spokesperson Alexandra Adamo said in a statement.

WE Charity has been caught in a controversy since the federal government chose it to run a $900-million student grant program. Shortly after the sole-source contract was given to WE, the Liberals came under fire from opposition parties over an alleged conflict of interest due to WE’s close relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family.

Neither Trudeau nor Finance Minister Bill Morneau — who also has family ties to WE — recused themselves from cabinet discussions on awarding the contract. Opposition politicians have accused the Liberals of playing favourites.

Trudeau and his mother, Margaret, have appeared at a number of WE Day events, while Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, hosts a podcast for the group called WE Well-being.

Initially, WE Charity said members of the Trudeau family were not paid for appearing at WE events, although Grégoire Trudeau had been reimbursed for travel expenses. 

On July 9, it emerged that Trudeau’s mother, Margaret, was paid approximately $250,000 for speaking at 28 events, while his brother, Alexandre, spoke at eight events and received about $32,000.

In testimony before MPs on Tuesday, WE co-founder Marc Kielburger said Margaret, Alexandre and Gregoire Trudeau were also reimbursed more than $200,000 in expenses for appearances at WE events.

Several sponsors have cut ties with the WE brand, including Royal Bank of Canada, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Good Life Fitness and Virgin Atlantic Airways, although WE called the moves a mutual agreement.

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Vietnam’s Danang to test entire population as outbreak spreads beyond city – Reuters

July 31st, 2020

FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist wearing a protective suit holds a blood specimen of a traveller who returned from Da Nang city at a rapid testing center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside Hanoi, Vietnam July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s coastal city of Danang plans to test its entire population of 1.1 million people for coronavirus infection, the governing authorities said on Saturday, as 40 new cases linked to the tourist hot spot were reported across the country, taking total infections to 586, with three deaths.

Most of the new cases are linked to hospitals in Danang city, where the first locally transmitted infection in more than three months was detected last week.

The Health Ministry said on Saturday that up to 800,000 visitors to Danang have left for other parts of the country since July 1, adding that more than 41,000 people have visited three hospitals in the city since.

Local medical officials in Danang have conducted 8,247 coronavirus tests in the city since July 25, when the latest cluster was first detected. Testing capacity will be increased to 8,000-10,000 per day, the governing authorities said.

Vietnam has detected new coronavirus cases in other cities, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with links to Danang.

Meanwhile, authorities of the capital city, Hanoi said late on Saturday it had carried out around 49,000 tests since Thursday after the city ordered mass testing for all people who recently returned from the popular coastal city.

Dr. Kidong Park, the World Health Organization’s representative in Vietnam, told Reuters the country had been preparing for the possibility of wider community transmission, after the country reported its first case in January.

“The government has always been determined to ensure that its people are protected from COVID-19 by keeping the country’s relatively low number of cases and controlling the transmission within the community,” Park said in an emailed statement.

Reporting by Phuong Nguyen and Khanh Vu; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Jason Neely and Mike Harrison