The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Sunday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
2:37 p.m.: The United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert said Sunday.
“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, describing himself as “very frustrated.”
He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is “under active consideration” by the government’s leading public health officials. Also, booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated, Fauci said.
Nearly 163 million people, or 49% of the eligible U.S. population, are vaccinated, according to CDC data.
12:53 p.m.: Quebecers might need to be patient as they try to register in Loto-Québec draws intended for those who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Quebec government has said the lottery is an attempt to get 75 per cent of its eligible population fully immunized against COVID-19 by the end of August.
The province’s health ministry said Sunday that the website was “experiencing technical problems.”
“Work is underway to resolve the situation as fast as possible,” the ministry wrote.
The registration period was supposed to be opened at 8 a.m. Sunday.
Any Quebecer who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register in Loto-Québec draws, regardless of when they were vaccinated.
11:43 a.m.: When Mary Simon walks into the Senate on Monday to be installed as the country’s next governor general, she will find the upper chamber sparsely populated.
The installation ceremonies for Simon’s predecessors have attracted hundreds of people packed tightly into the Senate, including cabinet ministers, senators, MPs, justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, dignitaries and invited guests.
For Simon, there will be 44 people in attendance to view the ceremony in-person to follow public health guidelines.
Federal officials planning the ceremony say public health rules will also require everyone to wear masks and be physically distant.
Officials are also making a rare request for Canadians to not line the streets around the building or the nearby National War Memorial where Simon will lay a wreath after officially becoming commander-in-chief.
Instead, they are encouraging people to watch the broadcast of the ceremony that will include traditional Inuit elements as Simon becomes the country’s first Indigenous governor general.
11:42 a.m.: Quebec is starting its own vaccination lottery in an attempt to get 75 per cent of its eligible population fully immunized against COVID-19 by the end of August.
Any Quebecer who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register starting today in Loto-Québec draws, which will take place each Friday in August.
Eligible people can win up to a $150,000 prize or a $10,000 scholarship by registering online.
A $1-million grand prize will also be drawn on Sep. 3, along with 16 $20,000 scholarships among Quebecers who are fully vaccinated by Aug. 31.
The site, however, indicates that it was under maintenance today as people tried to register.
The province’s public health institute says, as of Thursday, 83 per cent of Quebecers over the age of 12 had received at least one dose and 59.8 per cent were fully vaccinated.
11:42 a.m.: The United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert said Sunday.
“We’re going in the wrong direction,’’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, describing himself as “very frustrated.”
He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is “under active consideration’’ by the government’s leading public health officials. Also, booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated, Fauci said.
Fauci, who also serves President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he has taken part in conversations about altering the mask guidelines.
He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates are surging, such as Los Angeles County, are already calling on individuals to wear masks in public regardless of vaccination status. Fauci said those local rules are compatible with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that the vaccinated do not need to wear masks in public.
Nearly 163 million people, or 49% of the eligible U.S. population, are vaccinated, according to CDC data.
“This is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated,” Fauci said.
Fauci said government experts are reviewing early data as they consider whether to recommend that vaccinated individuals to get booster shots. He suggested that some of the most vulnerable, such as organ transplant and cancer patients, are “likely” to be recommended for booster shots.
10:14 a.m.: Ontario is reporting another 172 COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths, according to its latest report released Sunday morning.
Ontario has administered 103,812 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 18,952,473 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.
According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 10,382,721 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 79.7 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 70.5 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The province says 8,569,752 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 65.7 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 58.2 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The province says 13,900 tests were completed the previous day, with a 1.1 per cent positivity rate.
There are 88 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, including 127 patients in intensive care. There are 63 people on ventilators.
Read more: Ontario reporting another 172 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths.
9:51 a.m.: Although the pandemic disrupted family life across the U.S. since taking hold in spring 2020, some parents are grateful for one consequence: They’re now opting to homeschool their children, even as schools plan to resume in-person classes.
The specific reasons vary widely. Some families who spoke with The Associated Press have children with special educational needs; others seek a faith-based curriculum or say their local schools are flawed. The common denominator: They tried homeschooling on what they thought was a temporary basis and found it beneficial to their children.
“That’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic – I don’t think we would have chosen to homeschool otherwise,” said Danielle King of Randolph, Vermont, whose 7-year-old daughter Zoë thrived with the flexible, one-on-one instruction. Her curriculum has included literature, anatomy, even archaeology, enlivened by outdoor excursions to search for fossils.
The surge has been confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported in March that the rate of households homeschooling their children rose to 11% by September 2020, more than doubling from 5.4% just six months earlier.
Black households saw the largest jump; their homeschooling rate rose from 3.3% in the spring of 2020 to 16.1% in the fall.
9:39 a.m.: Elected officials in a conservative Michigan county who gave themselves bonuses of $65,000 with federal COVID-19 relief aid said they will return the money following days of criticism.
Shiawassee County commissioners acted after the prosecutor said the payments were illegal, The Argus-Press reported.
The Michigan Constitution bars additional compensation for elected officials “after services had already been rendered,” prosecutor Scott Koerner said Friday.
The commissioners, all Republicans, voted on July 15 to award themselves $65,000 as part of a plan to give $557,000 to 250 county employees as “hazard pay” for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
The smallest amounts for recipients were $1,000 to $2,000. But County Board Chairman Jeremy Root got $25,000. Two more commissioners received $10,000 each, while four others received $5,000 each.
The vote was 6-0 with one commissioner absent.
9:26 a.m.: Sudbury’s health unit said Friday The Delta variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the region.
Since the beginning of July, 70 per cent of COVID-19 cases reported in Public Health Sudbury and Districts service area are people who have been infected with a variant that has The Delta mutation profile.
“The Delta variant can spread more easily and is associated with higher rates of hospitalization, ICU admission, and death as compared with the Alpha variant,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe said in a release.
“COVID-19 vaccines are effective against Delta, but there is evidence of reduced protection against symptomatic disease after one dose. This means that two-dose vaccine coverage is important for everyone.
“Also, given how infectious Delta is, vaccination rates need to be as high as possible to protect against community spread. If you were waiting for yet another reason to get immunized, here it is.”
The health unit is encouraging everyone to book an appointment or attend a mobile, walk-in, or pop-up clinic to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
While vaccination rates have reduced the number of new cases being reported locally, the virus still poses a threat.
9:25 a.m.: As Thailand‘s medical system struggles beneath a surge of coronavirus cases, ordinary people are helping to plug the gaps, risking their own health to bring care and supplies to often terrified, exhausted patients who’ve fallen through the cracks.
In the Samai area of Bangkok, Ekapob Laungprasert’s team heads out for another weekend on the front lines of a crisis.
His volunteer group, Samai Will Survive, has been working around the clock, responding to about a hundred SOS calls daily from desperate COVID-19 patients unable to get the help they need.
“We realize how hard working and how tired doctors and nurses are,” says the 38-year-old businessman. “What we are trying to do today is to help relieve some of the burden. Before, all cases must go to the hospital, so today there are no hospital beds. So we volunteer to help out.”
It’s not long before they’re in action: Malee, a COVID-19 positive woman whose breathing has suddenly worsened. The group, wearing personal protective equipment, delivers oxygen and much-needed reassurance to Malee and her husband, an army officer who also has the virus.
“I lost hope even with the army. I called doctors at field hospitals. All they told me to do was to send information, just send information,” says Worawit Srisang. “I got the same answers everywhere. At least these guys visit us in person. What the patient needs is a chance to see a doctor, not just send information.”
9:24 a.m.: Cases of COVID-19 rose sharply last year in Reno, Nevada, when heavy layer of wildfire smoke settled over the city, according to scientists at the Desert Research Institute, and they and other scientists are postulating that there is a link between air pollution and increased susceptibility to the new coronavirus.
“Our results showed a substantial increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate in Reno during a time when we were affected by heavy wildfire smoke from California wildfires,” said Daniel Kiser, a co-lead author of the study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. “This is important to be aware of as we are already confronting heavy wildfire smoke … with COVID-19 cases again rising in Nevada and other parts of the Western U.S.”
Kiser, an assistant research scientist of data science at the institute, said he became interested in studying the effect of the microscopic particulate matter from wildfires after reading a Canadian scientist’s article on the dual effect of confronting both issues at the same time.
In the preface to her work, senior scientist Sarah Henderson of the British Columbia Center for Disease Control, wrote: “As we enter the wildfire season in the northern hemisphere, the potential for a dangerous interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and smoke pollution should be recognized and acknowledged. This is challenging because the public health threat of COVID-19 is immediate and clear, whereas the public health threat of wildfire smoke seems distant and uncertain in comparison. However, we must start preparing now to effectively manage the combination of public health threats.”
9:23 a.m.: Known for their towering drives, Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm won’t make it to the tee box at the Olympics.
The last two U.S. Open champions became the best-known athletes to drop out of the Tokyo Games on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.
DeChambeau’s positive came before he left the United States for Tokyo. The muscle-bound American famous for his game-changing swing speed will replaced by Patrick Reed.
“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said in a statement. “Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team.”
Rahm was flagged for COVID-19 for the second time in two months — he had a six-shot lead at the Memorial in early June when he was forced to withdraw because of a positive test. The Spaniard said he had gotten his final vaccine shot fewer than 14 days before that positive.
Both players recently became first-time major champions. DeChambeau won the U.S. Open in 2020 at Winged Foot last fall, and Rahm took this year’s title at Torrey Pines in June, two weeks after the positive test at Muirfield Village.
Several dozen Olympic athletes have tested positive either before leaving for Tokyo or after they arrived. Last week, U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff also tested positive before she left the United States.
Sunday 9:23 a.m.: Two coronavirus patients died at a hospital in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Sunday after a short circuit knocked out power at the facility’s intensive care unit, the country’s health minister said.
The private Gardens Hospital is being rented by the Jordanian government to treat coronavirus patients.
Health Minister Firas Al-Hawari told state media Sunday that two people were confirmed dead at the hospital after the incident, and that investigators were determining the cause of the accident and whether the power outage was responsible for the deaths.
Angry people gathered outside the hospital and security forces cordoned off the facility and prevented relatives of patients from entering.
Earlier this year, Jordan’s former health minister Nathir Obeidat resigned after several COVID-19 patients died at a government hospital in Salt when their oxygen supply ran out.
Read Saturday’s coronavirus news.