Coronavirus news Nov. 13: Ontario reporting 661 new cases of COVID-19; Quebec reports 715 new cases; Protest breaks out in Dutch city over new lockdown – Toronto Star

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The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
7:42 p.m.: Three snow leopards have died at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska of complications from COVID-19.
The zoo made the announcement in a Facebook post Friday, describing the deaths of the three leopards — named Ranney, Everest, and Makalu— as “truly heartbreaking.”
The zoo began treating the leopards and two Sumatran tigers for the virus last month. The zoo said the tigers, Axl and Kumar, have made a recovery.
The zoo said it remains open to the public and continues to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to humans and animals.
Zoos across the country, including at the St. Louis Zoo and the Denver Zoo, have battled COVID-19 outbreaks among their animals.
7 p.m.: Eight residents of a nursing home in Connecticut have died during a coronavirus outbreak while 89 residents and employees have tested positive for the disease, nursing home officials say.
The outbreak at the Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canaan began Sept. 30, chief executive Kevin O’Connell and nursing director Cady Bloodgood said in a statement Friday.
The eight residents who died had serious health problems, according to the officials. Those who tested positive included 67 residents and 22 staff members. The officials said 48 residents and 21 employees have recovered.
O’Connell told the Republican-American there were no infections at the nearby Geer Lodge, an independent and assisted living center on the campus. He and Bloodgood said virus testing continues biweekly.
“While we must continue with COVID-19 prevention protocols, we want to assure everyone we are doing our best to keep residents and staff safe,” they said.
The nursing home, which houses 82 residents, has suspended in-person visitation, but virtual and window visits can be arranged.
The latest state report on coronavirus infections in nursing homes released Friday said there were 45 confirmed cases among residents and 54 confirmed cases among staff members throughout Connecticut between Oct. 27 and Nov. 9. Three residents died.
6:52 p.m.: This is what the COVID-19 pandemic looks like in the part of California where the Delta variant surge refuses to let up.
In Fresno County, understaffed hospitals have been so clogged that ambulance crews have stopped transporting people unless they have a life-threatening emergency.
In Tulare County, a Visalia hospital — which has been treating more COVID-19 patients in recent days than any other medical facility in the state — declared an internal disaster last week on a day 51 patients in the emergency room waited for a bed to open up.
And this week, sparsely populated Kings County, which has one of California’s lowest vaccination rates, had one of the state’s highest per capita COVID-19 hospitalization rates.
Over the last year and a half, the rural, agricultural San Joaquin Valley has been a perpetual hot spot for the virus — the land of the eternal COVID-19 surge.
Case numbers and hospitalizations plummeted across California, including in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, after the height of the summer surge. But not in the San Joaquin Valley.
“We kind of have been feeling like the forgotten area of California as we read that, statewide, things are improving,” Gary Herbst, chief executive of Kaweah Health Medical Center in Visalia, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s like we’re almost in a different country, even though we are right here in the middle of the state.”
The San Joaquin Valley this week has the state’s highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations. For every 100,000 residents, the region had 24 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Southern California, by comparison, had eight per 100,000 residents hospitalized with the virus. The San Francisco Bay Area had four.
In Fresno County, the region’s most populous, the vast majority of patients now hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. They are mostly people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and are often the primary financial providers for their families.
There are many reasons the region is continuously besieged, but the primary culprit, public health officials and hospital administrators say, is a low rate of vaccination.
Kings County has the third-lowest inoculation rate in the state, with just 39% of its 150,000 residents fully vaccinated, compared to 63% of all Californians.
On Tuesday, the county had the state’s highest per capita COVID-19 hospitalization rate, with 34 patients per 100,000 people. By comparison, Los Angeles County, which has 64% of its 10 million residents fully vaccinated, had 6.5 patients per 100,000 people.
5:52 p.m.: Protests broke out in a northern Dutch city Saturday night as a new coronavirus lockdown imposed amid soaring infections forced bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m.
Dutch broadcaster NOS reported that hundreds of young people gathered in a central square in Leeuwarden, 140 kilometers north of Amsterdam. Video showed them setting off fireworks and holding flares billowing smoke. NOS reported that riot police later moved in to push the protesters off the square.
Elsewhere in the Netherlands, media reported that bars in the southern city of Breda remained open beyond the new lockdown mandated closing time.
In the central city of Utrecht, student Suzanne van de Weerd wasn’t happy with the new restrictions.
“It is very difficult for me to accept” the lockdown, she said. “It is too bad and that’s something that spoils my social life as a student and the way I relax.”
Nearly 85 per cent of the Dutch adult population is fully vaccinated, but on Thursday the country’s public health institute recorded 16,364 new positive tests in 24 hours — the highest number of any time during the pandemic that has killed more than 18,600 people in the Netherlands.
Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the partial lockdown Friday and said it would run for at least three weeks, saying his government wants to “deliver a hard blow to the virus.”
The lockdown that began Saturday night is the first to start in Western Europe since a new wave of infections began surging across parts of the continent.
Another student, Kars Ausems, was disappointed the new lockdown came less than two months after the Netherlands largely ended restrictions at the end of September.
“I find it very annoying. Just now when we accustomed to an old way of life we must start all over again with restrictions,” he said.
5:45 p.m.: The CDC’s color-coded vaccination map showed Pennsylvania had hit an impressive milestone this week: 95 per cent of adults had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Hours later, Gov. Tom Wolf touted the figure at a news conference.
The staggering number would put Pennsylvania ahead of every other state and indicate that only about half a million adults in the state had yet to start vaccination.
But that number is wrong.
The true number is lower, yet almost impossible to calculate from publicly available data, since official numbers are inaccurate in multiple ways. And the state’s top health official said she didn’t have an estimate.
The CDC is the only official source that compiles vaccine data for every jurisdiction nationwide, including counts of people who crossed state lines to get vaccinated. Its state-by-state map has become a trusted source of vaccination rates for many people, news outlets, and health officials. The Pennsylvania Department of Health regularly cites CDC numbers, including in daily news releases as recently as Friday, and many other states cite it on their online COVID-19 data dashboards.
Wolf was at a vaccine clinic in Reading when he gave Wednesday’s shout-out to the CDC’s numbers, calling them “pretty good” and erroneously attributing them to the Department of Health.
But acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Alison Beam told The Inquirer this week that the CDC’s first-dose number should not be considered “a true metric” of where the state stands, and the data posted by Pennsylvania and Philadelphia are more accurate. Meanwhile, Philadelphia for months has been discouraging people from relying on CDC data after seeing errors in its numbers for the city: “We have and have had no confidence in their data,” spokesperson James Garrow said.
4:31 p.m.: Xiomara Ruiz woke up before dawn and boarded a bus with her son to make a one-hour trip to the bridge connecting Venezuelan to Colombia, which they crossed on foot. Their goal: to get the 8-year-old vaccinated against the coronavirus.
By 7 a.m. the 27-year-old nurse and the boy were lining up at a vaccination center in Villa del Rosario, a Colombian town on the border from Venezuela.
About two dozen Venezuelans also stood in line for the shots, while an aid worker in a khaki vest yelled out instructions on a megaphone and told the crowd to keep a safe distance from each other as they waited for the vaccination center to open.
“In the town where I live there are still no vaccines for children,” said Ruiz, who traveled to Colombia from the border state of Tachira. She was concerned by a recent announcement by Venezuela’s government that children under 12 will be vaccinated with Soberana, a coronavirus vaccine developed in Cuba.
“That one is not approved by the World Health Organization,” Ruiz said. “It’s better to make the trip here.”
Hundreds of Venezuelans have been traveling to Colombia recently for coronavirus shots, as Venezuela struggles to get enough doses for its people.
These trips replicate previous efforts by Venezuelans to seek medical care abroad as their country’s health care system crumbled amid years of medicine shortages, economic recession and mismanagement of public hospitals. But travel restrictions and regulations associated with the pandemic have made it more challenging for Venezuelans to get vaccines in neighboring Colombia.
Colombian border states, which provided thousands of Venezuelan children with vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria and hepatitis for free before the pandemic, only started to provide coronavirus shots to Venezuelan travelers in October.
Now that the gates are open many are seizing the opportunity to get shots in Colombia, which has greater access to European and North American vaccines and only uses shots that have been approved by the WHO.
“Vaccine coverage is very low in Venezuela,” said Huniades Urbina, a pediatrician and spokesman for the Venezuelan Academy of Medicine. “So for many people, especially those living in border states, it’s worth it to travel into Colombia to get their children vaccinated, instead of having to go several times to vaccination centers within Venezuela.”
In the Colombian state of North Santander, where the main border crossing is, more than 34,000 people registering at vaccination centers with Venezuelan ID cards have gotten coronavirus shots since Oct. 25, when vaccination for non-residents began, according to the state’s health department. That includes undocumented migrants living in North Santander as well as Venezuelans who traveled just to get the shots.
In the state capital of Cucuta, the number of vaccines applied daily has doubled to 9,000 since the end of October, said Astrid Urbina, the nurse leading the city’s immunization program.
2:53 p.m.: Russia is reporting a new daily high number of COVID-19 deaths, while the the total number of coronavirus infections during the pandemic in the country has topped 9 million.
The surge in daily deaths and infections that began in mid-September appeared to plateau over the past week, but the national coronavirus task force said Saturday that a record 1,241 people died from the virus over the past day, two more than the previous record reported on Wednesday.
The task force said 39,256 new infections were recorded, bringing the country’s case total to 9.03 million.
Russia imposed a “non-working” week in early November, closing many businesses, with the aim of stemming the virus’s surge.
Two bills outlining new restriction measures were introduced in parliament on Friday, with the aim of their taking effect next year. They would restrict access to many public places, as well as domestic and international trains and flights, to those who have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or are medically exempt from vaccination.
2 p.m.: New Brunswick is reporting 60 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.
With 89 recoveries also reported, the number of total active infections in the province now stands at 551.
Health officials say 22 people are currently in hospital with the virus, including 11 patients who are in intensive care.
Provincial data indicates 86.5 per cent of residents 12 years of age and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 93.1 per cent having received their first dose of a vaccine.
1:04 p.m.: A U.S. appeals court has extended its Nov. 6 order pausing President Joe Biden’s shot-or-test mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees.
The ruling, issued Friday by the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, solidifies its earlier order blocking implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency regulation. Its ruling comes ahead of a Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation lottery to determine which federal appeals court will be assigned to adjudicate the many legal challenges to the measure now pending across the country. The lottery is slated for Nov. 16.
In a 22-page opinion, the court had harsh words for the vaccine mandate. The mandate “threatens to substantially burden the liberty interests of reluctant individual recipients put to a choice between their job(s) and their jab(s),” the court said.
“Likewise, the companies seeking a stay in this case will also be irreparably harmed in the absence of a stay, whether by the business and financial effects or a lost or suspended employee, compliance and monitoring costs associated with the Mandate, the diversion of resources necessitated by the Mandate, or by OSHA’s plan to impose stiff financial penalties on companies that refuse to punish or test unwilling employees,” the court said.
The U.S. had asked the court to set aside its prior order to allow that process to play out.
OSHA’s rule requires qualifying businesses to ensure that all employees are fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, or subjected to testing for COVID-19 at least weekly.
Barring a long-lasting injunction, employers will have to comply with other parts of the rule by Dec. 5, including developing a compliance plan, offering paid time off for vaccinations, and requiring unvaccinated workers to wear masks.
The 5th Circuit is considering challenges filed by Texas, joined by Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah, South Carolina, and companies that claim they’re adversely affected by the rule. The plaintiffs contend the emergency temporary standard, formally published Nov. 5, exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority and that the requisite “grave danger” the safety agency cited as justification for the expedited rulemaking doesn’t actually exist outside of the health-care industry.
12:30 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 715 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday and six more deaths attributed to the virus.
The tally falls one below the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases since September, a mark the province hit Friday.
Health officials say COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by seven from the day before to 198, while the number of patients in intensive care rose by four to 44.
The provincial death toll now sits at 11,541.
11:25 a.m.: The emergence of two sublineages of the COVID-19 Delta variant in Western Canada holds important lessons for the rest of the country on the consequences of allowing a virus to spread unchecked, infectious disease experts say.
But it’s yet to be known if the sublineages, called AY.25 and AY.27, are more effective at replicating or a greater threat to Canadians.
Read the full story from the Star’s Omar Mosleh here.
11:22 a.m.: U.S. cases are trending up, with new infections in the week that ended Friday the highest in more than a month, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
10:49 a.m.: Only a few years ago in Bonavista, a small and sleepy windswept fishing town in Newfoundland, dozens of pastel-colored heritage homes facing the sea sat dilapidated and empty. The collapse of the cod industry had pushed about 1,000 residents to seek their fortunes in place…
BONAVISTA, Newfoundland — Only a few years ago in Bonavista, a small and sleepy windswept fishing town in Newfoundland, dozens of pastel-colored heritage homes facing the sea sat dilapidated and empty.
The collapse of the cod industry had pushed about 1,000 residents to seek their fortunes in places like Texas, New York and oil-rich Alberta, about 4,000 miles away.
These days, however, so many migrants are arriving from across Canada — mostly young professionals from big cities like Toronto — that some local developers have a three-year waiting list for homebuyers.
Sam Yuen, 40, a communications manager for a bank, who recently moved to Bonavista from Toronto with his partner, Derek McCallum, an architect, snapped up a three-bedroom, early 20th-century home for about $30,000. “We love the nature and the sense of belonging here,” Yuen said.
Until recently, Canada’s Atlantic provinces were suffering from so much outward migration that some towns started offering free land to lure workers. But as urban life across the world has been upended by the coronavirus, with lockdowns, shuttered bars and socially distanced gyms, the picturesque region is experiencing the largest inward migration in nearly 50 years.
Desperate to escape pandemic doldrums and soaring housing prices, and energized by a global shift to remote working, the newcomers are flocking to Atlantic Canada, where they have been largely welcomed. But in the distinctive coastal region — shaped by the traditional values of its Indigenous peoples and Irish, Scottish, English and French settlers — the migration of moneyed urbanites is also fanning some tensions.
Though housing prices remain low compared with bigger urban centers, in Bonavista, population 3,752, they are exploding, and some local residents bemoan the higher property taxes that come with them.
The social fabric of the town has also been changing. Traditional craft shops and restaurants offering fish and brewis, a starchy local dish of cod and bread, have been gradually giving way to designer sea salt companies and to purveyors of cumin kombucha and iceberg-infused soap.
Bonavista, influenced historically by its churches, now hosts a growing LGBTQ community, including a bisexual mayor and a lesbian police chief, stoking some resentment among a minority about the town’s tilt toward social liberalism.
The mayor, John Norman, 36, was born in the town. A modernizer with a taste for haute couture, he is called the “Baron of Bonavista.” Norman, who was recently reelected, has been known to preside over town meetings in an Alexander McQueen jacket adorned with black feathers.
To help accommodate the newcomers, Norman, a real estate developer, is spearheading the restoration of nearly 100 homes.
“The pandemic is helping to revive the town,” said Norman, who lives with his partner, Guillaume Lallier, in a 120-year-old house filled with masterpieces of Canadian art.
Rob Greenwood, a regional development expert at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland’s capital, said the arrival of “come from awayers,” as they are known in Newfoundland, was a boon to Canada’s easternmost province. Its remoteness had historically undermined its ability to attract outside talent and investment.
“The come from awayers are arriving with knowledge and networks and money,” Greenwood said.
Called “the rock” because of its rugged coastlines, the island of Newfoundland was variously a British colony and an independent country before it joined the Canadian confederation in 1949. It has long prided itself on its singular culture, including a distinct vernacular and barroom customs, like kissing a cod to become an honorary Newfoundlander.
10:15 a.m. (updated): Ontario is reporting 661 new COVID-19 cases and six more virus-related deaths today.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 388 of the latest people to contract the infection are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown immunization status.
She says 273 cases involve those who are fully vaccinated.
There are 131 patients in intensive care with COVID-related critical illness, including 118 who are not fully immunized or have an unknown vaccination status.
The province says 85 per cent of residents aged 12 and older have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 88 per cent have at least one shot.
The numbers come after the latest pandemic projections from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, which indicate intensive care occupancy will likely rise in Ontario over the coming months, along with a steady growth in cases.
8:17 a.m.: Early signs of a COVID-19 resurgence are emerging in the U.S. Northeast, with cases increasing in seven of the region’s nine states, including New York.
8:17 a.m.: the Netherlands is poised to return to a partial lockdown, national broadcaster NOS news reported.
8:16 a.m.: Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday called on all unvaccinated Germans to get their shots as quickly as possible as the country’s coronavirus infection rate hit the latest in a string of new highs and death numbers were growing.
“If we stand together, if we think about protecting ourselves and caring for others, we can save our country a lot this winter,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast.
Still, the chancellor warned that “these are very difficult weeks ahead of us.”
Germany’s disease control centre said that the country’s infection rate climbed to 277.4 new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days, up from 263.7 the previous day.
The Robert Koch Institute reported 45,081 new infections, two days after the daily total topped 50,000 for the first time.
Another 228 COVID-19 deaths brought Germany’s total in the pandemic so far to 97,617.
While the infection rate isn’t yet as high as in some other European countries, its relentless rise in Germany has set off alarm bells. Outgoing Chancellor Merkel plans to meet with the country’s 16 state governors to co-ordinate nationwide measures next week, and Parliament is mulling legislation that would provide a new legal framework for restrictions over the winter.
8:16 a.m.: Russia is reporting a new daily high number of COVID-19 deaths, while the the total number of coronavirus infections during the pandemic in the country has topped 9 million.
The surge in daily deaths and infections that began in mid-September appeared to plateau over the past week, but the national coronavirus task force said Saturday that a record 1,241 people died from the virus over the past day, two more than the previous record reported on Wednesday.
The task force said 39,256 new infections were recorded, bringing the country’s case total to 9.03 million.
Russia imposed a “non-working” week in early November, closing many businesses, with the aim of stemming the virus’s surge.
Two bills outlining new restriction measures were introduced in Parliament on Friday, with the aim of their taking effect next year. They would restrict access to many public places, as well as domestic and international trains and flights, to those who have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or are medically exempt from vaccination.
The surge in infections and deaths comes amid low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes toward taking precautions and the government’s reluctance to toughen restrictions. Fewer than 40 per cent of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though the country approved a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine months before most of the world.
In total, the coronavirus task force has reported more than 254,000 deaths — by far the highest death toll in Europe. Some experts believe the true figure is even higher. Reports by Russia’s statistical service, Rosstat, that tally coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively reveal much higher mortality: 462,000 people with COVID-19 died between April 2020 and September of this year.
8:15 a.m.: British Columbia has reported 992 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed over the last two days and 23 more deaths, raising the death toll in the province to 2,257.
The Health Ministry says 4,265 infections are active across B.C. with 384 people in hospital, including 124 in intensive care.
Fraser Health has the highest number of active infections with 1,575, followed by Interior Health with 862, Northern Health with 645, Island Health with 614 and 510 in the Vancouver Coastal health region.
There are 25 health-care facilities with active COVID-19 outbreaks, including new outbreaks at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
The ministry says 86.5 per cent of eligible B.C. residents have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while 90.6 per cent have had their first dose.
It says unvaccinated people accounted for nearly 62 per cent of 383 hospitalizations between Oct. 28 and Nov. 10, while partially vaccinated people accounted for seven per cent, and people with two doses made up 31.1 per cent.
8:15 a.m.: Internal government documents are providing the clearest picture yet of the impact that emergency aid is having on federal support to low-income seniors and families.
Thousands of benefit recipients have seen a decline in the value of payments because they received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or its successor, the Canada Recovery Benefit, last year.
Documents show low-income families were expected to see the sharpest drops in support through the Canada Child Benefit, and federal officials say about 83,000 low-income seniors have lost out on the guaranteed income supplement.
The documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the access to information law provide a window into the early warnings around how the financial help offered by the pandemic recovery benefits last year now claws back payments relied on by millions of Canadian households.
The reason is because the CERB and a trio of other government recovery benefits — the CRB for unemployed workers, a caregiving benefit for anyone who stayed home to care for a child or loved one, and a sickness benefit for ill workers — were counted as income for the purposes of calculating benefit amounts. As incomes rose, benefit values dropped.
Read the full story from the Canadian Press.

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