Why Barry’s Bay could be ‘the perfect incubation box’ — an example of a small town’s vulnerability to the Delta variant

Nestled in the Madawaska Valley a stone’s throw from Algonquin Park is Barry’s Bay, a small rustic community known as an escape for cottage goers in the summer and a destination for snowmobilers in the winter. But a recent outbreak in the picturesque town prompted the local acting medical officer of health to single out the community as an outlier in Renfrew County for having been repeatedly overrepresented in the region’s case counts, which officials have linked to travel and vaccine hesitancy among a significant portion of the population. Although Barry’s Bay only has about one per cent of the county’s population, it has represented 24 to more than 50 per cent of its cases during outbreaks. As Ontario grapples with a and looks to schools reopening in September, the local health unit has put out several videos over the last week stressing the urgency for residents — especially in Barry’s Bay — to get vaccinated to prevent the Delta variant from sweeping through schools in the fall. Earlier this month, the region’s top doctor, Dr. Robert Cushman, characterized Barry’s Bay as “a case study for what the Delta variant can do in a small town when there are a large number of people who are unvaccinated.” The outbreaks and finger pointing have caused tension, often playing out in social media discussion groups but also in local businesses. Some residents blame out-of-towners for bringing the virus, while others […]

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Simcoe County gets $3.8 million boost to protect homeless amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Ontario government announced today (March 11) it’s responding to an increase of COVID-19 cases at some emergency shelters in Simcoe County with an investment of over $3.8 million. The funding will be used to purchase motel and hotel spaces for homeless individuals to support physical distancing of shelter residents, to hire more shelter staff and purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies. A portion will be reserved to help people pay their rent and utilities. This will prevent more people from becoming homeless, the government said.  “We are responding to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and applying funding where it is needed across Simcoe County and within our communities in Simcoe North,” said Jill Dunlop, MPP Simcoe North. “This additional funding will help to improve the safe delivery of critical services, and further ensure to protect homeless shelter staff and residents.” Under the Social Services Relief Fund, Ontario has provided $765 million to support shelters, create longer-term housing solutions and help vulnerable Ontarians affected by COVID-19, states an Ontario media release.

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‘You’re just feeling so emotional’: Americans reunite with loved ones as the Canadian border reopens

WASHINGTON—Monday morning, Jackey Deschamps’s kids got to hug their grandparents for the first time in a year and a half. Deschamps is an American who lives in Tonawanda, N.Y. — near Buffalo — and her husband is from Fort Erie, Ont., where his parents live. In pre-COVID times, the border was no obstacle for their family — they often visited each other more than once a week. But that stopped abruptly in March 2020 when COVID restrictions went into place. Monday, as the border reopened for fully vaccinated Americans to enter Canada, they were finally reunited. The experience tugged at Deschamps’s heart even more than she expected. “You kind of just get used to life the way it is and then coming over, you’re just feeling so emotional,” Deschamps says. Waves of nostalgia went through their car as her teenage children asked their father to remind them of once-familiar landmarks. “And then, of course, tears as my mother-in-law opened the door, everyone was hugging and crying. It was exciting.” The Deschamps family were part of what’s expected to be an influx of U.S. travellers coming over the border this week, now that restrictions on fully vaccinated Americans have been relaxed. John Adams is another person who has been waiting a long time for this. Monday morning, he was at the airport in Tampa, Fla., on his way to his summer home on Vancouver Island. “It feels like a halfway victory,” he says Ada […]

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Today’s coronavirus news: Unvaccinated people 8 times more likely to get infected, top doctor says; Ontario reporting 321 COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 6:47 p.m.: With Ontario seeing more than three straight weeks of growth in daily COVID-19 cases — primarily in people who have not been vaccinated — the province is “most definitely” in a fourth wave, says a top doctor with the government’s science advisory table. And with the number of new cases currently doubling every 10 days, Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of the science table, warns the province could see as many as 1,200 new cases per day by the time school resumes in less than a month. That’s up from a current average of just over 300. 6:40 p.m.: Toronto is in the early days of a fourth wave of COVID-19 certain to worsen this autumn, experts say after an almost fivefold jump in daily new infections over one month. The question now is how to ensure the city’s high vaccination rate prevents hospitalizations and deaths from surging along with infections, especially among the legions of unvaccinated young schoolchildren headed back to classrooms. Defences include continued mask rules and, if necessary, shutting schools and businesses to halt outbreaks, said Toronto infectious diseases expert Dr. Anna Banerji. But she said the best defence is vaccine mandates — . (Updated) 4:30 p.m. Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore is forecasting a “slow […]

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Barrie Police investigating alleged assault

The Barrie Police Service is investigating an alleged assault that occurred at around 2:25 a.m. on Aug. 8 in downtown Barrie. Four men were allegedly assaulted near 34 Dunlop St. E., in an alley that runs between Collier Street and Dunlop Street East. According to police, the men were transported to a local hospital by ambulance and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Police are requesting assistance from the public. Anyone with information or video is asked to contact Sgt. Parcells at , ext. 2758, or Crime Stoppers at .

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Research shows COVID-19 may have set students back up to a year in math and literacy

Ontario appears to have entered the fourth wave of the pandemic and, with only weeks to go until the start of another school year, is seeing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.  Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has said he’s confident the province can avoid any closures this academic year, but only time will tell if he’s right. The last academic year was interrupted several times by high school and elementary school closures that saw students learning from home, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has called COVID-19 school closures the “greatest disruption in educational opportunity worldwide in a generation,” affecting 90 per cent of the students globally. Janice Aurini, sociology professor at the University of Waterloo and expert in education inequality, says a is showing the effects of past closures are already a problem. Aurini said conducted in other countries, such as Brazil, shows students have made little to no learning progress with online schooling, and that parents whose children have fallen behind are more likely to express concern about their children’s well-being.  “These data are troubling, and education and health leaders will have to balance the potential risks of COVID-19 with emerging research about the negative impacts of school closures and remote learning on not just learning but also children’s well-being,” Aurini said. There&#82 […]

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‘There is still much danger ahead:’ COVID-19 variants are spreading fast across Ontario, top doctor says

Ontario’s progress in lowering COVID-19 has “stalled” and cases are up 15 per cent in a week with more people out and about as contagious variants take a deeper hold, says a leader of the science table advising Premier Doug Ford. “The risk of catching the disease has increased,” Adalsteinn Brown, head of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, warned as he presented new computer modelling that shows new infections rising from 1,099 Thursday to about 2,000 daily in early April in a best-case scenario. “There is still much danger ahead.” Statistics released by the province showed 43 per cent or 469 of the new cases reported Thursday are variants, up from one-third a week ago. Those case samples will go for genomic sequencing to determine the strain. Brown said that, as predicted several weeks ago, cases of older, more traditional strains of COVID are falling as fast as the new strains — now dominant in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere — are rising. “Two pandemics are playing out,” he told a briefing with Ontario’s chief medical officer, Dr. David Williams. “The new variants are not under control.” Two-thirds of the 34 regional health units in Ontario are seeing increases in cases with about half of them experiencing growth of 30 per cent or more as restrictions on businesses have eased, he added. On Friday, the province will use its so-called “emergency brake” t […]

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