‘Big parties are off’ this holiday season, Ontario eyes loosening some restrictions

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Newly released short-term COVID-19 forecasting shows that by Nov. 8, Canada could see between 10,285 and 10,400 deaths, and between 251,800 and 262,000 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

When looking at how the epidemic may evolve in Canada over the next month, the key message from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, is that Canadians need to limit their contacts.

“If we increase or if we even maintain our current rate of contact with others, the epidemic in Canada is forecasted to continue increasing steeply,” Dr. Tam said. “To bend the epidemic curve and reduce transmission to lower levels…we must really reduce our number of contacts as much as possible.”

She indicated that this includes limiting everyday contacts to our households, as much as possible, maintaining physical distancing, good hygiene practices and in areas where the infection rate is high, restrictions and closures may be needed for a period of time to slow the spread of the virus.

“We held our lead on COVID-19 for some time but since resuming more activities over the summer and perhaps slipping on a few of our key dance steps — consistent physical distancing, exemplary hygiene and mask wearing — some of us have lost our lead,” Dr. Tam said. “I know Canadians can dance and take back the lead again.”

“This virus will cut in anywhere and at anytime we let it. So let’s get back in the dance and take the lead.”

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Canada’s COVID-19 cases remain above “peak levels” in the first wave in the spring, with an average of almost 2,800 cases reported daily in the past week. Ontario and Quebec significantly impact the national curve with over 75 per cent of all cases in Canada since the beginning of the pandemic.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

“The growth in Quebec case counts has appeared to gradually stabilize but still averaging around 1,000 cases daily during recent weeks,” Dr. Tam highlighted. “At the same time, over the past two weeks, British Columbia, the Prairie provinces and Ontario have all marked their highest daily case counts since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

As of Oct. 8, 19 health regions reported more than 50 cases per 100,000. That number had almost doubled by Oct. 27, with 34 health regions reporting more than 50 cases per 100,000.

Dr. Tam also highlighted that 26 Indigenous communities are now reporting two or more active cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada

Although COVID-19 cases have mostly been seen in Canadians between the ages of 20 to 39 recently, Canada is now seeing a “concerning rise” in incidents among people 80 years of age and older, which are particularly at risk of severe illness

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Florida Official: No Birthday Parties to Keep Virus Away | Florida News

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The top health official in one of Florida’s most populous counties is discouraging parents from hosting birthday parties for their children, no matter the size, in an effort to prevent outbreaks of the new coronavirus.

Dr. Raul Pino, health officer for Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said half of the 30 attendees at a recent Sweet 16 party in the Orlando area came down with the virus. Last month, an Orange County high school closed for two weeks after students who had attended a birthday party tested positive for the virus.

“Those parties will not only affect those people participating in that activity, but also everyone else they come into contact with when they leave,” Pino said Thursday at a news conference. “I’m absolutely sure no one wants this to happen. We will continue to see consequences if we don’t act super-responsibly.”

Orange County, which is home to some of the nation’s most famous theme park resorts, has had a moderate uptick in virus cases in the past few days, Pino said.

In recent days, the county’s positivity rate has crossed into the 6% range after being in the 5% range. Maintaining the positivity rate around 5% makes it possible to contact trace and isolate people, keeping the virus under control, Pino said.

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