Europe and US facing new round of shutdowns amid virus surge

The resurgence and the resulting clampdown sent a shudder through Wall Street. The S&P 500 fell 3.5%, its biggest drop since June, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 943 points, or 3.4%.

French President Emmanuel Macron declared a new nationwide lockdown starting Friday, saying the country has been “overpowered by a second wave.” Many doctors had urged the move, given that 58% of the nation’s intensive care units are now taken up by COVID-19 patients.

Countries such as Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria and Greece have closed or otherwise clamped down again on nightspots and imposed other restrictions such as curfews and mandatory mask-wearing. Madrid and other parts of Spain banned all but essential travel in and out of their regions.

“We are deep in the second wave,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “I think that this year’s Christmas will be a different Christmas.”

In the U.S., where practically every state is seeing a rise in cases, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers of hard-hit Wisconsin has been reduced to pleading with people to stay home, after an order he issued in the spring was overturned by the courts. Illinois’ governor banned indoor dining and drinking in Chicago this week. Other states are likewise considering reimposing restrictions.

The virus has killed more than 250,000 people in Europe and over 227,000 in the U.S., according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The long-feared surge is blamed in part on growing disregard for social distancing and mask-wearing, as well as the onset of cold weather, which is forcing people indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.

Dr. David Letzer, an infectious-disease specialist who doubles as chairman of the Wisconsin Medical Society’s COVID-19 task force, is getting swamped with patients. He said he was incensed to see people without masks going into a restaurant as he was driving between hospitals.

“I’m just coming from a place with ventilators and people are just going to an indoor restaurant,” he said. “Those are the things that are frustrating and take their toll.”

In the U.S., more than 71,000 people a day are testing positive on average, up from 51,000 two weeks ago. Cases are on the rise in all but two states, Hawaii and Delaware, and deaths are climbing in 39 states, with an average of 805 people dying in the U.S. per day, up from 714 two weeks ago.

Wisconsin, one of the worst hot spots of them all, set records Tuesday for the number of daily infections at nearly 5,300 and deaths with 64. About 12% of the state’s intensive care beds were

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While all gyms are included in COVID-19 shutdowns, not all fitness facilities are the same

Karume Mrusha works out at Hone Fitness in Toronto on July 31, 2020.


It’s a problem I’m glad someone else is responsible for solving – how exactly do you protect people from a mysterious and deadly airborne virus without ruining the economy and stomping all over civil liberties? This is the COVID-19 conundrum in a nutshell.

When the Ontario government announced renewed lockdown restrictions for Toronto, Ottawa and Peel regions at the beginning of October, gyms were placed front and centre in the firing line. All indoor fitness facilities – along with casinos, cinemas, performing-arts venues and indoor dining establishments – were ordered closed by the Premier’s office until at least early November, a desperate attempt by officials to quell the rising case numbers in the province after a quiet and hopeful summer.

Not five minutes after this announcement was made, my Instagram feed began to look like something like a libertarian activist forum. Most of the grumbling came from gym owners who were upset about the prospect of losing another month’s business. Then came the armchair virologists whose amateur opinions amount to a “survival of the fittest” argument.

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My scope of practice as a personal trainer excludes me from making any statements on COVID-19 outside of what medical experts are already saying, but I do want to address, from an insider’s perspective, the issue of gyms being shuttered.

Why gyms should be included in the lockdown

By now you’ve likely heard about the Hamilton-based spin studio that’s at the centre of a massive COVID-19 outbreak. Eighty cases have so far been linked to SpinCo, though it’s feared this number could easily reach 100. It’s believed that “patient zero” was asymptomatic, a common and insidious feature of COVID-19 infections.

This case presents an obvious and important question: How can businesses in which groups of people gather together under one roof operate safely when basic screening measures are essentially useless?

The answer is just as obvious. They can’t. According to SpinCo staff, class capacity was cut by 50 per cent, from 43 riders to 21, and each bike was buffered by a six-foot radius. The problem is the very nature of the activity members are paying to participate in. Picture a spin class in action (this thought experiment works just as well if you substitute a kettlebell class, kickboxing or any HIIT-style class). The exertion level is high. Lots of heavy breathing. Lots of spit and sweat, lots of speaking moistly. Distancing protocols mean nothing in these environments.

It’s a tough spot for fitness businesses to be in, and my heart goes out to all gym owners struggling to stay afloat. Take your classes outside while you still can, apply for federal relief if you qualify, and ride out the storm with the rest of the world.


There’s a common misconception among people who don’t exercise that all exercise is the same, that a gym is a gym is a gym. This is like

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Virus shutdowns took a grim toll on amputee veterans who died by suicide, families say

His life became a blur of surgeries and recovery, and in moments of darkness, he had contemplated ending it all, he later said.

But Hamill renewed his spirits as a motivational speaker and advocate for other veterans, many of whom became part of a legion of social media followers drawn to his gritty determination.

His post on April 19 had a different tone.

“My own personal hell has been reignited,” Hamill wrote on Instagram. “This pandemic, although viral in nature; alludes to what happens to us as human beings, when we are stripped of our outlets, and are deprived of our ability to socialize.”

Hamill died two weeks later of an apparent suicide at the age of 31.

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Part 1 of 3. “These are the times, that try men’s souls.” • For the past month or so, I’ve sat back and watched human beings make sense of the world’s current predicament; and how it correlates to, and affects, their daily lives. I have watched many attempt to make sense of all of this. Inspire their peers across a variety of platforms, justify everything they perceive as they see fit. I’ve watched multi-million dollar earning business owners blast their inspirational speeches, and give their tools for motivation. I’ve watched actual entrepreneurs, to include some of my closest and dearest friends, suffer, as they watch their dreams get suffocated by the current state of affairs and all of its ironies. I’ve observed and listened to all the ‘loudest (men/women) in the room’, tout their recipe for success, only to succumb to the gravity of our current hardships with a parting whisper. There is a harsh reality that most of us have finally realized, that transcends our current socioeconomic environment. One that many, though still afflicted, shrug off because of stubbornness. That they ignore. That they pretend doesn’t exist outside their small bubble, in their day to day lives. Yes, we’ve all been stymied during what should be a period of growth; springtime, a source of new beginnings and hope. Coming out of the ever inevitable depression and seclusion of winter, this following season seems to be some cruel universal joke played upon us as a species. Compounding these present set of circumstances, there are those of us who live in the grips of mental illness or injury. Living in a veritable prison of sadness, fear, devastation, and utter agony. Day in, and day out. I began writing this at 03:46 in the morning, on April 19th, 2020. I’ve been drunk on red wine since the previous night. I haven’t slept. I haven’t stopped suffering. My own personal hell has been reignited, in light of present circumstances affecting us all. This pandemic, although viral in nature; alludes to what happens to us as human beings, when we are stripped of our outlets, and are deprived of our ability to socialize.

A post shared by Rory Hamill (@rory.hamill) on

As coronavirus restrictions unfurled

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