Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 164 cases Tuesday, 168 cases Monday; NYC to require vaccination proof for indoor dining, gyms

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.

9:00 p.m.: Pharmacists are scrambling to use up thousands of doses of the Moderna vaccine that are days away from expiring, with some proposing using the “liquid gold” for third shots.

There’s been a “deep decline” in demand for the Moderna vaccine, specifically in the last few weeks, said Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, who is trying to find ways to avoid wasting the vaccine. Doses have a limited shelf life and will spoil 30 days after they are delivered to fridges and are in a thawed state.

“We’re certainly in a position that is precarious. No health-care provider wants to contemplate having to dispose of what is essentially liquid gold in the vaccines,” said Bates. Each vial contains 14 doses, which must be used within 12 hours once the vial is punctured.

Confusing messaging from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which said mixing COVID-19 vaccines is not ideal, and delayed consensus from international bodies over accepting mixed doses, as well as lower brand recognition, are likely fuelling hesitancy around Moderna, said Bates.

Along with improving public perceptions of dose mixing, potentially opening up Moderna vaccines for a third shot is among solutions being considered as time runs out, he said.

Read the full story by the Star’s Olivia Bowden here: Pharmacists scramble to use up expiring ‘liquid gold’ Moderna shots

7:25 p.m.: Premier Jason Kenney offloaded responsibility on Alberta’s top doctor for lifting all COVID-19 public health orders, as local leaders and health-care experts from across the country continue to condemn the province’s plans.

In defence of Alberta’s move to end isolation requirements, contact tracing and asymptomatic testing, Kenney said Tuesday the decision was based on science and data. But he didn’t provide specifics.

“People are understandably anxious about both the disease itself and the damaging affect of restrictions,” said Kenney.

He noted that Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has previously commented about widespread vaccine coverage changing the nature of the provincewide risk of COVID-19.

Read the full story here: Premier offloads responsibility to Alberta’s top doctor, defends COVID-19 response

7:00 p.m.: As the COVID-19 case count increases in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is urging people to walk in and get vaccinated at clinics that are to be set up around the province.

Henry says “walk-in Wednesday” will allow people to get caught up with their vaccines or to get their first dose.

She says the vaccine will protect people against the recent surge in cases, particularly in the Interior, where the infection rate has climbed.

B.C. reported 742 new cases over a four-day period and more than half of those are in the Interior.

There are 53 people in hospital, with 19 in intensive care, and there’s been one more death.

Read the full story here: B.C.’s top doctor pushes for vaccinations as COVID-19 cases climb

5:50 p.m.: The Biden administration will put in place a new eviction moratorium that would protect areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives, a turnaround after progressive lawmakers pushed the White House to do more to prevent some 3.6 million Americans from losing their homes during the COVID-19 crisis.

President Joe Biden stopped short Tuesday of announcing the new ban on evictions during a press conference at the White House. But the new 60-day eviction moratorium would protect areas heavily impacted by the coronavirus, where about 90% of the U.S. population lives, according to three people familiar with the plans who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement.

“My hope is it’s going to be a new moratorium,” Biden told reporters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a legal authority for a new and different moratorium for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections.

The extension, expected to be announced later Tuesday, could help heal a rift with liberal Democratic lawmakers who were calling on the president to take executive action to keep renters in their homes as the delta variant of the coronavirus spread and a prior moratorium lapsed over the weekend.

Read the full story here: Biden to announce new eviction ban due to COVID spread

5:00 p.m.: Houston city workers are being told they must resume wearing masks while on the job, a requirement that could go against Gov. Greg Abbott’s most recent executive order banning such mandates.

Mayor Sylvester Turner issued the mask mandate on Monday due to a “recent uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in our community and in our workplace linked to the new delta variant.”

“It is so very important that we remain vigilant in doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Turner wrote in memo to all city employees. The new order was first reported on by the Houston Chronicle.

The new order requires all employees to wear a mask while on city premises and when they can’t be socially distant from others.

Read the full story here: Houston mask mandate might violate Texas governor’s order

4:35 p.m.: The Nunavut government has released a long-term plan that will work toward treating COVID-19 like any other vaccine-preventable disease.

The plan, which is called Nunavut’s Path: Living with COVID-19, outlines the steps needed to gradually reduce and eventually eliminate public health restrictions in the territory.

Nunavut has no active cases of COVID-19, but the plan says that variants of concern represent the most significant risk factor as the territory considers its next steps in easing restrictions.

The plan says the ultimate goal is to end the territory’s public health emergency, which has been in place for more than a year.

Vaccine uptake in each of Nunavut’s 25 fly-in communities would also determine the type of restrictions put in place if an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred.

It has been nearly two months since Nunavut’s last active case of COVID-19 and about 66 per cent of its population older than 12 is now fully vaccinated.

4:30 p.m.: The mask mandate is being removed in Manitoba as the province moves from COVID-19 restrictions to public health recommendations in its next step of reopening.

“Thanks to the remarkable efforts of Manitobans, we are now in a position to reopen more, sooner, as we have achieved our highest vaccination rates yet,” Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday.

Pallister said Manitobans will be able to enjoy more freedoms when the rules change Saturday, as the province inches closer to its next vaccination milestone.

Eighty per cent of eligible people have received one dose of a vaccine and more than 71 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses.

Read the full story here: Manitoba loosening more COVID-19 health orders, removing mask mandate

4:00 p.m.: Microsoft (MSFT) said Tuesday that starting next month, it would require employees to show proof they are vaccinated against COVID-19 before they can enter any company facility in the U.S.

Separately, Tyson Foods (TSN) said it would require its U.S. staff to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1.

The move comes as the Redmond, Wash., software titan and the Springdale, Ark., foods giant join a growing list of companies bolstering their policies in the wake of a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Microsoft also said its U.S. facilities will fully reopen no earlier than Oct. 4. The previous plan was to reopen on Sept. 7. The offices shut down in March 2020 as the pandemic was ramping up.

Read the full story here: Microsoft to require proof of vaccination for U.S. office entry

2:55 p.m. Alberta’s Opposition New Democratic Party is calling for a public inquiry into Premier Jason Kenney and his government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Sarah Hoffman, who is deputy leader for the NDP, says an independent review is necessary to look into the United Conservative government’s decision to end isolation requirements, contact tracing and asymptomatic testing.

She says it’s also needed after reports the government won’t release a report into the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says on Twitter that the interim report will now be released later this week.

Kenney is to speak today at an unrelated news conference in Calgary — the first time he has held a news conference since the changes were made to COVID-19 protections.

Alberta is one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to announce it will lift isolation requirements this month for people who test positive for COVID-19, even as cases continue to grow.

“It is clear that Albertans can no longer trust their own government to keep them safe,” Hoffman said Tuesday.

“A full public inquiry is necessary because it allows Albertans to understand what happened over the course of this pandemic and to plan for the future, so we don’t repeat the same poor decision-making process again.”

2:45 p.m. Ontario students returning to schools next month will be able to play on sports teams, use instruments in music class, go on field trips and ditch masks outdoors, even if distance can’t be maintained.

The government released its back-to-school plan Tuesday, which includes extracurricular activities resuming, relaxed rules on using shared spaces such as libraries and cafeterias, and continuing to require masks indoors for students in Grades 1 and up.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce will not be available to answer questions about the plan until Wednesday, when he is set to announce $25 million more in ventilation funding for standalone HEPA units.

Read the full story here on the Star.

1:30 p.m. Premier Jason Kenney is to hold a news conference in Calgary today on Alberta’s film and television industry.

It will be the first time he will speak publicly since significant changes were made to COVID-19 protections in the province.

Alberta is one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to announce it will lift isolation requirements this month for people who test positive for COVID-19 as cases continue to grow.

The decision has drawn condemnation from city leaders and health-care professionals across the country who say it could have ripple effects outside of Alberta’s borders.

Asymptomatic testing has also ended and soon all remaining provincial mask mandates will be removed.

Kenney has not publicly addressed the issue since Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced the changes last Wednesday.

Today’s news conference will include industry officials and other members of the government to update Albertans on film and television productions in Alberta and the Film and Television Tax Credit program.

1:29 p.m. Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19 identified over a two-day period.

Officials said today six new infections are in the Moncton area.

They say three cases are in the Fredericton region, one is in the Edmundston area and another in the Campbellton region.

Of the 11 new cases, five are travel related while the others are under investigation.

Officials say more than 68 per cent of New Brunswickers 12 and older have been fully vaccinated and more than 82 per cent have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

New Brunswick has 44 active reported cases of COVID-19 and no one in hospital with the disease.

12 p.m. Ontario is reporting another 164 COVID-19 cases and one more death, according to its latest report released Tuesday morning.

Ontario is also reporting 168 COVID-19 cases and one death for Monday, as the data was not released on the civic holiday.

Ontario has administered 31,015 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 19,591,917 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m., Monday night. The total also includes 41,121 vaccine doses administered on Sunday, Aug. 1.

According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 10,496,523 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 80.5 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 71. 2 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Read the full story from the Star’s Urbi Khan

11:44 a.m. The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will require all participants attending in Utah to be fully vaccinated. In an announcement released on Tuesday, festival director Tabitha Jackson said, “We are providing this information now to ensure that all in-person participants feel comfortable attending, and can adjust their travel plans if needed.”

The announcement further reads, “As part of our commitment to this community, we will be requiring all participants attending the Festival, or Sundance-affiliated events, in person in Utah to be fully vaccinated … We will share our full details and processes for health precautions closer to the Festival, including theater capacity along with information on mask-wearing. We will continue to assess other elements of health and safety protocols regularly and in accordance with best practices.”

Sundance 2022 is scheduled to run from Jan. 20-30.

10:30 a.m. The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida rose to an all-time high of 11,515 patients in one day, according to data the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Tuesday.

The data is used by the Florida Hospital Association to track admissions and staffing shortages. The figures also show 2,400 of those patients are in ICU beds.

The previous day, the data showed there were 10,389 COVID-hospitalizations in the state.

The new number breaks a previous record for current hospitalizations set more than a year ago before vaccines were available. Last year, Florida hit its previous peak on July 23, with 10,170 hospitalizations.

Hospitals around the state report having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients.

10:18 a.m. (updated) Ontario is reporting 164 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 168 cases reported Monday. On Tuesday, there are 45 new cases in the Toronto, 23 in York Region and 22 in Peel Region.

Over 11,500 tests were completed on Aug. 2 and nearly 11,700 tests on Aug. 1.

The province also added one death on Monday, numbers that were not reported that day due to the holiday.

There are 106 people in intensive care due to COVID-related critical illness, and 78 people are on ventilators.

10:10 a.m. Ontario administered 41,121 vaccine doses Sunday and 31,015 on Monday; on Monday 5,193 were first doses and 25,822 were second doses. On Sunday, 6,884 were first doses; 34,237 second doses.

Ontario is averaging 69,000 doses per day, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb.

10.50 million Ontarians now have at least one dose, or 71.2 per cent of the total population and 81.6 per cent of adults 18+.

10:05 a.m. New York City will require proof of vaccination for workers and customers at indoor restaurants and gyms, according to Bill Neidhardt, the mayor’s press secretary.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will announce the mandate at his Tuesday virus briefing, Neidhardt said.

The mandate is the latest step by de Blasio to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated. City workers must get the COVID-19 shots or be tested weekly.

10 a.m. The U.S. has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia, the White House announced Tuesday.

President Joe Biden was expected to discuss that milestone and more later Tuesday in remarks updating the public on the U.S. strategy to slow the spread of coronavirus abroad.

The announcement comes amid a rise in infections in the U.S., fueled by the highly contagious Delta strain of the virus, which led U.S. public health officials last week to recommend that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 resume wearing face coverings in public indoor settings.

Biden has promised that the U.S. will be the “arsenal of vaccines” for the world, and it has shipped the most vaccines abroad of any donor nation.

But while notable, the 110 million doses the U.S. has donated largely through a global vaccine program known as COVAX represent a fraction of what is needed worldwide.

The White House said in a statement Tuesday that U.S. at the end of August will begin shipping 500,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine that it has pledged to 100 low-income countries by June 2022.

9:45 a.m. A South Florida school district that voted last week to require facial coverings when in-person learning resumes this month now says it will comply with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order preventing mask mandates in schools, rather than enforce the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Broward County Public Schools intends to comply with the Governor’s latest Executive Order,’’ says the district statement, released Monday afternoon.

With coronavirus caseloads surging as the much more contagious Delta variant spreads infections, the board unanimously voted last week to require students, teachers and staff — even those who are vaccinated — to wear facial coverings inside schools when classes begin Aug. 18.

Broward’s board took the action last week in response to the latest science on the virus, which suggests that while vaccinated people are extremely unlikely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, they can still spread infection among those who haven’t had their shots. This revelation prompted the CDC to issue new guidance, recommending “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”

The Republican governor then signed an order empowering the state’s Board of Education to withhold funding from districts that enforce a mask mandate. DeSantis said he wants parents to decide whether their children should wear a mask to school. He also claimed the outbreak is seasonal, caused by people gathering indoors to avoid Florida’s heat and humidity.

In fact, Florida now leads the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19. On Monday, Florida had 10,389 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the hospital association. That’s almost 200 more than Sunday, when the state broke the previous record set on July 23, 2020, more than a half-year before vaccinations started becoming widespread. It then had 10,170 hospitalizations.

9:30 a.m. When COVID-19 hit, 14-year-old Sophie McGinn had both time on her hands and a brand new Instagram account.

Scrolling through her explore page, the Burlington teen spotted crafty people making earrings out of polymer clay. “So I went to Michaels, and I just got a couple of bars of clay and I just started making them.”

After a period of trial and error, her jewelry company Aster & Grace was born, selling through her Instagram feed initially and recently through her website,

For Sophie and other entrepreneurial kids, having a business was a sanity-saver during the long months of COVID lockdown.

9:10 a.m. COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. has topped 50,000 for the first time since February 27, says the U.S. Department of Health. This is a three-fold increase from one month ago.

9 a.m. Tyson Foods is requiring team members at U.S. office locations to be fully vaccinated by October.

All other team members are required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

8:50 a.m. In the latest coronavirus-related setback for the New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole, the team’s top starting pitcher, has tested positive for the virus and will miss his next start, which had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Manager Aaron Boone announced Cole’s positive test in a postgame news conference following the team’s 7-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday at Yankee Stadium. Boone was asked how Cole would bounce back from a tough loss last week against the Tampa Bay Rays and he responded with the news of the diagnosis.

“Gerrit will not be pitching tomorrow,” Boone said. “He’s actually tested positive for COVID.”

8:15 a.m. The Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine has failed to produce sufficient antibodies in a quarter of elderly people who were voluntarily tested in Budapest, according to a study by the opposition-led Budapest City Hall.

The results were published just as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, which has faced opposition criticism for having widely adminsitered Sinopharm shots to older people, started offering third shots this week for anyone who requests them.

Hungary, which has had the highest level of COVID-19 deaths per capita after Peru, was the only European Union country to have deployed the Sinopharm vaccine to combat COVID-19.

The non-representative study tested 13,524 people who were at least 60 years old. More than half had been inoculated with Sinopharm.

Sinopharm’s ability to generate antibodies got progressively worse with age, with vaccinated people who didn’t have the minimum antibody level rising to 34.5 per cent among those aged 80 and over, the results showed.

8 a.m. The Greek Olympic team says the outbreak of COVID-19 cases among its artistic swimmers has ruled them out of competing at the Tokyo Games.

Three new cases were reported Tuesday and the entire artistic swimming squad was asked to leave the Olympic Village. Only one case had been previously confirmed.

The Greek team says they are all staying at a quarantine hotel. Greece was due to compete in the duet and team events.

7:40 a.m. The quickly approaching fall semester has America’s colleges under pressure to decide how far they should go to guard their campuses against COVID-19 while navigating legal and political questions and rising infection rates.

Hundreds of colleges nationwide have told students in recent months they must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before classes begin.

California State University, the country’s largest four-year public university system, joined the list last week, along with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. Their announcements cited concerns about the highly contagious delta variant and came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated mask guidelines based on new research regarding its spread.

CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro called case surges linked to the variant an “alarming new factor that we must consider as we look to maintain the health and well-being of students, employees and visitors.”

Yet many more colleges have held off on vaccine mandates in a reflection of the limits school leaders face in adopting safety requirements for in-person classes.

In many Republican-led states, governments have banned vaccine mandates, or school leaders face political pressure to limit their anti-virus actions even among students who live in packed residence halls. Opponents say the requirements tread on personal freedoms.

Some campuses have sidestepped pushback by instead offering enticements, such as prize drawings for free tuition and computers, as they seek to boost student vaccination rates to 80 per cent or higher.

And a few have gone against the grain of their GOP-led states, such as Nova Southeastern in Florida requiring employees to get the shots and Nebraska Wesleyan mandating vaccinations for its 2,000 students.

Private colleges like these have more legal leeway regarding coronavirus rules, experts say. Prominent private universities mandating student vaccinations include Harvard, Yale, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Duke and Stanford.

6:40 a.m. Barack Obama is turning 60 on Wednesday and he’s marking the milestone with a celebration.

The Obamas are hosting an outdoor party in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to celebrate the former president’s birthday with friends, family and former staff members, a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly told USA TODAY. In order to promote safety, guests are required to adhere to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health protocols, including a testing regimen managed by a COVID-19 coordinator.

Concerns about COVID-19 transmission reignited after the delta coronavirus variant caused a sharp spike in cases around the country in recent weeks. For the first time in more than three months, cases in the U.S. average more than 60,000 per day, according to USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

The Obamas have been strong advocates for the vaccine, emphasizing “the need and the urgency of our communities getting vaccinated” in a video with Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley in April and getting vaccinated themselves one month earlier.

6:25 a.m. Tokyo is experiencing a record surge in COVID-19 cases during the Olympic Games as the more infectious Delta variant rips through Japan, though contagion among those linked to the event appears to be relatively contained so far.

To date, organizers have announced 294 positive cases among people connected to the Olympics, including 25 athletes out of the more than 11,000 who are expected to participate. Of over 400,000 tests conducted so far on athletes and stakeholders, the positivity rate has been only 0.02 per cent, organizers said on Tuesday.

“There is a separation between the athletes and the various stakeholders, and the general population,” Mark Adams, International Olympic Committee spokesperson, told reporters Monday. “You can’t reduce the risk to zero, but we have with the playbooks pretty well covered the ability to reduce that risk as far as we can.”

The so-called playbooks set out COVID-prevention measures and rules for each Olympics participant including athletes, officials and media.

Breaking down the category of people with positive test results, the largest numbers are among Tokyo 2020 contractors — third-party personnel who are contracted to the games to provide various services — and games-concerned people, who include those affiliated with the IOC, National Olympic Committees and Olympic Broadcasting Services. There have been a cumulative 153 and 89 cases in those categories, respectively.

While athletes in the Olympic Village are required to test daily, requirements are less strict for volunteers who have less contact with athletes. The rules are also harsher for those flying in from overseas, compared to Japanese residents.

5:55 a.m. The United States on Monday finally reached President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70 per cent of eligible adults at least partly vaccinated.

The milestone came a month later than Biden had hoped as the country faced the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

There was no celebration at the White House. The announcement was made on Twitter by Cyrus Shahpar, the COVID-19 data director for the Biden administration. “Let’s continue working to get more eligible vaccinated!” Shahpar wrote.

The White House had hoped to announce the 70 per cent vaccination bench mark four weeks ago. Biden initially used Independence Day to declare a victory of sorts over the pandemic and some kind of return to normal life.

But that goal evaporated in recent weeks as the Delta variant spread rapidly, putting pressure on hospitals in regions with low vaccination rates, including many politically conservative areas in the south. Southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, for instance, have been hard hit, swamping hospitals.

In recent weeks, there has been an uptick in the vaccination rate in some states where cases have crested. Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Florida have seen steady increases.

5:45 a.m. Florida leads the U.S. in another alarming coronavirus statistic: kids hospitalized with COVID-19.

Florida had 32 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations per day between July 24 and 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adjusted for population, that’s 0.76 kids hospitalized per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the country.

The Florida Department of Health reported 10,785 new COVID-19 infections among children under 12 between July 23 and 29. That’s an average of 1,540 new cases per day.

The surge is worse for children who are eligible for the vaccine — 11,048 new cases among those ages 12 to 19 in the same week.

Last Friday’s state data shows seven deaths among children under 16 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Florida stopped reporting COVID-19 deaths by age group to the CDC on July 17.

Dr. Claudia Espinosa, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of South Florida, said that she is deeply concerned about cases spiking when kids return to school this month. Hundreds of thousands of kids across the state will soon pack themselves into school buses, classrooms and cafeterias.

“I’m terrified of what’s going to happen,” she said.

Pediatric hospitalizations are the latest sign of the resurgent pandemic’s hold on Florida. Last week, the state accounted for nearly one out of every four new infections and hospitalizations in the nation, according to the CDC. State data shows Florida averaged more than 15,780 infections a day over the most recent seven-day period.

Tampa Bay pediatric hospitals are seeing those higher admissions themselves. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg diagnosed 113 COVID-19 cases in the first three and a half weeks of July, while the hospital only had 11 infections in the entire month of June, said Dr. Joseph Perno, the hospital’s vice president of medical affairs.

Every week in July set a new weekly record for the most cases the hospital has seen during the pandemic, Perno said.

The age range of infected patients is evenly spread between young children and teenagers. And the vast majority of them are unvaccinated, said Dr. Allison Messina, the hospital’s chairman of the Division of Infectious Disease. Children 11 and under cannot yet get the vaccine.

Pediatric COVID-19 patients in BayCare’s 15 Florida hospitals doubled in July compared to June, after two months of declining case numbers, said hospital system spokesperson Lisa Razler.

The vast majority of infected pediatric patients are hospitalized at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Razler said, one of the six BayCare facilities that paused elective surgeries requiring overnight stays to make more beds available for COVID-19 patients.

While infected children are at less risk of serious illness then adults, Messina said they can still develop serious long-term complications, Messina said.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome is an autoimmune disease that targets school-aged children and can occur two to six weeks after a coronavirus infection. Symptoms include fever, rashes, red eye, and diarrhea and vomiting. If left untreated, Messina said, the illness can be fatal or cause permanent heart damage.

5:33 a.m. Chinese authorities have announced mass coronavirus testing in Wuhan as an unusually wide series of COVID-19 outbreaks reached the city where the disease was first detected in late 2019.

The provincial capital of 11 million people in central China is the latest city to undergo city-wide testing. Three cases were confirmed in Wuhan on Monday, its first non-imported cases in more than a year.

China has largely curbed COVID-19 at home after the initial outbreak that devastated Wuhan and spread globally. Since then, authorities have tamped down and controlled the disease whenever it pops up with quick lockdowns and mass testing.

The current outbreaks are still in the hundreds of cases in total, but have spread much more widely than previous ones. Many of the cases have been identified as the highly contagious delta variant.

The National Health Commission said Tuesday that 90 new cases had been confirmed the previous day.

5 a.m. Ontario’s back-to-school plan will be front and centre this week as the province announces what protocols will be in place so boards can get ready to welcome kids back to in-person learning in just five weeks.

With the government set to announce details as early as Tuesday, questions remain as to what the school year will look like, if the province has taken the advice of pediatric experts — and what has taken so long for the plan to be released.

While most of Ontario’s two million students are set to resume classes in person after Labour Day, some schools, on a modified calendar such as Peel’s Roberta Bondar elementary and York’s Bill Crothers secondary, are returning this week.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy

Tuesday 4 a.m. The Manitoba government is to announce changes Tuesday to its COVID-19 restrictions.

Premier Brian Pallister and the province’s chief public health officer are scheduled to hold a news conference on the updated orders.

Manitoba is running ahead of its vaccination targets, with roughly 80 per cent of people ages 12 and up having at least one dose and more than 70 per cent having two.

The current rules include a 50 per cent capacity limit at stores, museums, restaurants and gyms.

Casinos, bingo halls, movie theatres and some other facilities are open only to people who are fully vaccinated.

Household visits are also capped at five people in addition to residents of a home.

Monday 7 p.m. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted Monday he has tested positive for coronavirus, months after he was vaccinated.

The Republican senator said he started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night and went to the doctor Monday to be tested.

Graham described his symptoms as “mild,” and said his symptoms feel like he has a sinus infection.

He tweeted he will quarantine for the next 10 days, and, despite his diagnosis, is glad he was vaccinated.

“I was just informed by the House physician I have tested positive for #COVID19 even after being vaccinated. I started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night and went to the doctor this morning,” Graham tweeted. “I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms. I will be quarantining for ten days. I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse.”

Graham’s diagnosis is among the rising breakthrough cases reported across the country where vaccinated people are testing positive for the virus due to the rise in the delta variant.

South Carolina has also has reported a spike in cases during the past few weeks, seeing its most cases since February.

Monday 6:30 p.m. The positivity rate for COVID-19 testing in Quebec reached 1.4 per cent on Sunday — the highest it’s been since late May.

New COVID-19 infections are also on the rise, according to the Health Department. Officials reported 154 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and 347 new infections identified on Friday and Saturday. Quebec has reported an average of 139 new cases a day over the past seven days, up from an average of 57 a week prior.

Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist at the McGill University Health Centre, says the trends are concerning. The rising positivity rate in the province “means that there is still ongoing community transmission,” he said in an interview Monday.

He is also concerned because Quebec’s rate on Sunday reflected fewer overall tests compared with late May. On May 31, Quebec recorded a test positivity rate of 1.5 per cent based on 15,783 tests. On Sunday, Quebec analyzed 11,202 tests.

The big question, Vinh said, is whether the jump in the positivity rate is a sign Quebecers should expect cases to rise even more in late August and September, when classes at schools, junior colleges and universities resume. “If it’s already increased when we are in the ‘safe’ outdoors, what’s going to happen when we’re in the indoors? That’s where the concern is,” he said.

Despite the rise in cases, deaths and hospitalizations linked to the novel coronavirus haven’t followed suit.

The Health Department, which no longer provides COVID-19 updates on weekends, said no deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus have been reported in the province since Thursday. It said the number of those hospitalized increased by one since its last report, to 61, and 17 people were in intensive care — unchanged since Friday’s update.

Health officials said 38,247 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered Sunday and Quebec’s public health institute reported that 84.6 per cent of residents 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine while 68 per cent are adequately vaccinated.

Dr. André Veillette, an immunologist at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute and member of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, said it’s likely the number of active COVID-19 cases in the province is higher than testing data suggests.

“I think we should be worried, but I think that what we should be even more worried about is that we’re not worried enough,” Veillette said. “We’ve all become a little bit complacent.”

Veillette said the rise in cases in the province is likely the result of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus.

Data from Quebec’s public health institute on Monday, however, indicates the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases involving variants dropped the week ending July 24, compared with the prior week. But Judith Fafard, a medical microbiologist at the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, said that data is incomplete.

It takes time, she explained, for results to be gathered and processed from the province’s decentralized laboratory network. The most reliable data on variants comes from the week ending July 17, which showed a rise in the percentage of cases involving the Delta variant from the prior week.

The percentage of cases involving the Alpha variant — which accounted for more than 80 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Quebec in mid-May — has also been dropping since the last week of that month, she said.

“It would be surprising if we were any different from England, the other provinces and the United States, so what’s replacing Alpha is probably the Delta variant,” she said.

“We know that the Delta variant is in Quebec and that it is growing.”