The latest:

  • Canada has 109,671 coronavirus infections and 8,875 deaths.
  • How close are we to a vaccine for COVID-19?
  • Ottawa’s wage subsidy program to be expanded, extended to December. 
  • Statistics Canada plans ‘contactless’ census for 2021.
  • Parts of Australia back in lockdown amid COVID-19 surge.
  • Global coronavirus infections pass 14 million, total deaths pass 600,000.
  • EU holds 1st in-person summit since pandemic with virus recovery fund in spotlight.

Millions more children in the U.S. learned Friday that they’re unlikely to return to classrooms full time in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic as death tolls reached new highs.

It came as many U.S. states — particularly in the Sunbelt — struggled to cope with the surge and governments worldwide tried to control fresh outbreaks. In a sign of how the virus is galloping around the globe, the World Health Organization reported nearly a quarter-million new infections in a single day.

In the U.S., teams of military medics were deployed in Texas and California to help hospitals deluged by coronavirus patients. The two most populous states each reported roughly 10,000 new cases and some of their highest death counts since the pandemic began. Big numbers in Florida, Arizona and other states also are helping drive the U.S. resurgence that’s forcing states to rethink the school year.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out strict criteria for school reopenings that makes classroom instruction unlikely for most districts. The Democrat’s rules mandate that students above second grade and all staff wear masks.

Texas gave public schools permission to stay closed for more than five million students well into the fall. Under the guidelines, schools can hold online-only instruction for up to the first eight weeks, potentially pushing a return to campus in some cities until November.

Several U.S. states have been reporting record numbers of COVID-19 this week, contributing to a surge in the national death rate. The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths has risen 34 per cent from two weeks ago, while the case count in that period shot up 43 per cent.

Health workers wait to screen people for COVID-19 symptoms at a temple in Mumbai, India, on Saturday. India crossed 1 million coronavirus cases on Friday, third only to the United States and Brazil, prompting concerns about its readiness to confront an inevitable surge that could overwhelm hospitals and test the country’s feeble health-care system. (Rafiq Maqbool/The Associated Press)

Texas reported a record 174 new deaths, and more than 10,000 additional cases for the fourth consecutive day. California’s nearly 10,000 confirmed cases were its third-highest daily total, and it recorded 130 deaths during a week of seesawing infection numbers. Florida reported 128 new deaths Friday and 11,345 additional cases.

There were signs across the Sunbelt that the virus was stretching authorities’ capacity to respond. The medical examiner’s office in metro Phoenix has gotten portable storage coolers and ordered more to handle an influx of bodies — reminiscent of New York City at the height of the pandemic there.

In Houston, an 86-person Army medical team worked to take over a wing of United Memorial Medical Center. In California, military doctors, nurses and other health care specialists were being deployed to eight hospitals facing staffing shortages.

In Florida, Miami-area authorities began stepping up enforcement of a mask requirement. Code and fire inspectors have authority to issue tickets of up to $100 for individuals and $500 for businesses not complying with guidelines to wear masks and practice social distancing. Police already had that power.

At least half of all states have adopted requirements for wearing face coverings.

WATCH | Fauci calls on leaders to be ‘forceful’ on mask-wearing:

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci says state and local leaders should be as forceful as possible on wearing masks to prevent spreading the deadly coronavirus, as the state of Georgia and its major cities tussle over masks. 0:38

But in Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has banned cities and counties from requiring face coverings. He sued Atlanta late Thursday to prevent it from defying his order, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was prepared to go to court to maintain the requirement.

Globally, confirmed cases surpassed 14 million, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, and COVID-19 deaths topped 600,000. WHO reported a single-day record of new infections: over 237,000. Experts believe that the true numbers are even higher.

India’s total confirmed cases surpassed 1 million Friday, the third-highest in the world — behind the United States and Brazil — and its death toll reached more than 25,000. That followed an announcement Thursday that Brazil’s confirmed cases exceeded 2 million, including 76,000 deaths.

Rafael Ruiz, left, is tested for COVID-19 at a walk-up testing site in Miami Beach, Fla., on Friday. People getting tested are separated from nurses via a glass pane. (Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press)

The surge in India — where experts believe the vast majority of cases are still being missed — drove home concerns over the readiness of some countries to cope with outbreaks that could test feeble health care systems.

In sub-Saharan Africa, which already had the world’s greatest shortage of medical personnel, nearly 10,000 health workers in 40 countries have been infected, WHO said.

Health officials in Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries earlier in the pandemic, asked Barcelona’s 5.5 million residents to stay home as much as possible to stem the virus’s spread.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson charted a different course, announcing that as of Aug. 1, the government would no longer ask people to avoid public transit or work from home.

The U.K.’s official death toll, which stood at more than 45,000, has for several weeks been the highest in Europe.

On Friday, UN officials urged wealthy countries to do more to help developing nations respond to the pandemic. “COVID-19 and the associated global recession are about to wreak havoc in fragile and low-income countries,” Mark Lowcock, a senior official with the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said.

WATCH | Wealthy nations must increase aid to poor countries, UN official says:

Developing countries face ‘a series of human tragedies more brutal than the virus itself’ from the economic impact of the pandemic, says senior UN official.  0:38

He was speaking at a WHO briefing in Geneva, where he unveiled the UN’s third version since March of its Global Humanitarian Response Plan, now estimated to cost $10.3 billion US to prevent “multiple cascading crises” related to the coronavirus.

He said the pandemic could push up to 100 million people back into poverty this year and urged wealthy countries to fund the response plan.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 109,671 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 96,687 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,875.

WATCH | Labour lawyer cautions enforcing mask policies is likely to cause some conflict:

Andrew Monkhouse says companies need to plan for difficult customers with clear policies and training for employees to help reduce tension. 5:26

Many parts of Ontario moved to the next phase of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan on Friday.

Stage 3 of the reopening effort took effect across 24 out of 34 public health units, though the jurisdictions that will keep operating under Stage 2 rules are among the busiest in the province. Stage 3 rules allow restaurants to resume indoor service, and businesses such as bars, gyms and theatres can start welcoming patrons again.

Cineplex says it won’t be opening its theatres in Ontario just yet. The cinema chain confirmed on Friday that it has cut 130 jobs in the U.S. and Canada amid the pandemic, but says it has a “sustainable financial model” and will recover.

The latest rules for the province limit indoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people, while as many as 100 people are allowed to congregate outdoors. The rules don’t yet apply in the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, the Niagara region and Windsor-Essex, all of which are still trying to reduce the numbers of local COVID-19 cases.

Ontario added 111 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, for a total of 37,274. Quebec added 141 cases for a total of 57,142.

WATCH | Provinces to get $19B for ‘safe restart’ of cities:

The federal government has reached a $19-billion agreement with the provinces and territories for a “safe restart” of cities. The money will go toward funding child care, transit and purchasing personal protective equipment for front-line workers. 1:54

In Edmonton, an outbreak at Misericordia Community Hospital continues to grow. The hospital now has 53 cases, including 17 that emerged after the institution closed its doors last week when it declared a full facility outbreak. Seven deaths have been linked to the outbreak.

The hospital stopped admitting new patients last week. All services including the emergency department remain closed.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

European Union leaders are hunting for compromises on Saturday as a summit to reach a deal on an unprecedented 1.85 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion US) EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund enters its second day with tensions running high. A full day and night of discussions by the 27 leaders on Friday only added to the irritations over how the huge sums should be spent and what strings should be attached. The atmosphere “was grumpier this evening than this afternoon,” Dutch Prime Minister Rutte told Dutch reporters after Friday’s marathon talks. “This is going to take a while, I think.” 

Employees pack N95 face masks for children at a factory near Changodar, India, on Friday. (Sam Panthaky/AFP via Getty Images)

In China, the number of confirmed cases in a new coronavirus outbreak in the country’s far west has risen to 17. The National Health Commission said Saturday that 16 more cases were identified in the previous 24 hours in the Xinjiang region, on top of a first case. As of Friday, mainland China had 83,644 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The COVID-19 death toll remained at 4,634.

South Korea has reported 39 newly confirmed infections of COVID-19, most of them cases imported from abroad. The figures brought the national caseload to 13,711, including 294 deaths. Authorities said least 28 cases were tied to overseas arrivals. Eighteen others came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which had been at the center of a virus resurgence that began in late May as restrictions eased.

Health-care providers gather inside a work area protected by a sheet of plastic at the Eurnekian Ezeiza Hospital on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Tuesday. (Natacha Pisarenko/The Associated Press)

Brazil on Friday reported 2,046,328 confirmed cases, up from 2,012,151 the day before, when it crossed the two million mark. Total deaths rose to 77,851 from 76,688, according to the Health Ministry.

Britain said on Saturday it was pausing its daily update of the death toll from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom after the government ordered a review into the calculation of the data over concern numbers might have been exaggerated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said he hopes the country will be “able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest, possibly in time for Christmas.”

He also offered employers “more discretion” in bringing their employees back to work, starting in August.

WATCH | British PM hoping for ‘significant return to normality’ by Christmas:

As Britain continues to ease coronavirus lockdown measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’s eyeing a return to near normality by the end of the year.   0:44

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday delayed the opening of parliament for several weeks as the new coronavirus continued spreading through the country’s two most populous states. Australia’s Victoria state saw a marked drop in new COVID-19 infections — from Friday’s record high of 428 to 217. The Health Department said Saturday that two more people in the state, a man and a woman both aged in their 80s, had died, raising the state’s death toll to 34 and Australia’s national total to 118.

WATCH | Australian PM says situation in Victoria ‘very concerning’:

While hopeful the lockdown will help lower the number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Victoria, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains concerned about the situation. 0:29

Iran’s president on Saturday estimated as many as 25 million Iranians could have been infected with the coronavirus since the outbreak’s beginning, as he urged the public to take the pandemic seriously, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Saturday. Hassan Rouhani cited a new Iranian Health Ministry study in offering the unprecedentedly high numbers. Rouhani also said about 30 to 35 million Iranians will be infected to the virus in the coming months.

WATCH | COVID-19 research targeted by hackers: 

Marcus Kolga, senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, says Russia may be deploying hackers to try to steal a potential COVID-19 vaccine for its own citizens, as well hinder Western countries’ efforts to develop one. 1:21

Russia’s death toll from the novel coronavirus passed 12,000 on Friday, as the country reported 186 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre registered 6,406 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally of infections to 759,203, the world’s fourth highest caseload.

The death toll now stands at 12,123. Russia says 539,373 people have recovered.


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