U.S. teachers protest reopening schools amid coronavirus surge

U.S. teachers protest reopening schools amid coronavirus surge

The latest:

  • Number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide surpasses 18 million.
  • Teachers in car parades protest reopening U.S. schools.
  • Coronavirus death toll in U.S. tops 155,000, most in the world.
  • Latin America exceeds five million COVID-19 cases.
  • Norwegian cruise ship passengers, crew test positive for coronavirus.
  • France imposes new rules requiring outdoor masks.
  • Pakistan imposes lockdown to contain COVID-19 after Eid al-Adha holiday.
  • Curfew imposed in Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne.
  • Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility.

Teachers and support staff at more than 35 school districts across the United States on Monday staged protests over plans to resume in-class instruction as COVID-19 surges in many parts of the country.

The protesters, who formed car caravans and attached signs and painted messages on their vehicles, demand schools hold off on August and September school resumptions until scientific data supports such a move.

They want districts to wait until safety protocols such as lower class sizes and virus testing are established, and schools are staffed with an adequate number of counsellors and nurses, according to a website set up for the demonstrations.

On Twitter, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association showed protesters making fake gravestones that said, “Here lies a third grade student from Green Bay who caught COVID at school” and “RIP Grandma caught COVID helping grandkids with homework.”

Deaths in the United States rose for a fourth week in a row to more than 8,500 people in the seven days ended Aug. 2, while the number of new cases fell for a second straight week, a Reuters analysis found. More than 155,000 people have died of COVID-19 related illness in the United States, the most in the world. Cases rose week-over-week in 20 states, including in Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma.

Teachers also are demanding financial help for parents in need, including rent and mortgage assistance, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and cash assistance.

A demonstrator holds a sign in Los Angeles on Monday, as parents, students and teachers held a press conference and car caravan to call for a safe, fully funded and racially just approach to reopening of city schools. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press)

Many of these issues are at the centre of a political tussle in Washington, where Democrats in Congress and Trump administration officials held talks on Monday and will resume on Tuesday to hammer out a coronavirus economic relief bill after missing a deadline to extend benefits to tens of millions of jobless Americans.

Education employees in Chicago, Milwaukee and Philadelphia honked their horns in physically distanced car protests. Protesters rallied outside the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce building, and in the Hartford, Conn., area, about 400 formed a car march that went by Gov. Ned Lamont’s home.

“I do not want to put my students or myself in harm’s way. I do not want to be an experiment,” Andrea Parker, an elementary school teacher in Chicago, told reporters before a car protest.

Fake morgue bags and coffins are seen near the entrance of the United Federation of Teachers as people take part in a march and rally in New York City on Monday during the National Day of Resistance to schools reopening. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

With Democratic candidate Joe Biden ahead of him in opinion polls, President Donald Trump has made school reopenings for classroom instruction part of his November re-election campaign.

“Cases up because of BIG Testing! Much of our Country is doing very well. Open the Schools!” the Republican Trump tweeted on Monday.

While reported case numbers may be linked to more testing, the rise in hospitalizations and deaths have no connection to an increase in testing.

Worldwide, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has surpassed 18 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. The number of global deaths stands at more than 691,000. 


What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 9 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 117,031 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 101,595 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting indicates that 8,986 Canadians have died.

Starting Monday, Quebec is loosening its coronavirus restrictions to allow group gatherings of up to 250 people.

The new rule applies to indoor spaces, including movie theatres, sporting events and places of worship. People are still asked to keep a safe distance and wear a mask.

WATCH | WHO estimates infection fatality rate from coronavirus is about 0.6%:

‘That may not sound like a lot, but it is quite high,’ says WHO’s technical lead, Dr. Maria Van Kherkove. 2:18

Many Canadians are changing the way they celebrate holiday long weekends due to the pandemic. Vancouver’s Pride week wrapped on Sunday with festivities broadcast online. Only a few people took to the streets to celebrate.

One long weekend is all it can take to spark a new outbreak, as was the case with the Canada Day celebrations in Kelowna, B.C. Indoor gatherings in the tourist hot spot were thought to have resulted in at least 130 new cases of the coronavirus in the region.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to change their travel plans, boat sales are increasing as Canadians look for ways to vacation closer to home.

“Sales are at a record high,” said Chris Perera of Kingston, Ont., who runs a website that lists new and used boats for sale across the country.

WATCH | Boat, RV sales see spike during pandemic:

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to change their travel plans, boat and RV sales are spiking as Canadians look for ways to vacation closer to home. 2:03

Meanwhile, the federal government is facing criticism over the download requirements for its COVID-19 notification app.

There are complaints that some Canadians are being restricted from accessing and using the technology.

The COVID Alert app is seen on an iPhone in this photo from July 31. The app tracks the locations of phones relative to other phones, and notifies users if they have been in proximity to another app user who has tested positive for COVID-19. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The free “COVID Alert” app, which became available on Friday, is designed to track the location of phones relative to each other, without collecting personal data anywhere centrally.

However, the application requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system.

WATCH | Infectious disease expert can’t see Canada-U.S. land border reopening soon:

Dr. Isaac Bogoch says the U.S. is ‘nowhere close’ to getting its COVID-19 epidemic under control. 1:11

Christopher Parsons, a senior research associate at Citizen Lab, part of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Policy, says that makes the app inaccessible for older Canadians and other marginalized groups.

Marit Stiles, an Ontario MPP, says her parents weren’t able to download the app and questioned its wider accessibility for vulnerable and senior Canadians.


What’s happening in the rest of the world

Latin America broke through five million confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a Reuters tally showed, underscoring the region’s position as the area of the world hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus was initially slower to reach Latin America — home to about 640 million people — than much of the world. But health experts say it has been hard to control the virus in the region’s poor, densely packed cities.

The more than 10,000 new cases Colombia’s health ministry reported on Monday pushed the region past the five million mark, a day after the country nation reported a record 11,470 cases.

Mexican lucha libre wrestler ‘Pequeño Felino’ stands ready to hand out a food parcel donated by a local supermarket to his fellow wrestlers who have fallen on hard times due to the pandemic in Mexico City on Monday. (Marco Ugarte/The Associated Press)

Mexico has also racked up record numbers of new confirmed infections in recent days, registering more than 9,000 daily cases for the first time on Saturday, a day after Mexico overtook Britain as the country with the third-highest number of deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 100 million people across Latin America and the Caribbean live in slums, according to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.

Many have jobs in the informal sector with little social safety net and have continued to work throughout the pandemic.

The region has now topped over 200,000 deaths with little sign that the virus is abating even as governments look to ease lockdowns and revive economic growth.

WATCH | Doctors report drop in premature births during pandemic:

As people around the world stayed home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors in several countries noticed a significant dip in premature births. 2:04

The World Health Organization said Monday an advance team looking into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak has concluded its mission in China, and the UN health agency is preparing the deployment of a larger group of experts to the suspected outbreak zone.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the international team will deploy to Wuhan, the city where the pandemic is believed to have erupted late last year. Tedros said terms of reference have been drawn up by the WHO and China, but did not elaborate.

A woman and a child wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus visit a shopping mall in Beijing on Sunday. (Andy Wong/The Associated Press)

“The WHO advance team that travelled to China has now concluded their mission to lay the groundwork for further joint efforts to identify the virus’s origins,” he told a news conference. “Epidemiological studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases.”

He said “evidence and hypothesis” generated from the work would “lay the ground for further, longer-term studies.”

Spain on Monday reported 968 new coronavirus infections in the past day, showing a slower pace of contagion than last week when the country reported more than 1,000 new cases for three days in a row.

Cumulative cases, which also include results from antibody tests on people who may have recovered, increased to 297,054 from 288,522, the health ministry said.

Spain aims to roll out a COVID-19 contact-tracing app across the country in September after saying on Monday that a pilot showed it could detect almost twice as many potential infections as human trackers during a simulated outbreak on the tiny island of La Gomera.

People wear face masks as they leave a music festival in Saint Etienne de Baigorry, southwestern France, on July 26. (Bob Edme/The Associated Press)

In France, various communities are starting to impose rules requiring people to wear masks outdoors to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Starting Monday, 69 towns in the Mayenne region of western France imposed such rules, as did parts of the northern city of Lille and coastal city of Biarritz in French Basque country.

The new rules are on top of a nationwide decree last month requiring people to wear masks in all stores and other indoor public places. Pressure is growing on the government to mandate outdoor mask use on a national level, too, due to hundreds of new clusters of cases in recent weeks.

France has reported 7,000 new cases in the last week, after bringing the virus nearly under control with a strict two-month nationwide lockdown, and has confirmed 30,265 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

The Hurtigruten cruise liner MS Roald Amundsen is seen moored in Tromso, Norway, on Monday due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus on board. (Terje Pedersen/NTB Scanpix/Reuters)

Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten is halting all of its so-called expedition cruises until further notice following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus on one of its vessels last week, the company said on Monday.

At least 40 passengers and crew from the MS Roald Amundsen cruise liner have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with hundreds more awaiting test results, public health officials said on Sunday.

“A preliminary evaluation shows a breakdown in several of our internal procedures,” chief executive Daniel Skjeldam said in a statement.

“Our own failure, as well as the recent rise in infections internationally, has led us to halt all expedition cruises in Norwegian and international waters.”

Meanwhile, in Papeete, Tahiti, some 340 passengers and crew are confined on a cruise ship after one traveller tested positive for the virus, the commissariat for French Polynesia said late Sunday.

All those aboard the Tahiti-based Paul Gauguin cruise ship are being tested and will be kept in their cabins pending the results, it said in a statement.

Muslims attend prayers during a street celebration of Eid al-Adha in Peshawar, Pakistan on Aug. 1. (Fayaz Aziz/Reuters)

Pakistan’s government on Monday announced a new countrywide lockdown through Aug. 17, with grocery stores and pharmacies allowed to remain open. Mosques and churches will also be allowed to stay open, but with physical distancing and mask requirements.

The country reported one of its lowest daily infection rates for the virus on Monday as the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha was ending. But now officials want to avoid a repeat of the spike in new cases that followed the holiday of Eid ul Fitr in June.

Published at Mon, 03 Aug 2020 11:59:40 +0000