The Gleaner
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COVID-19: Heat wave during a pandemic; 12 cases in Huntingdon

Public health authorities moved away from a focus on COVID-19 momentarily on Tuesday to offer advice for dealing with the province’s first heatwave of the summer. It wasn’t long however before concern turned from staying out of the heat to keeping young students in schools and seniors in residences cool as the temperatures rise, especially in the context of a pandemic. Public health officials conceded that the risks associated with ventilation systems and fans were outweighed by the need to keep people comfortable. Montreal and other urban areas also announced the opening of splashpads, which had not previously been cleared by public health officials to reopen, in an attempt to help families to cope with the sweltering temperatures. It was acknowledged by public health authorities as well as municipal officials that managing the pandemic and the summer heat will prove challenging over the coming months.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Quebec Ombudsperson, Marie Rinfrit, announced she would be launching an “impartial and independent investigation,” into Quebec’s seniors’ residences in the wake of a mounting death toll from the coronavirus and revelations of deplorable conditions and neglect. The investigation will aim to identify the required improvements in residences for seniors based on the events brought to light by the COVID-19 crisis and pre-pandemic shortcomings, and to determine which measures should be put in place to better handle future pandemics or similar crises.

An explosive report issued by the Canadian military present in seniors’ residences in Ontario was made public by Premier Rob Ford. The report alleges bug infestations, dangerous practices, and gross neglect. A report is also being prepared by the military with regard to the situation officers discovered upon being called in to help in Quebec residences and CHSLDs. The province has officially requested that the military maintain its presence in Quebec to continue helping to relieve drastic employee shortages in the health and long-term care sector.

Numbers on the rise in Valley

Quebec added another 614 confirmed cases to bring the total to 48,598, which includes 1,403 people in hospital with 181 in intensive care. A further 70 deaths were disclosed, for a total of 4,139. In the Montérégie, the number of cases increased to 6,244, with 207 individuals currently being treated in hospital, including 17 in intensive care. The region has seen a total of 355 deaths. The numbers have jumped significantly in the immediate area over the past few days to a total of 46 in the Haut-Saint-Laurent local health network. There are now 12 cases in Huntingdon, 7 cases in Franklin, 6 in Saint-Chrysostome, 5 in Howick, and 10 in Hemmingford. There are 286 cases in the municipality of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, and 356 cases in total for the Suroît LHN. The municipality of Vaudreuil-Dorion is reported to have 210 cases, while the Vaudreuil-Soulanges LHN now counts 577 cases. There are also 784 cases in the Jardins-Roussillon LHN, with Chateauguay reporting 208 cases.

A screenshot of the map produced by the local public health authority shows the number of cases increasing in the Valley. (PHOTO Direction de santé publique de la Montérégie)

Trudeau focuses on PPE and youth jobs in agriculture

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that more than 40 flights in the last ten weeks have landed in Canada carrying much-needed personal protective equipment, including masks, gowns, and gloves. Trudeau suggested that the country was also focused on ensuring there was a steady supply of made in Canada products to weather both the ongoing and any further waves of the virus. He announced a contract with GM to produce 10 million facemasks, as well as a contract to produce another 10,000 ventilators, to bring the total of locally made ventilators to 40,000.

The prime minister also announced the government would be funding at least 700 youth jobs in agriculture and food industries. The Youth Employment and Skills Program will benefit from a $9.2 million investment to fund jobs for young people in the agriculture industry. The program will provide agricultural employers up to 50 per cent of the cost of hiring a young employee between the age of 15 and 30, up to $14,000.

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