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California officials report first virus death of a child

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California health officials reported the state’s first coronavirus death of a child on Friday, saying the victim was a teenager who had other health conditions.

The death occurred in the Central Valley but officials at the state Department of Public Health released no other details, citing privacy rules. The Central Valley is the state’s major agricultural region and recently has become one of California’s hot spots for the virus.

It’s extremely rare for children to die of the coronavirus. As of mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 228 children had died of the disease in the U.S., less than 0.2% of the nation’s deaths.

In California, more than 9,000 people have died from the virus, and three-quarters were 65 and older. Only about 9% of California’s half-million confirmed virus cases are children, and very few have suffered conditions serious enough for hospitalization.

Scientists still aren’t certain why children don’t seem to be as seriously affected by the virus as adults.

In March, Los Angeles County officials said a 17-year-old buy died of the virus. At the time it was believed to be the first death of a child, but days later local health officials walked back the initial finding, saying it was possible he died from something else. County health officials said the case would need to be evaluated by the Centers for Disease Control.

Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, said the boy from his city and died from septic shock after being admitted to the hospital with respiratory issues.

How likely children are to contract and spread the virus is a key question as leaders in California and elsewhere determine if and how to safely reopen schools this fall. Most California counties are now on a state monitoring list because of rising virus cases and and may not reopen schools for in-person instruction until they are off the list for 14 days.

Statewide, 96 people died during the past 24 hours, according to figures released Friday. Cases are increasing by the thousands each day, but the curve appears to be flattening. The average number of new cases per day over the past week was 8,322, compared to 9,881 in the previous week.

The percentage of people testing positive has dropped to 6.5% over the past seven days, compared to 7.2% over the past 14 days.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press

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Canada

Feds earmark $3.3B for provinces, territories for COVID-19 infrastructure

OTTAWA — The federal government is moving ahead with plans to make it easier for provinces and territories to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure projects to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says $3.3 billion out of the $33 billion that Ottawa has previously promised in matching funds for provincial and territorial projects will be available for projects related to the pandemic.

Those projects include retrofits to public buildings such as schools and long-term care facilities, measures related to physical distancing such as new bike and walking paths and those designed to protect against floods and wildfires.

McKenna says the federal government plans to introduce a faster application process for provinces and territories to apply for federal funds, with Ottawa footing up to 80 per cent of the bills for approved projects.

The new approach comes as most provinces are looking at re-opening schools in the next month and trying to guard against new outbreaks of COVID-19 at nursing homes.

While the measure is expected to be welcomed by provinces and territories, each must sign an agreement with the federal government before it can apply for funding.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Canada

Calgary Zoo worried about giant pandas as bamboo supply running out

CALGARY — Time and food supplies are running out for two giant pandas at the Calgary Zoo.

Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Calgary in 2018 after spending five years at the Toronto Zoo and were to remain in the Alberta city until 2023.

Calgary Zoo president Clement Lanthier says the facility spent months trying to overcome transportation barriers in acquiring fresh bamboo and decided in May that it was best for the animals to be in China, where their main food source is abundant.

But he says the Zoo hasn’t been able to approve international permits, as the COVID-19 pandemic created changes to import laws and animal quarantine facilities.

Lanthier says the continued travel delay is putting the health and welfare of the animals in jeopardy.

He says the zoo is only able to source fresh bamboo reliably from British Columbia, and that supply is expected to run out in September.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 5, 2020

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The Canadian Press

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General News

AP source: Biden won’t go to Milwaukee for acceptance speech

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will not travel to Milwaukee to accept his party’s White House nomination because of concerns over the coronavirus.

That’s according to a Democrat with knowledge of the decision who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity to discuss planning.

The move is the latest example of the pandemic’s sweeping effects on the 2020 presidential election and the latest blow to traditional party nominating conventions that historically have marked the start of fall general election campaigns.

Bill Barrow, The Associated Press

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