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Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. Europe astonished as U.S. records five million infections, by far the highest tally worldwide
  2. Jurisdictions across Canada use hotel rooms to house homeless population during COVID-19
  3. Canadians reduced credit card debt during the pandemic as government programs propped up consumers

In Canada, there have been at least 119,220 cases reported. In the last week 2,481 new cases were announced, 18 per cent fewer than the previous week. There have also been at least 103,564 recoveries and 8,976 deaths. Health officials have administered more than 4,670,355 tests.

Worldwide, there have been at least 19,378,036 cases confirmed and 721,324 deaths reported.

Sources: Canada data is compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data is from Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus explainers: Updates and essential resourcesCoronavirus in maps and chartsLockdown rules and reopening plans in each province

Photo of the day

People wear face masks while riding the wooden roller coaster at Playland amusement park at the Pacific National Exhibition, in Vancouver, on Sunday, August 9, 2020. The roller coaster and other rides are operating at a reduced capacity due to COVID-19. Guests are required to wear face masks or coverings while waiting in lines and while on rides and the park is closed for an hour each afternoon for sanitization. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl DyckDARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Number of the day

5 million

Confirmed cases in the United States hit five million, by far the highest total of any country.

Health officials believe the actual figure is perhaps 10 times higher, or closer to 50 million, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40 per cent of all those who are infected are asymptomatic.

The country’s death toll, at approximately 160,000, is also the world’s highest; European nations have barred tourists from the United States and other “at risk” countries from freely travelling to the bloc.

Coronavirus in Canada

  • Ontario recorded fewer than 100 new cases for the seventh day in a row. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province has 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths related to the virus.
  • Scores of parents are speaking up against Quebec’s back-to-school plan, which puts kindergarten to Grade 12 students back in class full-time come September. The province reported 104 new cases and three deaths on Sunday.
  • British Columbia long-term care home Fraser Health said a staff member at the New Vista Care Home has tested positive for COVID-19.

Jurisdictions across Canada have used hotel rooms to spread out their homeless shelter population and spare it from COVID-19: British Columbia has both bought and leased hotels as shelters, and Toronto, while scrambling to allow for physical distancing in its large shelter network, moved about 2,000 people into leased hotel rooms.

  • Some who work with people experiencing homelessness, including the team at House of Friendship in Kitchener, Ont.,, say the crisis has actually ended up demonstrating a new, improved model for emergency shelters that allows homeless people the space and dignity they need to get their chaotic lives under control and prepare themselves for a life inside, off the streets.
  • Some critics say it is wrong to offer only a temporary substitute for real housing. Activists in Toronto object to that city’s tendency to offer hotel rooms in far-flung suburban areas, saying this isolates the homeless from supervised drug-use sites and other services they need.

In Toronto, the city’s use of hotels has been both praised and criticized. Nurse and long-time homelessness activist Cathy Crowe says Toronto’s move to lease disused hotels has saved lives in the pandemic, which has seen more than 630 homeless people in the city infected – out of about 7,000 shelter users – but only five COVID-19 deaths.

Back-to-school: As school boards across the country prepare for the return of classes this fall, the fate of daily supply teachers – who typically work in multiple classrooms and schools per week – is still being ironed out.

Coronavirus around the world

  • An Israeli jewellery company is working a 18-karat gold, diamond-encrusted coronavirus mask with a price tag of $1.5-million. The opulent face covering was designed for sale to a Chinese businessman living in the United States, and will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds.
  • Three Amazon tribesman were killed in Peru during in a conflict with Canadian energy company PetroTal Corp. A local indigenous rights organization said natives of the area demanded assistance from oil companies amid an outbreak of coronavirus infections in their Amazon communities.
  • At least 10 people died Sunday when a large fire broke out at a COVID-19 treatment and quarantine centre in the southeastern Indian city of Vijaywada. Emergency crews rescued up to 20 patients and medical staff from the centre housed in a hotel. Initial reports allege the blaze started from a short circuit.
  • New Zealand marked 100 days without a domestic transmission of the coronavirus, making the Pacific island nation of 5 million one of the safest places in the world right now.
  • A bad week for Mexican tourism took a turn for the worse Friday when the English-language version of the country’s tourism website appeared with mistranslations. The snafu came one day after the U.S. State Department cited the high number of COVID-19 cases in Mexico for issuing a “do not travel” advisory for the country, its highest level of warning.

Coronavirus and business

Canadians reduced their credit card debt and paid down their lines of credit in the early months of the pandemic, as massive government aid and loan deferral programs took some of the pressure off household finances.

  • The credit card utilization rate – the share of available credit that consumers used – fell to 21.24 per cent at the end of July from 23.96 per cent at the end of January, according to new data from credit reporting agency Equifax.
  • The data also show the balance across all credit cards in Canada dropped to $89.6-billion at the end of July from $102.8-billion at the end of January.
  • The utilization rates for unsecured lines of credit also declined, to 29.4 per cent at the end of July from 31.5 per cent at the end of January, with balances dropping to $41.4-billion from $43.8-billion. Delinquency rates for credit cards and lines of credit both have fallen slightly.

Prior to the pandemic, household debt was at a record high, Canadians were using a higher share of their disposable income on debt servicing and insolvencies were on the rise.

Now economists are watching to see if those trends will return as government support programs are modified or being phased out.

Also today: Unifor will be grappling with possible job losses at Ford and General Motors plants, and the recent loss of 1,375 jobs at a Chrysler minivan factory in Windsor, Ont., as the union heads to the bargaining table with the Big Three Detroit automakers on Aug 12. The backdrop is a steep decline in economic activity due to COVID-19 that was preceded by a global drop in vehicle sales.

Globe opinion

  • Jillian Horton: “As the COVID-19 crisis deepens around the world, I’ve noticed some graphics and dashboards using a subheading: situational awareness. The term has visceral significance to anyone who works in health care or the airline industry, because situational awareness can mean the difference between life and death.”
  • Aaron Lanthier: The [Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy] should have been eliminated for active employees, with an exception for small business. Small firms are always at greater risk of failing – and terminating employees as a result – than large corporations.
  • Editorial: “The good news is that our economy is reopening. The bad news is Canada has a ways to go before recovering all the jobs lost this year. The return journey will take months and, if there are headwinds or speed bumps, it could take years.”

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