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

Top headlines:

  1. Advocates and health officials say not enough was done to protect migrant farm workers in Canada
  2. British researchers find common, low-cost steroid saved lives of coronavirus patients
  3. Ottawa extends CERB payments by another eight weeks

In Canada, 99,467 cases have been reported, more than In the last week 2,814 new cases were announced, 34 per cent fewer than the previous week. There have also been at least 61,443 recoveries and 8,213 deaths. Health officials have administered 2,328,344 tests.

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Worldwide, 8,034,461 cases have been confirmed; with 436,899 deaths.

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

A health worker takes a swab sample from a man at a drive-through COVID-19 testing unit inside the parking at the Ain Shams field hospital in Cairo.

AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/Reuters


Number of the day

600

In Ontario, more than 600 temporary farm workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Most arrived in Canada healthy and contracted the virus locally. Advocates and health officials say not enough has been done to protect the workers.

A lack of PPE, an information vacuum, pressure to work – despite symptoms – and cramped living quarters made workers across Canada vulnerable to the disease. Two workers, Bonifacio Eugenio Romero and Rogelio Munoz Santos, died of the disease.


Coronavirus in Canada

  • Quebec plans to reopen schools in September. Classes will be required to isolate into bubbles of six students per group without physical distancing, but groups will distance from each other.
  • Saskatchewan forecast a $2.4-billion budget shortfall – what the government describes as a “pandemic deficit,” not a larger, structural one. The government says it won’t cut programs and services.
  • PEI will allow travellers to enter the province on compassionate grounds, including emotional support, personal care or child care.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said CERB will be extended another eight weeks, just as millions of Canadians were about to exhaust their benefits.

  • “A lot of people still need this support to pay their bills while they look for work,” the Prime Minister said. The government will look at the program to see "what changes – if any” need to be made.
  • The federal government spent $43.5-billion on CERB payments to 8.4 million applicants as of June 4. The program costs about $17-billion per month, the government has said.

Last week, the government failed to pass changes to the bill that would impose steep fines or jail time for CERB fraud.

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Also in Ottawa: The Prime Minister said the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel until July 21.


Coronavirus around the world

  • Watch: New Zealand said it has two new cases of the coronavirus, both related to recent travel from the U.K., ending a 24-day streak there of no new infections.
  • During a phone call, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence encouraged governors Monday to adopt the administration’s explanation that a rise in testing was a reason behind new coronavirus outbreaks in the country, even though data has shown that such a claim is misleading.
  • In India, the health minister in Delhi’s state government checked into hospital with high fever and was being tested for coronavirus on Tuesday as India reported more than 10,500 new infections that are threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
  • Watch: Germany asked the public to download a new smartphone app to help break the chain of coronavirus infections, one of several such apps that European governments hope will revive travel and tourism safely.

Coronavirus and business

A Liberal MP is proposing a parliamentary committee summon major Canadian grocery store executives – from Metro, Loblaw, and Empire – to explain why they are cutting pay premiums for front-line workers. Conservative and NDP members back the motion.

  • Many chains provided workers a $2-an-hour pay bump in response to the increased health risks they face at work.
  • Last week, all three chains announced – around the same time – they were cutting the premium pay, but would pay an additional one-time bonus to workers.

Grocery sales shot up significantly during the pandemic. In the first three weeks of March, for example, Loblaw reported $751-million in additional sales, and net earnings of $276-million in the first quarter of 2020.


Globe opinion

  • Robyn Urback: “What a coincidence that the companies that own the largest grocery chains in Canada all decided – some within hours of each other – that the danger posed by COVID-19 no longer merits forking over a couple of extra bucks for each employee. Surely the timing is just happenstance; these companies would never collude on something so untoward.”
  • Don Drummond: “Parliament is being asked to authorize massive amounts of spending to mitigate the economic damage of COVID-19. To best represent the interests of Canadian taxpayers, who some day will foot the bill, parliamentarians need the best picture possible of the underlying context. That should include a fiscal update.”

Some good news

Dexamethasone

Trial results show dexamethasone, an inexpensive and widely available steroid, reduced death rates by around a third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The preliminary results, which have not been peer-reviewed, suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients with severe cases of the pandemic disease, said the British researchers who led the trials. They said they would work to publish the full details of the trial as soon as possible.

And: Chinese biotech group said its vaccine has triggered antibodies in clinical trials. The company plans late-stage human trials in foreign countries.

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Have you witnessed or performed acts of kindness in your neighbourhood? Email audience@globeandmail.com


Distractions

🎧 For the stressed-out millennial: Why you got into debt, and how to get out

  • Even before the pandemic, debt was a huge problem for Canadians. Between massive mortgages, student loans, lines of credit and credit cards, a lot of us are struggling to pay what we owe and stressed about it.
  • In episode two of Stress Test, Rob Carrick and Roma Luciw explore our strange relationship with debt and the factors that contribute to it. We hear from a millennial saddled by her debts, and her journey to find a way out. Plus, Roma speaks to Shannon Lee Simmons, a financial planner about tangible steps to manage debt.

▫️ Listen to episode two of Stress Test now on iTunes or Spotify. And: Use our pandemic personal finance tool to figure out how to use your emergency savings.


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