Good evening, let’s start with today’s top coronavirus stories:
Canadian companies tapped to produce hospital gowns and up to 30,000 ventilators
Ottawa is turning to Canadian companies to make as many as 30,000 hospital ventilators as industry retools to focus on much needed medical supplies.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his daily press briefing those companies include Thornhill Medical, flight simulator maker CAE and a group led by StarFish Medical, which includes auto-parts giant Linamar.
He also said 20 companies are mobilizing to produce medical gowns including Canada Goose and Arc’teryx. But he couldn’t provide a date for the delivery of the supplies.
Trudeau says the country is expecting a shipment of 500,000 surgical-grade masks from Minnesota-based 3M by tomorrow. The company reached a deal late yesterday with the White House to continue sending masks to Canada.
Wage subsidy update: Trudeau said the government is speaking with the opposition House leaders to set a date for the recall of Parliament to pass the new wage subsidy legislation. The Globe has obtained a draft copy of the bill, which would make it easier for businesses to access the program, which offers to cover 75 per cent of a wage, up to a maximum benefit of $847 a week.
By the numbers: Canada Revenue Agency says 788,510 people successfully applied yesterday for the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB). People whose birthdays are in the months of April, May and June can apply today. A combined 3.18 million people have applied for employment insurance and CERB since March 16, government officials say.
On the medical front: A team of blood transfusion experts from across Canada is planning the world’s largest clinical trial of a potential treatment for COVID-19. The study will comprise 1,000 patients and at least 40 Canadian hospitals. The experimental treatment involves injecting antibody-rich plasma from patients who have recovered from the virus into those who are still infected.
Global developments: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in stable condition in intensive care receiving oxygen treatment and has not needed a ventilator, officials say. He is expected to remain there for several days. Read here about the scene in the streets outside his London hospital room from senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon.
More sports delayed: The Canadian Football League, which was slated to kick off the regular season on June 11, has announced the season won’t start before the beginning of July. The Canadian Grand Prix, a Formula One race scheduled to take place in Montreal June 12-14, has also been postponed, with no future date given.
- The latest on the coronavirus: Vancouver to close Stanley Park to car traffic, Ford says Ontario-made medical masks ready for use and more
- What are the coronavirus rules in my province? A quick guide to what’s allowed and open, or closed and banned
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ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Game plan talks ahead of G20 energy meeting: Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan will hold a conference call Thursday with his U.S. and Mexico counterparts in advance of the Group of 20 energy ministers meeting on Friday. Saudi Arabia and Russia have demanded the U.S. and Canada cut production to help prop up oil prices. As well on Thursday, Alberta will be joining OPEC talks that are also being held in advance of the G20.
White House press secretary shakeup: White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is leaving her post after nine months without holding a single press briefing and becoming chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump. Replacing her as press secretary will be President Donald Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, while Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah will be moving to the White House in a strategic communications role.
Oiler’s Colby Cave in coma: Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave has been placed in a medically-induced coma after suffering a brain bleed overnight and is in the critical care unit at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, the NHL club says.
A big rally on Wall Street then vanished today, undercut in part by another plunge in the price of oil.
The S&P 500 erased a surge of 3.5 per cent earlier in the day, slipping 4.27 points to 2,659.41. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 26.13 points to 22,653.86 after losing an earlier gain of 937 points. The Nasdaq composite dropped 25.98 points to 7,887.26.
The S&P/TSX composite index inched higher, closing up 21.44 points at 13,614.14.
Canada’s public enemy No. 1 in Trumpland is on the rise
“The wiry, temperamental 70-year-old economist is characterized by Canadian players on the bilateral front as an ultra-protectionist whack-job. But rather than have their wish of seeing him banished realized, [U.S. trade adviser Peter] Navarro has gained stature and influence.” - Lawrence Martin
Theresa Tam’s about-face on masks damages trust at a crucial time
“While we can’t expect health authorities to be omniscient, we can expect them to be direct, to explain their work, to produce their evidence and to offer some humility when they get things wrong.” - Robyn Urback
During the COVID-19 outbreak, grocery shopping has become one of the few activities Canadians can leave home to do. Here are some tips and recommendations for safely navigating the aisles, paying at the checkout and handling your items once you get home. They include:
- Come with a list: That will minimize your time for potential exposure in the store.
- Choose wisely: Look for stores that have someone handing out disinfectant wipes for your hands and cart handles.
- Tap and go: Using a card with a tap option is the lowest risk form of payment, since you don’t have to touch anything handled by others.
- Use soap on hands, not food: Jeffrey Farber, director of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety, does not recommend using soap and water to wash fruits and vegetables. Soap is known to cause vomiting and diarrhea, he says, so just rinse them thoroughly under cold running water.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE - OR SOME PHYSICAL DISTANCING DOWNTIME
Why isn’t California’s coronavirus crisis as bad as New York’s? Size doesn’t tell the whole story
When the San Francisco Bay Area declared a state of emergency in February over the threat of the new coronavirus, the warning seemed alarmist. But as the number of cases in the U.S. soared past 320,000 this week, driven by a massive surge in New York, California’s early measures increasingly look to have staved off a crisis.
New York State, which reported its first case on March 1, is now grappling with an outbreak that has sickened more than 122,000 people and killed more than 4,100. By contrast, California, which reported its first case in late January, has seen fewer than 14,000 cases, with 319 deaths.
Analysts contend several factors made it easier for California to act so quickly. Residents were already on guard because the state is relatively close to Washington State, which reported the earliest COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. California is a hub for travel to Asia, so hospitals may have been more prepared to spot symptoms of a disease originating in China.
And social distancing measures were likely less of a political and economic risk in the Bay Area than in New York, given that the region’s tech-centric work force can work remotely with relative ease. Read Tamsin McMahon’s full story here.