Sydney eases more COVID-19 restrictions as vaccinations pass key milestone

Shoppers wait to get inside stores with limited capacity at a city centre mall as businesses re-open to vaccinated patrons in the wake of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) regulations easing, following months of lockdown orders to curb the rise in the number of cases, in Sydney, Australia, October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Shoppers wait to get inside stores with limited capacity at a city centre mall as businesses re-open to vaccinated patrons in the wake of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) regulations easing, following months of lockdown orders to curb the rise in the number of cases, in Sydney, Australia, October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

SYDNEY, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Thousands of children returned to Sydney’s schools on Monday after nearly four months of home learning as Australia’s largest city eased more restrictions just a week after lifting its COVID-19 lockdown amid a surge in vaccination levels.
Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Peter Cooney

COVID-19 in Arkansas: Active cases fall after one-day increase

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The number of COVID-19 active cases is down Sunday after going up the previous day.

Active cases were down by 210 down to 6,559 in the state. There were 383 new cases of the virus reported Sunday, moving the state’s total during the pandemic to 506,956.

The number of people in Arkansas hospitals due to complications from COVID-19 remain unchanged on Sunday at 462. There was no change of the number of Arkansans on ventilators either, with the number remaining at 133.

Health officials also reported five more deaths due to the virus, which sets the total for the state at 8,200.

There were 2,632 new COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in Arkansas in the last 24 hours. The number of fully immunized Arkansans is now 1,373,068 with more than 285,513 Arkansans being partially vaccinated.

“We continue to see declining new and active cases throughout the state,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a Tweet. “Vaccine numbers remain in the typical range for the weekend. The sooner we get vaccine doses into the arms of Arkansans, the sooner we can see a further decline of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.”

A runner’s reunion: Fellow runners meet again after crossing finish line together

High school sophomore Blake Cerveny and senior Brandon Schutt — both from different schools — met again after fate brought them together at a district cross country meet in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“I just really appreciate what he did and I’m going to remember that,” Cerveny said.

It happened Thursday, nearing the end of a 3.1-mile race, and with the finish line in sight, Cerveny fell to the ground for the fourth and final time.

“It’s like, I just, my legs gave out on me. My hands hit,” Cerveny said.

He wasn’t down for long, without hesitation, Schutt scooped up Cerveny helping his fellow runner.

“Everybody wants to go out fast. Everybody hopes they’re going to make state,” Schutt said.

Schutt’s cross country head coach Rachel Carraher says she’s not surprised Schutt lent a helping hand.

“Brandon is an excellent person. He is really kind and a great leader on the team,” Carraher said.

Just three weeks ago, Schutt was in Blakes’ shoes, unable to finish his heat.

“I felt awful about not finishing. I felt like I was letting my teammates down and I was letting myself down — so ultimately I just made the call,” Schutt said.

He made sure Cerveny finished his.

“That’s what cross country is. It doesn’t matter who you’re going against or the people you’re around,” Cerveny said.

Because of what Brandon did, Blake said if he ever sees a runner in need he won’t hesitate.

California coronavirus updates: Cities urge Biden administration to loosen rules on federal pandemic aid

California coronavirus updates: Cities urge Biden administration to loosen rules on federal pandemic aid
Sunday, October 17, 2021 | Sacramento, CA

Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
Latest Updates

Cities urge Biden administration to loosen rules on federal pandemic aid

COVID-19 highlights need to diversity Tahoe’s economy

FDA panel endorses booster shot for J&J COVID-19 vaccine

Nursing schools see rising enrollment even as working nurses report burnout

Federal government to commit $100 million to address health care worker shortage, burnout
COVID-19 By The Numbers

Sunday, October 17

3:14 p.m.: Cities urge Biden administration to loosen rules on federal pandemic aid

Some cities are urging President Joe Biden’s administration to loosen its rules for how state and local governments can spend $350 billion of coronavirus relief money.

The American Rescue Plan already provides significant freedom on spending decisions, but local governments that can show revenue losses have even greater leeway to spend the money as they see fit.

Some cities say the Treasury Department’s rule for calculating revenue losses masks the depth of their financial problems and want the Treasury to allow them to exclude newly enacted tax hikes from the formula and to count losses on a fund-by-fund basis.

One project that has slowed while projects in other cities move ahead due to this is the $25 million rehabilitation of an iconic bridge connecting the Oceanside pier to Pacific Street in Oceanside.

The Treasury has not said when it will release a final version of its rule.
Saturday, October 16

11:16 a.m.: COVID-19 highlights need to diversity Tahoe’s economy

A new report from the Tahoe Prosperity Center raises concerns about the changes in Lake Tahoe’s workforce and the future of the region’s economy, including the looming impacts of climate change, according to the Associated Press.

The report states that the pandemic helped to expose the growing vulnerability of the area’s increasing dependence on tourism as housing costs skyrocket, year-round residency declines and more workers commute from afar or seek jobs elsewhere.

Tourism accounts for more than 60% of Lake Tahoe’s $5 billion regional economy, up from 40% in 2010. The Tahoe Prosperity Center says these findings underscore the need to seek more economic diversity, build more affordable housing and utilize an increasingly skilled workforce.
Friday, October 15

2:40 p.m.: FDA panel endorses booster shot for J&J COVID-19 vaccine

A panel of U.S. health advisers has endorsed booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Associated Press.

The Food and Drug Administration panel said Friday that the booster should be offered at least two months after immunization but didn’t suggest a firm time. The FDA isn’t bound by the vote but its ultimate decision could help expand the nation’s booster campaign.

Booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine began last month for people at high risk of COVID-19, and the FDA advisory panel has recommended the same approach for Moderna. In contrast, the panel backed boosters for anyone 18 and older who received the J&J vaccine.

9:15 a.m.: Nursing schools see rising enrollment even as working nurses report burnout

​​Nurses around the country are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting. Meanwhile, applications to nursing schools are increasing.

Educators say young people see the global emergency as an opportunity and a challenge.

“We are seeing an increase. We were beginning to come down a little bit before 2020 and now we’ve come up again,” said Susan Peterson, who heads the Nursing Program at American River College in Sacramento. “Right now we have received about 440 applications for our 40 seats that will be open in the spring.”

Nationally, enrollment in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral nursing programs increased 5.5% in 2020 from the year before to just over 250,000 students. That’s according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The higher enrollment could help ease a nursing shortage that existed even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

8:23 a.m.: Federal government to commit $100 million to address health care worker shortage, burnout

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committing $100 million through the American Rescue Plan to help combat burnout and shortages of health care workers

“Our health care workers have worked tirelessly to save lives throughout this pandemic and now it’s our turn to invest in them,” Health and Human Services Secretary and former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

According to NPR, the funds are open for applications until April 8, 2022. The money is available for “state-run programs that support, recruit, and retain primary care clinicians who live and work in underserved communities,” HHS says. The department hopes being able to retain health care workers in underserved areas will help improve health equity.

Richardson ISD Offering COVID-19 Testing for Students and Staff Starting Monday

Richardson ISD has announced that the district is conducting free COVID-19 testing for students and staff at two locations.

According to Richardson ISD, starting on Monday, testing will be available for students and staff who are not experiencing COVID symptoms but wish to be tested due to concerns about potential exposure.

The testing will be free at both Richardson ISD locations with an appointment.

The school district said it is partnering with MCI Labs to offer PCR tests on school days from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. through the end of the school year.

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On Mondays, testing will take place at the Lake Highlands High School Auditorium, located at 9449 Church Road.

On Wednesdays, testing will be conducted at the Richardson High School Auditorium, located at 1250 West Belt Line Road.

These testing sites will not operate on student holidays or days that school is not in session, Richardson ISD said.

Students and staff can register in advance at

According to Richardson ISD, students or staff experiencing COVID symptoms should not enter a school for any reason. Testing options for people experiencing symptoms are available at providers across Dallas County or through the MCI Labs website.

Winnipeg School Division to turn 2 gymnasiums into COVID-19 test sites for staff

The Winnipeg School Division will soon be using the gymnasiums in two of its schools as COVID-19 testing sites for unvaccinated staff.

A notice posted to the division’s website says unvaccinated staff will be able to attend Grant Park High School and Tec Voc High School for testing during non-working hours.

It says the locations were chosen because people won’t have to walk through the building to get to the gyms.

The testing clinics are going to be set up and taken down each day, followed by cleaning and fogging.

Read more: COVID-19: Manitoba schools getting ready to test unvaccinated staff as mandate deadline nears

In an email to Global News, a division spokesperson says they aren’t anticipating the loss of any programs, however, “some alternative arrangements may be made where needed.”
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“Testing is being done only in the evenings and Saturdays, so full use of gyms continues for students,” they write.

The division’s notice says tests will be done three times a week, and one of the tests must be observed by a neutral third party. It says it has hired a contract health-care service for the observed test.

“Those staff who choose to take weekly testing have the option to provide proof of full vaccination at any time, which would mean they no longer require weekly testing,” the statement concludes.

Beginning Monday, public health orders will require school staff, licensed child care workers, child and family service personnel, health-care workers, and civil servants who deal directly with vulnerable persons to present their employers with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test every 48 hours.

UAE reports steep drop in COVID-19 cases as world fair begins

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) had fewer than 100 daily COVID-19 cases for the first time since the start of the pandemic and just as it begins hosting hosting a world fair.

On Sunday, the Health Ministry reported just 99 new cases, according to Reuters.

The UAE hopes its world fair, known as Expo 2020 Dubai, will attract about 25 million visitors. The event, which is the first of its kind hosted in the Middle East, starts on Oct. 1 and is scheduled to run for six months.

The UAE still requires masks in most public spaces, though about 96 percent of its of 10 million people are at least partially vaccinated, and about 86 percent are fully vaccinated, one of the highest immunization rates globally, Reuters noted.

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Fauci says unvaccinated create danger of fifth COVID-19 wave

In January, COVID-19 cases in the UAE peaked around nearly 4,000 per day. At that time, the government imposed new restrictions on some hotels, bars and nightclubs in addition to limiting the number of people allowed in places such as malls.

At the time, Helal Saeed Al Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, attributed the spike to falling compliance with pandemic protocols.

“Data shows that it’s linked directly to compliance,” he said. “When we had a 98 to 99 percent compliance we didn’t see any spike. When that dropped by 4 to 5 percentage points we saw numbers go up. It tells us what we are doing is right.”

Fauci: Vaccinated people can go trick-or-treating, enjoy holidays

Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” said people who are vaccinated can enjoy trick-or-treating on Halloween and family gatherings for the holiday season, especially as health officials are expected to approve vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 in early November.

“If you’re vaccinated and your family members are vaccinated ….you can enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy Halloween, trick-or-treating, and certainly Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with your family,” said Fauci, the pandemic adviser to President Biden.

“That’s one the reasons why we emphasized why it’s so important to get vaccinated, not only for your own safety, for that of your family, but also for the good of the community, to keep the level of infection down. When you do that, there’s no reason at all why you can’t enjoy the holidays in a family way, the way we’ve traditionally done it all along.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday the state was making progress.

“Booster shots are underway, and we are laying the groundwork for getting our kids vaccinated pending final federal approval,” she said in a statement.

Six Long Islanders lost their lives to the virus on Saturday _ one in Nassau and five in Suffolk _ statistics released Sunday by state officials show.

Figures also showed Nassau County registered 250 new daily cases in test results from Saturday, while Suffolk County had 359.

Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday

Melbourne to ease world’s longest COVID-19 lockdown as vaccinations rise
Thomson Reuters · Posted: Oct 17, 2021 8:55 AM ET | Last Updated: October 17
A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

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Canadians will still need to take a COVID-19 test to return via land border, says Blair.

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Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: [email protected]

Melbourne, which has spent more time under COVID-19 lockdowns than any other city in the world, is set to lift its stay-at-home orders this week, officials said on Sunday.

By Friday, when some curbs will be lifted, the Australian city of five million people will have been under six lockdowns totalling 262 days, or nearly nine months, since March 2020.

Australian and other media say this is the longest in the world, exceeding a 234-day lockdown in Buenos Aires.

While coronavirus cases keep rising in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, the state’s double-vaccination rate is set to reach 70 per cent this week, allowing for the ease in restrictions.
People cross a street in Melbourne amid a lockdown on Sept. 30. (Daniel Pockett/AAP Image/The Associated Press)

“Today is a great day,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said as he announced the end of the lockdowns. “Today is a day when Victorians can be proud of what they have achieved.”

When hospitality venues and some businesses reopen, their capacity will remain heavily restricted. More easing, including the reopening of many retailers, will come once 80 per cent of eligible Victorians are fully vaccinated — estimated by Nov. 5 at the latest.

‘It’s demoralizing’: Albertans living in Australia react to return of COVID-19 lockdowns

On Sunday, Victoria recorded 1,838 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths. Neighbouring New South Wales, which emerged last week from a 100-day lockdown, reported 301 cases and 10 deaths. Eighty per cent of the state’s people have been fully vaccinated.

Australia, once a champion of a COVID-zero strategy of managing the pandemic, has been moving toward living with the virus through extensive vaccinations, as the delta variant has proven too transmissible to suppress.

The new strategy makes lockdowns highly unlikely once 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. As of the weekend, about 68 per cent of eligible Australians have been fully inoculated.
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Australia’s health officials said on Sunday that quarantine-free travel from New Zealand’s South Island, where there is no outbreak, will resume on Wednesday. The government is also in discussions with Singapore about reopening travel between the two countries for the fully vaccinated.

Despite the rise in cases in recent months, Australia’s coronavirus numbers are low compared with many other developed countries, with just over 143,000 cases and 1,530 deaths.

Neighbouring New Zealand, which is also learning to live with COVID-19 by accelerating inoculations, reported 51 new cases on Sunday, 47 of them in the largest city Auckland, which has been in a lockdown since mid-August. On Saturday, New Zealand vaccinated more than 2.5 per cent of its people as part of a government-led mass vaccination drive.

Ohio reports about 2,500 new COVID cases Sunday

Ohio reported 2,515 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, one day after 3,709 cases were reported by the Ohio Department of Health.

New cases on weekend traditionally have been lower during the pandemic, but cases also have been trending lower overall in recent weeks.

ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff acknowledged the downward trend Thursday, then warned Ohioans: “We have to remain vigilant.”
More Ohioans than ever under 50 are dying from COVID-19

The state reported 65 new hospitalizations and three new ICU patients from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

Those numbers were starkly lower than Saturday’s figures of 181 new hospitalizations and 31 more patients admitted to ICUs.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ohio has recorded nearly 1.5 million cases. The total sits at 1,496,675 as of Sunday.

Ohio reported 306 COVID-19 deaths Friday, bringing its total to 23,327 since the pandemic started, according to ODH. Deaths are reported two times per week.