Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 627 COVID-19 cases; Ontario to open

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

1 p.m. An Alberta-based rental housing provider says it hopes to set a precedent with its decision to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from new tenants.

Strategic Group owns rental apartment buildings in Calgary and Edmonton. The company says it’s the first major landlord in Canada to implement a vaccine requirement for new tenants.

Chief operating officer Tracey Steman says she hopes other landlords follow suit. She says vaccination is the only way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strategic Group exempts anyone who is unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons or is too young to receive the vaccine.

12:30 p.m. The Public Health Agency of Canada says it hopes to keep the number of wasted doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada under five per cent.

That would amount to 3.7 million of the 73.7 million vaccines that have been distributed to provinces and territories, used by the federal government or held in the central vaccine inventory as of Nov. 18.

The federal, provincial and territorial governments aim to keep vaccine wastage as low as possible.

The Public Health Agency of Canada would not release the total number of wasted doses to date, but a Canadian Press survey of provincial governments shows an average of about 2.6 per cent of distributed doses in responding jurisdictions have been discarded.

12:15 p.m. It sure felt like the animals didn’t waste much time taking over the city streets after that first lockdown, right?

The birdsong sounded louder, a family of foxes in the east-end became social media stars and the squirrels seemed extra-frolicky — entitled almost. Insta was full of pics by amateur urban naturalists who had shot coyotes, beavers and even deer enjoying parks, parking lots and empty city streets. With the humans away, the animals came out to play.

But was it real? Were the animals actually becoming bolder? Or were we just looking out our windows in earnest for the first time in a long while?

12 p.m. Quebec is reporting 692 new COVID-19 cases Monday and two more deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

The Health Department says COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose by five compared with the prior day, to 204, and that 46 patients were in intensive care, also a rise of five.

Quebec’s public health institute says more than 88 per cent of residents aged 12 and up are considered adequately vaccinated.

Authorities say 3,582 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the province opened appointments today for booster shots for Quebecers aged 70 to 74, one day ahead of schedule.

On Thursday, Quebecers who received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be able to make appointments for boosters.

11:40 a.m. Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes ticked higher in October, marking their strongest annual pace since January even as competition for relatively few properties on the market pushed prices higher.

Existing homes sales rose 0.8 per cent last month from September to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.34 million units, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. That was stronger than the 6.18 million units that economists had been expecting, according to FactSet.

Sales fell 5.8 per cent from October last year, when they peaked following a summer and fall surge as buyers who had held off during the early days of the pandemic jumped back into the market.

11:30 a.m. Saskatchewan is set to release details Monday about its plans to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11 against COVID-19.

The first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children arrived in Canada yesterday and the provinces are expected to start providing the shots as early as this week.

Saskatchewan says it will have COVID-19 vaccine clinics in places where children learn and play — including schools, libraries and community centres.

There are about 115,000 children between the ages of five to 11 who are eligible for the vaccine.

Saskatchewan says it is expecting an initial shipment of 112,000 doses.

Minister of Education Dustin Duncan has said the government is also working on a plan to ensure anti-vaccination protesters don’t harass children and staff at schools, as they have at hospitals.

11:20 a.m. In the face of demonstrations across much of Europe protesting tough COVID-19 measures over the past days, authorities on Monday pleaded for patience, calm and a willingness to get a vaccine shot in the arm as infections spike upward again.

And for those who abused the protests to foment violence, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte just called them “idiots.”

Protest marches from Zagreb to Rome and from Vienna to Brussels and Rotterdam, bringing tens of thousands out, all had one message from a coronavirus-weary crowd — we’ve had enough!

“Not able to work where you want work, to be where you want to be. That’s not what we stand for, that’s not freedom,” said Eveline Denayer, who was at Sunday’s march in Brussels, which drew a crowd of over 35,000.

“We live in Western Europe and we just want to be free, how we were before,” she said.

10:14 a.m. (updated) Ontario is reporting another 627 COVID-19 cases and one more death, according to its latest report released Monday morning.

Ontario has administered 6,488 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 22,809,355 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.

According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 11,600,688 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 89.0 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 78.0 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Read the full story from the Star’s Urbi Khan

9:40 a.m. Vaccine Hunters Canada says they’ll be temporarily back on social media to help with the vaccine rollout for kids.

9:10 a.m. The country’s largest school board will further delay unpaid leave for some unvaccinated staffers, citing shortages — especially in special education.

In an email blast to parents Monday morning, the Toronto District School Board said “any staff who had disclosed that they were not vaccinated were to be placed on non-disciplinary administrative leave without pay, effective today. As a result, approximately 330 staff members are being put on administrative leave as of today.”

However, it added, “as we implement the procedure, it is important that there is minimal impact on students’ learning, well-being and safety. As part of this plan, we are relying on occasional/casual staff to fill in for these staff members but, like other school boards across Ontario, we are seeing lower levels of occasional/casual staff taking available jobs. In addition, we know that the absence of some staff would have a serious impact on the ability of some schools to maintain the safety and well-being of students.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy and Isabel Teotonio

8:50 a.m. (updated) Parents in Ontario can begin booking COVID-19 vaccinations for kids aged 5 to 11 on Tuesday with shots expected to start Thursday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday it will take a few days to distribute two shipments of the pediatric Pfizer vaccines to health units, primary care clinics and pharmacies.

“We’re going to be shipping them immediately,” she told a news conference, calling shots for children “the light at the end of the tunnel” with about one-third of daily COVID cases in school-age kids.

“That speaks to the need.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson

8:15 a.m. A month ago, new coronavirus cases in the United States were ticking steadily downward and the worst of a miserable summer surge fueled by the Delta variant appeared to be over. But as Americans travel this week to meet far-flung relatives for Thanksgiving dinner, new virus cases are rising once more, especially in the Upper Midwest and Northeast.

Federal medical teams have been dispatched to Minnesota to help at overwhelmed hospitals. Michigan is enduring its worst case surge yet, with daily caseloads doubling since the start of November. Even New England, where vaccination rates are high, is struggling, with Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire trying to contain major outbreaks.

Nationally, case levels remain well below those seen in early September, when summer infections peaked, and are below those seen last Thanksgiving. But conditions are worsening rapidly, and this will not be the post-pandemic Thanksgiving that Americans had hoped for. More than 90,000 cases are being reported each day, comparable to early August, and more than 30 states are seeing sustained upticks in infections. In the hardest-hit places, hospitalizations are climbing.

7:30 a.m. Target will no longer open its stores on Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., making permanent a shift to the unofficial start of…

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