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Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to start your weekend

Saturday is finally here
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Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to get you started on this Saturday morning.

COVID-19 Delta variant now the dominant strain in the region, public health reports

The Delta Variant of the COVID-19 virus is now dominant within the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction. PHSD issued a news release Friday that said the majority of new COVID cases being reported locally (70 per cent) since July 1 are infected with the variant that has the Delta (B.1.617.2) mutation profile. “The Delta variant can spread more easily and is associated with higher rates of hospitalization, ICU admission and death as compared with the Alpha variant,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, PHSD's Medical Officer of Health. “COVID-19 vaccines are effective against Delta, but there is evidence of reduced protection against symptomatic disease after one dose. This means that two-dose vaccine coverage is important for everyone. Also, given how infectious Delta is, vaccination rates need to be as high as possible to protect against community spread. If you were waiting for yet another reason to get immunized, here it is,” Sutcliffe added.

Read the full story here.

Nurses Association calling for mandatory vaccinations for all health workers in Ontario

Ontario's Registered Nurses Association has this week launched a new social media campaign to have mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all health care workers. The details were outlined in a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and signed jointly by RNAO CEO Doris Grinspun and by RNAO president Morgan Hoffarth. They quoted a recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) that argued vaccines should be mandatory for all health workers in public and private settings. "On the frontlines, health-care workers are at increased risk of contracting the virus and transmitting it," said the letter. The authors also said that a vaccine not only protects the workforce and patients, it also reduces the burden of COVID-19 on the services being provided to keep people healthy. They added this also reduces the expenses of having PPE (personal protective equipment) and continuous COVID-19 testing.

Read the full story here.

Sudbury student among recipients of northern med school’s first Indigenous Learner awards

Two Northern Ontario medical students have been presented with the first ever CIBC Indigenous Learner Leadership Awards presented to students of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). Mélanie-Rose Frappier of Sudbury and Alison Lewis of Sioux Lookout are both fourth-year NOSM med-students. They  are the inaugural recipients of newly established CIBC Indigenous Learner Leadership Awards, said a news release from NOSM. The awards recognize self-identified Indigenous learners at NOSM who demonstrate exceptional leadership and mentorship within the school and the community. Dr. Sarita Verma, the dean, president and CEO at NOSM, was pleased with the award news. “Mélanie-Rose and Alison are fantastic leaders with a strong commitment to promoting access to health care, Indigenous culture, anti-racism, equity and inclusion,” said Verma.

Read the full story here.

Two more beaches on Manitoulin Island have swimming advisories

Two more Manitoulin Island area beaches are under a swimming advisory after routine water samples exceeded acceptable bacteriological water quality standards, said Public Health Sudbury and Districts this week. Signs have been posted at Maple Ridge Sandy Beach and Mindemoya Public Beach No. 1 to inform the public that the beach water quality is not suitable for recreational use at this time. On July 22, the health unit issued advisories for two other area beaches, Monument Road Beach and Gore Bay Beach. Going into the water when bacteria are present in high concentrations puts bathers at risk for infections. Illness can occur if swimmers swallow beach water; if water gets into their ears, eyes, or nose; or if it comes in contact with open wounds.

Read the full story here.

Public Health Sudbury reports two new COVID-19 for July 23, Ontario reports 192

Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) has reported two new cases of COVID-19 in the local jurisdiction for July 23. The health unit is also reporting there are now six active cases being monitored. Also, since the PHSD began tracking COVID-19 cases just over 16 months ago, there have been 2,178 total COVID-19 cases confirmed locally. PHSD also said 2,172 of those cases have now been resolved. The details were outlined on the PHSD website. In terms of where the new cases might have occurred, PHSD said there was one new case in Greater Sudbury and one new case in the Manitoulin District. Public Health Ontario has reported 192 new COVID-19 cases today in the July 23 daily update. Today's update includes 147 new recoveries and one death. Since yesterday's report, one person has been hospitalized with COVID-19 and two COVID patients have been admitted to intensive care units.

COVID-19 forces hike in food prices, drop in food options in remote northern Ontario

The coronavirus pandemic added one more dimension to the struggle faced by remote communities in northern Ontario when it came to feeding their populations. Isolation efforts to protect against the spread of COVID-19 made it almost impossible for people to travel south to grocery shop. This on top of the shortened lifespans of ice roads due to climate change, skyrocketing food costs and decreased help from larger organizations that supplement food supplies. All these factors came into play for fly-in communities in Ontario which saw food costs increase by 400 per cent during the pandemic, according to figures offered by Mikinakoos Children’s Fund, which supports remote communities. Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation is the last community on the road heading north in Ontario. Restrictions brought about through COVID-19 definitely made that change in cost “very noticeable,” said Mishkeegogamang Chief David Masakeyash.

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Cooler and stormy Saturday, but a much nicer Sunday in store

Well Saturday isn’t shaping up to be a great day, weather-wise. Today’s high is 19 under cloudy skies. Expect showers to begin in the morning, with the risk of a thunderstorm. Rainfall amounts could be between 20 and 30 mm. Winds will be from the south at 30 km/h. The UV index is four, or moderate. This evening, there is a 40-per-cent chance of showers, but the skies will clear by morning. The overnight low is 18. Tomorrow, expect a mix of sun and cloud with a high of 26. A few clouds will roll in tonight, with an overnight low of 16.