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Marking 100 days since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the province, Premier John Horgan announced B.C.’s multiphase reopening plan for the coming weeks and months.

The Pacific Coast province reported Canada’s first death from COVID-19, and its first case of community transmission, but reported only 23 new cases on Wednesday.

The reopening plan means people can slowly start to expand their social networks when “phase two” kicks off in mid-May. B.C.’s reopening plan also features details on restaurants reopening, dental offices firing up their chairs and when people can finally see a barber.

B.C. has a population of about 5 million people and shares a border with Washington state, where the first major U.S. outbreak occurred. As of Wednesday, there were 62,458 reported coronavirus cases in Canada and 4,111 deaths. 

Read more at HuffPost Canada.

— Melanie Woods

Trump Backpedals, Claims White House Coronavirus Task Force ‘Will Continue On Indefinitely’ — 5/6/20, 9:43 a.m. ET

After Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that he plans to dissolve the team of White House officials coordinating the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the president appeared to backpedal Wednesday, claiming in a series of tweets that the group “will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN.”

Trump cited the task force’s “success,” even though cases continue to rise in many parts of the U.S., while some governors are reopening businesses in their states.

“We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate,” he added. “The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics.”

Trump, who has been intent on reopening the economy as soon as possible, on Tuesday defended scaling back the team and suggested its work was done — heightening concerns that he is curtailing the roles of public health experts on the team, such as Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx.

“We’ve learned a lot, you know. We’ve learned a lot about the coronavirus,” Trump told reporters.

Read more here.

— Marina Fang

France’s Back-To-School Plan Divides Parents And Teachers — 5/6/20, 7:10 a.m. ET

Concerns are growing among teachers and parents in France as the government pushes ahead with plans to reopen schools on Monday.

France is one of a handful of countries in Europe that has reopened schools, with Italy and Spain both delaying the return of students until later in the year, while the U.K. is yet to give a date on the resumption of classes.

Under strict rules imposed by the government, parents will need to take the temperature of their children before arriving at school, lesson times will be staggered and class sizes will be limited to allow for a meter spacing between desks, HuffPost France reported. 

Other measures include banning ball games and toy sharing, while masks for teachers and students will be compulsory in all situations where “compliance with the rules of distancing may not be respected.”

However, the government has been accused of forcing local authorities to reopen schools at a “forced march,” while a recent YouGov survey found 76% of French people would have preferred schools to reopen in September.

— James Martin

‘Professor Lockdown’ Scandal Shakes UK COVID-19 Response — 5/6/20, 6:15 a.m. ET

A key expert in Britain’s coronavirus response who advised Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned after it was revealed that he broke social distancing rules to meet his married lover.

Professor Neil Ferguson’s research with Imperial College London colleagues warned that 250,000 people could die in the U.K. without drastic action shortly before Johnson imposed the lockdown restrictions.

The Telegraph claimed that Ferguson allowed his lover to visit him at home in London on at least two occasions during the lockdown. Admitting he made an “error of judgment,” Ferguson said he was stepping back from the U.K’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

He told the newspaper: “I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms. I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic. The government guidance is unequivocal, and is there to protect all of us.”

Johnson announced the U.K. lockdown on March 23 ordering the public to stay at home as he shut most shops and gave police unprecedented enforcement powers. Under those measures, partners who do not live together were told they can no longer see each other. Read more

— Graeme Demianyk

Texas Salon Owner Who Defied State Restrictions By Reopening Early Sentenced To Jail — 05/06/20; 5:45 a.m. ET

Shelley Luther, a Dallas salon owner who made headlines for reopening her business early in defiance of county and state COVID-19 restrictions, was sentenced Tuesday to seven days behind bars. Luther was also ordered by a judge to pay at least $3,500 in fines — $500 for each of the seven days that her salon was open despite orders for nonessential businesses to remain closed.

According to The New York Times, Luther was unrepentant despite the punishment, disagreeing with Judge Eric Moyé’s pronouncement that her decision to reopen was selfish. “I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish, because feeding my kids is not selfish,” she reportedly said. “So, sir, if you think the law’s more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I am not going to shut the salon.”

North Dallas Salon Owner Owner Shelley Luther just sentenced to 7 days in jail by a judge for opening her business according to ⁦@CBS11Andrea⁩ Lucia The salon owner was served with a temporary restraining order to close last week which she vowed to ignore pic.twitter.com/akiZrUKCZz

— J.D. Miles (@jdmiles11) May 5, 2020

At least 730 employees at a Tyson Foods factory in Perry, Iowa have tested positive for coronavirus, The Des Moines Register reported on Tuesday.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, a total of 1,600 workers at meatpacking plants have been infected.

A second Tyson plant in Indiana reported last week that nearly 900 employees had tested positive for the virus. Other meatpacking facilities have emerged as hotspots, including a Smithfield Foods plant in South Dakota.

Read More

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