Today’s coronavirus news: U.S. hospitalizations reach level not seen since winter peak; Hawaii governor says ‘now is not a good time’ to visit

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.8:10 a.m. Premier Doug Ford is reversing course and bringing a COVID-19 vaccination passport system to Ontario in hopes of avoiding another round of restrictions and lockdowns as new cases continue to rise, the Star has learned.“The guidance will be clear. In order to access some non-essential services and events you will have to be vaccinated,” a senior government source said Friday.The passports are expected to be used for indoor restaurant dining, gyms, theatres, concert venues and sporting events.No specific date has been set for the system to go into effect, but the goal is to have it ready “within weeks,” added the source, speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations.Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson8:05 a.m. Amid slowing demand for the shot, authorities in Berlin, Germany offered a special train service Monday for anyone interested in getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.The service operated on a circular commuter line that runs around the center of the German capital for two hours.Officials invited anyone aged 18 or older to step aboard and receive a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.Health authorities are trying to make it easier for people to get the shot, as the pace of vaccination has declined noticeably in recent months. Slightly more than 60% of the German population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while infection rates are rising strongly again.The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has more than doubled over the past two weeks from almost 5.2 new cases per 100,000 people on Aug. 15 to nearly 11 on Aug. 29.7:55 a.m. Thousands of vaccine opponents took to the streets in two Greek cities on Sunday to demonstrate against the government's coronavirus policies.Local media outlets estimated that 3,000 people took part in Athens, and more than 5,000 in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.Some 200 people broke away from the demonstration in Athens after dark, when it was nearly over, and hurled incendiary devices and stones at police outside the parliament. Officers responded with stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon, causing the rioters to disperse.By law, only vaccinated people are allowed inside restaurants and cultural institutions. Unvaccinated employees in the health sector are to be released from their work starting from Sept. 1 and — as long as they are not vaccinated — will not be paid. This policy has been in place for people who work in elderly care since Aug. 16.The number of new coronavirus infections in Greece has skyrocketed in recent weeks, mainly because of the holiday season. In large parts of Crete and other islands in the south of the Aegean Sea, a nighttime curfew between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. has already been in force for days.7:45 a.m. A third COVID-19 vaccination shot appeared to significantly curb a Delta-led surge in cases and prevent severe illness, according to a study in Israel, the first country to offer boosters to seniors.Twelve days or more after a booster dose of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, the risk of a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection decreased 11.4-fold relative to people given only two jabs, researchers from Israel’s Ministry of Health and key scientific institutes found. A third dose was associated with at least a tenfold reduction in the risk of falling seriously ill, according to the research released Friday.The more-infectious Delta variant has fueled a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many countries, including Israel, prompting plans to administer extra doses to those already immunized. Israeli authorities approved a Pfizer-BioNTech booster jab for vulnerable citizens on July 12 and began offering it on July 30 to all people 60 or older who had been immunized for at least five months.“The results of such a policy are of importance for countries that seek strategies to mitigate the pandemic,” said Yinon M. Bar-On from the Weizmann Institute of Science and colleagues in the paper. “Our findings give clear indications of the effectiveness of a booster dose even against the currently dominant delta variant.”The analysis is based on medical findings from the health ministry database extracted on Aug. 24. The researchers chose 12 days as the time it took the booster to curb confirmed infections.7:30 a.m. As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Hawaii continues to rise, Gov. David Ige is calling on all residents and visitors to delay all nonessential travel through the end of October 2021.According to Reuters.com, Ige revealed expanded restrictions on restaurant capacities and limited access to rental cars, informing potential travelers that visiting the tropical paradise now would not provide the typical Hawaii vacation experience.“Our hospitals are reaching capacity and our ICUs are fill

Today’s coronavirus news: U.S. hospitalizations reach level not seen since winter peak; Hawaii governor says ‘now is not a good time’ to visit

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.

8:10 a.m. Premier Doug Ford is reversing course and bringing a COVID-19 vaccination passport system to Ontario in hopes of avoiding another round of restrictions and lockdowns as new cases continue to rise, the Star has learned.

“The guidance will be clear. In order to access some non-essential services and events you will have to be vaccinated,” a senior government source said Friday.

The passports are expected to be used for indoor restaurant dining, gyms, theatres, concert venues and sporting events.

No specific date has been set for the system to go into effect, but the goal is to have it ready “within weeks,” added the source, speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson

8:05 a.m. Amid slowing demand for the shot, authorities in Berlin, Germany offered a special train service Monday for anyone interested in getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The service operated on a circular commuter line that runs around the center of the German capital for two hours.

Officials invited anyone aged 18 or older to step aboard and receive a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Health authorities are trying to make it easier for people to get the shot, as the pace of vaccination has declined noticeably in recent months. Slightly more than 60% of the German population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while infection rates are rising strongly again.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has more than doubled over the past two weeks from almost 5.2 new cases per 100,000 people on Aug. 15 to nearly 11 on Aug. 29.

7:55 a.m. Thousands of vaccine opponents took to the streets in two Greek cities on Sunday to demonstrate against the government's coronavirus policies.

Local media outlets estimated that 3,000 people took part in Athens, and more than 5,000 in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

Some 200 people broke away from the demonstration in Athens after dark, when it was nearly over, and hurled incendiary devices and stones at police outside the parliament. Officers responded with stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon, causing the rioters to disperse.

By law, only vaccinated people are allowed inside restaurants and cultural institutions. Unvaccinated employees in the health sector are to be released from their work starting from Sept. 1 and — as long as they are not vaccinated — will not be paid. This policy has been in place for people who work in elderly care since Aug. 16.

The number of new coronavirus infections in Greece has skyrocketed in recent weeks, mainly because of the holiday season. In large parts of Crete and other islands in the south of the Aegean Sea, a nighttime curfew between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. has already been in force for days.

7:45 a.m. A third COVID-19 vaccination shot appeared to significantly curb a Delta-led surge in cases and prevent severe illness, according to a study in Israel, the first country to offer boosters to seniors.

Twelve days or more after a booster dose of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, the risk of a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection decreased 11.4-fold relative to people given only two jabs, researchers from Israel’s Ministry of Health and key scientific institutes found. A third dose was associated with at least a tenfold reduction in the risk of falling seriously ill, according to the research released Friday.

The more-infectious Delta variant has fueled a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many countries, including Israel, prompting plans to administer extra doses to those already immunized. Israeli authorities approved a Pfizer-BioNTech booster jab for vulnerable citizens on July 12 and began offering it on July 30 to all people 60 or older who had been immunized for at least five months.

“The results of such a policy are of importance for countries that seek strategies to mitigate the pandemic,” said Yinon M. Bar-On from the Weizmann Institute of Science and colleagues in the paper. “Our findings give clear indications of the effectiveness of a booster dose even against the currently dominant delta variant.”

The analysis is based on medical findings from the health ministry database extracted on Aug. 24. The researchers chose 12 days as the time it took the booster to curb confirmed infections.

7:30 a.m. As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Hawaii continues to rise, Gov. David Ige is calling on all residents and visitors to delay all nonessential travel through the end of October 2021.

According to Reuters.com, Ige revealed expanded restrictions on restaurant capacities and limited access to rental cars, informing potential travelers that visiting the tropical paradise now would not provide the typical Hawaii vacation experience.

“Our hospitals are reaching capacity and our ICUs are filling up,” Ige said at an Aug. 23 media briefing. “Now is not a good time to travel to Hawaii.”

“It will take six to seven weeks to see significant change in the number of COVID cases,” Ige continued. “It is a risky time to be traveling right now. Everyone, residents and visitors alike, should reduce travel to essential business activities only.”

The governor also voiced his support for Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, who recently announced that indoor gatherings in the city would be limited to just 10 people, while outdoor events would be limited to 25.

5:55 a.m.: The daily average for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the United States is now more than 100,000. That average, calculated over the past seven days, is higher than in any previous surge except last winter’s, before most Americans were eligible to get vaccinated.

The influx of patients is straining hospitals and pushing health care workers to the brink as deaths have risen to an average of more than 1,000 a day for the first time since March.

Hospitalizations nationwide have increased by nearly 500% in the past two months, particularly across Southern states, where intensive care unit beds are filling up, a crisis fueled by some of the country’s lowest vaccination rates and widespread political opposition to public health measures like mask requirements.

With the surge pummeling the nation and overwhelming hospitals, a shortage of bedside nurses has complicated efforts to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients, leading to longer emergency room waiting times and rushed or inadequate care.

5:45 a.m.: Lilia Spagnuolo is excited that her daughter, Marianna, will finally be back in the classroom with her friends to start Grade 1 in a couple of weeks.

The six-year-old is “fantastic” about wearing her mask and handwashing, and Spagnuolo says she trusts that the principal at St. André Catholic School, near Jane and Wilson, has their backs when it comes to COVID-19 safety protocols.

But alongside the anticipation is knowledge that the one thing that could best protect her little girl and her classmates from the virus — a vaccine — is out of reach.

Experts say community vaccination rates are one of the most important indicators of COVID transmission risk among unvaccinated kids. Torontonians can expect to see more school outbreaks in neighbourhoods with lower vaccination coverage and fewer in areas where most of the residents have been fully vaccinated.

In a pattern that mirrors the spread of the virus to vulnerable and racialized communities seen at the beginning of the pandemic, mapping of neighbourhood vaccination rates by the Star reveals similar disparities. Vaccination rates among the general population remain lower in the city’s northwest corner, parts of Scarborough and around Thorncliffe Park, and higher in more affluent areas, such as midtown and parts of Etobicoke. For example, M4H, the neighbourhood around Thorncliffe Park public school, has the lowest percentage of residents fully vaccinated, at 51.9 per cent. But in M8X, the Kingsway/Lambton Mills, 74 per cent of the residents have both shots.

Read the full interactive article from the Star.

5:30 a.m.: Malaysia's new prime minister missed the swearing-in ceremony of his new government on Monday after coming into contact with someone infected with COVID-19, his office said.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob has begun self-isolating and will virtually attend Tuesday's official National Day celebrations, according to a statement from his office. It did not say whom he came in contact with, whether he was tested and how long he would remain in self-isolation.

Ismail took office Aug. 21 amid public anger over the previous government's failure to control a raging pandemic. Daily cases have soared above 20,000 since August 5, with total infections surpassing 1.7 million. Vaccinations are moving rapidly, with 62% of the adult population fully inoculated.

His predecessor, Muhyiddin Yassin, resigned on Aug. 16 after less than 18 months in office as infighting in his coalition cost him majority support in Parliament.