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Coronavirus Update: Canada announces sweeping measures to end trucker protests against virus restrictions, as U.S. COVID death toll tops 922,000

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 climbed above 922 million on Tuesday, and the Canadian government announced sweeping measures to end protests by truck drivers battling virus restrictions that have paralyzed the capital Ottawa and blocked border crossings to the U.S.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau involved Canada’s Emergencies Act, allowing the federal government use broad powers to restore order, the Associated Press reported.

Trudeau warned truckers their vehicles would be towed to keep essential services running, and their personal and corporate bank accounts would be frozen. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is also finance minister, said the government would suspend insurance on vehicles and would pursue crowdfunding sites that are being used to support the blockades.

Trudeau said the emergency measures “will be time-limited, geographically targeted, as well as reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address.”

“These blockades are illegal, and if you are still participating the time to go home is now,” the prime minister declared after meeting virtually with leaders of the country’s provinces.

See: Canada calls on Republicans in U.S. to quit voicing support as truck convoy continues shutdown of capital city Ottawa

The demonstrations have inspired similar convoys in France, New Zealand and the Netherlands. U.S. authorities have said that truck convoys may be in the works in the United States.

Pandemic restrictions have been far stricter in Canada than in the U.S., but Canadians have largely supported them. The vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated, and the COVID-19 death rate is one-third that of the United States.

Coronavirus Update: Canada border crossing reopened after 6-day blockade by vaccine protesters as U.S. COVID death toll approaches 920,000

Also:Coronavirus tally: U.S. death toll tops 922,000 and Ontario to lift proof-of-vaccination requirement

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 stood at 922,473 on Tuesday, after climbing above 920,000 overnight as the wave of cases caused by the highly infectious omicron variant continued to decline from its January peak.

The U.S. is now averaging 154,912 new COVID cases a day, according to a New York Times tracker, down 66% from two weeks ago. Hospitalizations are down 36% from two weeks ago at 89,158 a day on average.

And deaths are finally starting to fall, down 6% to an average of 2,400 a day, still the most since last winter before vaccines were widely available. 

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New studies offer clues about who may be more susceptible to long Covid, a term for lingering Covid-19 symptoms. WSJ breaks down the science of long Covid and the state of treatment. Illustration: Jacob Reynolds for the Wall Street Journal

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• The World Health Organization is warning that a surge of infections of the omicron variant is moving toward Eastern Europe, where people remain mostly unvaccinated. The number of COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine over the past two weeks, WHO’s Europe regional director Hans Kluge said in a statement. “Vaccination remains our best defense against severe disease and death for all current COVID-19 virus variants in circulation,” said Kluge. “However, too many people at greater risk remain unprotected: less than 40% of those aged over 60 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series. Bulgaria, Georgia and North Macedonia are also among those countries where under 40% of health-care workers have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.”

• If forced to choose, Novak Djokovic said he would skip the French Open and Wimbledon, foregoing the chance to overtake Rafael Nadal’s record haul of 21 Grand Slams titles, rather than get vaccinated against COVID-19, the AP reported. And the No. 1-ranked tennis player is also still smarting about being deported last month from Australia in a drama about his vaccination status that polarized opinion worldwide.

From New York to California, an increasing number of states are lifting statewide mask mandates as the Omicron wave recedes. Federal public-health officials, meanwhile, continue to recommend mask-wearing in public indoor settings in much of the country. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

• New York City fired more than a thousand workers who failed to comply with the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the AP reported separately. The 1,430 workers who lost their jobs represent less than 1% of the 370,000-person city workforce and are far fewer terminations than expected before a Friday deadline to get the shots. The city sent notices in late January to up to 4,000 workers, saying they had to show proof they got at least two doses of the vaccine or else they’d lose their jobs. Three-quarters of those workers had already been on leave without pay for months, having missed an earlier deadline for getting vaccinated in order to stay on the job.

• Japan reported the highest numbers of deaths in a single day Tuesday since the start of the pandemic, according to media reports. Japan counted 236 deaths on Tuesday to bring the country’s overall toll to 20,759, MSN.com reported. South Korea recorded 61 deaths, the most since the74 reported on Jan. 19, ABC News reported. Meanwhile, one of the last countries on earth without COVID — the Pacific nation of Cook Islands — recorded its first case in a traveler from New Zealand on Feb. 10, according to the Guardian.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose above 413.7 million on Tuesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while the death toll climbed above 5.82 million.

The U.S. leads the world with 77.9 million cases and 922,473 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 213.9 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 64.4% of the population. But just 91.7 million are boosted, equal to 42.9% of the vaccinated population. 

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