Scott Pianowski and Frank Schwab parse through Bet MGM’s AFC futures and select a few that they love.
Scott Pianowski and Frank Schwab parse through Bet MGM’s AFC futures and select a few that they love.
Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday, approving Johnson & Johnson's product a week after it was authorized in the United States. That gives Canada four distinct vaccines — along with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and it adds flexibility to the country's plan to immunize the majority of its residents by September. Health Canada includes a fifth vaccine, Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the AstraZeneca product made at the Serum Institute of India. The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27. Canada has already secured 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through previous negotiations with the company, with the option to buy another 28 million. The 10 million pre-purchased doses will be delivered before September, but they're not expected to start flowing into Canada until at least April. Here's what we know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death. The vaccine had a 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID infections after 28 days in the company's U.S. trials. The efficacy dropped to 66 per cent when averaging in results from other global trials, including a South African study that factored in more transmissible variants of the COVID virus. An FDA report last month said the vaccine was 64 per cent effective in preventing infection in South Africa about a month after the vaccines were administered. Pfizer and Moderna showed 95 per cent efficacy in their respective trials, but those were both tested against previous dominant strains of the virus and didn't account for the variants that have popped up since. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also had zero hospitalizations and deaths in their trials. The FDA report said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was similarly effective across age, race and people with comorbidities. The agency added that effectiveness appeared to be lower (42.3 per cent after one month) in people over 60 with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS VACCINE? The potential ease of distribution offered by a one-and-done shot, and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among its biggest strengths. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all require two doses. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge for up to three months, the company says. Pfizer's vaccine initially required ultra-cold storage temperatures between -60 C and -80 C, though Health Canada said this week it could be stored in a regular freezer for up to 14 days. Moderna's vaccine can also be stored at regular freezer temperatures while AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge. WHAT KIND OF VACCINE TECHNOLOGY IS USED? Unlike the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna's products, Johnson & Johnson is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine similar to AstraZeneca's. That means it uses a different harmless virus, which can't copy itself, as a vector to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus's spike protein. The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack from the same virus if exposed in the future. WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS NOTED? No specific safety concerns were identified in participants of the trials, regardless of age, race and comorbidities. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that almost 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups." The FDA said the most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab's picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of a massive crater, mission managers said on Friday. The six-wheeled, car-sized astrobiology probe put a total of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) on its odometer on Thursday during a half-hour test spin within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars. Taking directions from mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled 4 meters (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backward another 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
Not only did last weekend’s storm cover the town in snow, but it also brought along a fresh feeling of hopefulness. Kanesatake started to administer the COVID-19 vaccines to its community members as the world approached the one-year mark of the pandemic. As of Tuesday, March 2, 150 Kanehsata’kehró:non were successfully vaccinated. On February 26, Kanehsata’kehró:non Selena Etienne became the first elder to receive the Pfizer vaccine at the Tsi Teiontatshnié:tha, Kanesatake Health Centre (KHC). Etienne told her daughter Brenda that while she was apprehensive to take it at first, after she did a lot of reading on the subject and spoke to her daughters about it, and she was convinced. She said she now encourages everyone to get it. A few hours after Etienne was vaccinated, the grand chief of Kanesatake, Serge Otsi Simon, proudly rolled up his sleeves to get his first dose. “It was kind of last-minute, since I have a heart condition, I decided I should get the vaccine,” said Simon. “It was fine, no pain, no side effects, except a sore arm.” According to KHC spokesperson Robert Bonspiel, Kanesatake only had 48 hours to set everything up, after receiving news from Quebec Public Health authorities that the vaccines were on their way. Every single Riverside Elder’s Home resident, along with each health care worker and staff, were prioritized following the Quebec government’s priority list. For the grand chief, this was the first step toward some kind of normalcy. “It was the first little step we took from breaking that isolation we’ve been doing for a year,” he said. The community had been impatiently waiting since Quebec’s vaccination campaign began last December. While Kanesatake’s sister community Kahnawake received vaccines as early as December 23, the Laurentides region was hit harder by delivery delays. Simon is encouraged by the community’s response. “There are a lot more people than the 150 we vaccinated that wanted it and that’s a good sign, despite all the misinformation out there,” said the grand chief. “It’s been difficult but when people realize what this is and the benefits of it, I think even those who are against or on the defence will come around.” Bonspiel said that the next rollout would be happening in the upcoming weeks, although the KHC is expecting the Moderna vaccine for this second round. While the Pfizer vaccine needs to be administered two separate times for it to be fully effective, Kanesatake is currently choosing to focus on mass vaccination. The goal, explained Bonspiel, is to get all Kanehsata’kehró:non vaccinated once before scheduling a second dose. “In the next few weeks, we intend to vaccinate as many people as possible, starting from people who are older and vulnerable and then going to less at-risk community members,” said Bonspiel. As for lifting the measures, Bonspiel and the grand chief both said that it was too early. This being said, the conversation surrounding it is slowly making its way to the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake. “We are not shutting down our effort just yet,” said Simon. “Only once the pandemic is declared over.” email@example.com Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
LONDON — The timing couldn’t be worse for Harry and Meghan. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will finally get the chance to tell the story behind their departure from royal duties directly to the public on Sunday, when their two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey is broadcast. But back home in Britain, events have conspired to overshadow the tale of a prince and his American bride. On top of the pandemic and record economic slump, Prince Philip, Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather is now recovering from a heart procedure. CBS announced the program Feb 15. The next day, Philip was admitted to hospital. “Harry and Meghan are hugely popular,’’ Pauline Maclaran, a professor of marketing and author of “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture,” told The Associated Press. “But I think that some people who might otherwise have supported them will find this just a little bit distasteful, that they’re drawing all this attention to themselves … just at this time when Prince Philip appears to be quite seriously ill.” Though it is the choice of CBS when to air its pre-recorded interview, critics are already lining up to deride it as a brand-building exercise by the pair, who left Britain saying they wanted to live a normal life but have been accused of continuing to use their royal status to open doors and make money. The sit-down with America’s queen of celebrity interviews is a chance for the couple to explain what led them to quit royal life, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. A book about their departure, “Finding Freedom,” also alleges that senior royals had little respect for Meghan, a biracial former actor, and that courtiers treated her badly. Pre-released clips have already shown Harry talking about his fears that history would repeat itself after his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash while pursued by paparazzi. In another clip from the interview, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” the duchess replies. “The firm” is a nickname for the royal family, sometimes used with affection and sometimes with a note of criticism. In another pre-released clip, Meghan told Winfrey how “liberating” it was to have a conversation with the television host without the input of royal minders. Ahead of the broadcast, relations with the palace are increasingly strained. First there was Queen Elizabeth II’s decision to strip Harry and Meghan of the handful of royal patronages they had retained in the one-year trial period following their departure last year. The couple responded with a terse statement promising to live a life of service — a move many in the U.K. saw as disrespectful to the queen, as she usually has the final word. Then on Wednesday, the palace said it was launching a human resources investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had accused Meghan of bullying staff in 2018. One of the authors of “Finding Freedom,’’ Omid Scobie, compared the recent commentary about Harry and Meghan in the British media to the Salem Witch Trials, while noting Americans have had more sympathy them. His tweet linked to a discussion on the U.S. television program “The View,’’ including comments from Meghan McCain, a conservative columnist and daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. “I think we can’t ignore the elephant of the room that there’s probably a racial angle to this,’’ McCain said. “There’s a lot of racism directed at this woman, in a lot of different ways she threatens a lot of people in the patriarchy. ... It just looks like they are bullying her in the press.’’ It was all supposed to be so different. At the time Harry started dating Meghan, the British public seemed smitten with the beautiful young woman who starred for seven seasons on the U.S. television drama “Suits.” When they married in 2018, newspapers were filled with optimistic stories about how the energetic couple would help make the monarchy relevant for a new, multicultural Britain. But less than two years later they decamped to North America. After a brief stay in Canada, the couple settled in Meghan’s home state of California, buying a house in the exclusive Santa Barbara County enclave of Montecito that reportedly cost more than $14 million. Among their neighbours: Oprah Winfrey. Then came deals with Netflix and Spotifiy, reportedly worth millions. The commercial deals and headline-grabbing amounts are uncomfortable for the royal family, which has devoted itself to public service as a justification for its wealth and privilege. The queen, among the richest people in Britain, has spent her life supporting charities, cutting ribbons at hospitals and travelling the world to represent her country. “The main thing that the royal family is so good at is serving the nation, serving the nation and the Commonwealth, basically serving us rather than serving themselves,’’ royal historian Hugo Vickers told ITV News. “And I’m sorry, if you’re sitting in an $11 million mansion in California and making fantastic deals, that is trading in on your royal heritage. And it’s all wrong, frankly.” Others are concerned that the interview will include damaging revelations about the royal family. The royals rarely grant interviews, and when they do the questions are usually narrowly focused on specific issues. For instance, Harry and his brother, William, have tried to remove the stigma from mental health problems by talking about their own struggles after the death of their mother. More free-ranging interviews have often gone badly. Interviews with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Harry and William’s parents, around the time of their divorce led to embarrassing revelations about infidelity. More damaging for the palace was the interview Prince Andrew, Harry’s uncle, did with the BBC in 2019. Andrew tried to address rumours about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, but he was forced to give up royal duties after failing to show empathy for Epstein’s victims. “I think it’s a bigger danger than the Prince Andrew car-crash interview,’’ Maclaran said of the Oprah interview, “because I think that Meghan is going to get a lot of sympathy, particularly from American audiences, about her position being untenable.” Regardless of what’s actually said, the interview is a threat to the stature of the monarchy because it further blurs the line between celebrity and royalty — tarnishing the royal mystique, Maclaran said. Late night chat show host James Corden underscored the threat to the royal brand during a tongue-in-cheek segment with Harry broadcast last week in which Corden suggested the prince and his wife might move into the mansion that provided the backdrop for the 1990s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” “If it was good enough for the Fresh Prince, it’s good enough for a real prince,” Corden said. The line put Harry, whose father and brother will be king one day, on the same footing as a TV character who fled west Philadelphia for a posh life in Southern California. Royal watchers wonder what could possibly be next. “It’s just such a mess,” said Penny Junor, who has written several books about the royals, including a biography of Harry. “I don’t think there are going to be any winners in it.” Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Five local health coalitions continued their efforts to transform Ontario’s long-term care home policies and funding structure with a virtual protest held this week. Chatham-Kent long-term care (LTC) representatives and family members of LTC residents shared stories from the front lines. The event was organized by the Ontario Health Coalition and joining them were other Southwestern Ontario LTC representatives. “Mr. Ford announced back in December that there will not be any increase in funding for staffing until April of 2022. That's woefully inadequate and it doesn't help our long-term care loved ones now,” said Shirley Roebuck, chair of the Chatham-Kent and Sarnia chapters. “So what we are pushing for is for the government to make legitimate realistic increases in funding and mandate better staffing and staff mixes, as well as infection control and safety.” The event was held via Zoom and live casted on Facebook. The protest received more than 1,600 views. Lucinda Allaer, a Sarnia resident whose 88-year-old dad, George, is currently living at Fairfield Park long-term care home in Wallaceburg, spoke of her experiences. “He's always filled with the joy of life and he has a wicked sense of humour. He used to carry around a fake finger in his pocket, which he would joyfully slip into his friend's sandwich and then just sit back and wait for the enduring drama to subside...I mentioned that because it's such a big difference to who he is today. My dad no longer laughs at all since he transitioned into long-term care.” The Wallaceburg home recently underwent a COVID outbreak affecting 100 people. Two people died from COVID-19 and two other residents passed away from other causes after testing positive. “My dad cries all of the time,” Allaer said. “He talks about suicide. He asks me to help him to die.” The organizers also held a tribute for all residents and staff that died of COVID-19. To date 146 LTC residents and one staff member passed away from the virus in Southwestern Ontario. In Ontario, 3,756 of its 7,024 COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term homes. Eleven of those individuals were staff members and the rest residents. The protest made a call-to-action, asking residents to email their local MPPs demanding better staffing and funding for long-term care. Rick Nicholls, MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington was sitting in the house and unavailable for comment. Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, called the province’s staffing plan “woefully inadequate” and said it should look to Quebec where 10,000 personal support worker equivalents were brought in over the summer, trained in three months, and deployed in homes before the second wave hit. “(Staffing) was in crisis prior to the pandemic, and we have lost a significant proportion of the staff during the pandemic,” she said. “Staffing levels are now the lowest that we've ever seen across Southwestern Ontario.” Mehra said the government’s staffing plan, released in December, “embraces” what the health coalition has been lobbying for in the past decade which is a minimum care standard of four hours of hands on care for residents each day. However, the beginning of those changes, which is expected to add 15 additional minutes of care per resident per day, will only be implemented in April 2022. The full plan will be implemented by 2025. “It's about the same number of staff that get trained each year anyway. And we have lost at least a third of the staff in the first wave and more in the second wave. So we've lost more than 15 minutes of care through the pandemic, on average per resident anyway. So this is cruelly slow,” Mehra said. She added that the average lifespan of residents in long-term care homes is between 18 months and two years, so many will pass away before these changes are implemented. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia welcomed Ottawa's go-ahead for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday as health officials geared up for the opening of the first of 10 community inoculation clinics across the province next week. Premier Iain Rankin called the approval of Canada's fourth vaccine a "positive step forward." "As you can see this is a very dynamic situation that is dependent on the federal government's regulatory approval process," Rankin said. "Our vaccine rollout is ramping up as more clinics open and we receive more doses from the federal government." Rankin confirmed that Nova Scotia would be adopting a 16-week interval between first and second shots as recommended by the national panel of vaccine experts, meaning all Nova Scotians who want vaccine will get one shot by the end of June. "We are committed to being ready to getting shots in arms when it is available," the premier said. He added the province's goal remains to achieve full immunity by this fall. Keeping with its aged-based approach to vaccine distribution, Nova Scotia will open community clinics for those 80 and over in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro on Monday. Clinics are also scheduled for Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth on March 15, and Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth on March 22. Frustrations mounted earlier this week when the province's appointment booking web page had to be temporarily taken off-line after traffic was double what had been anticipated. About 48,000 people aged 80 and over in the province are eligible to receive vaccinations. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said booking for new appointments would resume online and by telephone on Monday for those who were born between Jan.1 and April 30. Those with later birthdays will be informed when they can register later this month. "It is early days, and our supply is still limited, but we are on the cusp of rapidly expanding the volume of vaccine we'll get," Strang said. Officials said they would also have more specific details next week on the rollout of the 13,000 doses the province is receiving of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The shipment must be used by April 2 and is targeted for those aged 50 to 64 years. It will be administered starting March 15 at 26 locations. Health officials said that as of Thursday, they had administered 38,676 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 14,395 people having received a booster shot. Meanwhile, the province reported two new cases of COVID-19 Monday in the Halifax area. Health officials said one case involved a close contact of a previously reported infection and the other was under investigation. The province has 31 active reported cases of novel coronavirus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
The 2021 Pink Shirt Day campaign, organized by the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters, closed the month of February on a positive and encouraging note. Pink Shirt day was celebrated on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, but the organizers say its message of inclusion and diversity is a part of the Boys and Girls Club programs every day of the year. "We are happy to say we have sold over 2,600 shirts this year, surpassing even previous years' sales," said Amanda Guarino, Supervisor, Community Engagement, Boys and Girls Club of Kingston & Area. "This is incredible amid the pandemic and really shows how Kingston is a giving, caring, and supportive community. All pink shirt sales fund our year-round anti-bullying and positive mentoring programs, adding healthy relationship components to our after-school, summer camps, and specific education programs." Guarino said they had over 700 community members interacting with them, and had spread their anti-bullying message to more than 4,000 people in Kingston. “We are especially thankful to our title sponsor, Terra Nova Truss, and the support received from annual partners like Kawartha Credit Union and McDonald’s,” Guarino added. “This allowed us to provide over 270 pink shirts to the children and youth we serve, making our members feel a special sense of belonging to their peers and to the campaign.” Proceeds of pink shirt sales are going straight into anti-bullying and positive mentoring programs for children and youth in Kingston. “On Pink Shirt Day, we ran a workshop with our youth members that had them reflect on their bullying experiences, and even got them to talk about instances when they themselves were unkind to others and what they learned,” said Devin Reynolds, Senior Manager at the West End Hub of the Boys and Girls Club. “We focused our programs with younger children on cyber-bullying, social media, and how to stay safe online,” Reynolds continued. “It really brings our campaign to life to hear kids saying ‘kindness means sticking up for people’ and ‘kindness means not being mean to someone else for liking different things’.” The funds raised will keep programs like these operating and reaching more than 400 children and youth in Kingston after-school everyday, throughout the year. “All of us had an important part in making the campaign have this transformative character,” Guarino said. “Thank you, Kingston, for standing with us against bullying and showing that our community leads with kindness.” “With your support, children are learning and growing into confident, supportive and inclusive leaders,” she said. To watch a brief video on the 2021 Pink Shirt Day campaign and to support year-round anti-bullying programs, please visit www.bgckingston.ca Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
NEW YORK — With Merrick Garland poised to be confirmed as attorney general as early as next week, one of the first major questions he is likely to encounter is what to do about Rudy Giuliani. A federal probe into the overseas and business dealings of the former New York City mayor and close ally of former President Donald Trump stalled last year over a dispute over investigative tactics as Trump unsuccessfully sought reelection and amid Giuliani’s prominent role in subsequently disputing the results of the contest on Trump’s behalf. But the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has since returned to the question of bringing a criminal case against Giuliani, focusing at least in part on whether he broke U.S. lobbying laws by failing to register as a foreign agent related to his work, according to one current and one former law enforcement official familiar with the inquiry. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the ongoing case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The arrival of a new leadership team in Washington is likely to guarantee a fresh look at the investigation. No matter how it unfolds, the probe ensures that a Justice Department looking to move forward after a tumultuous four years will nonetheless have to confront unresolved, and politically charged, questions from the Trump era — not to mention calls from some Democrats to investigate Trump himself. The full scope of the investigation is unclear, but it at least partly involves Giuliani's Ukraine dealings, the officials said. Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, was central to the then-president's efforts to dig up dirt against Democratic rival Joe Biden and to press Ukraine for an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter — who himself now faces a criminal tax probe by the Justice Department. Giuliani also sought to undermine former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out on Trump's orders, and met several times with a Ukrainian lawmaker who released edited recordings of Biden in an effort to smear him before the election. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people who lobby on behalf of a foreign government or entity to register with the Justice Department. The once-obscure law, aimed at improving transparency, has received a burst of attention in recent years, particularly during an investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller that revealed an array of foreign influence operations in the U.S. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan pushed last year for a search warrant for records, including some of Giuliani's communications, but officials in the Trump-era Justice Department would not sign off on the request, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation who insisted on anonymity to speak about an ongoing investigation. Officials in the deputy attorney general's office raised concerns about both the scope of the request, which they thought would contain communications that could be covered by legal privilege between Giuliani and Trump, and the method of obtaining the records, three of the people said. The Justice Department requires that applications for search warrants served on lawyers be approved by senior department officials. “They decided it was prudent to put it off until the dust settled, and the dust has settled now,” said Kenneth F. McCallion, a former federal prosecutor who represents Ukrainian clients relevant to the inquiry and has been in contact with federal authorities about the investigation. McCallion declined to identify his clients, saying he had not been authorized to do so. He previously has represented former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Giuliani's attorney Robert J. Costello told The Associated Press he has “heard nothing” from federal prosecutors concerning Giuliani. It is possible that Giuliani could try to argue that his actions were taken at the behest of the president, as his personal attorney, rather than a foreign country, and therefore registration would not be required under federal law. Giuliani wrote in a text message Thursday to the AP that he “never represented a foreign anything before the U.S. government.” "It’s pure political persecution,” he said of the investigation The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. McCallion said federal authorities were asking questions concerning a wide range of Giuliani’s international business dealings, and that “everything was on the table” as it pertained to his work in Ukraine. He said the inquiry was not entirely focused on Ukraine, but declined to elaborate. The investigation of Giuliani's lobbying first came to light in October 2019, when The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors were investigating Giuliani's efforts to oust Yovanovitch, who was recalled amid Trump’s bid to solicit dirt from Ukraine to pressure Ukraine into helping his reelection prospects. Federal prosecutors also have investigated Giuliani as part of a criminal case brought against his former associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Soviet-born business partners from Florida who played key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch the Ukrainian corruption investigation against the Bidens. Parnas and Fruman were charged in a scheme to make illegal campaign donations to local and federal politicians in New York, Nevada and other states to try to win support for a new recreational marijuana business. Giuliani has said he had no knowledge of illegal donations and hadn’t seen any evidence that Parnas and Fruman did anything wrong. ___ Tucker and Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report from New York. Jim Mustian, Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A new national study adds strong evidence that mask mandates can slow the spread of the coronavirus, and that allowing dining at restaurants can increase cases and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Friday. “All of this is very consistent,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday. “You have decreases in cases and deaths when you wear masks, and you have increases in cases and deaths when you have in-person restaurant dining.” The study was released just as some states are rescinding mask mandates and restaurant limits. Earlier this week, Texas became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a movement by many governors to loosen COVID-19 restrictions despite pleas from health officials. “It’s a solid piece of work that makes the case quite strongly that in-person dining is one of the more important things that needs to be handled if you’re going to control the pandemic,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University expert on disease dynamics who was not involved in the study. The new research builds on smaller CDC studies, including one that found that people in 10 states who became infected in July were more likely to have dined at a restaurant and another that found mask mandates in 10 states were associated with reductions in hospitalizations. The CDC researchers looked at U.S. counties placed under state-issued mask mandates and at counties that allowed restaurant dining — both indoors and at tables outside. The study looked at data from March through December of last year. The scientists found that mask mandates were associated with reduced coronavirus transmission, and that improvements in new cases and deaths increased as time went on. The reductions in growth rates varied from half a percentage point to nearly 2 percentage points. That may sound small, but the large number of people involved means the impact grows with time, experts said. “Each day that growth rate is going down, the cumulative effect — in terms of cases and deaths — adds up to be quite substantial,” said Gery Guy Jr., a CDC scientist who was the study's lead author. Reopening restaurant dining was not followed by a significant increase in cases and deaths in the first 40 days after restrictions were lifted. But after that, there were increases of about 1 percentage point in the growth rate of cases and — later — 2 to 3 percentage points in the growth rate of deaths. The delay could be because restaurants didn't re-open immediately and because many customers may have been hesitant to dine in right after restrictions were lifted, Guy said. Also, there's always a lag between when people are infected and when they become ill, and longer to when they end up in the hospital and die. In the case of dining out, a delay in deaths can also be caused by the fact that the diners themselves may not die, but they could get infected and then spread it to others who get sick and die, Hanage said. “What happens in a restaurant doesn't stay in a restaurant,” he said. CDC officials stopped short of saying that on-premises dining needs to stop. But they said if restaurants do open, they should follow as many prevention measures as possible, like promoting outdoor dining, having adequate indoor ventilation, masking employees and calling on customers to wear masks whenever they aren't eating or drinking. The study had limitations. For example, the researchers tried to make calculations that accounted for other policies, such as bans on mass gatherings or bar closures, that might influence case and death rates. But the authors acknowledged that they couldn't account for all possible influences — such as school re-openings. “It's always very, very hard to thoroughly nail down the causal relationships,” Hanage said. “But when you take this gathered with all the other stuff we know about the virus, it supports the message” of the value of mask wearing and the peril of restaurant dining, he added. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press
Toronto's former police chief has been appointed special adviser to the province for its redevelopment of Ontario Place. The government says Mark Saunders will offer input on plans for the former waterfront theme park in Toronto. The province closed the park to the public in 2012 due to falling revenues and tight finances. The current Progressive Conservative government has said it wants to make the space that first opened in 1971 an impressive attraction. A government news release says Saunders will consult with the City of Toronto, local stakeholders and Indigenous communities. Saunders faced criticism in his tenure as police chief from both the LGBTQ and Black communities over his handling of various cases. He retired from the police force last year, and the search for his permanent replacement is ongoing. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
No chemical contaminants were found in Kanesatake’s drinking water, according to a recently released report from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake disclosed the final study on February 17 on their Facebook page. The report stated that between September and October 2020, 17 sites in and out of the community were selected to have their water tested. “Routine chemical analyses were performed, to screen for the presence of different chemicals in the groundwater,” said Eugene Nicholas, director of Kanesatake’s environmental department in a statement. According to Leslie Michelson, the ISC spokesperson, the water assessment was conducted as a way to determine the presence of selenium, ammonia nitrogen, a variety of phenol compounds and lead that may have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. “In the spring of 2020, the Quebec Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC) carried out surface water testing along the Gratton Creek towards Lac Deux-Montagnes,” said Michelson, explaining that those contaminants were found in the surface water. “The ISC testing was conducted in order to determine if there were any possible impacts on the groundwater.” Back in August 2020, an unknown leak was found in Gratton’s creek, a small body of water that flows from the G&R recycling site into the lake. The nature of the spill remains confidential but the Quebec government retracted G&R’s license a few months later in October, due to a breach of environmental regulations. “The question is to see if what they find in the water is related to G&R or not,” said the grand chief of Kanesatake Serge Otsi Simon. The ISC plan to have water testing was developed in collaboration with Kanesatake Health Centre (KHC), which selected a series of private wells, according to the documents. Community members along Etienne Road, Bonspille Road, the northern end of Mountain Road and the western end of Ste. Philomene granted permission to have their water wells sampled. According to KCH spokesperson Robert Bonspiel, the 17 houses were randomly selected within proximity to the creek. However, ISC wouldn’t confirm whether or not those sites followed the water flow from the recycling site. When asked if it was possible that other harmful contaminants that were not tested could be found in tap water, ISC’s response was unclear and didn’t mention the possible report’s oversight. “Based on the results, it is determined that at the time of analysis, there is no direct influence from the Gratton Creek on the groundwater of the sites analyzed,” said Michelson. The analysis comes at a time where the discussion surrounding drinkable water in Onkwehón:we communities has been at the forefront of Canadian media for the past few weeks. A joint collaboration between six media outlets coordinated by the Institute for Investigative Journalism revealed information regarding the water problem in communities across the country - despite the 2015 electoral promise by the Liberals to eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations by March 1, 2021. The Liberal’s promise followed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations’s Human Right to Water recommendations demanding access to clean water in Onkwehón:we communities as a way to restore relationships impaired by years of colonial policies. While the ISC report revealed no toxic elements in Kanesatake, many sources told The Eastern Door that they do not trust their wells and prefer to opt for bottled water. “I haven’t drunk tap water in over 30 years,” said the grand chief. firstname.lastname@example.org Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
Squamish Nation says the rollout of vaccines for its communities on the North Shore and in the Squamish Valley next week is a welcome “relief” for many of its residents. Vancouver Coastal Health and First Nations Health Authority confirmed this week that Squamish Nation will be receiving a first round of doses of COVID-19 vaccines for its community the week of March 8. “I think people are relieved and excited,” said Khelsilem, Dustin Rivers, spokesperson for Squamish Nation. “I know for our elders and a lot of our members who are vulnerable, they have had to really do their best to protect themselves, and to avoid COVID-19, and they are looking forward to having that extra layer of protection.” Khelsilem said the nation was hoping around 600 members would be vaccinated in the first round of doses, but it would depend on the supply they are given. The first community members who will get the vaccine are elders 65+ and those with serious underlying health conditions, including people living with a compromised immune system. Khelsilem said once elders have their appointments booked, Yúustway Health and Wellness will continue booking vaccination appointments based on age, starting with those ages 55-64, then ages 45-54 etc., until all of the vaccine has been used. “We're encouraging people to get the vaccine, but we welcome any members that might have concerns or questions,” he said. “They can talk to their doctor, if they feel that's an option, but they can also talk to our health nurse and our staff to address any concerns that they might have about the vaccine.” He wanted to remind community members that this is only the first of several vaccine shipments to the nation and they are planning on holding clinics in the coming months to vaccinate all nation members who want to receive the vaccine. “We anticipate that most of the community or many community members are going to access it when they have the opportunity too,” Khelsilem said. Yúustway Health and Wellness will be scheduling clients by appointment only for the COVID-19 vaccine at clinics in the Squamish Valley at the Totem Hall, 1380 Stawamus Rd., and on the North Shore at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre, 100 Capilano Rd., West Vancouver. Appointments will begin at Totem Hall on Tuesday (March 9) and the Chief Joe Mathias Centre on Wednesday (March 10). Members unable to attend an on-reserve clinic, Indigenous people ages 65+, can book an appointment close to their residence starting March 8. The nation has listed further details on how to contact clinics and make appointments in a notice on its website. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — While the Wyoming National Guard was sending more than 100 troops to Washington, D.C., to help with security around President Joe Biden's inauguration in January, Gov. Mark Gordon quietly mobilized dozens of Guard troops and others in case of violence at the state capitol in Cheyenne. The all-but-undisclosed local deployment Jan. 15-21, specifics of which came to light Friday after an inquiry by The Associated Press, stood in stark contrast with the state's contribution to U.S. Capitol security praised by Gordon and other top Wyoming officials. “Thank you to the @wyoguard members who are serving our country by providing support at today’s Presidential inauguration. Wyomingites are grateful for your service,” Gordon, a Republican, tweeted on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Wyoming's congressional delegation — Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis and Rep. Liz Cheney, all Republicans — likewise have posed in photos with and lauded the Wyoming troops at the U.S. Capitol but not those working similar duty back home. The governor didn't previously disclose details of the deployment of 60 Army National Guard and 13 Air National Guard members in the Cheyenne area because it was a “security operation,” Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman said Friday. “They basically were prepared to do backup in case there was some sort of violent action at the Capitol,” Pearlman said. “They can’t perform law enforcement duties, so they were purely as support.” While other states such as Utah made high-profile increases to security after an FBI warning of “armed protests” in all 50 states that week, security in Cheyenne appeared light. In fact, the Guard troops weren't far away at an “undisclosed location," Pearlman said. Wyoming Highway Patrol, Laramie County Sheriff's Department, Cheyenne Police Department and Wyoming state park personnel also were on standby, Pearlman said. The Cheyenne deployment was announced in the vaguely worded last line of a Wyoming National Guard news release Jan. 14 that announced the troops headed to Washington, D.C., Pearlman added. “Additional National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be made available to provide support to Wyoming authorities, should the need arise,” the release said without elaboration. The added security proved unnecessary. Hundreds of protesters prompted a lockdown of the Wyoming Capitol on Jan. 6, the same day a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths. Hundreds turned out again Jan. 28 to hear Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz rail from the Capitol steps against Cheney for voting to impeach Trump for the riot. Both gatherings were peaceful and no protests of note happened in Cheyenne between those dates. The extra use of Guard troops, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers, local police and sheriff’s officers and state park personnel in Cheyenne came to light with an Associated Press request for costs associated with additional security at the state capitol this year. The extra security that week cost $163,531, including $128,815 incurred by the Wyoming Military Department. The military expenses included $70,179 for pay, $36,864 for lodging, $10,742 for equipment costs and $11,030 for food, according to the governor's office. The Wyoming Highway Patrol meanwhile spent an extra $29,374, the Cheyenne Police Department $4,000, the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office $645 and the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources $697 on extra security at the ready that week, Gordon's office said. Besides the National Guard troops, six sheriff's deputies were placed on standby for security in Cheyenne. Wyoming Highway Patrol and Cheyenne police officials didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Friday on how many of their officers were placed on standby for security. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
TORONTO — As expected, Toronto FC will join the Raptors and Blue Jays in Florida for the start of the Major League Soccer season. Toronto will stay in the Orlando area, training at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate some 35 kilometres southwest of Orlando Airport. The team said it can play home matches in both Orlando and Tampa. Orlando City SC plays at Exploria Stadium while the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship play at the 7,500-seat Al Lang Stadium in nearby St. Petersburg, where CF Montreal has held its training camp in the past, The team said its stay in Florida will be contingent upon health and safety regulations as borders reopen in Canada. The Raptors are playing out of Amalie Arena in Tampa while the Blue Jays, who played in Buffalo, N.Y., last season, are holding their first two homestands in nearby Dunedin. TFC finished out the 2020 season in East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related border restrictions. The team played just four games at BMO Field last season. The team is no stranger to ChampionsGate, having held part of its pre-season camp there in past years. A short walk across the hotel golf course leads to training fields. TFC is currently training under the bubble at the club's north Toronto training centre and at BMO Field, whose pitch has underground heating. The team was granted permission to open camp early, on Feb. 17, to prepare for the Canadian Championship final against Hamilton's Forge FC. The winner of that match advances to a two-legged Scotiabank Champions League round-of-16 tie against Mexico's Club Leon. The return leg is April 14. The MLS regular season is slated to kick off April 17. The date and venue of the Canadian Championship final have yet to be announced, although March 20 has been floated. Time is short given the March 22-30 FIFA international window features both World Cup and Olympic qualifying. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Dentists, teachers and bus drivers are among the essential workers who hope to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in British Columbia, as a provincial committee determines who should be prioritized for the shot. BC Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring says her members should be included in the plan expected to be released by the B.C. Immunization Committee by March 18. Mooring says teachers have put in the second-highest number of COVID-19-related claims to WorkSafeBC, behind only health-care workers, and have faced difficult conditions in schools with some of the most lax mask policies in Canada. The BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely, they work in very close proximity to the mouth and often use aerosol-generating procedures. Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111, which represents Metro Vancouver bus drivers, says his members should receive the vaccine because passengers come very close when they enter and exit the bus. BC Trucking Association president Dave Earle, meanwhile, says he represents both long-haul truckers and local drivers who return home every night, so he wants to hear from the province about where the COVID-19 hot spots are in the transportation system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
Renfrew County and its surrounding towns are moving into the yellow zone starting Monday on Ontario's colour-coded pandemic scale, after three weeks of being one of the least restrictive regions in the province. Renfrew County and District Health Unit was one of a handful of areas the province allowed to reopen in a green zone in early February, which has the least severe pandemic restrictions. On Friday, the Ontario government announced the health unit will be moving into its yellow "protect" zone starting 12:01 a.m. on March 8, which limits six people per table at restaurants and caps 10 people for indoors and 25 outdoors for fitness classes, among other restrictions. The province said in a news release that its decision to shift the levels for several health units was made in consultation with local medical officers, based on latest COVID-19 trends and public health indicators in each region. In the past week, the health unit's acting medical officer of health warned residents about the number of contacts traced per COVID-19 case. Dr. Robert Cushman also threatened targeted restrictions as it reported 15 cases in Arnprior, Ont., and McNab/Braeside, all tied to private gatherings According to the health unit, those who were infected then worked at or visited seven local businesses while contagious. The health unit closed one business, Cushman said, while several other businesses chose to temporarily shut down on their own. As of Thursday, Renfrew County and District Health Unit had 28 active cases with one of them in intensive care. The region has reported 359 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and two deaths, since the pandemic first began. It reported four new cases Friday.
Mourners left flowers and hockey sticks outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., on Friday. The city is mourning Walter Gretzky, a fixture in the community, who died Thursday at age 82.
Early indications are that a guidebook that focuses on First Nations co-operative development across the country will be well received. The guidebook, titled Your Way, Together, was launched at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday by Co-operatives First, a Saskatoon-based organization that promotes and supports business development in rural and Indigenous communities, primarily in western Canada. The guidebook can be downloaded for free at https://yourwaytogether.ca/, a new website also launched this week by Co-operatives First. Your Way, Together provides detailed information on starting up co-operative businesses. A co-operative business is one that is owned by various people or groups that share a common interest and collectively make decisions and split profits from that business. “The number one thing we want is to start a conversation,” said Audra Krueger, the executive director for Co-operatives First. Krueger is hoping that conversation will include Co-operatives First representatives who will be able to provide insight into the possible benefits and opportunities that can be had via co-operative business development. The title Your Way, Together indicates a Co-operatives First willingness to work with Indigenous communities to help find a co-op model that best works for them. They do work with all Indigenous peoples, however, the guidebook itself does specifically focus on the requirements of having a co-op on First Nations. More than 75 people attended the virtual launch for the guidebook on Tuesday. Krueger said all of those who took part in the launch have been mailed a printed copy of the guidebook. Krueger was also thrilled with the number of visits the organization’s new website had received in just one day. The guidebook had been downloaded 60 times by Wednesday. Also, 38 individuals had signed up to receive a Co-operatives First newsletter. And eight people had signed up to attend webinars that the organization will be hosting this spring. These events will be held on April 12 and May 13. These free workshops are both three hours long. Those attending the webinars will receive an introduction into co-operatives, how Indigenous communities have used co-ops throughout the country and also touch on both the opportunities and challenges facing Indigenous co-op entrepreneurs. While Krueger is hoping the guidebook is downloaded in droves, she said the plan is also to mail it to as many First Nations as possible. “We want it distributed to First Nations people and Indigenous people and we want them to reach out to us,” she said. The majority of the material in the guidebook was compiled by Trista Pewapisconias, who was hired to be Co-operative First’s Indigenous engagement lead three years ago. Since being brought on, Pewapisconias compiled information she had gathered and also kept notes on the inquiries she had received about First Nations co-op models. “Starting a business on First Nations is much more challenging than off Nation,” Pewapisconias said. The guidebook includes information on legislation applying to businesses on a First Nation, as well as details on business development and financing. Pewapisconias said the original plan was not to produce a guidebook with the work she had done. “It was going to be an internal document for us for working with groups,” said Pewapisconias, a member of Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan. But that changed. “It was over a year ago we decided with all of our tools and resources to put it online and make it available,” Pewapisconias said. Krueger is pleased that some of Pewapisconias’ hard work has been turned into a guidebook. “It was making sure all the research and experiences was captured somewhere,” she said. Since regulations and bylaws are frequently amended, Krueger added the Your Way, Together downloadable guidebook will, in all likelihood, be updated on an annual basis. As for Co-operatives First’s new website, Krueger was happy to see plenty of traffic there after it was launched. “We had a lot of activity on our website, which was great,” she said. “One of the most clicked areas was the case studies.” There are currently four case studies on the website, featuring details on various Indigenous co-op models. One of the models featured is eight First Nations in British Columbia that own and operate salmon fisheries. Another case study is on a group of Indigenous female artisans in Winnipeg who started a co-op. There’s also information on the Yukon fly-in community of Old Crow, which formed a co-op and established a grocery store to be run by its residents. And yet another study is on how members of a remote Métis community joined forces to start a co-op in their community in order to keep a local hardware store operating. The Your Way, Together website also includes a short video, about two minutes long, on starting a co-op model. Windspeaker.com By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The young climate activists who commanded national attention by leading massive street protests before COVID-19 expect the Canadian government to display much more climate ambition in its upcoming budget. While the pandemic has made their primary political tool temporarily obsolete, the young activists have been watching the government’s ongoing response to the public health crisis and thinking carefully about how it can be leveraged to help save the planet from the worst ravages of climate change. “It has shown us that our government knows exactly how to mobilize for an emergency and our government knows exactly what to do to tackle a crisis that's really urgent,” said Lilah Williamson from Vancouver’s Sustainabiliteens. “I don't think there are any excuses anymore for not tackling the climate crisis because we know there's the funding, we know there's all the resources, the government capacity as well as the social capacity. We just need the political will and the social will to do it.” For Williamson and other young activists who joined a roundtable discussion with federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul on Friday, that means pushing for a halt to all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, including the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that has sparked major opposition from environmental and Indigenous groups. It also means making sure aid to specific industries is conditional on commitments to lower emissions or other green changes. “I personally don't want just public funds allocated towards sustainable agriculture or farm management,” said Samia Sami, who has researched innovation in renewable energy while studying electrical engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. She says it is heartbreaking to see that agriculture, a major economic driver in the province, is also one of its most vulnerable sectors. “I want more public attention or more actual management of those funds, actual policies going out and being traced,” she said, noting that while Saskatoon gets lots of sun, “unfortunately we are not making use of it in terms of putting in solar panels and putting wind and using this energy.” The Greens’ Paul told the six young people who joined the roundtable the party would be pushing for exactly those sorts of climate commitments to be attached to any bailout of the airline industry, a major source of emissions that has been hit hard by travel restrictions. “We have the leverage to do it now,” she said. “If we're going to be loaning billions of our dollars, taxpayer dollars, to an industry then it has to come with conditions.” The young activists expressed disappointment that the early promises of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government have not borne the fruit they may have expected. “I am really frustrated,” said Rosalie Thibault, who is studying economic, environment and development at Montreal’s McGill University. “We have seen the government make promises about planting trees, for example, at the beginning of his term, and at the confidence vote, (Trudeau) just said the same old promises that he's not doing. “There's no green recovery, there’s nothing green in his head right now, as we've seen fossil fuel subsidies have increased by 200 per cent since COVID compared to 2019.” A report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development shows Canada spent at least $1.9 billion in direct aid to the traditional energy sector last year, up from $600 million in 2019. Almost all of the direct aid funding went to two programs to protect jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions. “There's quite some discontent on my part, too,” said Allie Rougeot, who leads the Toronto chapter of the Fridays for Future climate strike movement. “I think one of my biggest disappointments is seeing that there's an attempt to create the system that we already have but just try to make it slightly green or tweak it a little bit so it looks clean or electric, as if that was going to be a good little fix for the huge problems we have of many intersecting crises.” Rougeot, who is studying economics and public policy at the University of Toronto, says she is also worried that debt being taken on now will be borne by younger people without reducing the likely cost of climate destruction in the future. “We have an affordability crisis with housing and young people having low wages, no housing, and this massive debt to serve,” she said. “You're really putting a massive burden on young people who have no say in it until years later.” Morgan Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The New York Times’ track record on Canada is … not great.