Several players on the Toronto Raptors talk about Kobe Bryant's influence on the NBA and how he changed the game with his intelligence, intensity and dynamic personality.
Several players on the Toronto Raptors talk about Kobe Bryant's influence on the NBA and how he changed the game with his intelligence, intensity and dynamic personality.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech - image credit) When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
(The Canadian Press/Cole Burston - image credit) Despite plans in other Ontario regions to start pre-registration for vaccinations, Toronto's medical officer of health says Toronto is dealing with much more "complicated and wide-ranging" situation. "As the largest city in the country, we have much more ground to cover," Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa said at a press conference on Monday, noting that the number of people who are 80 years and over in Toronto is "roughly equivalent" to the population of the city of Guelph. Some public health units, like York Region, have started accepting appointments for residents over the age of 80. "This is a sensible course of action for them based on their size," de Villa said. "Toronto is organizing a vaccination campaign in a much more complicated and wide-ranging landscape." Nine city-operated immunization clinics are on schedule to be ready to open on or before April 1, according to the City of Toronto..De Villa said they will also be using mobile teams of immunizers and pop-up clinics to ensure that vaccinations levels are consistent across the city. In an update at the same conference, de Villa said that Toronto has seen 312 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 new death. Mayor John Tory also discussed the roll-out of immunization clinics. He said the city expects more than 350 community immunization sites, including 49 hospital-run vaccination clinics, 46 operated by community health centres and 249 operated by pharmacies. He said these sites will be in addition to the nine city-run vaccination sites, while mobile and pop-up clinics will be added later. "This will be the largest vaccination effort in the history of Toronto and I am very confident that we are ready to meet this challenge," Tory said. He said the city has also released its vaccination playbook, which includes plans for addressing vaccine hesitancy. Starting March 1, front-line police officers will be eligible to be vaccinated as part of the first phase if they respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required. Approximately 2,250 frontline constables and sergeants will now be eligible, according to Toronto police. The city also plans to begin administering vaccines to people experiencing homelessness in Toronto's shelter system this week. The city said on Sunday that provincial officials have updated the vaccination framework to include those experiencing homelessness as part of its Phase 1 priority for vaccinations. Coun. Joe Cressy, who chairs the Toronto Board of Health, outlined a plan on Monday to recruit 280 neighbourhood ambassadors and work with city organizations to inform residents about where to get vaccines and build trust with communities. "In short order, we will have a situation where we have supply," Cressy said. That's when the question will turn to making sure everyone who needs vaccines can get it, he added. "As Torontonians, we've all gone through too much to come up short right now. Every neighbourhood, every community agency, every resident must be a part of it." Ontario's website for booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments will begin a "soft launch" in six public health units this week, two weeks before it becomes available across the province, The Canadian Press reported on Monday. Toronto Public Health says the city will also be using the province's appointments website. Toronto remains under the stay-at-home order, which is expected to remain in place until at least Monday, March 8. De Villa also said it remains important to isolate from other people even as the weather becomes warmer. "The risk is significantly reduced outdoors," de Villa said. "That's true. But that doesn't take away from the fact that the more we are able to reduce the interaction we have with other people, particularly those outside of our household, we'll be able to reduce transmission." She said that's particularly important due to concerns about the new more transmissible variants of the novel coronavirus, such as the B117 variant first identified in the U.K.
LOS ANGELES — Prince Harry says the process of separating from royal life has been very difficult for him and his wife, Meghan. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry invoked the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who had to find her way alone after she and Prince Charles divorced. “I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here talking to you with my wife by my side, because I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for her going through this process by herself all those years ago,” Harry said, adding, “because it’s been unbelievably tough for the two of us.” “But at least we have each other,” Harry said, in a clip from the interview special, which is scheduled to air March 7 on CBS and the following day in Britain. Diana was shown in a photo holding toddler Harry as he made the comments. His mother died in 1997 of injuries suffered in a car crash. Harry and Meghan sat opposite Winfrey and side-by-side, holding hands during the interview that was conducted in a lush garden setting. The couple lives in Montecito, California, where they are neighbours of Winfrey. Meghan, who recently announced she is pregnant with the couple’s second child, wore an empire-style black dress with embroidery. Harry wore a light gray suit and white dress shirt, minus a tie. As Meghan Markle, the actor starred in the TV legal drama “Suits.” She married Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson at Windsor Castle in May 2018, and their son, Archie, was born a year later. The brief promotional clip was one of two of that aired Sunday during CBS’ news magazine “60 Minutes.” Winfrey’s questions and comment were predominant in the other clip, including her statement that, “You said some pretty shocking things here,” without an indication of what she was referring to. Meghan was not heard from in the clips. Harry and Meghan stepped away from full-time royal life in March 2020, unhappy at media scrutiny and the strictures of their roles. They cited what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess, who is African American. It was agreed the situation would be reviewed after a year. On Friday, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple will not be returning to royal duties and Harry will give up his honorary military titles — a decision that makes formal, and final, the couple’s split from the royal family. The pair, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, verified “they will not be returning as working members of the Royal Family. “ A spokesperson for the couple hit back at suggestions that Meghan and Harry were not devoted to duty. “As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role,” the spokesperson said in a statement. Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
(RCMP New Brunswick - image credit) New Brunswick RCMP seized 17 unsecured long guns hidden in the wall of a home in Tobique First Nation last week, resulting in the arrest of a 68-year-old man. In a statement, police said the man was later released pending a court appearance in April at Woodstock provincial court. Police executed a search warrant at the home on Fourth Street on the evening of Feb 26, as part of an ongoing investigation. These guns were found inside the wall of the residence. Police said a large amount of cash was also discovered during the "extensive search of the property," but didn't disclose how much. In a photo released by RCMP there, several $50 and $100 bills were visible. The investigation was conducted as part of a co-ordinated law enforcement approach with West District RCMP and RCMP police dog services and involvement from the Woodstock Police Force and Fredericton Police Force.
TORONTO — The Tragically Hip will be toasted with this year's humanitarian award at the 2021 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says it selected the Kingston, Ont. rock band for its "timeless music and philanthropic pursuits" that affected generations of people around the world. Known to many Canadians as the musicians behind "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century," the Hip have helped raise millions of dollars for various social and environmental causes. Among them, they've supported several charities, including Camp Trillium and the Special Olympics, and most recently sold face masks that raised more than $50,000 for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry. The Hip's late lead singer Gord Downie was also part of the band's final Canadian tour, which helped raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Downie died of brain cancer in October 2017. The Hip will be presented with the honour as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Junos, which will broadcast from Toronto on May 16. Since first being presented in 2006, the humanitarian award has been given to artists that include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sarah McLachlan, Rush and members of Arcade Fire. The Hip's members included Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
A study published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found the risk of death from COVID-19 was 3.5 times higher than from influenza. The numbers put a figure on the severity of the novel coronavirus, which experts have been speaking to since the pandemic began. The study analyzed hospitalized cases of COVID and influenza between November 2019 and June 2020 in seven Toronto-area hospitals, finding that people admitted with COVID-19 were 1.5 times more likely to need intensive care, and stayed in hospitals 1.5 times longer than patients admitted with influenza. The study used data extracted from hospital computer systems to describe details of patients' hospitalizations, says Dr. Amol Verma of St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto. That data included things like demographics, vital signs, laboratory test results, use of hospital resources like ventilators, and outcomes of their hospital stay — whether they died in hospital, needed intensive care, or were re-admitted. The findings from the Canadian study were similar to results recently reported in France and the United States, the CMAJ says. "We can now say definitively that COVID-19 is much more severe than seasonal influenza," Verma said in a release. The study described hospitalizations in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont. — areas with large populations and high levels of COVID-19 — and included all patients admitted to medical services or the intensive care units (ICU) for influenza or COVID-19. There were 1,027 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in 972 patients — some re-admissions were included in the study — compared to 783 hospitalizations for influenza in 763 patients. Those figures represent 23.5 per cent of all hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Ontario during the study period. Most patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had few other illnesses, and 21 per cent were younger than 50 years of age. People younger than 50 also accounted for 24 per cent of admissions to the ICU, the study found. While COVID-19 generally affects older adults more severely, Verma says the study highlights that the illness can also have serious impacts on younger people. The flu hospitalizations included in the study happened mainly from November 2019 to February 2020, Verma says. While COVID hospitalizations from the study occurred mainly from March to June, Verma adds there were some earlier cases in the Toronto area that were also included. Verma says the figures may be "magnified" by low levels of immunity to the COVID virus, compared to that of the seasonal flu. He adds that COVID vaccines should help decrease severity of the infection over time. "There is, unfortunately, also the possibility that variants of the virus could be even more severe," he added. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 10, 2021. The Canadian Press
The first day of mass vaccinations began smoothly at the Montreal convention centre, where 2,000 people were scheduled to get their shot. It was the first day all Quebecers over 70 were eligible to be vaccinated.
TORONTO — The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" is making Canadian history on Spotify. The Toronto-raised singer's hit single has become the first song by a Canadian artist to pass two billion plays on the streaming platform. And he's only the fourth artist in the world to join this elite group of massively popular songs. Ahead of him is "Dance Monkey" by Australia's Tones and I (2.1 billion streams), "Rockstar" by American Post Malone (2.12 billion) and the leader "Shape of You" from English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (2.7 billion). A couple of other Canadians could also reach two billion streams with one of their songs later this year. Drake's "One Dance" is teetering around the mark with 1.98 billion streams, which ranks him one spot behind the Weeknd as the No. 5 most-streamed song. Shawn Mendes' "Senorita" is at No. 9 with 1.7 billion plays. The Weeknd's streaming numbers were helped by his performance at the Super Bowl, which gave his entire catalogue of albums a boost. But it's fellow Torontonian Drake who holds the biggest streaming crown on Spotify. He earned the platform's most-streamed artist of the decade honour at the end of 2019. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Les personnes de 70 ans et plus, qui résident dans les MRC de Sept-Rivières, de Manicouagan et de la Haute-Côte-Nord, sont invitées à s’inscrire dès aujourd’hui, à compter de midi, aux prochaines cliniques de vaccination contre la COVID-19. La vaccination débutera la semaine prochaine. Pour ce qui est du bilan, aucun nouveau cas s’ajoute depuis le 26 février, avec quatre cas actifs. Il est possible de prendre rendez-vous par Internet sur la page Québec.ca/vaccinCOVID . Les gens n’ayant pas accès au réseau, ou qui éprouvent des difficultés à l’utiliser, peuvent composer le 1 877 644-4545 pour recevoir de l’aide. Il est également encouragé d’offrir un soutien aux aînés de votre entourage, pour la prise de rendez-vous en ligne, qui est obligatoire et seulement pour la première dose. Les gens ayant déjà reçu une dose seront contactés prochainement par le CISSS de la Côte-Nord, pour planifier leur deuxième rendez-vous. Plus de 17 600 doses des vaccins contre la COVID-19 ont été administrées dans la région jusqu’à maintenant. Voici le bilan en premier jour de mars: Situation sur la Côte-Nord*En date du 1er mars 2021 – 11 hNotez que les bilans régionaux de la Côte-Nord sont publiés du lundi au vendredi. La fin de semaine et lors des jours fériés, nous vous invitons à consulter le bilan national au Québec.ca/coronavirus ou sur le site de l’INSPQ. Le bilan régional sera mis à jour le lundi suivant. Nombre de cas confirmés : 354 Répartition par MRC : Basse-Côte-Nord : 6 Caniapiscau : 8 Haute-Côte-Nord : 26 Manicouagan : 106 Minganie : 17 Sept-Rivières : 191 Cas guéris : 347 (+1) Décès : 3 Cas actifs : 4 (-1) Cas actifs provenant d’une autre région : 0 Hospitalisation en cours : 0 Éclosions en cours :Milieu scolaire (Sept-Rivières) : Moins de 5 Éclosions terminées récemment :Milieu de travail (Caniapiscau) Milieu scolaire (Sept-Rivières) Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
NASHVILLE — Rita Fentress was worried she might get lost as she travelled down the unfamiliar forested, one-lane road in rural Tennessee in search of a coronavirus vaccine. Then the trees cleared and the Hickman County Agricultural Pavilion appeared. The 74-year-old woman wasn’t eligible to be vaccinated in Nashville, where she lives, because there were so many health care workers to vaccinate there. But a neighbour told her the state's rural counties had already moved to younger age groups and she found an appointment 60 miles away. “I felt kind of guilty about it,” she said. “I thought maybe I was taking it from someone else.” But late that February day, she said there were still five openings for the next morning. The U.S. vaccine campaign has heightened tensions between rural and urban America, where from Oregon to Tennessee to upstate New York complaints are surfacing of a real — or perceived — inequity in vaccine allocation. In some cases, recriminations over how scarce vaccines are distributed have taken on partisan tones, with rural Republican lawmakers in Democrat-led states complaining of “picking winners and losers,” and urbanites travelling hours to rural GOP-leaning communities to score COVID-19 shots when there are none in their city. In Oregon, state GOP lawmakers walked out of a Legislative session last week over the Democratic governor's vaccine plans, citing rural vaccine distribution among their concerns. In upstate New York, public health officials in rural counties have complained of disparities in vaccine allocation and in North Carolina, rural lawmakers say too many doses were going to mass vaccine centres in big cities. In Tennessee, Missouri and Alabama, a dearth of shots in urban areas with the greatest number of health care workers has led senior citizens to snap up appointments hours from their homes. The result is a hodgepodge of approaches that can look like the exact opposite of equity, where those most likely to be vaccinated are people with the savvy and means to search out a shot and travel to wherever it is. “It’s really, really flawed,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who noted there are even vaccine hunters who will find a dose for money. “Ideally, allocations would meet the population’s needs.” With little more than general guidance from the federal government, states have taken it upon themselves to decide what it means to distribute the vaccine fairly and reach vulnerable populations. Tennessee, like many states, has divvied up doses based primarily on county population, not on how many residents belong to eligible groups — such as health care workers. The Tennessee health commissioner has defended the allocation as the “most equitable,” but the approach has also exposed yet another layer of haves and have-nots as the vaccine rollout accelerates. In Oregon, the issue led state officials to pause dose deliveries in some rural areas that had finished inoculating their health care workers while clinics elsewhere, including the Portland metro area, caught up. The dust-up last month prompted an angry response, with some state GOP lawmakers accusing the Democratic governor of playing favourites with the urban dwellers who elected her. Public health leaders in Morrow County, a farming region in northeastern Oregon with one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates, said they had to delay two vaccine clinics because of the state's decision. Other rural counties delayed vaccines for seniors. States face plenty of challenges. Rural counties are less likely to have the deep-freeze equipment necessary to store Pfizer vaccines. Health care workers are often concentrated in big cities. And rural counties were particularly hard hit by COVID-19 in many states, but their residents are among the most likely to say they're “definitely not” going to get vaccinated, according to recent Kaiser Family Foundation polling. Adalja said most of these complications were foreseeable and could have been avoided with proper planning and funding. “There are people who know how to do this,” he said. “They're just not in charge of it.” In Missouri, where Facebook groups have emerged with postings about appointment availabilities in rural areas, state Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, a Democrat from the Kansas City suburb of Independence, cited a need to direct more vaccine to urban areas. The criticism drew an angry rebuke from Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who said vaccine distribution has been proportional to the population and critics are using “cherry-picked” data. “There is no division between rural and urban Missouri,” Parson said during his weekly COVID-19 update last week. In Republican-led Tennessee, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey notes that the Trump administration deemed the state’s plan among the nation's most equitable. Extra doses go to 35 counties with a high social vulnerability index score — many small and rural, but also Shelby County, which includes Memphis, with a large Black population. Last week, state officials revealed some 2,400 doses had been wasted in Shelby County over the past month due to miscommunication and insufficient record-keeping. The county also built up nearly 30,000 excessive doses in its inventory. The situation caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate and the county health director to resign. In Nashville, Democratic Mayor John Cooper says the fact that city residents can get shots elsewhere is a positive, even if the road trips are “a little bit of a pain.” “I’m grateful that other counties have not said, ‘Oh my gosh, you have to be a resident of this county always to get the vaccine,’” Cooper said. Nashville educators Jennifer Simon and Jessica Morris took sick days last week to make the four-hour round-trip to tiny Van Buren County, population less than 6,000. They got their first shots there in January, when Republican Gov. Bill Lee was pushing Nashville and Memphis area schools to return to in-person classes. Republican lawmakers even threatened to pull funding from districts that remained online. In-person classes started a couple weeks ago, but the city only began vaccinating teachers last week. “It was scary, frustrating, and feeling really betrayed,” Simon said. ____ Flaccus reported from Portland, Oregon. Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri; Bryan Anderson in Raleigh, N.C., and Carla Johnson in Washington state contributed. Travis Loller, Jonathan Mattise And Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
SUDBURY, Ont. — Public health officials have ordered the closure of two more schools in Sudbury, Ont., after more COVID-19 cases were linked to outbreaks. Public Health Sudbury and Districts is advising all students, visitors and staff at Jean Hanson Public School and Algonquin Public School to self-isolate and immediately get tested. Specific classes were dismissed at the two schools last week when COVID-19 outbreaks were declared. The health unit says it has since determined potential widespread infection at the schools. It says the schools have no confirmed cases of a COVID-19 variant to date. The closures follow the dismissal of two other schools – Lasalle Secondary School and Cyril Varney Public School – last week after five confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants were found. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 1, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A 28-year-old man charged with trying to set fire to a Montreal synagogue has been found not criminally responsible. Audrey Roy Cloutier, spokeswoman for the director of prosecutions, confirmed today that the court last week declared Adam Riga not criminally responsible after he underwent a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he was fit to be arraigned. Riga was arrested Jan. 13, shortly after spray-painted swastikas were found on the doors of Shaar Hashomayim temple in Montreal. Rabbi Adam Scheier had written a letter to members of the congregation saying the suspect was carrying a gas canister when he was arrested. Riga had been charged with possession of incendiary materials and with threatening to burn down the synagogue. The attack on the temple was widely condemned across the country, including by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Francois Legault. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
MOSCOW — Two top United Nations human rights experts urged an international probe into the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and called Monday for his immediate release from prison. Agnès Callamard, the Special U.N. Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Irene Khan, the Special U.N. Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said Navalny’s poisoning was intended to “send a clear, sinister warning that this would be the fate of anyone who would criticize and oppose the government.” “Given the inadequate response of the domestic authorities, the use of prohibited chemical weapons, and the apparent pattern of attempted targeted killings, we believe that an international investigation should be carried out as a matter of urgency in order to establish the facts and clarify all the circumstances concerning Mr. Navalny’s poisoning," they said in a statement. Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell sick on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia and was flown while still in a coma to Berlin for treatment two days later. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. Russian authorities have denied any involvement in the poisoning. In December, Navalny released the recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he described as an alleged member of a group of officers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him in August and then tried to cover it up. The FSB dismissed the recording as a fake. Callamard and Khan on Monday published their official letter sent to the Russian authorities in December and noted that “the availability of Novichok and the expertise required in handling it and in developing a novel form such as that found in Mr. Navalny’s samples could only be found within and amongst state actors.” The experts emphasized in the letter that Navalny “was under intensive government surveillance at the time of the attempted killing, making it unlikely that any third party could have administered such a banned chemical without the knowledge of the Russian authorities.” Navalny was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from the nerve agent poisoning. The arrest triggered massive protests, to which the Russian authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown. Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated — and which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful. Last week, Navalny was sent to serve his prison sentence to a prison outside Moscow despite the ECHR's demand for his release, which cited concerns for his safety. Russian officials have dismissed demands from the United States and the European Union to free Navalny and stop the crackdown on his supporters. Mikhail Galperin, Russia's deputy justice minister, charged Monday that Moscow has contested the ECHR's ruling demanding Navalny's release in a letter sent to the Strasbourg-based court. Meanwhile, the UN rights experts noted that an international probe into Navalny's poisoning is “especially critical” now when he is in prison. They called for his immediate release and reminded Russia that it's “responsible for the care and protection of Mr. Navalny in prison and that it shall be held responsible for any harm that may befall him.” Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
TORONTO — "Never Have I Ever" star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is among the Canadians on Time magazine's 100 Next list. Comedy star Mindy Kaling, who co-created Netflix's "Never Have I Ever," wrote the profile of the Tamil-Canadian teen in the newly released issue. Ramakrishnan is from Mississauga, Ont., and plays the leading role of a first-generation Indian-American dealing with the death of her father and the hormone-fuelled challenges of adolescence. The 19-year-old auditioned for the part in the coming-of-age comedy series after seeing an open casting call Kaling had posted on social media. Ramakrishnan beat out some 15,000 auditioners and recently got an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance. Also on the Time 100 Next list is Canadian-raised Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of grocery delivery company Instacart, and climate journalist Julian Brave NoiseCat, whose website says he is a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen and a descendant of the Lil'Wat Nation of Mount Currie in British Columbia. Ramakrishnan made the "Phenoms" section of the list, which is an expansion of the magazine's flagship Time 100 franchise that highlights emerging leaders. The profiles are written by Time 100 alumni. Kaling wrote that Ramakrishnan is a "gifted comic actress" who "has an activist's heart and wants to use her platform to help others." "What’s most extraordinary about Maitreyi is that when you’re with her, you think you’re simply talking to a cool, smart teenager, but later, when you see her work onscreen, you realize you were actually interacting with a great artist at the beginning of her journey," Kaling wrote. "Thank you for seeing me as I am," Ramakrishnan tweeted to Kaling after the list was revealed Wednesday. In a video on the Time website, Ramakrishnan says she feels "a sense of responsibility to take strong roles that have actual character and story to them." "All genres are great, but it just matters about the actual character depth and what the project is trying to say to audiences." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Alberta urban municipalities are concerned provincial cuts to municipal funding will impact their ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. On Feb. 25, the province released its 2021-22 budget. That budget shows the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) – a major source of provincial funding for Alberta’s municipalities, especially on the capital side – will live on two years longer than expected, before a new fiscal framework kicks in. More MSI dollars are being doled out this year, before significant cuts take effect in 2022-23 and 2023-24. Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) president Barry Morishita said they understand the difficult financial situation the province is in, but investing in municipalities is important for the province to recover from the pandemic and recession. “We have to be cognizant that by reducing investment and eliminating the stability and the predictability for municipal finances, we're not helping put the province on a path to recovery,” Morishita said. "There can't be a good economic recovery or any economic recovery without municipalities leading that.” This year, municipalities across the province will get $1.2 billion in MSI dollars, $200 million more than was given out last year, in an attempt to protect the economy from job losses during the pandemic and recession. But after the spike in funding, the total funding will drop by 44 per cent, with municipalities across the province sharing $485 million for the following two years. For each of those years, the province is putting an additional $375 million in a new pot of money it will invest in strategic capital projects, called the Economic Recovery Capital Envelope. Raising taxes to make up for the shortfall delivered by MSI would be an “untenable situation,” he said. “There are going to be service cuts, there are going to be things that aren't built, there is going to be maintenance that isn't done. And that is all going to be costlier for the Alberta taxpayer in the long run.” In the short-term, Morishita said funding cuts are going to impact the ability of municipalities to deal with economic development and build the infrastructure needed to attract investments in communities. Local governments are going to be looking at their five and 10-year capital plans to try and figure out what projects can be delayed a bit longer, Morishita said. “That's extra work for us but more importantly, it's going to delay a lot.” The lack of funding and collaboration with municipalities is a missed opportunity for meaningful engagement with local governments to foster economic recovery and resiliency, Morishita said. Cuts to MSI will hurt rural communities as well, as some local governments are already trying to make up for millions in unpaid oil and gas taxes. Initiatives requiring regional collaboration could be put at risk, he said. “Any reduction overall to municipalities across the board is a reduction in the ability to supply those services to all of us," Morishita said. “On a regional basis, there could be severe impacts.” The AUMA president said the province hasn’t done a good job of sitting down with local governments, talking about solutions and taking their suggestions seriously. With many communities facing an "opioid death crisis," Morishita said he was disappointed there wasn’t more funding to address the immediate impacts of overdose in the budget. The budget sets aside funding for recovery and treatment, but Morishita said they want to see more funding for organizations that deliver direct intervention to deal with what is a “serious, serious crisis.” Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
TORONTO — On set they called her "COVID Cathy," or "CC" for short. As the COVID-19 supervisor on the new Toronto-shot CBC series "Pretty Hard Cases," Catherine Lang had to not only help develop pandemic protocols for the production, but also keep a close eye on the cast and crew to ensure they were following them. It can be a tricky position, having to police everyone while trying to prevent positive cases, but Lang says she was determined to keep the mood upbeat. "What I found the hardest about COVID supervising was that it's hard to spend 100 per cent of your day worrying about people's health. And unfortunately, I'm a bit of a worrier," Lang says. "Eating, breathing, sleeping — 24-7 — I couldn't get it out of my mind. Because at the beginning all I could think was, 'What if I do something or don't do something and somebody gets sick?' And that was quite a large stress for me." Lang's position, which is also sometimes called a COVID compliance officer, is a now common one on Canadian film and TV sets. And it's one she predicts will be around for another year or so. The supervisor typically works alongside the producers and a team of medical, health and safety professionals to create COVID protocols using government guidelines and ensure they're adhered to. Both industry and medical professionals can qualify for the position. "They were accepted, but definitely were the sort of hall monitors of the production shoot that can frustrate people when they're trying to do their jobs," Alex Jordan, a producer on Global's "Private Eyes," says of their COVID supervising team. "We had to be very cognizant of the mental health of everyone. To some people's opinion, you're not doing enough. And in some cases, people are like, 'This is too much. You're overkill.'" "Kim's Convenience" star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee says their COVID protocol officer was Cher Merlo, who has a background in film and TV production. She "worked tirelessly" on things like modifying the actors' masks and shields to ensure they would be effective but wouldn't disrupt their hair and makeup between takes. "She had the hardest job on set, because her job was to be the bad guy and to remind them of the protocols and of doing things like sanitizing your hands and wearing your mask and staying two metres apart," Lee says. "Pretty Hard Cases" stars Adrienne C. Moore and Meredith MacNeill say they went to great lengths to help Lang not feel "like a bad guy." "I remember when Cathy gave her first speech at the start, Adrienne and I looked at each other and then gave her the biggest cheer. We were like 'Cathy!'" says MacNeill. "We used to call her COVID Cathy. We were like 'CC, yes, in the house!' The staff knew Lang was "only trying to help," notes MacNeill. "So we approached it, and the whole crew approached it, with a 'thank you.'" Lang had worked as an assistant producer and production manager before becoming a COVID supervisor on "Pretty Hard Cases." Lang says she read everything she could about the virus and "spent many hours on the phone" with producer Wanda Chaffey and executive producer Amy Cameron. The three developed protocols for every department with a consulting physician. "As I would walk through the set, I would see people adjust their masks and pull their shields down. It was very cute," Lang says laughing. Of course, Lang also wore personal protective equipment, since she had to be in more spaces on set than most. She says she "never felt unsafe" but found the thought of somebody getting sick in the workplace "horrifying" and had to learn to stop worrying about things that were out of her control. "Eventually I had to say to myself, 'I can't stop this. I can control what happens in the workplace to an extent, but I can't control what happens outside of the workplace.'" The cast and crew were very compliant, Lang says, noting "everybody really wanted to be safe." Chassey and Cameron were with her every step of the way. In the end, they had no incident of anyone contracting COVID-19 at work, she says. While there were two positive cases, they were contracted outside production, caught through testing and had no community spread. Toronto nurse Meghan McKenna became a COVID supervisor on the CBC series "Coroner" through her employer, the third-party medical consulting firm Oncidium, which provided guidance and support to the show, including a full-time nursing staff. She hadn't worked in film and TV before and was "on a steep learning curve" in that regard as they collaborated with producers, she says. They held mandatory health sessions for everyone on set. One of McKenna's key goals was for the cast and crew to understand the uncertain nature of a pandemic, so if provincial case numbers rose and protocols changed, they would be onboard instead of feeling they were being fed misinformation. She also taught everyone how viruses or bacteria spread through communities, so when pandemic fatigue set in, they understood how to protect themselves and why every single protocol matters. The pressure on the job comes with not wanting to see the production fail, says McKenna. But her experiences working in hospital have taught her she "can't control what people are doing 100 per cent." She also likes the idea that should someone have a medical issue on set, she's able to guide them through it and manage it. McKenna's nursing background and experience in emergency rooms also helped her feel "fine with being the police" on set. "That is such a big part of health teaching, is telling people things they don't want to hear," she says. "I really like the challenge of getting through to someone over time." While producers say "Coroner" had "a few issues" with COVID-19 cases, they weren't on set, were easily contact-traced and had no community spread. And no one had to be reminded of the protocols later in production, McKenna says. "Everyone's helping remind each other," she says. "The crew is all keeping each other safe," adds "Coroner" executive producer Suzanne Colvin-Goulding. "Everybody has adopted the mentality that we are in this together." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Canadians perusing social media may be coming across photos of their American peers bearing wide smiles and vaccination cards that show they've been inoculated against COVID-19. A recent ramping up of the United States's vaccine rollout has it vastly outpacing its northern neighbour, and some Canadians are wondering why distribution here is lagging so far behind. Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease doctor in South Carolina, says that while the speed of the American rollout has been impressive lately, it's not been without its faults. Communication between states has been mostly lacking, she says, and the absence of a uniform standard for vaccine eligibility has led to inconsistencies across jurisdictions. Some states, for example, include teachers high on their priority list while others are still working on inoculating those 80 years and older. Confusion in the early stages of the rollout caused frustration and dampened trust, she added. And while the shift to a new presidential administration last month has led to some improvements, Kuppalli says there's room for more. "I don't think we're the model of success," she said in a phone interview. "We've had a lot of challenges. ... but it's getting better. "Communication is better, there's definitely greater transparency, and states have been very forthcoming in ramping up vaccine measures and rolling out mass vaccination sites. So all that's helping." The U.S. was vaccinating an average of 1.7 million Americans per day this week, and had administered at least one dose to more than 12 per cent of its population as of Friday. Canada, which recently dealt with weeks of shipping delays and disruptions from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, has doled out nearly 1.4 million doses since its rollout began mid-December, covering about 2.65 per cent of its population with at least one dose. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday vaccine delivery is set to rapidly increase, however, with provinces preparing to roll out almost a million and a half doses over the next three weeks. The Americans have many factors in their favour when speeding up vaccine distribution, experts say, including a much more expansive supply than Canada's that's bolstered by production from U.S.-based Moderna. While having supply is the first step, Kuppalli says getting those vaccines into pharmacies, where they can be easily administered, has also helped. The American government announced weeks ago its aim to supply vaccines to about 40,000 drugstores in the coming months. Canada has not yet reached the pharmacy stage of its vaccine rollout, but Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto, expects that to happen once we have enough supply to branch out. "We have the exact same plan, we just need the critical mass of vaccines," said Bogoch, who's also on Ontario's vaccine distribution task force. "When we get that, you're gonna see from coast to coast vaccines offered at many different settings." While pharmacy distribution makes sense for a quick rollout, it also can lead to problems with wasted doses if people aren't showing up for their appointments, says Kelly Grindrod, a professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines need to used within a relatively short timeframe after they're thawed from ultra-cold storage temperatures, Grindrod says, and once a vial has been punctured, that interval decreases further. She says Canada has been learning from wastage setbacks other countries are experiencing, and she expects Plan B lists to be compiled of individuals who can quickly fill in when no-shows arise. Those lists have to be made fairly though, she cautions. "You have to make sure there's no queue-jumping. So it's not your friend coming in, it's actually people who would fall normally on the next round of priority." Grindrod says queue-jumping — where people with lower risk of contracting the virus or experiencing a bad COVID outcome are vaccinated before higher-priority groups — has been more culturally unacceptable in Canada than it has in the U.S., a country without a universal health-care system. So there's some justifiable outrage, she adds, when Canadians see American friends boasting about getting their jabs, especially if they're not in high-risk populations. "Equity is probably the most important principle of the Canadian vaccine rollout," Grindrod said. "And I'm not sure that's the case in the U.S." While the American rollout has had its faults, Grindrod admires some of the more unique approaches happening south of the border to ensure high-risk groups can get their doses. She noted the recent role Black churches have played in co-ordinating inoculation drives among typically underserved neighbourhoods, and the pharmacists who have been driving vaccines into remote communities to inoculate those who can't easily get to an immunization centre. "You're seeing really positive examples where communities themselves are helping to create effective outreach," she said. "So I think those are the real lessons we can learn from the U.S." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2021 Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
After a pre-COVID poll found 42 per cent of UBC Okanagan students were food insecure, Casey Hamilton and her team went looking for solutions. The internal survey gathered data based on one question: "In the past 12 months, have you worried that food would run out before you got money to buy more?" Hamilton and three other researchers recently released their latest VOICE project, which added context to the statistics around food insecurity on campus. This qualitative study engaged students experiencing food insecurity to hear how it impacts their well-being, how they manage, and what they think UBC can do to improve food security. An earlier VOICE survey, done in 2018, found that 60 per cent of food-insecure students are women. It also discovered students with developmental, physical, or other disabilities, visible minorities, and international students were more likely to be food insecure. And students who experienced two or more forms of marginalization were 2.5 times more likely to be food insecure than their counterparts. However, Hamilton said their campus isn’t an anomaly. The UBC Vancouver campus recorded a similar number among its students, and Hamilton has long heard the same from other schools. Meal Exchange Canada, an organization that facilitates food initiatives on campuses, reports this number is actually the norm. Prior to COVID-19, Meal Exchange found that nearly 40 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students experience food insecurity. The UBCO poll, which was also done before COVID, came back with 42.3 per cent. “I think a lot of people are shocked by that because most people think if you go to university, you must have a lot of money. It’s an assumption that people make,” said Hamilton, who is a dietitian. “And that's not really true. That’s not true for a lot of students.” The data, combined with the additional stress caused by the pandemic, prompted UBCO to start a meal share program. It’s an emergency support where people donate online and the money is then given to students through meal cards. Hamilton said emergency supports like that are important, but don’t actually tackle the systemic problem of hunger on campuses. Moves like establishing a food hub on campus (which the school is currently in phase two of completing) would provide a central space for students to access food, do research and collaborate on projects, and be a longer-term solution, she said. “This is where we're starting to dig deeper into the larger issues. So, this definitely connects to affordability, cost of living, tuition and student employment opportunities to support them through school debt while they're in school,” she said. “And so that's what the university is starting to look at now.” Similar work is happening at the UBC Vancouver campus, where Sara Kozicky is a registered dietitian and food security project manager for UBC’s Food Security Initiative, part of UBC Wellbeing — a strategy that also includes the Okanagan campus. Kozicky said she has seen awareness around food security on campus gradually increase over the past few years. She points to a 2018 Ubyssey series, The Hunger Gap, which really sparked conversation and action around access to food at UBC. “There are diverse experiences, but it's the worry and the stress about not being able to buy food and not being able to pay for your rent, making compromises,” she said. “Having it impact your ability to concentrate, and your achievement in school, it can also be very detrimental for someone to be able to actually stay in school.” Kozicky said students have been dealing with these problems for a long time, but the 40 per cent figure coming to light really added momentum. “Having that data that's produced by the institution coming from the institution, it's really hard to ignore that. And at that same time, UBC Wellbeing released a strategic framework — within that document, there is a food security target, institutionally based, saying by 2025 we want to reduce the prevalence of food insecurity at UBC,” she said. “And then COVID is another pressure.” A March 2020 SEEDS student-led research report on food insecurity at UBC is yet another piece of the puzzle, which was written to inform the UBC community and beyond of the lived experience of students facing food insecurity. “The first thing that goes through (my mind) when I have financial troubles, it's always just like, ‘Well, I can eat less.’ Because you know everything else you need … you need textbooks. But food, you know, you can eat a little less, you won’t die,” said an LGBTQ2IA+ student. Hamilton and her UBCO student research team are presenting their research on March 4 at the Promoting Food Security in Higher Education conference, which will explore links between campus and community-based efforts to change local food environments and build community-wide food security at schools across Canada. It’s conversations like that, as well as encouraging students to dive deeper into the reasons and solutions behind the food insecurity they face, which are moving the issue in the right direction, said Hamilton. “We're engaging students to do research and course-based projects to help us understand the complexities of the issues,” she said. “Continuing to build our knowledge base and knowing what students are looking for, and what will be most effective for them.” Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
(Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit) After getting his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Monday, Don Thomas says he felt hopeful and "delighted." "I think it opens up the possibility of a future, before this ... you never knew what the next day would bring, or how dangerous it could be to make a small trip to the grocery store but now you know one can [have a] little more relaxed state of mind and look forward to things like movies and plays," he said. The first targeted vaccination clinic for seniors 80 and older opened up in Windsor on Monday, as the region hit a new pandemic milestone with more than 13,000 COVID-19 cases since last March. According to Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) CEO Theresa Marenette, 11,300 eligible people have signed up to receive the vaccine so far, and 148 appointments are scheduled for Monday. "It's pretty amazing to see our over 80-plus seniors coming into the centre," she said at a media briefing on Monday, adding that many would have been home for most of the pandemic. Betty Ing was the first to enter WFCU Centre on Monday morning, and one of the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, according to the health unit. All immunizations are happening by appointment, and those who received slots were selected randomly and contacted by health unit staff. Betty Ing was the first person to enter the WFCU Centre on vaccination day, and was one of the first to receive the shot, according to WECHU. Some couldn't believe they had been picked, Marenette said. "[Staff] said that some people did cry on the phone," she said. "They were really excited." Thomas told CBC News that the day he got the call was the "best day of my life." A second facility will open in Leamington next week. Vaccinations for high-risk health-care workers are ongoing at the St. Clair College Sportsplex. Possible exposure to COVID-19 variant A COVID-19 variant has possibly been identified at FreshCo in Windsor. In an exposure notice, the health unit said that anyone who attended the store, located at 1550 Huron Church Rd., on Feb. 14 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. should monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the date of exposure. If symptoms appear, the health unit says to call 211. 13,000 cases of COVID-19 Meanwhile, WECHU announced 28 new cases of the disease on Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 13,014. It took more than a month to accumulate the most recent 1,000 cases, as the rate of infection slowed down considerably in February. The region surpassed 12,000 cases on Jan. 29. Earlier in January, it took a little more than two weeks for the total to grow from 10,000 to 12,000. While the pace of new COVID-19 infections has declined, the region's medical officer of health said Friday that case counts aren't low enough to leave the red zone of COVID-19 restrictions. One of the new cases is related to an outbreak, nine are close contacts of confirmed cases, two are community acquired and the sources of the rest are under investigation. Currently, 290 of the region's cases are active. 10 outbreaks remaining There are 10 ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, including two at Windsor Regional Hospital and two at shelters serving the homeless population — the Downtown Mission and Salvation Army. Between the two shelters there is now 124 cases among staff and clients as of Monday, including 87 at the Downtown Mission and 37 at the Salvation Army. Outbreaks are active at four workplaces: one in Leamington's agriculture sector, one in LaSalle's finance and insurance sector and two in Windsor's health-care and social assistance sector. There are two active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities: Franklin Gardens in Leamington, with 38 resident cases and 16 staff cases, and Regency Park in Windsor with 25 resident cases and 15 staff cases.