Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The iconic Kingbridge Centre is evolving, after providing unique services over the last two decades. Founded in 2001 by John Abele, cofounder of Boston Scientific and a global leader in the field of less invasive medicine, the centre’s vision encompassed a passion for technological inventions, concepts and ideas made to benefit communities and society as a whole. Abele’s involvement in these areas influenced him to envision a living learning place that supports innovation where groups of people could come together to collaboratively solve problems. This year, Abele made the decision to retire, entrusting the ownership of the Kingbridge Centre to the Pathak Family Trust and its affiliated entity Ekagrata Inc. The Kingbridge Centre will continue to deliver world-class residential convening, leadership development, corporate training, conferencing and retreat services while being committed to engaging with local community. The Pathak Family Trust is committed to upholding the standard of innovation, discovery, and excellence long represented by the Kingbridge Centre, and to continue the strong partnerships with local community, government and academia. Kingbridge’s new Chairman, Prashant Pathak, has been involved in Abele’s vision and mission alongside the Kingbridge team for over 15 years and is excited to carry on the legacy of collective learning, problem solving, leadership development and innovation. Abele will continue to advise Pathak and the rest of the Kingbridge team as chairman emeritus. General Manager of the Kingbridge Centre, Lisa Gilbert, who shares a similar passion for creating learning and collaborative problem solving infrastructures, will continue to work with clients, oversee business operations and evolve the vision with Pathak and the Kingbridge team. King Mayor Steve Pellegrini and King-Vaughan MPP and Education Minister Stephen Lecce toured the facility last week. “I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Mr. Abele for his service to the King community and his vision for The Kingbridge Centre, providing a living learning space for community to come together,” said Lecce. “I am thrilled that Kingbridge Centre will continue to be a centre of excellence for innovation and entrepreneurship in the heart of our community under the leadership of Mr. Pathak. I am committed to supporting jobs and growth in King as we look to drive Ontario’s economic recovery.” Pathak has begun to expand The Kingbridge vision by engaging with key stakeholder partners to harness the infrastructure of the Kingbridge Centre to drive economic prosperity by accelerating ground breaking innovations that drive community transformation, and scale up environmental initiatives which make a positive impact in the world. Food, agriculture, energy, and water are four of the key focus areas of the Kingbridge Centre aligned with economic priorities of King Township and York Region. Programming will be developed and offered to support these objectives, help foster the leaders and convene people who are interested to explore new ideas and collaboratively solve problems from a higher level of thinking, creativity and skills and shared purpose. “We are excited that Mr. Pathak is committed to growing the strong tradition of innovation at the Kingbridge Centre,” said Mayor Steve Pelligrini. “King Township is a very special place, with a rich inheritance of protecting the environment and growing fresh produce to feed the world. Having a place that fosters citizen-led innovations contributing to enhancing those legacies is a wonderful opportunity for our community to imagine and realize the next chapter of King Township.” The Kingbridge Centre is currently serving as a Temporary Transitional Shelter for York Residents in need, through a partnership with The Regional Municipality of York and Salvation Army. “On behalf of York Regional Council, I commend Kingbridge Centre for their ongoing commitment to collaboration and innovation,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “Kingbridge Centre has been an exceptional community partner in helping keep our residents safe during the pandemic; opening their doors to some of our most vulnerable residents and offering temporary transitional shelter to self-isolate during COVID-19. York Region welcomes future opportunities to partner and support our community together.” Looking beyond the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kingbridge Centre team is looking forward to being a partner in supporting economic recovery efforts, and growing innovative businesses. Pathak’s extensive global network, experience with risk capital investing and building businesses will support those efforts. Plans will be announced later this spring. In the meantime, Kingbridge Centre will continue to be a strong community partner. Mr. Abele, Mr. Pathak and Lisa Gilbert warmly welcome you to the Kingbridge Centre and look forward to many years of learning, collaboration and innovation. Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
NEW YORK — It's been 51 years since Dolly Parton earned her first Grammy nomination, and this year the national treasure who has won nine Grammys throughout her career is competing for her 50th honour. Parton's first Grammy nomination was at the 1970 show for “Just Someone I Used to Know,” a duet with Porter Wagoner. Nine years later she won her first gramophone for “Here You Come Again," her 19th solo album and first to go platinum. This year she's nominated for best contemporary Christian music performance/song for “There Was Jesus," her collaboration with Christian rock singer Zach Williams. Parton won in the same category last year for her guest appearance on the remix of “God Only Knows" by Christian duo for KING & COUNTRY. “It’s always special. You always love to be acknowledged," Parton said of achieving her 50th nod, though she quickly added: “Like I’ve always said, ‘I don’t work for awards and rewards.'" Parton is the second-most nominated woman in Grammy history, only behind Beyoncé, who has 79 nods and 24 wins. The country icon earned the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award a decade ago. Among her wins, Parton picked up two Grammys for the massive hit “9 to 5" and another for “Trio," her first first collaborative album with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. An updated version of “Jolene" won Parton and a cappella group Pentatonix a trophy. At the 1983 show, the legend scored a nomination for a re-recording of “I Will Always Love You," which she wrote and originally released in 1974, and a collaborative performance of the song with Vince Gill earned a nomination at the 1996 show — two years after Whitney Houston's famous rendition of the song won two Grammys, including record of the year. The 2021 Grammys will air on March 14. Parton said this year's nomination for “There Was Jesus” is extra-special because it is a deep track that sits close to her heart. “That particular song ... was more rewarding to me than winning an award," she said. “I felt very blessed to be a part of such a wonderful song." “But of course, since I grew up in the church and I’m a person of faith, a song like that would mean more to me than a lot of the others, I have to admit." In addition to the Grammys, Parton’s busy year includes turning 75 and getting her coronavirus vaccine, months after she donated $1 million to Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center for coronavirus research. Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Offrir un moment de répit à une trentaine de familles en situation de précarité, voilà l’objectif de la rénovation du chalet Bellevue, aux abords du Lac-Kénogami. Le Patro de Jonquière, aidé par Desjardins et le club Kiwanis, annoncera officiellement mercredi (aujourd’hui), la nouvelle vocation de ce chalet qui permettra à ces familles de profiter de séjours en nature, de se changer les idées et de passer du temps de qualité ensemble. Le coût des rénovations est évalué à 225 000 $. Les Caisses Desjardins de Saguenay s’engagent à remettre 185 000 $, issus du Fonds du Grand Mouvement. Ce fonds a pour but d’investir dans les communautés en appuyant des projets qui ont le potentiel de transformer la société. Il a été lancé un peu avant la pandémie. Le club Kiwanis, quant à lui, complétera le financement. En plus de son engagement monétaire, le club compte utiliser les compétences de ses membres pour aider aux travaux. Patro: un chalet pour des familles défavorisées from Les coops de l'information on Vimeo. Le Patro souhaite pouvoir accueillir les familles dès l’été. L’objectif est qu’une trentaine de familles séjournent au chalet, chaque année. Pour Yannick Gagnon, directeur général du Patro de Jonquière, cette annonce est une célébration de la famille. Le secteur Intervention du centre communautaire pourra identifier des familles qui pourront séjourner dans le chalet, qu’elles soient défavorisées, qu’elles aient besoin d’un temps de répit ou encore qu’elles n’aient pas accès à la nature, par exemple. Pour le Patro, les familles étaient une clientèle importante qui n’était pas présentement touchée par leurs services. Le centre communautaire s’est toujours concentré sur les groupes, soit sur les enfants avec les camps de jour ou les groupes avec la location du chalet Kiwanis, non loin du Bellevue. « On aime la vie de groupe, on aime les loisirs, mais ça faisait depuis longtemps qu’on espérait arriver à un projet pour les familles, de les mettre au centre de notre milieu de vie », explique M. Gagnon, lors d’une entrevue avec Le Quotidien. Les familles ne seront pas laissées à elle-même. Les équipes d’animation et d’intervention du Patro sont en réflexion pour la préparation d’activités qui pourra consolider les familles. On pense par exemple à des activités comme de la raquette, de la cuisine collective, des jeux et plus. « Nous voulons que lorsque la famille quitte après sa fin de semaine ou sa semaine, qu’elle ait été capable de baisser la pression, de passer un séjour en nature, de changer d’environnement, de passer un moment de qualité ensemble. Mais ça ne s’arrête pas là. Grâce au partenariat avec Desjardins et le club Kiwanis, le secteur intervention du Patro, de par ses travailleuses de rue, conservera un lien avec les familles », continue-t-il. Des partenaires majeurs Les Caisses Desjardins de Saguenay sont fières de s’associer à un projet qui aura certainement des retombées positives sur le bien-être de la communauté et surtout des familles qui vivent des précarités financières et sociales. « Le projet du Patro de Jonquière revêt un caractère tout spécial puisqu’il allie jeunesse et famille dans une perspective d’un développement social durable pour nos communautés », soulignent Dominic Boily et Luc Guillemette, représentants des présidents et directeurs généraux des caisses Desjardins du Saguenay, par voie de communiqué de presse. Le Club Kiwanis est tout aussi heureux de participer à ce projet, et surtout de mettre à contribution les compétences professionnelles de ses membres. Il est d’ailleurs partenaire du Patro depuis les années 1960, rappelle le président, Pierre Blackburn, lors d’un entretien avec Le Quotidien. Il qualifie le partenariat comme naturel et souligne que les valeurs de ce projet rejoignent encore une fois celui du club. Ses membres amasseront d’ailleurs des fonds dès les prochains jours pour les rénovations du chalet. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Update — March 3, 2021: This article has been updated to include a statement from the Ontario Ministry of Education, reaffirming its commitment to have school boards collect race-based data. A parents group advocating for Black students has launched a tool where school staff across Canada can report and track anti-Black racism. Parents of Black Children (PoBC) created an online tool for educators and school board employees across Canada to anonymously report incidents of anti-Black racism that they have witnessed against students, colleagues, or experienced themselves. “We want you to know what racism looks like when the doors are closed,” said board member Charlene Hines at a virtual press conference Tuesday. “We know it’s happening and we know it’s not being addressed.” As an organization, PoBC is frequently hearing stories of racism, as shared by concerned parents, but that’s only a piece of the story. “This only captures the racism that parents know about,” said co-founder Kearie Daniel. “It doesn’t capture the racist incidents that educators may see in their colleagues’ classrooms and never report. It doesn’t cover the racist comments (said) in the teachers’ lounge or over email. “And it doesn’t cover the reprisals that Black teachers and their allies may face for standing up for Black students,” Daniel continued. Founding member Claudette Rutherford is also a department head at the York Region District School Board, and can relate to the risk of speaking up. “Even me coming here I understand the risk that it puts me at but I feel like I don’t have a choice anymore,” said Rutherford, who has been teaching for 19 years. PoBC has long demanded the collection of disaggregated, race-based data, which has not been fulfilled by most school boards. “If we do not measure the problem, we will not be able to systemically fix it,” said Caitlin Clark, a spokesperson for the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. She said the minister has reaffirmed the mandate that all school boards must collect race-based data. “The Government will ensure school boards collect and publicize this data to create accountability, transparency and action to fix long-standing systemic barriers that hold back Black and other racialized children in Ontario,” Clark continued. Earlier this month, the Toronto District School Board released its first human rights report, which covered 2018-2020 and revealed a prevalence of anti-Black racism, which was reported by teachers. The TDSB created a new requirement that principals must report hate incidents in its own online portal. But TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz previously told the Star that she believes it is the only board currently collecting such information. As stories are submitted, PoBC plans to release the anonymized stories publicly, to school board leadership and ministries of education. The organizers note that being independent from school boards is an asset. In August 2020, PoBC held a protest for change in Ontario schools, and made 10 demands, including data collection, hiring more Black teachers, an end to streaming in all grades and decolonizing curriculum. As an organization, PoBC has already started filling some of their requests itself. Co-founder Charline Grant is a system navigator, which helps guide and support parents dealing with racism and disputes within schools. Members say they have not heard from the Ministry of Education. The government has moved forward with is ending streaming in Grade 9 and other “racist, discriminatory” practices, announced in July 2020. On Monday, Ontario announced it would be investing $6 million over the next three years to support Black students through a student and family advocates initiative in Ottawa, Hamilton and the GTA. In speaking about the data collection tool, Grant emphasized that it isn’t just data being collected, they are real “traumatic” experiences. “We already know anti-Black racism exists and is rampant in our schools,” she said. “This is just to give everybody a window into what we’re experiencing.” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
WASHINGTON — Maine Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday she will support New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be Interior secretary, the first Republican senator to publicly back a nominee set to become the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The announcement makes Haaland's confirmation by the Senate nearly certain and follows Haaland's endorsement last week by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, had been publicly undecided through two days of hearings on Haaland’s nomination by President Joe Biden. Manchin caused a political uproar last month by announcing plans to oppose Biden’s choice for budget director, Neera Tanden, a decision that played a key role in Tanden's withdrawal on Tuesday. Collins, a moderate who frequently sides with Manchin, said she differs with Haaland on a number of issues but appreciated her role in helping to lead House passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. The landmark law, co-sponsored by Collins in the Senate, authorizes nearly $3 billion on conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands. Collins said she also appreciated Haaland’s support on issues important to Maine, such as Acadia National Park, “as well as her deep knowledge of tribal issues, which has earned her the support of tribes across the country, including those in Maine.'' Interior oversees the nation's public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. The Senate energy panel is set to vote on Haaland's nomination Thursday. Several Republicans, including Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top GOP senator on energy, oppose Haaland, saying her opposition to fracking, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other issues made her unfit to serve in a role in which she will oversee energy development on vast swaths of federal lands, mostly in the West, as well as offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Barrasso said a moratorium imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands “is taking a sledgehammer to Western states’ economies.? The moratorium, which Haaland supports, could cost thousands of jobs in West, Barrasso said. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is a thrill like few others on earth. The ocean is full of life here with a diversity that is unlike any other place of earth. The underwater volcanic structures and unique combination of ocean currents support a rich abundance of life. Sharks thrive here and scuba divers are thrilled to see them during their underwater adventures. But these scuba divers were not so thrilled when they finished exploring and underwater cave and they headed back to the open ocean. They found a group of sharks had entered the cave and were resting just inside the opening. White tip sharks are not likely to attack humans, unless provoked, but the divers were not able to pass through the narrow chamber without coming into direct contact with the 9-10 foot beasts. This would definitely be inviting trouble and the divers would be unable to easily turn and retreat back inside the caverns. The moment provided an excellent opportunity to gets some spectacular footage of the unusual scenario with the sharks backlit in an eerie fashion. The scuba divers had planned their dive well and they had plenty of reserve air at this point in the dive. They calmly waited and watched the sharks and eventually all of them swam out into the open water, leaving the exit clear. But for a few minutes, the large sharks in the exit were an intimidating sight indeed! People who venture beneath the waves are wise to remember that they are the visitors, or even intruders in this mysterious domain. Incorrect behaviour here can have immediate and disastrous consequences. The ability to stay calm during unexpected challenges is crucial to survival in a world where your air supply is limited.
Some students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) have created a smartphone app to improve access to Naloxone, the drug that is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The idea is to add a level of privacy for those who wish to get a Naloxone kit either for themselves or for individuals they know, who might be at risk for an opioid overdose. The new app has been developed by Jordan Law, MacKenzie Ludgate and Owen Montpellier; all fourth-year students who developed the application as a free and confidential service that can have a Naloxone kit delivered to your front door. NOSM said with the opioid death rate continuing to rise in Northern Ontario, medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) saw a way to improve access to Naloxone. Ludgate, a medical student and pharmacist, said the pandemic has made the crisis worse. “Opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are higher during this pandemic and significantly higher than the numbers being reported elsewhere in Ontario,” he said. Montpellier, who also worked on the app, said the privacy aspect is one that might allow for more people to consider obtaining one of the life-saving kits, where in other circumstances they might not have one. “This app offers privacy and access to people who want to have a Naloxone kit on-hand, but who are uncomfortable facing the stigma or fear associated with asking for one in person at a pharmacy or clinic,” he said. Law, who is also a pharmacist and fourth-year student, said the new app could be a welcome thing for Northerners living in isolated areas. “The Naloxone North app also provides improved access for those living in remote, isolated or rural communities in Northern Ontario,” said Law. “As long as you have an Ontario Health card, you can order the kit through the app and request that it be shipped to your preferred location.” The NOSM news release said the students followed the guidelines of the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Naloxone Program to meet the applicable policy requirements for safe Naloxone administration, education and distribution. "Advocacy-focused projects — like Naloxone North — were incorporated into NOSM’s fourth-year MD curriculum as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early stages of the pandemic, NOSM faculty worked quickly to introduce a new curriculum that focused on building advocacy leadership skills at a time when students were not able to work on the frontlines," said the school. Dr. Marion Maar, Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and faculty advisor on the project, commented that aside from the obvious life-saving benefit, the initiative should also provide valuable research. “The app provides a simultaneous opportunity to conduct research that will determine whether it is an effective way to support opioid recovery in Northern Ontario. I’m proud of the innovative ideas that NOSM students have implemented to address some of the longstanding issues in our region. During a difficult time of change, they embraced a new curriculum and are indeed making an impact." said Marr. Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported in other parts of Ontario, said the school. A NOSM research team received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study recovery in the opioid crisis in Northern Ontario. They will leverage their work to support ongoing development of the Naloxone North app and study its uptake in rural, Francophone and Indigenous communities. The research is being conducted in collaboration with First Nations and led by Drs. Marion Maar, Darrel Manitowabi, Lorrilee McGregor, and Diana Urajnik, in partnership with the medical students. The medical students would like to thank Dr. Nicholas Fortino, emergency physician at Health Sciences North, for his guidance with the app, which is currently available for free for both Android and iPhone. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Ontario reported another 958 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as the number of deaths linked to the illness in the province topped 7,000 and public health units administered a record number of vaccines. The new cases — the fewest logged on a single day in two weeks — include 249 in Toronto, 164 in Peel Region and 92 in York Region. Other health units that saw double-digit increases were: Ottawa: 57 Hamilton: 47 Waterloo Region: 46 Durham Region: 41 Thunder Bay: 30 Middlesex-London: 28 Niagara Region: 23 Sudbury: 22 Windsor-Essex: 21 Halton Region: 20 Peterborough: 18 Simcoe Muskoka: 18 Brant County: 17 Eastern Ontario: 13 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 12 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.) They come as Ontario's lab network completed 52,613 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and reported a test positivity rate of 2.4 per cent. Labs also recorded 10 more cases linked to the virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, bringing the total confirmed by genomic sequencing thus far to 552. According to the province, a total of 1,078 test samples were screened for the tell-tale spike gene that suggests the presence of a variant of concern. The spike was detected in 325, or about 30 per cent, of those samples. The seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 1,084. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education reported another 160 school-related infections: 138 students, 21 staff members and one person who was not identified. Twenty-four schools are currently closed to the illness. That's about 0.5 per cent of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools. A total of 668 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals, according to the Ministry of Health. Of those, 274 were being treated in intensive care and 188 needed a ventilator. The 17 additional deaths in today's update push the province's official toll to 7,014. Meanwhile, health units administered 27,398 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday, topping the previous high by more than 3,000 shots. Some 266,710 people in Ontario have now received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Halton Region announced this morning that its health unit will begin booking vaccine appointments for residents aged 80 and older. It is the latest to join a growing list of cities and municipalities offering appointments and shots before the province's centralized system launches on March 15. Health Minister Christine Elliott said yesterday that the province will soon release an updated rollout plan and timeline for the ongoing immunization campaign, in light of Health Canada's approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine late last week. The province is also awaiting guidance from federal health authorities and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on whether the time between doses can be extended up to four months. British Columbia has already opted for a 16-week interval, while Quebec has allowed for up to 90 days between shots. Both jurisdictions say a longer interval will allow more residents to get a first dose of vaccine earlier. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, suggested yesterday that more clarity is expected from NACI soon.
Cheers quickly shifted to confusion upon the approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine for Canadians, with federal officials touting a bolstered arsenal against the pandemic while acknowledging limitations.But what appears to be contradictory advice is more aligned than it appears, federal officials insisted Tuesday, stressing common ground while trying to combat public confusion over how the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be deployed.On the one hand, Health Canada says Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been deemed safe for seniors and points to emerging real-world data that shows it can protect older citizens against symptomatic infection.At the same time, guidelines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization highlight the product's lower efficacy rate and suggest it be reserved for people younger than 65 because of limited trial data.Still, both federal bodies stress the fact Canada now has three vaccines that can drive down hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19. They also stress the benefits of receiving an AstraZeneca jab early, even if current data shows it has a lower efficacy than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, which will take longer to reach some groups.Here’s a closer look at some of the questions raised by Canada's newest COVID-19 vaccine:WHY THE MIXED MESSAGES?While it may seem that Health Canada and NACI are at odds, each body serves different purposes and is answering different questions, explains Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada.Health Canada’s role is to look at a particular vaccine and determine if it's safe and effective.NACI considers how all approved vaccines can be used in the most efficient and effective way. It's not unusual for this committee – made up of experts in the fields of infectious diseases, immunology, pharmacy, nursing, and social science – to suggest limitations in use, says Sharma.Still, infectious disease expert Dr. Andrew Morris says the message has been muddled by some media coverage and suggests that could have been avoided if NACI stressed the constantly evolving nature of their work. "I'm pretty certain that the folks at NACI believe that AstraZeneca will turn out to be as useful in older adults as in younger adults but they obviously don't have data to support that," says Morris, medical director of the antimicrobial stewardship program at the University Health Network and Sinai Health in Toronto."They will definitely review and be willing to change their advice based on new data."IS THE OXFORD-ASTRAZENECA VACCINE SAFE FOR SENIORS?Both Health Canada and NACI stress there were no safety concerns in the clinical studies, nor among the millions of seniors who have received jabs in countries that are giving it to older citizens.However, Canada does have two other highly efficacious alternatives to AstraZeneca, notes Sharma."That’s why NACI says if you have two vaccines with more clinical data and real-world evidence of effectiveness in seniors, then those are the ones we should prioritize for the most vulnerable," says Sharma."Maybe limit Oxford-AstraZeneca to other people for now."DOES LOWER EFFICACY MEAN SOME VACCINES ARE NOT AS GOOD AS OTHERS?While it may be tempting to rank vaccines by efficacy, Sharma says head-to-head comparisons are impossible because each is the result of varying clinical trials. The many differences include when each type of vaccine was tested, who they were tested on and how the results were measured.Even the same vaccine can have multiple trials with different methods and varying results. For instance, Sharma notes some data for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine showed efficacy rises to 85 per cent if the gap between doses is 12 weeks. If it's just four weeks, efficacy was 62 per cent.“It's just a caution to not get caught up in absolute numbers that you can't compare to each other,” said Sharma.Morris agrees, urging the public to focus on more significant findings."This is a real communication challenge because for the things that really matter – which is are you going to get really sick from this disease or is it going to kill you? – all the vaccines seem to be equivalent to me," says Morris.WHY DOES NACI SUGGEST SENIORS SHOULD BE GIVEN SOME VACCINES OVER OTHERS?Despite Health Canada's caution against ranking vaccines, NACI notes the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has "insufficient data" in older adults "to conclude the vaccine is efficacious in this age group." Morris says NACI has applied "a pure interpretation of the science," an approach that can vary among experts."The cautious scientist is going to say, 'Let's not get burned, let's wait,' because they probably see very little downside of waiting," says Morris. "Others would say: 'You know what? We need to just move ahead and and give it to everyone because speed is of the essence.'"Sharma says Health Canada agrees with NACI's advice that seniors receive Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots if possible, "because that's where we have the most information."“We’re aligned," she insists.Nevertheless, seniors shouldn't wait for a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech shot if they can have an AstraZeneca dose sooner, she says.Sharma says there is already evidence the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective from the real-world experience of millions of people who have received doses over the last two months.WILL I HAVE A CHOICE?Morris notes it's unlikely most people will be able to choose which vaccine they receive since much depends on supply, distribution and logistics in deployment.However, he expects vaccines will be needed for quite a while."Almost certainly your first two shots aren't going to be your last two shots. I think that's very likely," he says."Governments can start thinking about, potentially, giving people a different kind of booster over time so that if people get one vaccine, then the next time they get a vaccine, it may be different. There's all different ways to look at this."WHEN WILL WE KNOW MORE ABOUT OXFORD-ASTRAZENECA?Morris says randomized trials underway in the United States should produce findings in the next 10 days or so, and that should settle the questions about seniors."And when those results come out, this will be put to rest finally one way or the other," he says, believing "we're spending way too much time on the nuances of this."In the meantime, he marvels at how quickly we have an array of vaccines available."The rapidity that we got to a vaccine, and that we have multiple vaccines that are amazingly protective, all these things are just absolutely amazing."– With files from Mia Rabson in OttawaThis report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
One woman is dead and two others are injured after a head-on crash in North Vancouver, B.C., late Tuesday. Two cars crashed on Low Level Road around 11 p.m. PT, according to RCMP. A statement said an Audi driving west crossed the centre line and collided with an eastbound car driven by the woman and carrying a male passenger. The two people in the eastbound car and the Audi driver were taken to hospital, where the woman was pronounced dead. The passenger remains in critical condition. The male driver of the newer model Audi had serious but non life-threatening injuries. RCMP said he refused to give a breath sample. RCMP believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. "We are currently in the midst of an investigation of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and refusal to provide samples of breath for purposes of an impaired investigation," said Sgt. Peter DeVries. "It is a very sad day for this person's family and friends and our thoughts and prayers go out to them," DeVries said of the woman who was killed. Lower Level Road remains closed between East 3rd Street and St. Andrews Avenue.
MILAN — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Peugeot on Wednesday reported their last financial statements as independent companies, each contributing full-year profits of around 2 billion euros to the new company, Stellantis, formed in January. Fiat Chrysler reported adjusted net profits in the pandemic year of 1.9 billion euros ($2.3 billion), down 57% from 2019. PSA reported earnings of 2.2 billion euros, a drop of 32%. The Italian-American carmaker and the French mass-market automotive company completed their merger on Jan. 16, creating Stellantis, the world’s fourth- largest carmaker. Fiat Chrysler reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 2.3 billion euros, a record 2.2 billion euros of those generated in North America. Maserati made a positive contribution for the first time in nearly three years. The French mass carmaker said second-half operating margins hit 9.4% at record levels. “These figures demonstrate the financial soundness of Stellantis, bringing together two healthy companies,’’ Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said in a statement. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol Police say they have intelligence showing there is a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. The revelation was detailed in a statement from the Capitol Police. It comes at the same time the acting police chief is testifying before a House subcommittee. The statement differs from an advisory that was sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms this week, saying that Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.” The threat comes nearly two months after thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win. So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died. The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4, which was the original presidential inauguration day, until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. Many of the accounts that helped promote and organize the Jan. 6 riots on platforms like Facebook and Twitter have since been suspended, making it more difficult for the groups to organize. ___ Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant, Colleen Long and Alan Fram contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Montreal-based non-profit Regeneration Canada is spreading the word about the importance of soil health and “regenerative farming” practices in an evolving world reckoning with climate change. Canadians may think of themselves as removed from the effects of a changing planet, says Regeneration Canada’s co-director, Antonious Petro, but the signs are already here, especially when it comes to increasing incidences of drought conditions. Cover crops, crop biodiversity, not disturbing soil, water management, agroforestry and regenerative grazing all are aspects of regenerative farming, but everything begins with increasing and supporting soil fertility. Focusing on soil and its function empowers farmers to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, says Petro, by keeping carbon in the ground and increasing water retention in land. “We need to have more plants and vegetation and trees and fertile soil to balance carbon cycle and distribution among carbon pools where it’s stored,” he said. Ann-Marie Saunders, a Niagara grape grower, practises regenerative farming, and participated in Regeneration Canada’s online Living Soils Symposium, discussing a recently released online map connecting consumers to regenerative farmers. The family-run Saunders Family Farm and Vineyard began moving toward organic farming practices after Ivy Saunders, Ann-Marie’s late mother, developed Parkinson’s disease, which later claimed her life in 2015. Ivy had handled much of the pesticide-covered fruit grown on the farm since the 1960s. In moving toward a more natural way of farming, the family learned more about nature, plants and soil and how everything interconnects. Dirt, Saunders says, is not just an anchor for plants. “There’s life in the soil.” At the 11-acre Beamsville vineyard, the ground between rows of Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Cabernet Franc, and Riesling grapes, is covered with living plants (as opposed to leaving soil bare and exposed) using perennial cover crops native to the area. The vegetation reduces erosion and keeps soil cooler and damper during drought conditions. Much of regenerative farming is about getting out of the way of nature and letting it thrive. Saunders admits there’s a learning curve, and said farmers, whose wallets are hit first when it comes to implementing changes, may be reluctant to adjust, but she says the benefits are seen in the long term. “As a farmer, if your system is working or doing much better along a cycle and really more self-supporting, its less stress for you,” she said, pointing out there’s less time spent worrying about inputs and labour. “You’re not having to take on extra things that the soil may already be working at doing.” Since launching two weeks ago, Regeneration Canada has received a “tremendous amount” of interest in their map, Petro said, which will also serve to connect farmers with other farmers interested in regenerative farming practices in their area. There are presently two Niagara farms on the map: Saunders Family Farm and Vineyard and Southbrook Vineyards. For more information and to access resources on regenerative farming, visit: regenerationcanada.org. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Trois-Rivières – L'artiste Jean Beaulieu ne mâche pas ses mots envers le traitement accordé à sa mère et à d'autres occupants de la résidence pour aînés Saint-Pie X à Trois-Rivières qui ont été évincés des lieux après qu'une plainte ait été déposée contre l'établissement. Il soutient que le CIUSSS a été «sauvage» dans sa façon de procéder et sans considération pour les personnes âgées qui y demeuraient. «Le CIUSSS m'a appelé pour me dire que j'avais 48 heures pour sortir ma mère de là parce qu'il était question de maltraitance physique et mentale», explique M. Beaulieu, qui assure pourtant n'avoir jamais été témoin de tels gestes. Il précise que sa mère était très heureuse de se trouver à cette résidence. «Ça faisait seulement six mois qu'elle était là. Ma mère a 90 ans. Elle avait dit au CIUSSS de me parler pour être sûr. Et là, je découvre que malgré ça, ils ont parlé à ma mère sans que je sois là», exprime-t-il. Selon lui, il est insensé et irrespectueux d'exiger des proches de trouver un nouveau logis à leur parent en 48 heures. «Il a fallu que je trouve une autre place pour elle. En 48 heures, ce n'est pas facile et le nouvel endroit coûte 900$ de plus par mois. Il n'était pas meublé, en plus», affirme-t-il, en colère. L'aide suggérée par le CIUSSS jusqu'à maintenant ne remplit pas ses critères. «Ils m'ont dit qu'ils pouvaient m'aider pour trois mois et qu'après, je devrais m'arranger. Ça n'améliore rien.» «Ce que je veux, c'est que le CIUSSS assume la différence, tout simplement, parce qu'ils n'ont rien expliqué», précise M. Beaulieu. «Ils veulent sûrement que ma mère aille en CHSLD. Ma mère n'ira pas dans un nid de COVID», assure-t-il. Ce dernier a d'ailleurs dénoncé la difficulté à discuter avec la direction du CIUSSS pour traiter du sujet. «Je me suis tanné. Personne n'était rejoignable ou disponible. Je suis allé m'asseoir dans les bureaux avec mon lunch et j'ai dit que je ne partirais pas tant que je n'aurais pas parlé au PDG. Il n'y a jamais personne qui est responsable! C'est sauvage. Un moment donné, ça suffit.» D'ailleurs, l'organisation assure être sensible à la cause de M. Beaulieu. «On veut travailler avec M. Beaulieu et notre PDG Carol Fillion est bien sûr ouvert à le rencontrer. On souhaite trouver un lieu qui conviendra aux besoins de la mère de M. Beaulieu», raconte Geneviève Jauron, chef de service aux communications externes au CIUSSS. Jean Beaulieu a été exaucé, alors qu'une rencontre est prévue mercredi à 11h avec des dirigeants du CIUSSS. Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
The City of Ottawa will keep using the privately-owned Tabor Apartments in Vanier as emergency shelter space, but will put out a call to see if other landlords or hotels might offer units to help with a big spike in families needing housing. Since 2015, the city has paid Ottawa Inn owner Ahmed Syed to use his building. It pays $89 a night per unit for 15 families at Tabor, a sliver of the 370 homeless families now staying in motels and dorms, often for months or years, under 22 other such agreements. Some councillors had called on colleagues to end the deal at Tabor later this year and find the families permanent housing amid concerns about pests and a lack of a proper procurement. During a marathon 11-hour joint meeting Tuesday, the finance and community services committees voted 14 to 5 against ending the arrangement. With shelter space especially tight during the pandemic, they agreed instead to Coun. Laura Dudas's move to put out a new request for offers to see if others might also offer temporary accommodation for families. Families choose Tabor over motel City staff explained if the families of seven, eight, or nine people were to leave Tabor, they could only be relocated to multiple motel rooms with no kitchen. Laws would prevent these families from jumping the long queue for permanent, subsidized homes. One woman who visits the families every day said they told her to tell councillors they would prefer to stay at Tabor rather than wait in a motel for a large enough unit. "These families are given an option between bad and bad," said Gwen Madiba, who befriended many of them when delivering food hampers. Almost all the families at Tabor apartments are Black and many are single moms. They didn't feel comfortable addressing councillors themselves for fear of losing housing because of power imbalances or that their religions expect them to accept what's given, explained Madiba. Gwen Madiba is president of Equal Chance, a group that empowers Black women and also provides food hampers to the families at Tabor apartments.(Kate Porter/CBC) One statement by an 11-year-old girl described her struggle to focus on school in a small apartment with her brothers and mother, hearing rodents in walls, and crying with her mom when they feel forgotten. "We don't want to move unless you can give us a place where we can stay forever," wrote the girl. Inspections satisfy staff Some families at Tabor told CBC News last week about issues with bed bugs, cockroaches and rats. Owner Syed insisted he deals with issues quickly when he receives complaints and is only trying to help. Public health, bylaw and city housing staff had made several inspections and all issues were dealt with, agreed general manager Donna Gray. "We are a social services department. We do not want anyone living in horrible conditions and our staff go above and beyond to make the lives of these families as best as they can," she said. The pandemic also made it hard to have contractors go into apartments, Gray added. "This is not a trial of Mr. Syed," agreed Madiba. "It's the system that … constantly seems to be working against these people. Let us all sit down and try to find a solution." City plans new housing Earlier in the meeting, the joint committee approved a 10-year roadmap for how to build and pay for 500 new affordable housing units annually in partnership with Ottawa Community Housing and other non-profits. They also intend to fund two new facilities, one for families and one for women, with 40 to 50 beds that could reduce the need for motels. More immediately, the Dudas motion calls for the city to run another "housing blitz" as it did late in 2020 to see if landlords have permanent units. The city will also request temporary accommodations. "People might be willing," said John Dickie of the Eastern Ontario Landlords Organization. "Anywhere that students rented there are vacant units, so it's possible people might step up. This is new territory for all of us."
ANKENY, Iowa — The discovery of a live pipe bomb at a central Iowa polling place as voters were casting ballots in a special election forced an evacuation of the building, police said. Officers called to the Lakeside Center in Ankeny around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday found a device that looked like a pipe bomb in grass near the centre. Police later confirmed in a news release that the device was a pipe bomb. The banquet hall was being used as a polling place for an Ankeny school district special election. Police evacuated the building, and the State Fire Marshal and agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called in. Technicians safely detonated the device, and the centre was reopened around 12:30 p.m. — about three hours after the device was discovered, police said. No one was injured. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald described the device as a metal piece with two end caps, and said in a Twitter post that a couple walking their dog Tuesday morning had discovered the device. “I want to also add that there is no way of knowing how long this device had been at the Lakeside Center,” Fitzgerald said in a tweet, saying officials don't know whether the pipe bomb was related to the election. Fitzgerald and police said other polling places in Ankeny were checked an no other bombs or suspicious devices were found. An investigation into who left the device is continuing, police said. The Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio — At the beginning of 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was working on plans to battle algae blooms in Lake Erie, crack down on distracted driving, and figure out a way to save an Ohio minor league baseball team. The largely popular first-term Republican governor accepted an invitation to give the commencement address at Miami University in May. The 2022 election was a long way off, but some Democrats were already exploring challenges to DeWine. Then came the first week of March, and with it a decision by DeWine that set the stage for a year of politics that today seems like something viewed from the other side of Alice in Wonderland's looking glass. On March 3, without a single reported COVID-19 case in the state, DeWine laid down strict attendance limits on the annual Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, a supersized gathering founded three decades ago by Arnold Schwarzenegger that typically brings 20,000 athletes from 80 countries to compete in events including professional bodybuilding and a strongman competition. Annual economic impact on the city: more than $50 million. “That was really, at least for me, the beginning of the pandemic,” DeWine said earlier this week, adding: “It’s hard to believe that it’s been an entire year.” Nine days later, with the virus spreading rapidly elsewhere but with just five confirmed virus cases in Ohio, DeWine ordered schools closed for three weeks, becoming the first governor nationally to make such a move. The closing of gyms and theatres followed shortly, and then statewide stay-at-home orders. What came next was a year of surprising political turmoil for a career politician who many initially believed had met his moment. DeWine, who's held multiple state and federal offices, now faces reelection in 2022 amid fierce criticism from the very Republicans whose party he spent decades helping to build. DeWine's actions against the virus won him early praise, not just from public health professionals but also from business groups and even restaurant owners hammered by the shutdown who acknowledged his actions could save lives. Soon DeWine, Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and GOP Lt. Gov. Jon Husted were a daily fixture for many Ohioans, the 2 p.m. routine dubbed “Wine with DeWine” by cooped up Ohioans teasingly prone to day-drinking by the pandemic. Acton became a folk hero in her own right, inspiring young girls to dress up like doctors and to conduct their own living room briefings. The good mood didn't last long for some. Democrats sued after Acton, acting on DeWine's orders, postponed Ohio's March 17 primary just hours before voting was set to begin, thrusting the state's presidential election into chaos. In April, DeWine walked back a statewide mask mandate after a single day following intense opposition from Republican constituencies, including many businesses. While keeping masks mandatory for business employees, he finally issued a statewide mandate in July that remains in effect. On April 13, dozens of lockdown protesters shouted outside the Statehouse Atrium and briefly pounded on its windows as reporters covered the governor’s daily briefing, which had been moved to increasingly larger spaces to accommodate social distancing rules. As virus deaths rose and national divisions grew, Republican lawmakers pushed back with multiple bills against the GOP governor's public health orders, leaving Democratic legislators to defend Acton and DeWine. One legislator started a movement to have DeWine impeached. The bespectacled, graying 74-year-old persisted, concentrating during his briefings on conveying the status of the pandemic and buoying the state's spirits. He praised ball teams, music groups and schoolchildren, celebrated frontline workers and small business owners and brought on First Lady Fran DeWine to share recipes, activities for parents to do with their stir-crazy children and tips for making a festive mask. He and the first lady also livestreamed themselves receiving the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. In June, it appeared his strategy was working. DeWine's approval rating spiked 31 percentage points from the previous year, to 75%, in a Quinnipiac University poll released that month. Approval for his coronavirus response was even higher, at 77%. What's more, the numbers carried across party lines and marked an all-time high for any Ohio governor in all the school's polls of registered voters going back to 2007. Around that same time, though, Acton had had enough, quitting abruptly amid a torrent of conservative criticism of her that included armed protesters outside her suburban Columbus house. The 55-year-old is now exploring running as a Democrat next year for an open U.S. Senate seat. With his amiable virus expert gone and criticism growing, DeWine augmented his bi-weekly briefings with two primetime speeches to Ohioans, on July 15 and Nov. 10, pleading for people to wear masks and socially distance themselves to slow the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, a faction of far-right conservatives grew angrier and louder as the months passed. They refused to wear masks as DeWine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised. They rebelled against stay-at-home orders, business closures, curfews and other safety measures. Some GOP governors were opening their states in response, leaving DeWine in an increasingly shrinking club of Republicans willing to embrace some continued restrictions. Less than a week after his November speech, DeWine found himself in the upside down political position of being praised by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on the same day he was trolled on Twitter by former GOP President Donald Trump, who suggested that DeWine needed a primary challenger. DeWine plans to seek reelection next year and, while no primary opponent has publicly announced, some critics of his virus response within the party want the road kept open for him to face a GOP primary challenge. In the meantime, that minor league baseball team survived for now and DeWine continues to push clean water issues and a crackdown on distracted driving. DeWine vetoed a legislative clampdown on his public health orders in early January, but today faces a similar bill headed for his desk. As he has throughout the past 12 months, DeWine said last month that lawmakers must focus on the bigger picture. "What we have to make sure we have to get right is how a future governor — not a Mike DeWine — a future governor can react to an emergency,” he said. Andrew Welsh-Huggins And Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press
La séance du conseil de la municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) de Minganie du 16 février a souligné l’accent et les efforts mis sur le développement du territoire. Les différents volets du Fonds régions et ruralité du ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) ont été l’objet de trois résolutions distinctes. D’une part, le volet 2 – Soutien à la compétence de développement local et régional des MRC exige que ces dernières disposent d’une politique de soutien aux entreprises. La MRC de Minganie a donc mis à jour sa politique adoptée en juin 2020 afin qu’elle soit plus flexible et accessible aux entrepreneurs. D’autre part, le conseil a accordé un mandat d’accompagnement de 43 605 $ à la firme conseil Espace Stratégies pour déterminer le projet ou l’ensemble de projets qui ciblera la « signature innovation » de la MRC. « La firme va travailler avec nous et différents acteurs de la planification stratégique pour trouver le fil conducteur de notre développement territorial », détaille le préfet de Minganie, Luc Noël. La somme octroyée à Espace Stratégies provient de l’enveloppe de 192 538 $ du volet 3 du FRR. Finalement, dans le cadre du volet 4 – Soutien à la vitalisation et à la coopération intermunicipale, la MRC a autorisé la signature d’une entente de vitalisation entre les municipalités de Rivière-au-Tonnerre, Aguanish, Rivière-Saint-Jean et la communauté de Nutashkuan. L’entente, d’un montant de 1 125 685 $ pour cinq ans, n’est que « l’étape embryonnaire » du processus, juge M. Noël. « Là, on doit s’asseoir avec le MAMH et les territoires concernés pour faire un plan de match. » Grâce à la récente création d’Action entreprise Québec par le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI), la Minganie renforcera ses services d’accompagnement aux entrepreneurs et entreprises de la région. La MRC pourra embaucher au moins deux ressources supplémentaires à temps plein « jusqu’à concurrence de 900 000 $ » jusqu’en 2025. « Ce qu’on espère, c’est qu’on ait été assez performants pour que les ressources se rentabilisent elles-mêmes ou que le ministère continue de les payer », souhaite Luc Noël en soulignant la difficulté de compétitionner avec les grands centres pour attirer ce type d’employés. « Les gens qui ont le profil pour travailler dans nos départements de développement vont être en demande partout et on croit que notre région va passer bon deuxième », déplore-t-il. L’ensemble des modalités liées à l’octroi de la subvention n’est pas encore connu du conseil. Du côté du développement territorial, la MRC déposera sous peu au ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAC) le rapport d’étape de mi-parcours concernant l’élaboration de son Plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). « La réponse est très positive de la part des acteurs du milieu, on constate qu’il y a un engouement », a déclare Luc Noël. Un second mandat d’accompagnement a été adopté lors de la séance du conseil, cette fois à l’organisation à but non lucratif Communagir pour que celle-ci soutienne la MRC dans le cadre de l’élaboration et de la mise en œuvre de sa stratégie en développement social. Le mandat représente une banque d’heures ouverte jusqu’au 30 juillet 2021. Selon les besoins, l’accompagnement devra prendre entre 25 et 50 heures, ce qui signifie que la facture s’élèvera au plus à 5600 $. En matière de sécurité publique, le conseil a désigné quelles interventions il considère comme prioritaires pour la Sûreté du Québec : le contrôle de la consommation et le trafic de drogues illicites, particulièrement chez les jeunes, et l’application des règlements municipaux uniformisés. « Aussi, on demande aux agents de faire plus de surveillance en lien avec les véhicules tout terrain (VTT) et de maintenir une présence policière sur l’ensemble du territoire de la MRC », ajoute le préfet de Minganie. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur