The federal government says it has signed an agreement with the United States to send a Canadian astronaut around the moon. The 2023 mission is part of the Lunar Gateway project to build a space station in lunar orbit.
The federal government says it has signed an agreement with the United States to send a Canadian astronaut around the moon. The 2023 mission is part of the Lunar Gateway project to build a space station in lunar orbit.
WASHINGTON — It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause. Members of the ex-presidents club pose together for pictures. They smile and pat each other on the back while milling around historic events, or sit somberly side by side at VIP funerals. They take on special projects together. They rarely criticize one another and tend to offer even fewer harsh words about their White House successors. Like so many other presidential traditions, however, this is one Trump seems likely to flout. Now that he's left office, it's hard to see him embracing the stately, exclusive club of living former presidents. “He kind of laughed at the very notion that he would be accepted in the presidents club,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who interviewed Trump in 2019 for her book “Team of Five: The Presidents’ Club in the Age of Trump." “He was like, ‘I don’t think I’ll be accepted.'” It's equally clear that the club's other members don't much want him — at least for now. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a three-minute video from Arlington National Cemetery after President Joe Biden's inauguration this week, praising peaceful presidential succession as a core of American democracy. The segment included no mention of Trump by name, but stood as a stark rebuke of his behaviour since losing November's election. “I think the fact that the three of us are standing here, talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said. Obama called inaugurations “a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us." Trump spent months making baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him through fraud and eventually helped incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor's inauguration in 152 years. Obama, Bush and Clinton recorded their video after accompanying Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider following the inauguration. They also taped a video urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Only 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has limited his public events because of the pandemic, and Trump, who had already flown to post-presidential life in Florida, weren't there. Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Trump isn't a good fit for the ex-presidents club "because he’s temperamentally different.” “People within the club historically have been respected by ensuing presidents. Even Richard Nixon was respected by Bill Clinton and by Ronald Reagan and so on, for his foreign policy," Engel said. "I’m not sure I see a whole lot of people calling up Trump for his strategic advice.” Former presidents are occasionally called upon for big tasks. George H.W. Bush and Clinton teamed up in 2005 to launch a campaign urging Americans to help the victims of the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast, Bush, father of the then-current president George W. Bush, called on Clinton to boost Katrina fundraising relief efforts. When the elder Bush died in 2018, Clinton wrote, “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life," high praise considering this was the man he ousted from the White House after a bruising 1992 campaign — making Bush the only one-term president of the last three decades except for Trump. Obama tapped Clinton and the younger President Bush to boost fundraising efforts for Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake. George W. Bush also became good friends with former first lady Michelle Obama, and cameras caught him slipping a cough drop to her as they sat together at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s funeral. Usually presidents extend the same respect to their predecessors while still in office, regardless of party. In 1971, three years before he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon went to Texas to participate in the dedication of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library. When Nixon’s library was completed in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush attended with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Trump's break with tradition began even before his presidency did. After his election win in November 2016, Obama hosted Trump at the White House promising to “do everything we can to help you succeed.” Trump responded, “I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future” — but that never happened. Instead, Trump falsely accused Obama of having wiretapped him and spent four years savaging his predecessor's record. Current and former presidents sometimes loathed each other, and criticizing their successors isn’t unheard of. Carter criticized the policies of the Republican administrations that followed his, Obama chided Trump while campaigning for Biden and also criticized George W. Bush’s policies — though Obama was usually careful not to name his predecessor. Theodore Roosevelt tried to unseat his successor, fellow Republican William Howard Taft, by founding his own “Bull Moose” party and running for president again against him. Still, presidential reverence for former presidents dates back even further. The nation’s second president, John Adams, was concerned enough about tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor that he retained George Washington’s Cabinet appointments. Trump may have time to build his relationship with his predecessors. He told Brower that he “could see himself becoming friendly with Bill Clinton again," noting that the pair used to golf together. But the odds of becoming the traditional president in retirement that he never was while in office remain long. “I think Trump has taken it too far," Brower said. "I don’t think that these former presidents will welcome him at any point.” Will Weissert And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
It's been a banner year for P.E.I.'s biosciences sector, despite recent layoffs at one Island company that makes natural health products. Reduced colds and flus meant that Island Abbey Foods saw a reduction in demand for its Honibe lozenges and had to lay off 30 temporary employees this week. "Our lozenge business, which is primarily cough and cold, is [forecasted to be] down significantly in the first two quarters of 2021," said Scott Spencer, president and COO of Island Abbey Foods. Islanders have been getting sick less because of COVID-19 restrictions, which is good news for most people, but not so good if you make cough and cold remedies. "The use of masks, social distancing, handwashing stations, have all impacted the transmission of normal viruses and issues just like COVID-19. So it's a trickle-down effect," Spencer said. Right now, the gummy business in general is a very hot business and it has been growing. - Scott Spencer, president of Island Abbey Foods Despite the setback in this area, Spencer said business is still strong and the company is planning an expansion to meet the increasing demands for some of its other products, like its multivitamin gummies. "We had an outstanding year of growth here at Honibe," said Spencer. "We still see really strong demand for our gummy products." Island Abbey Foods hired 60 to 80 people in 2020, and the Charlottetown plant's expansion will mean another 40 to 50 new jobs. P.E.I. making a name for itself in the sector That's in keeping with how P.E.I.'s biosciences sector is doing, said Rory Francis, CEO of the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance. "Prince Edward Island is becoming a 'somewhere' when it comes to the bio sector, and people recognizing that, 'OK, it's a great career opportunity,' with companies and sophisticated businesses in P.E.I. that they want to be part of," said Francis. "We're having that much more of a magnetic pull, I think, because of the scale of the sector here now." Francis said over 200 new jobs were created in the sector in 2020, and seven Island bioscience companies are planning major expansions this year. "The nature of the businesses and markets that most of the companies are in, those markets just have not slowed down with COVID-19. And a lot of these are health products and people are still trying to stay healthy." Spencer said he thinks some of the measures that have led to fewer colds this year, such as wearing masks and physically distancing, will continue in future years. "We're also planning on how we can diversify our products in order to minimize the reduction of cough and cold in future seasons," he said. More from CBC P.E.I.
PHOENIX -- Health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arizona are declining despite the state having the worst infection rate in the country. Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Friday that the number of patients and even the positivity test rate have dipped slightly in the last few weeks. It was the one bright spot of news as Arizona reached a grim milestone with a pandemic death toll of more than 12,000. That puts COVID-19 on track to eclipse heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the state. The Department of Health Services on Friday reported 8,099 additional known cases and 229 additional deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 708,041 cases and 12,001 deaths. One person in every 141 Arizona residents was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: Dr. Fauci says a lack of candour about the coronavirus under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives. Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics, but faces vaccine roadblocks. Germany passes 50,000 deaths from coronavirus. Lucky few get COVID-19 vaccine because of rare extra doses in U.S. New Chinese film praises Wuhan ahead of lockdown anniversary. Brazil awaits vaccine cargo from India amid supply concerns. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: BOISE, Idaho -- Limited coronavirus vaccine availability, confusion over which Idaho residents should be vaccinated first and rumours of line-jumpers are all complicating the state’s vaccine rollout. Members of Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee met Friday to help clarify exactly who should have first dibs on the state’s doses. Sarah Leeds with the Idaho Immunization Program says the demand is far higher than the doses available. So far, the federal government has distributed more than 178,000 doses to Idaho. That’s a rate of about 9,970 doses for every 100,000 residents, putting Idaho near the bottom compared to the allotment given other states. Currently, front-line health care workers, nursing home staffers, dentists, pharmacists and other medical-field staffers are eligible to be vaccinated in Idaho, as can child care workers, teachers and staffers at primary and secondary schools and correctional centre staffers. But the people who are charged with giving out the vaccine — local health departments, pharmacies and medical care providers — have different interpretations of exactly who is included in each category. ___ RALEIGH — North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that the state has seen 1,280 of its coronavirus vaccine doses get discarded. “Only 0.1% (or 1,280) of the 1.1 million doses which have entered the state thus far have become unusable for any reason and we have not received reports of significant batches being lost,” the department said in a statement to The Associated Press. In a Thursday afternoon news conference, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Mandy Cohen, estimated the waste to be “in the tens of doses.” Doses being administered at county health departments, clinics, hospitals and other places could be tossed out due to a vaccine being stored too long in a freezer or not being administered in a timely manner once it has been taken out of a freezer. There are currently 136 different vaccine providers in the state. The health department said providers are using low dead-volume syringes are designed to maximize the amount of doses it can get out one multi-dose vial. “In some cases, providers have been able to extract an extra dose out of the Pfizer supply, and we appreciate the hard work of providers to maximize the use of this supply,” the department said. North Carolina expects to continue getting about 120,000 new first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week. ___ SEATTLE -- A suburban Seattle man who advertised a supposed COVID-19 “vaccine” he said he created in his personal lab, has been arrested. KUOW reports Johnny T. Stine faces a misdemeanour charge of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Stine advertised injections of the supposed vaccine for $400 on his personal Facebook page in March 2020. At that time, there was no authorized COVID-19 vaccine on the market. It wasn’t immediately known if Stine has a lawyer to comment on his case. He could face up to one year in prison if convicted. ___ BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A state health inspector has found that some residents of a long-term care and skilled nursing facility in Burlington, Vermont, failed to get doses of required medication and proper wound care and were left to sit in their urine amid a coronavirus outbreak at the facility last month. The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did the inspection at Elderwood at Burlington on Dec. 9 and 10, the Burlington Free Press reported. The survey was done following recent anonymous complaints about the facility. A subsequent report did not find any instances of infection control failing to stop the spread of COVID-19, the newspaper reported. The facility said in a statement Friday that it is committed to working with regulatory authorities to ensure it maintains high standards of care and appropriately complies with all guidance. “Elderwood at Burlington is and always has been committed to high quality, safe resident care. Throughout the pandemic, which has stretched the resources of healthcare providers across the country, our staff have worked with diligence and dedication to care for residents,” the statement said. The report states that the facility continues to hire, train and schedule enough competent staff to meet the needs of residents and surpass state minimum staffing requirements. ___ MISSION, Kan. — Online sign-ups for the coronavirus vaccine are filling up almost as quickly as they are posted as health officials in Kansas begin moving beyond immunizing just health care workers and long-term care residents. Saline County had to shut its down within 30 minutes after residents 65 and older nabbed all 900 available slots. That’s about how long Douglas County had its signup open before its 500 slots were filled. The rush comes after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that the state was moving into the second vaccination phase, which includes about 1 million people. It includes not just those 65 and older but also people in congregate settings such as prisons and homeless shelters, and critical workers such as firefighters, police officers, teachers and meat packing plant employees. The state also will continue vaccinating people from the first phase, some of whom wanted to watch the rollout to see if there were problems before getting vaccinated themselves. The challenge is that the state doesn’t have nearly enough doses for all of them — at least not yet. So the state is leaving it up to counties to decide how to prioritize who gets vaccinated next. ___ SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is reporting a one-day record of 764 COVID-19 deaths but the rate of new infections is falling. The deaths reported Friday by the California Department of Public Health top the previous mark of 708 set on Jan. 8. In the last two days California has recorded 1,335 deaths. Hospitalizations and newly confirmed cases have been falling, however, and health officials are growing more optimistic that the worst of the latest surge is over. The 23,024 new cases reported Friday are less than half the mid-December peak of nearly 54,000. Hospitalizations have fallen below 20,000, a drop of more than 10% in two weeks. ___ PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown on Friday defended her decision to reject federal guidelines and prioritize teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine before the elderly, stating that if all of Oregon’s seniors were vaccinated first teachers would likely not be vaccinated before the school year and many students would not return to in-person learning. In addition, during a news conference, officials from the Oregon Health Authority presented a new vaccination timeline that delays the eligibility for seniors 65 to 69 years old to be vaccinated until March 7 and those 70 to 74 pushed back to Feb. 28. Last week, Oregon officials announced a change to the vaccine distribution — instead of vaccinating teachers and seniors at the same time, teachers would be vaccinated beginning Jan. 25 and people 80 or older beginning Feb. 8. ___ SAO PAULO — Sao Paulo state, which has posted the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths of any Brazilian state, has tightened its restrictions on activity until Feb. 7 with the 8 p.m. closure of non-essential businesses. The reopening of schools, previously planned for Feb. 1, was postponed by a week. Health authorities also announced local hospitals could run out of intensive-care beds in 28 days, which forced them to reassign 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients. Sao Paulo state is home to 46 million people, and has recorded almost 51,000 deaths from the virus —almost one fourth of the total in Brazil, where cases and deaths of coronavirus are surging again. Also on Friday, Brazil’s health regulator authorized the emergency use of 4.8 million CoronaVac vaccines bottled locally by Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute. Six million shots were previously made available by Butantan, and another 2 million AstraZeneca shots are expected to arrive from India later on Friday. Brazil has a population of about 210 million. ___ MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's state health officer said a low supply of vaccine is the largest hindrance to getting people vaccinated for COVID-19. Alabama health officials were expecting to get more than 112,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses a week based on conversations with federal officials when Operation Ward Speed began last year. Instead, officials said, the state is getting about 50,000 to 60,000 doses a week. Dr. Scott Harris said federal officials later said the 112,000 figure was not a promise but a figure that the state should use in its planning. Alabama has approved more than 883 pharmacies, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other providers to do vaccinations but only 364 have received any vaccine. He said only about 117 providers will get vaccine this week because of the available supply. The state of nearly 5 million people has received 502,950 vaccine doses and 223,887 of those have been administered, according to state numbers. Harris said many of the unused doses are designated for patients in upcoming appointments for their second or first dose. ___ WASHINGTON — White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about a potential pause in vaccinations in New York, where the state is reporting a shortage in vaccines available for first doses. Psaki says the White House has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “look into what is possible” to address the situation in New York. But she stressed the administration will defer to the judgment of medical experts. “Clearly we don’t want any states to run out of access to vaccines,” Psaki says, adding the Biden administration aims to avoid supply crunches going forward. ___ LONDON — AstraZeneca says it will ship fewer doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union than anticipated due to supply chain problems. The company is waiting for the European Medicines Agency to approve its vaccine, which could happen when the EU regulator meets on Jan. 29. AstraZeneca’s statement said, “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.” It adds: “We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.” Regulators in Britain and several other countries have already given the vaccine the green light. ___ BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has released some demographic details on who’s received the coronavirus vaccine. However, the data provided Friday lacks key information to determine if Louisiana’s doses are equitably distributed. Few vaccine providers are identifying race in the data submitted. That undermines Gov. John Bel Edwards’ efforts to ensure minority groups have adequate access to vaccination. The information shows at least 33% of Louisiana’s nearly 273,000 vaccine recipients are white and at least 10% are black. But another 56% of those who have received the shots were listed as “unknown” or “other.” Edwards is calling on hospitals, clinics and pharmacies vaccinating people in Louisiana to start providing more complete data. ___ WASHINGTON — New research finds full doses of blood thinners such as heparin can help moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients avoid the need for breathing machines or other organ support. The preliminary results come from three large, international studies testing various coronavirus treatments and haven’t yet been published. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sponsors released the results Friday to help doctors decide on appropriate care. Nearly all hospitalized COVID-19 patients currently get low doses of a blood thinner to try to prevent clots from forming. The new results show that “when we give higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill, there is a significant benefit in preventing them from getting sicker,” said Dr. Matthew Neal, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one study leader. However, the researchers say these drugs don’t help and may harm people who are more seriously ill. The study highlights how timing and degree of illness matter for coronavirus treatments. Steroid drugs can help severely ill patients but not ones who are only mildly ill. Some antibody drugs seem to help when given soon after or before symptoms appear but not for sicker, hospitalized patients. ___ HAVANA — A possibly more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Cuba. Dr. María Guadalupe Guzmán of the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine says the variant, originally detected in South Africa, was found in an asymptomatic traveller during a check at ports and airports. While that case was imported, she says authorities can’t rule out the possibility it is also circulating locally. But the institute’s director of epidemiology, Francisco Duran, said it’s not the reason for a recent upsurge in cases on the island. The nation of some 11 million people has recorded more than 20,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 530 on Thursday, and 188 deaths. ___ PHOENIX — Arizona’s death toll surpassed 12,000 on Friday after reporting 229 more deaths. The Department of Health Services reported 8,099 confirmed cases, increasing total cases to more than 700,000. The surge has crowded hospitals statewide. Arizona is ramping up vaccinations by opening an additional site. But like other states, Arizona has had difficulty getting enough doses to administer. ___ WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation is extending its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew and lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more coronavirus vaccinations. Tribal officials announced the measures will take effect Monday and run through at least Feb. 15. Officials say the daily curfew will run daily from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The tribe has reported a total of 26,782 cases and 940 known deaths on the reservation. ___ RABAT, Morocco — Morocco has received its first doses of vaccine against the coronavirus and plans to start injections next week. The Health Ministry sats the AstraZeneca vaccine, delivered from India, will be followed by another delivery next week of a second vaccine, from China’s Sinopharm. The vaccine rollout will start next week. Priority will be given to health workers age 40 and above, police and army officers, teachers 45 and above and those over 75. The Associated Press
A $60-million class action filed in the days after a January 2019 bus crash at Westboro station that killed three people and injured at least 23 others will not go ahead in its current form. The Ontario Superior Court issued a decision Thursday rejecting the certification of the proposed lawsuit, according to a memo issued late Friday afternoon by City of Ottawa solicitor David White. The lawsuit had alleged the city was liable for the crash itself, as well as the design and maintenance of the Transitway and its stations. It had been filed along with — as of last week — 17 other individual statements of claim. The city has already acknowledged its civil responsibility and has paid out more than $5 million in settlements. "The court took note of the fact that, in its handling of the individual court actions, the city has admitted liability for the losses arising out of the motor vehicle collision," White wrote in his memo to city council and the transit commission. Not in 'the interests of justice' In the superior court's dismissal, Justice Calum MacLeod wrote that the proposed lawsuit and its single plaintiff — a passenger who was on board the double-decker bus — did not provide evidence that a class-action proceeding would be "the best vehicle to deter future negligence or to enhance public safety." The Ottawa Police Service, with help from the Transportation Safety Board, investigated the crash, MacLeod wrote. An inquest and subsequent safety directives from Ontario's Ministry of Transport could also occur, he noted. "Class proceedings are not to be used to needlessly inflate tragic incidents into public spectacles," MacLeod wrote. "I am not satisfied on the evidence before me that a class proceeding is either necessary or in the interests of justice." The plaintiff now has until April 23 to either file an individual claim or amend the class-action lawsuit and resubmit it for certification. As for the City of Ottawa, it would be making submissions to recoup its legal costs, White said. The eight-week criminal trial of bus driver Aissatou Diallo is still slated to get underway March 22. She faces more than three dozen charges, including three counts of dangerous driving causing death.
For the second straight day COVID-19 was connected to a school in Prince Albert after classes returned on Monday, Jan. 18. On Friday morning the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been connected to two classrooms at Riverside Public School in Prince Albert. “Affected students and staff will be isolating until end of Feb. 1 while the rest of the school remains learning in-person,” the division stated in an email. The division was informed recently of the positive COVID-19 test results and communication is being shared with the classrooms/cohorts, the connected staff, as well as with the school communities. The learning program will continue remotely only for those students and staff affected while in-person learning will continue for the rest of the school. As is the circumstance in all reports of COVID-19 in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. They added that schools remain safe places to learn. Both the Local Medical Health Officer and the provincial Chief Medical Health officer continue to indicate that because of the protocols in place, schools are safe and are not significant source of transmission. The division explained that we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.” On Thursday a case of COVID-19 was connected to Ecole St. Anne School. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
BERLIN — Marcus Thuram scored on his Bundesliga comeback from suspension to seal a 4-2 win for Borussia Mönchengladbach over Borussia Dortmund on Friday. Thuram, who missed four games after spitting at an opponent in December, scored with a header from Florian Neuhaus’ corner in the 79th minute after coming on as a substitute. Dortmund’s winless streak stretched to three games, increasing the pressure on coach Edin Terzic, who took over from the fired Lucien Favre on Dec. 13. League leader Bayern Munich can move 13 points clear of Dortmund on Sunday, while Terzic's team now faces a fight to secure the last place for Champions League qualification. Gladbach replaced Dortmund in fourth place ahead of the rest of the 18th round, when Dortmund could drop lower with Wolfsburg, Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt all still to play. It was Dortmund’s first loss to Gladbach since April 11, 2015, when Favre as Gladbach coach oversaw a 3-1 win at home over Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund team. Gladbach made a furious start and had the ball in the net inside the first minute. However, Neuhaus’ goal was ruled out through VAR for a foul by Jonas Hofmann on Jude Bellingham. The home side didn’t have to wait long before Nico Elvedi opened the scoring with a header off Hofmann’s free kick in the 11th. Erling Haaland replied in fine fashion in the 22nd. Raphaël Guerreiro won the ball from Alassane Plea and played it to Jadon Sancho, who sent a perfectly weighted pass for Haaland to chip over goalkeeper Yann Sommer inside the far post. The Norwegian got his second six minutes later, again set up by Sancho after he combined with Marco Reus to elude a host of Gladbach defenders. Haaland turned sharply and fired inside the left post. But Elvedi scored his second four minutes later, scoring on the rebound after Roman Bürki stopped Lars Stindl’s free kick. Both sides missed good chances before the break – Haaland failed to connect with the ball when he might have completed his hat trick – before Neuhaus set up Ramy Bensebaini for Gladbach’s third in the 50th. Thuram replaced Hofmann in the 65th. Breel Embolo, who generated headlines for breaking coronavirus restrictions last week, came on shortly afterward. Thuram scored on his comeback while Bürki denied Embolo a few minutes later. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
Nicola Mining, the company who owns the old Craigmont Mine site on Aberdeen Rd., has announced its 2021 Exploration Objectives at the New Craigmont Copper Project. Last year, the company applied for a multi-year area-based (MYAB) exploration permit that would facilitate a five-year exploration plan. The 2021 program includes five new trenches, the reactivation of six historic trenches and up to 21 drill holes. Trenching is aimed at developing three target areas where copper occurrences have been observed but have not been drill tested. The 2021 season has been divided into two phases, with the second phase contingent on results from phase one. A complete explanation of both phase one and phase two of the 2021 program is available in a report by Yahoo Finance found here. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his piece with U.S. President Joe Biden. The two leaders spoke by phone for about 30 minutes late Friday — Biden's first conversation with a foreign leader since Wednesday's inauguration. It was also Trudeau's first chance to express Canada's official dismay at the decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, and Biden's first to explain it. One of Biden's first actions in the White House was to rescind predecessor Donald Trump's approval for the US$8-billion cross-border expansion project. Trudeau, however, is urging Canadians to look past the decision and focus instead on all the areas of mutual agreement the two countries can look forward to. In particular, Trudeau says Biden and Canada share a vision of tackling climate change while fuelling economic growth at the same time. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Ontario government is kicking off a new social media campaign with actors, singers, athletes, and business owners who are all asking you to remain at home. Meanwhile, data tracking mobility in the city continues to show progress. Matthew Bingley reports.
La Ronge mayor and council are looking to review their salaries at next week’s council meeting in what Mayor Colin Ratushniak concedes will be an "awkward conversation" to have in public. Remuneration has been frozen since 2019 when previous Mayor Ron Woytowich halted yearly increases. Prior to that, salaries went up annually based on the rate of inflation in Saskatchewan. Ratushniak said he welcomes a salary review so that the town will be "on par" with other municipalities. “I just want to be on par, for our counselors and for myself, to other municipalities and inflation. It’s always nice to be able to say that we’ll keep a freeze on certain things. But if we’re not at the same standards that everyone else is, then that’s when people start feeling undervalued and that’s just not fair and equitable,” Ratushniak said. “It’s always an awkward conversation to negotiate anything in public like that. But I think for us — who are doing countless hours that do not equate to the money that we’re getting — it would be nice to kind of know just sort of where we sit with that.” As of 2019 the mayor makes $24,935 per year, deputy mayor receives $13,233 and councillors get $9,733. Ratushniak, who took office last November, said his duties as mayor have taken up more time than he expected due to the pandemic. He also works as a pilot with Transwest, fitness supervisor at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre and coaches the La Ronge Figure Skating Club. “You get lucky, I think, with some terms versus the others. There was another term (in 2015) when the mayor had to deal with evacuations for the fires. So I think it’s just luck of the draw," Ratushniak said. “With COVID and for the vaccine rollout… I’m putting in definitely more than 40 hours a week for a lot of these things… It’s almost become another full time job for me and I like it, I signed up for it, and I’m happy to do those things." He said it would “be nice to see (salaries) bump up to the standard,” but that depends on what comes back from the town administration’s rate comparison. He said he’s not expecting a full-time salary for his role as mayor. “We’re obviously not there for the money. We’re there for the community… We still have to make sure that we can keep improving the community like we want to do,” Ratushniak said. Councillor and deputy mayor Jordan McPhail said that he gets where the mayor is coming from and isn’t against reviewing salaries. He said La Ronge should be at the same standard as other municipalities, whether that means an increase or a decrease. “I think it’s always a shell shock for any person that’s brand new. Whether that be in the mayor’s role or as a councillor. In the first four to six months, you’re doing a lot of learning, you’re doing a lot of getting used to the ebbs and flows of being an elected official,” McPhail said. “I can honestly say that for myself, I’m comfortable exactly where I’m at. It was not the wages that got me to that position, it was a matter of the type of work that I was doing and serving the community.” He said that while salary has never been a factor for him, since he maintains another full-time job with flexible hours, not everyone has that luxury. Access to electronics in order to work from home is also important amid the COVID-19 pandemic, McPhail said. “My grandpa (Rex McPhail) sat on the last council and he talked about how back in the day it was $25 per meeting that you went to. But that was also in times when $16,000 could buy you a house. So you also have to take into consideration what $25 meant then as well,” McPhail said. “Every once in a while you do have to do a market average and see where everybody’s at and ultimately make a decision on where your municipality is and whether you want to be at the bottom end of that scale, in the middle or at the top.” Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - Malgré une légère baisse des cas enregistrée dans la dernière semaine, la pandémie continue d’exercer une très forte pression sur le réseau de la santé à Ahuntsic-Cartierville comme dans le reste de l’île de Montréal. En conférence de presse avec la représentante du réseau de la santé montréalais, Sonia Bélanger, la directrice régionale de la santé publique de Montréal, docteure Mylène Drouin, a fait le point vendredi sur la situation dans la métropole. Alors que le nombre de nouveaux cas est en diminution, même dans les quartiers chauds, la situation épidémiologique demeure préoccupante aux yeux de la Direction régionale de la santé publique (DRSP) de Montréal. Des indicateurs à la baisse, mais des taux encore très élevés La docteure Drouin souligne que bien que les principaux indicateurs soient en baisse avec un taux de positivité moyen qui est repassé sous la barre des 10% à Montréal et un taux de reproduction du virus qui est redescendu sous la barre du 1, les taux d’incidence demeurent trois fois plus élevés que le seuil quotidien de 10 cas par 100 000 habitants établi comme barème par le gouvernement du Québec pour atteindre le pallier d’alerte maximale à l’automne dernier. La Santé publique souhaite d’ailleurs rehausser le dépistage « assez rapidement » chez les 12-17 qui ont des taux d’incidence très élevés, mais n’envisage pas pour l’instant de faire du dépistage massif dans les écoles ni d’inviter les personnes asymptomatiques à se faire dépister dans les quartiers chauds, contrairement à ce qu’a laissé entendre le premier ministre du Québec François Legault en début de semaine. Sur les 93 décès liés à la COVID rapportés la depuis la semaine dernière, 13 sont survenus à Ahuntsic-Cartierville. De ce nombre, cinq sont survenus en CHSLD, quatre dans des Résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) et une en Ressource intermédiaire (RI), précise la DRSP au JDV. Ces décès sont attribuables à de multiples éclosions actives dans des milieux de vie et de soins pour aînés de l’arrondissement. Selon l’état de situation des cas et des décès en CHSLD et en RPA tenu par le ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), la situation semble plutôt en voie de s’améliorer à Ahuntsic-Cartierville où, bien que certaines éclosions continuent de progresser, d’autres ont été maîtrisées dans les derniers jours. Le CIUSSS, qui dit avoir complété la campagne de vaccination dans les CHSLD et poursuivre la campagne dans les RPA et RI sur son territoire, avait vacciné 2197 résidents en CHSLD et en RI en date du 20 janvier. Il note toutefois que les quelques 36 lits dans la zone chaude du CHSLD Laurendeau étaient à pleine capacité plus tôt cette semaine, signe que la situation est encore fragile. Les hôpitaux à pleine capacité Alors que plusieurs installations pour aînés demeurent en situation critique ou sous haute surveillance, la situation est aussi extrêmement tendue dans les centres hospitaliers. Sans commenter spécifiquement les importantes éclosions survenues à l’hôpital Fleury cette semaine, la représentante du réseau de la santé souligne qu’il y a des éclosions dans pratiquement tous les hôpitaux à Montréal et que la plupart sont sous contrôle. En plus de cette éclosion importante qui a touché au moins 35 membres du personnel à Fleury, il rappelle d’autres éclosions qui se sont déclarées dans plusieurs unités de l’hôpital Sacré-Cœur ainsi qu’à l’hôpital Jean-Talon. Le CIUSSS rapporte qu’en date du 20 janvier, 94 employés étaient absents en raison de la COVID. À la même date, près de 4243 employés avaient toutefois été vaccinés contre le virus. Elle souligne que près de 700 personnes sont encore hospitalisées à Montréal, dont 112 aux soins intensifs, soit une « légère baisse » par rapport à la semaine dernière. Selon un tableau des hospitalisations actives tenu par le MSSS, 96 personnes étaient hospitalisées avec la COVID dans les trois centres hospitaliers du CIUSSS du Nord, dont 12 étaient aux soins intensifs en date du 21 janvier. Il semble en effet probable que la levée du couvre-feu et l’assouplissement des mesures de confinement soient repoussées au-delà du 8 février à Montréal. Les décès s’accumulent Et c’est sans oublier les autres dommages collatéraux de la pandémie, comme les décès qui continuent de s’accumuler. Le cap des 400 décès à Ahuntsic-Cartierville a en effet été franchi cette semaine. Le STT-CIUSSS-NIM rapporte par ailleurs qu’un auxiliaire aux services de santé et sociaux de l’équipe des soins à domicile du CLSC de Saint-Laurent, qui avait obtenu un résultat de test positif au début janvier, est décédé le 15 janvier. Sans confirmer ni infirmer l’information, le CIUSSS indique qu’il n’est, à ce stade-ci, «pas possible de confirmer que la COVID-19 est la cause de son décès ». Jean-Rigaud Fontaine, âgé de 72 ans, travaillait au CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal depuis 24 ans. Le syndicat a tenu une cérémonie en son nom vendredi. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
Canada’s response to COVID-19 shows what national unity over a common goal can accomplish, says Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Now he says the country needs to apply similar efforts to achieving racial equality. “Recognizing these systems of government control as inherently racist, and needing to then be anti-racist, be actively anti-racist, in the way that we engage, the way that we work together between Inuit and government, is really the only way we can chart our course to a better future,” said Obed, the head of the national organization that represents 65,000 Inuit in Canada. Obed made the remarks Friday during a panel discussion about mental health in diverse communities, co-hosted online by Queen’s University and Bell, featuring four experts on race and mental health, with former federal Indigenous services minister Dr. Jane Philpott as the moderator. Obed spoke of the impact racism has had on Inuit communities and their mental health. “You can’t help but link the imposition of government control over our communities … and complete control over our education and economic well-being as anything other than a mental health catastrophe,” he said. In a June 2019 Statistics Canada report, under the National Household Survey, researchers found that suicide rates of First Nations people were three times higher than those of non-Indigenous people. More specifically, Inuit were nine times as likely to take their own lives than non-Indigenous people. That same report cited post-traumatic stress disorder due to colonization as a key factor in Indigenous mental health. Also on the panel was Dr. Kenneth Fung, clinical director of the Asian Initiative in Mental Health Program at Toronto Western Hospital; Dr. Myrna Lashley, a psychiatry assistant professor at McGill University; and Asanta Haughton, a human rights activist. They agreed that for the betterment of Black, Indigenous and people-of-colour communities, recognizing oppressive systems are essential to dismantling them. The pandemic has only made these challenges more acute, panelists said. Numerous studies show marginalized communities are the most impacted by COVID-19. A Statistics Canada study on the self-reported economic hardships caused by the pandemic on Indigenous versus non-Indigenous people showed that Indigenous people had experienced more job loss or reduced work, and a larger negative financial impact. The report concluded that “employment disruptions likely had a larger financial impact on Indigenous participants because of greater pre-existing vulnerabilities, such as lower income levels and higher proportions living in poverty and experiencing food insecurity.” Obed offered the following advice for making strides against racism: “Keep putting one step in front of the other, on the path that you’re making for your own mental health, but then also the change that you want to see,” he said. Meagan Deuling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News
Though the pandemic has cancelled his daily commute to work, Verdun resident Patrick Lavery still tries to get in 15,000 steps a day. "With the pandemic and working from home I was very sedentary," he said. "There were days I didn't leave the house at all and I put on a lot of weight, probably about 20 pounds." So back in September, Lavery decided to take on a 100-day challenge to walk about 10 kilometres a day. He wears a fitness tracker on his wrist to count his steps and log his daily activity level. "In the evening, I'll look at my watch and say, OK, this is how many steps I need to hit to reach my goal," Lavery said. "I'll head out and get that goal." It turns out Lavery may be on the right track, as a recent study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, shows Fitbits do help people lose weight. People with the popular wearable fitness trackers sit less and are more active, the study found. Mickaël Ringeval, a PhD student in management sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal, is the lead author of the study. Ringeval said to make wearing a Fitbit effective, it's important to set goals — for example 10,000 steps a day — and stick to them. Ringeval said wearing the watch and setting a goal proved to be more efficient than receiving a reminder from a physician to stay active. Ringeval's findings are based on a meta-analysis of 37 clinical trials from around the world, reviewing the activity level of some 4,000 adults from 2007 to the summer of 2019. The study looked at Fitbits, since they are the most popular fitness trackers on the market. The research also found that people with chronic illness benefited the most from these devices. But the devices aren't a magic bullet for laziness, Ringeval warned, as people still have to be determined to reach that daily step goal. As for Lavery, he said being able to keep track of his activity level is just the motivation he needed to lose 30 pounds in four months. "It helps me stay on track and lets me quantify how I'm doing," he said. "I can see my results ever day."
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. TikTok earlier this month rolled out some tightened privacy features for users under the age of 18, including a new default private setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15. The new practices, affecting users around the world, followed a move by U.S. regulators to order TikTok and other social media services to disclose how their practices affect children and teenagers. The Associated Press
Approximately 30 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel have been deployed to Garden Hill First Nation to provide humanitarian assistance and address the emergent needs of the community. Between Jan. 17 and 18, members of the CAF were sent to support an Indigenous Service Canada-led liaison and reconnaissance team to rapidly assess the situation in the northern Manitoba community. Following a formal Request for Assistance, the CAF arrived at the First Nation on Wednesday to work alongside other community members and other government departments and agencies. “In Island Lake, we have been working hard to try to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Alex McDougall, executive director of Four Arrows Regional Health Authority (FARHA) told Winnipeg Sun on Friday. “Bringing down the number of cases in the region is something we want to see very quickly, and having the military personnel in the community to assist with the immunization plan is something that needs to continue.” FARHA oversees health services for all Island Lake Anishininew Nation communities, including Garden Hill First Nation, Wasagamack First Nation, St. Theresa Point First Nation and Red Sucker Lake First Nation. Garden Hill First Nation is located 610 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg and 350 air kilometres southeast of Thompson. Manitoba’s Island Lake district saw a total of 300 active cases as of Thursday with 266 of those cases from Garden Hill First Nation. According to CAF spokesperson Jessica Lamirande, tasks which the CAF has been called to do are: · Provide general duty support to the community and nursing station for clerical, maintenance, cleaning duties of isolating personnel where required; · Integrate into the local Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) command post in the community to coordinate activities with the Chief and his Council and other government partners; · Assist in the establishment and operating of a local Alternative Isolation Area (AIA), · Arrange for training and support to incoming staff in the operation of the AIA; · Provide limited assistance with patient management tasks, including triage, secondary assessment, monitoring of patients, testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients; · Where necessary assist with home wellness checks; and · Offer transportation assistance to other responding government departments in and out of the affected area for cargo and personnel, if required. Last Friday, approximately one-third of the 5,300 Moderna vaccines allocated to Manitoba First Nations arrived at Island Lake. Garden Hill First Nation received 320 doses of the vaccine during the weekend. Despite many COVID-19 cases in the region, there is still some who refuse to receive immunity against the virus. “We are seeing apprehension within the community members in Garden Hill. The situation there is bad as well as overall in Island Lake. Community members are frustrated and scared at the same time,” said McDougall. “This is a strong indicator that we need to continue with our education and awareness piece, and share with our members the importance of participating in the immunization plan,” he added. The FARHA has been working with the provincial and federal government for two decades to bring in critical infrastructure in the area such as a hospital that can provide services to the residents of Island Lake. McDougall said that patients suffering from COVID-19 in Island Lake need to be flown out to Winnipeg to receive treatment. Currently, the Garden Hill community is under lockdown, with non-essential travel prohibited. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
VICTORIA — The federal economic development minister says business leaders in British Columbia want to work with a new development agency aiming to help them endure the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for the future. Melanie Joly said she's heard from entrepreneurs and business owners across B.C. about the support for a home-based economic development agency, including during an online forum Friday with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. Joly said the promised B.C.-based agency will provide targeted economic support and relief in the form of loans, subsidies and advice about federal programs. "People want to be able to have access to levers to survive the economic crisis and the pandemic, but at the same time people want to talk about the future and want to be optimistic as the vaccinations roll out," she said in a phone interview. Joly said she's heard in panel discussions with business leaders that they're concerned about the distance between Ottawa and B.C. as entrepreneurs argue for an agency that is closer to home. "There's a feeling of disconnection towards the federal government," she said. "That has created sometimes frustration on the part of people in B.C. We need to increase our impact, our footprint. We need to make sure that people trust the fact that the federal government is there for them." Joly, who is also the minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, said B.C. entrepreneurs have told her the province's economy was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic and they need help now to get them through. Last December's federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year, she said, adding the budget for the new B.C. agency has not been set and there's no date yet for an opening date. "I always have a sense of urgency in life," Joly said after her meeting with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. "I'm a very impatient person, so the team and I are working extremely hard to make sure we can launch this new B.C. agency but we need to make sure we do things right." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Richmond’s Connections Community Services Society has received provincial gaming grant funds to aid in an office renovation. Connections will receive $45,906 for renovations to help its office meet COVID-19 safety protocols. In all, 53 not-for-profits are receiving a total of $5 million in capital project grants this year to make upgrades to community facilities and infrastructure, and update technology and equipment to improve its program delivery. Connections’ director of development Sue Street says the society applied for the grant in August and received exactly what it applied for. Connections has been unable to have patrons inside its space since March. “We are going to be using it to ‘COVID-proof’ our space, so that we’re able to welcome folks back into our space in a safer way,” says Street. “We’ll be putting up temporary walls to create offices rather than full construction—buying plexiglass dividers, utilizing space for workshops in a safe manner. So really, the money is to help us create a healthier, safer workspace but also be able to welcome the community back in here, when they’re ready, in a way that’s safer.” This capital funding is in addition to funding provided to six different sectors for programming. The funding totals $135 million annually and supports nearly 5,000 non-for-profit organizations to deliver services to people throughout British Columbia. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
The province’s largest vaccination effort in history is projected to vaccinate all 4.3 million eligible British Columbians by the end of September, health officials announced today. The province is prepared to deliver 8.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — both of which require two doses — to all adults who want one at a rate of up to 500,000 per week as vaccine supply increases. No vaccines have been approved for use by B.C.’s 900,000 children and youth under 18. “By the end of September, everyone who wants a vaccination will have one,” said Premier John Horgan. The province has changed early plans to continue prioritizing specific at-risk groups as is being done in other provinces. Instead, the vaccine will be administered largely based on age in B.C.’s four-phase strategy. “Our immunization plan is based on evidence and data,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “And we know the single greatest risk factor for serious illness and death from COVID-19 is increasing age.” Initially the province said frontline workers such as those in law enforcement, grocery stores and essential businesses and teachers and emergency responders could be prioritized in its plans. But research from B.C. and the rest of Canada indicates that risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19 increases “almost exponentially” with age, Henry noted. Those over 80 are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as those in their late 60s, who are five times more likely than people under 45. Even the other chronic conditions proven to increase the risk of hospitalization and death, such as serious asthma, heart disease and diabetes, are heavily correlated with age, Henry said. “Going on an age-based model captures the majority of people with underlying risk factors first,” she said. “This is going to be, and needs to be, an all-B.C. effort to make sure we can protect those most vulnerable and all of us in our communities.” Phase 1 of the strategy is already well under way, focusing on long-term care staff and residents and essential visitors, health-care workers treating COVID-19 patients and remote First Nations communities. More than 100,000 people have been vaccinated so far, and the phase will wrap up by March, Henry said. Under Phase 2, starting in March, 172 communities will see stadiums, high school gyms and public plazas turned into mass immunization centres. Mobile vaccination clinics and house-call teams will also be available for smaller communities and people who can’t make it to a vaccination centre. More than 240,000 seniors over 80 living in the community will be immunized, as well as Indigenous seniors over 65, hospital staff and community practitioners and homeless or vulnerable populations living in settings like shelters and group homes. At the same time, vaccination pre-registrations will start for the general population by phone and online, opening two to four weeks before each age group is eligible on a rolling basis. In Phase 3 starting in April, about 980,000 seniors in the community will be immunized. The plan is to start with people 75 to 79 and move through the population in five-year increments until everyone over 60 is vaccinated. B.C.’s vaccination lead Dr. Penny Ballem said immunocompromised adults and teens over 16 will get the vaccine if it’s deemed medically necessary during this phase, as well as organ transplant recipients and those with other clinical vulnerabilities. And the final phase starting in July will see about three million people aged 18 to 59 vaccinated in descending age order. Patients will also receive physical or digital vaccination records noting the date and kind of vaccination they received, and all immunization records will also be available through the provincial health gateway. The plan is based on the increasing availability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as the anticipated approval of additional vaccines on order. Vaccine shortages have already delayed vaccinations in B.C. and across Canada. The province expects more than 800,000 doses to arrive in B.C. before the end of March, 2.6 million from April to June and six million by the end of September. Planning also assumes 100-per-cent uptake in the population, which surveys indicate will not be the case. Henry hopes around 70 per cent of those eligible will be vaccinated to build community immunity. “This can be reached if the large majority of people in B.C. choose to be immunized,” she said. Officials say the timeline could shift if the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved and available in the province, or if vaccines need to be rerouted to deal with community outbreaks, clusters or high-risk workplaces. Ballem said the baseline estimates “allows us to know how to schedule human resources, supply chains for vaccines and other supplies that are necessary.” Horgan said more delays are possible if vaccine production is slower than expected. But the plan is a good starting point and can be adapted as vaccine supplies increase or acute needs emerge in communities, he said. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged people to continue washing their hands, staying home when sick and masking up in public areas. It will be a long time until any sense of normalcy can return, and this is a critical time to protect the most vulnerable before they are immunized, they said. “What’s really important for success and us getting through these next few months is continuing to take the precautions that we know work,” said Henry. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just providing testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press