Teacher Sanibel Schneider was confronted with questions about the Capitol insurrection. (Video: Courtesy of Sanibel Schneider)
Teacher Sanibel Schneider was confronted with questions about the Capitol insurrection. (Video: Courtesy of Sanibel Schneider)
TORONTO — Global trials examining the potential of blood thinners to treat moderately ill COVID-19 patients have proven so successful its Canadian investigators say clinicians should immediately start using them in standard care.Investigators at Toronto's University Health Network say interim results of clinical trials spanning five continents in more than 300 hospitals suggest full-dose blood thinners could significantly avoid severe cases that are now straining hospital ICUs.The study involved more than 1,300 moderately ill patients admitted to hospital, including some at UHN. Investigators say full doses of Heparin improved outcomes and decreased the need for life support.The full dose was also more effective than the lower dose typically administered to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients.Critical care physician Ewan Goligher, co-chair of the therapeutic anticoagulation domain of the trial, says the findings could significantly transform care.“Having cared for so many severely ill COVID-19 patients and witnessed the suffering involved for patients and their loved ones, it is profoundly gratifying that together we have discovered a treatment that can prevent patients from becoming severely ill and improve their recovery,” Goligher, also a scientist with the University Health Network, said Friday in a release.Ryan Zarychanski, associate professor, hematologist and critical care physician at the University of Manitoba, said the findings were promising. "In a disease with a limited number of effective therapies, our results have the potential to define a new standard of care for moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients around the world," Zarychanski said.Doctors noticed early in the pandemic that COVID-19 patients suffered an increased rate of blood clots and inflammation. This led to complications including lung failure, heart attack and stroke.Back in December, investigators found that giving full-dose blood thinners to critically ill ICU patients did not help, and was actually harmful.The trials are supported by international funding organizations including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the NIH National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute in the United States, the National Institute for Health Research in the United Kingdom, and the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — After a 10-month investigation, a task force commissioned by the Ontario government has issued a range of sweeping recommendations to reform the province's securities regulator. The Capital Markets Modernization Task Force's 70 recommendations include major governance changes to Ontario Securities Commission, such as establishing an adjudicative body within the OSC to rule on alleged securities act violations. The task force also recommends expanding the agency's mandate to augment its regulatory function, and changing its name to the Ontario Capital Markets Authority. The task force was commissioned in 2019 by Ontario's finance minister, with the goal of encouraging growth and competition in the province's capital markets. In the report, the task force decried the lack of new securities issuers in Ontario, which they warned could lead to fewer head offices and fewer investment growth opportunities in the province. Over the course of its investigation, the task force met with more than 110 different stakeholders as it was developing its recommendations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — The public inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced the hiring of six experts who will help set a course for the investigation. Those joining the inquiry include Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice who will serve as commission counsel. Cromwell previously served with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. As well, the inquiry has appointed Christine Hanson as executive director and chief administrative officer. Hanson is director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She also worked as an international lawyer and diplomat in a variety of roles with Global Affairs Canada. The inquiry has also appointed a community liaison, a mental health expert, an investigations co-ordinator and an expert in charge of research. "We are pleased to have secured a group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields," the commission said in a statement Thursday. "There are a lot of questions to be asked and evidence to be gathered by the commission in order to fulfil its mandate and we want the best people to help us in this process." The other team members include: — Research director Emma Cunliffe is a professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is a scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women. — Investigations director Barbara McLean is deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service and is originally from Antigonish, N.S. — Mental health director Mary Pyche has worked as an addiction clinical therapist and has held leadership roles in the Nova Scotia Health Department regarding mental health and addiction. — Community liaison director Maureen Wheller co-chaired the first public advisory group that worked with Nova Scotia's mental health and addictions program. The independent federal-provincial inquiry, which has the authority to compel witnesses to testify and produce documents, is expected to produce an interim report by May 1, 2022 and a final report by Nov. 1, 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
BROCKTON – A delegation consisting of Bob McCulloch and members of the Victoria Jubilee Hall (VJH) committee (Henry Simpson, Bill Carroll, Jim Bohnert) provided council with their annual update on Jan. 12. McCulloch said VJH came up against “the COVID brick wall” in 2020. Revenues dropped, showing a deficit of around $24,000 in December. The situation wasn’t any different from what other theatres were facing, except VJH has a fixed overhead that’s smaller than Blyth’s or Drayton’s, and VJH has income from its long-term tenants. When it became obvious the pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon, and in-person shows weren’t going to happen, the Jubilee Arts and Music committee (JAM) began looking at other ways to keep VJH in the public eye. Songs by the Gazebo on Sept. 13 attracted a large, socially distanced crowd. VJH was back! Next came the online Christmas Concert, streamed on Wightman and Facebook. The opera hall was silent, but JAM kept things going. Despite the lack of income-generating events and the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, VJH managed to accomplish a lot during 2020, in a large part thanks to grants from the Walkerton Rotary Club, Spruce the Bruce, Brockton council and individual donors. Among the continuing projects at VJH are eliminating water and dampness from the VJH basement, stopping water penetration from the east porch roof into the building and down through the upper deck, doing a full repair on the east columns (as one would repair structural bridge concrete), and providing outside security for the safety of staff, patrons and tenants. Repairs accomplished in 2020 included raising and sealing the remaining eight of 10 basement windows to keep water out of the building. The other two were done two years ago. The grade was raised to run rainwater away from the building. The east porch roof catches a lot of water, and the windowsill above the porch was raised to prevent water from running into the hall. A high-tech product called RhinoLiner was applied to the concrete porch decking. This project was paid for through a Rotary grant of $6,800. The front columns have been patched over the years, but with the help of a Spruce the Bruce grant, a bridge-style repair was completed. As for security, the installation of motion activated cameras will enhance the safety of anyone using the building. VJH was the recipient in 2020 of a prestigious Cornerstone Award, one of 11 heritage sites nationally to be so honoured. The Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Awards bring to national attention exemplary projects that illustrate the viability of heritage buildings for traditional or new uses. Dedicated volunteers are always busy tending gardens, painting, shoveling snow, installing new taps, sinks and hand-washing stations ($1,500 PPE grant) as well as doing the constant minor repairs and maintenance the magnificent building needs and deserves. The VJH delegation ended its presentation with words of gratitude for council’s moral and financial support, and asked that council continue to support the hall with the same amount as last year, $10,000. The money will go to general operations. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak commented on the “20-year commitment” made by the volunteers to the building and congratulated them on their efforts. Coun. Dean Leifso made special mention of the heritage award the group received. “It was well deserved.” Mayor Chris Peabody thanked the volunteers for their “great work.” Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
A bevy of major U.S. earnings reports next week led by Apple, Microsoft and Facebook could help technology and growth stocks reassert their dominance after a recent run by banks, energy and other potential beneficiaries of an economic reopening. That shift has stalled in recent days as investors weighed lackluster outlooks from big banks and a blockbuster quarterly report from Netflix that lifted its shares by 17%. Next week's crop of fourth-quarter results - with about a quarter of the S&P 500 reporting - could help determine whether the resurgence in growth stocks will continue, potentially threatening the recent rally in value and cyclical shares, said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services.
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit La province de l’Ontario déplore 87 décès causés par la COVID-19 survenus au cours de la dernière journée. En tout, 5701 Ontariens ont perdu leur combat contre le coronavirus. Par ailleurs, la santé publique a répertorié 2662 infections à la COVID-19, jeudi, portant le total à 250 226 cas depuis le début de la pandémie. La même journée, 1512 personnes atteintes du virus étaient hospitalisées, dont 383 aux soins intensifs. Parmi ces derniers, 291 avaient besoin d’un respirateur pour rester en vie. Foyers de soins de longue durée En foyers de soins de longue durée, 99 résidents et 64 membres du personnel ont reçu un diagnostic positif à la COVID-19 au cours des 24 dernières heures. Jusqu’à présent, 13 746 infections ont été répertoriées chez les résidents en FSLD, ainsi que 5494 cas chez les employés. On compte aussi 42 résidents de ces établissements qui ont perdu la vie au cours de la dernière journée à cause de la COVID-19. En tout, près de 3300 personnes habitant en FSLD sont décédées en raison du virus. Depuis le début de la pandémie, la COVID-19 a causé la mort de dix membres du personnel, dont deux ayant perdu la vie en 2021. Jeudi, 11 168 Ontariens ont roulé leur manche pour se faire vacciner contre la COVID-19. En tout, ce sont 49 292 personnes en province qui ont reçu les deux doses nécessaires pour être complètement vaccinées contre le virus. Cela représente 264 985 doses totales administrées depuis que le vaccin est disponible en Ontario. Le nombre de doses quotidiennes devrait diminuer au cours des prochains jours, en raison des problèmes d’approvisionnement des vaccins de la compagnie pharmaceutique Pfizer. Les données liées au coronavirus présentées dans ce texte ont été tirées du plus récent bilan de la COVID-19, présenté par le Système intégré d’information sur la santé publique (SIISP), vendredi à 10h30. À LIRE AUSSI: L’Ontario juge pouvoir réaliser son objectif de vaccinationÉmilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
Meb, nom d’artiste de Marie-Ève Bouchard, publie son deuxième recueil de poésie, Un an vu de chez elle. Entrevue avec l’artiste multidisciplinaire de Saint-Jérôme. Un an vu de chez elle, ce sont des poèmes en carré : quatre lignes de quatre lettres. « Les contraintes, c’est inspirant. Dans la limite, tu te poses moins de questions. Tu as une direction, donc c’est plus facile. Mais c’est super difficile en même temps! C’est le projet le plus masochiste que j’ai fait », explique Meb. La poète explique le défi de se limiter à 16 lettres, en évitant de répéter des mots à travers le recueil. « Il faut soutirer l’essence de ce que tu veux. » Meb raconte aussi qu’elle a eu un cancer de la tyroïde et qu’après l’opération, elle avait de la difficulté à parler. Si c’était inconscient au moment d’écrire son recueil, elle voit maintenant un lien entre la perte de sa voix et la contrainte qu’elle s’est imposée pour écrire ses poèmes. « Il y a une certaine retenue, qui représente peut-être une peur de s’exprimer. Je vivais des choses vraiment difficiles. C’était plus facile d’aller dans le petit. J’avais peur que si je commençais à écrire beaucoup… C’était une manière de contenir l’hémorragie », confie la poète. « J’ai un parcours qui va un peu dans tous les sens », raconte Meb en riant. La musique est son premier amour. « Je suis violoniste de formation. Depuis que j’ai 5 ans, j’ai fait des études en musique. J’ai une maîtrise en histoire de la musique et j’enseigne au cégep Saint-Laurent. » Mais elle se passionne aussi pour la poésie depuis longtemps, d’abord en publiant dans des zines (des revues à faible tirage). Ce n’est qu’après avoir sortis 3 disques, soit 2 EP et 1 LP, qu’elle décide de se consacrer plus sérieusement à la poésie. « J’ai commencé tard. J’ai sorti mon premier disque dans la trentaine. J’étais fatiguée, je crois. C’est quand même du stock, faire des shows, se coucher tard. J’avais moins d’énergie, moins le goût. » En 2017, elle publie Aria de laine, son premier recueil de poésie. Ce dernier regroupe des poèmes découpés dans le roman Maria Chapdelaine de Louis Hémon, qui est maintenant dans le domaine public. Sur son site web, chezmeb.com, l’artiste tente de créer quelque chose tous les jours. « Je ne réussis pas tout le temps! (rire) Il y a des moments où je le fais plus. L’idée, c’est de me forcer à faire quelque chose. Mais ça reste un peu un monde idéal dans ma création. Je n’ai pas toujours le temps. » Pour Noël, par exemple, elle a fait des poèmes en forme de sapin, qui forment un calendrier de l’avent. On retrouve aussi de la photographie et d’autres œuvres poétiques. « C’est comme ça que j’ai fait pour Aria de laine et pour Un an vu de chez elle. » Elle a aussi réalisé un livret d’opéra avec la compositrice Sonia Paço-Rocchia, elle aussi des Laurentides et lauréate du Prix 3 femmes de Mécénat Musica. K-WAY D’ÂME DÉJÀ PLIÉ « Il exprime très bien cet espèce de motton qu’on peut avoir. Il reflète tes émotions qui sont toutes en boule. » – Meb ÉLUE POUR OSER VOIR « C’est la définition de ce que c’est, être poète ou artiste en général » – MebSimon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
NORTH HURON – The Township of North Huron released a statement following the Ontario government’s stay-at-home order designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. As Ontario enters its second provincial state of emergency, the Township of North Huron asks citizens to follow the government’s stay-at-home order and avoid any non-essential trips outside their residences. Effective Jan. 14, outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people. Everyone is ordered to stay at home, except for work or essential activities such as trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, or medical appointments. “I appreciate the challenges being faced by businesses, individuals, families, and institutions during this unprecedented pandemic, but the case numbers are alarming. Even Huron County has experienced a dramatic increase in COVID cases over the past two months,” Reeve Bernie Bailey said. The following measures came into effect in North Huron on Jan. 14: • All indoor recreational facilities, including the indoor pool, fitness centre, and courts, will remain closed until further notice. • The ice surfaces at the Wescast Community Complex in Wingham and the Blyth Community Centre will be removed. • Outdoor recreational amenities including parks, sports fields, courts, trails, and municipally-owned playgrounds will remain open provided any person who enters or uses the amenity maintains a physical distance of at least two metres from any other person not residing in the same household. • The Blyth Campground is closed. • The Wingham Town Hall Theatre and public washrooms remain closed. • All council and committee meetings will continue to be held through electronic participation until further notice. • Town Hall will remain closed to the public until at least Feb. 12, 2021, unless otherwise announced. During this period, staff can be contacted by phone or email. Essential meetings with staff will be arranged by appointment only. • Daycare services for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers will remain open with existing restrictions remaining in place. All before and after school programs remain closed. The Province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health will be providing advice and making an announcement by Jan. 20, regarding the return to in-person learning. “The lives of our residents are at risk, and I strongly urge all residents to stay at home to the fullest extent possible,” Bailey added. Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
Élu pour la première fois à 24 ans, Adam Rousseau en est à son troisième mandat comme conseiller municipal à Saint-François-Xavier-de-Brompton. Il investit en moyenne entre 10 et 15 heures par semaine dans ce rôle et touche quelque 7000 $ par année. Un petit calcul rapide permet de constater que, dans le meilleur des cas, le temps consacré à la politique municipale est payé un peu plus que le salaire minimum. S’il consacre plus de 10 heures par semaine, le taux horaire descend encore plus bas. Si à l’inverse un conseiller ne consacre que quelques heures par mois à la fonction, le salaire horaire sera beaucoup plus haut. Il n’y a pas de balises claires sur le nombre d’heures que doivent travailler les élus municipaux. « Je regarde le maire de Saint-François-Xavier-de-Brompton, qui n’est pas une énorme municipalité mais qui est en croissance, et il peut mettre en moyenne 30 heures par semaine, explique Adam Rousseau. Avec le contexte de méfiance, on est souvent embêté lorsqu’on fait une demande de remboursement et, souvent, on assume les frais. C’est une job 24/7 et 365 jours par année. Un élu actif devrait se payer. » Cette réalité fait en sorte selon lui que le rôle d’élus convient beaucoup plus à des gens qui n’ont pas d’obligations financières. « La job d’élu municipal dans les petites communautés, c’est pour les riches et les retraités, lance-t-il. Il ne faut pas se le cacher. Une personne à la préretraite ou indépendante de fortune n’aura pas d’enjeux à réduire ses heures de travail et être à 30 heures par semaine à son emploi principal. » Adam Rousseau pense à se présenter comme maire de sa municipalité en 2021 et pourrait justement faire campagne sur l’enjeu des salaires. « Je pense à faire ma campagne électorale avec comme objectif qu’à la fin de mon mandat le maire soit à temps plein, explique-t-il. Après cela, n’importe qui qui voudra se présenter n’aura plus les limites du temps partiel combiné à d’énormes responsabilités. » Les délais de mise en œuvre des projets, les rencontres en journée durant la semaine avec des ministères ou des firmes pour des projets et le manque de flexibilité de certains employeurs sont aussi des freins, selon lui, à l’implication de la jeunesse. Le rôle d’élu reste tout de même, malgré les désagréments, l’un des emplois les plus gratifiants, assure Adam Rousseau. « Il y a des défaites et des déceptions, mais aussi plein de victoires qui amènent un accomplissement professionnel qui vaut beaucoup d’argent, résume-t-il. On a réellement un impact. Il a toutefois encore beaucoup de choses à améliorer. »Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
Riverview High School teachers and staff have been told to arrange their own COVID-19 tests this weekend, after a positive case was confirmed at the school on Wednesday. The Department of Education has instructed those who have not been identified as a close contact and are asymptomatic to register online for a test, a memo obtained by CBC News shows. "Public Health may/will tell them that they are to self-isolate. Please reassure the staff that they do NOT have to self-isolate at this time being that this is part of sentinel testing and [they] are not considered a close contact of the case," the memo states. The estimated 75 teachers have been working out of the closed school for two days, providing distance learning for students. They were told they were "expected" to teach from the school, another internal memo shows, even though they've been set up to teach from home for months. The Department of Education spent $5 million on school IT infrastructure to support blended or virtual learning for the 2020-21 school year, a spokesperson confirmed to CBC News on Friday. As well, $800,000 was used to purchase 1,035 new laptops for teachers as part of an annual laptop refresh program. A closed school is supposed to become a testing site for school staff, Education Minister Dominic Cardy had said Sunday. It's unclear why no testing is being done at Riverview High. Asked Friday afternoon why there was a delay in testing teachers who had been ordered to report to a building where there was a positive case, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said "those would be things that would be worked out" at the regional level. "With respect to being in an environment where there may or may not have been a case, obviously the person who tested positive, whether it was a student or staff, is now self-isolating at home, and if people are following Public Health guidance and remaining six feet apart, and wearing their mask, and disinfecting, and following all the protocols, then going to that environment to await testing and do the work that [the Department of Education] is expecting of them — again, that is part of the operational plan at this moment in time and the operationalization of that would be done at the regional level with our regional team." No rationale for teaching from closed school, says union The teachers union says it came as a surprise to them that teachers were expected to provide online learning from a school in the red zone that's closed because of a positive coronavirus case. "We certainly haven't heard a rationale as to why it should be," said Rick Cuming, co-president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation and president of the New Brunswick Teachers Association. The directive came from the Department of Education, as well as the Department of Finance and Treasury Board, which makes decisions about public-sector unions, he said. "Our position is that teachers can indeed work from home in these situations. But the department and Treasury Board don't agree with that position." Cuming argues there's no reason teachers should have to report to a building that's being deep-cleaned, stand in line to use the washroom and "worry about using a common area to heat their lunch." "It's just going to heighten the exposure," he said. "[I'm] not saying it's dangerous, but it may increase any risk that's there." It's also going to add to their stress, said Cuming, who estimates he personally received at least 150 emails in two days from teachers across New Brunswick who are concerned about the recent changes. The federation and association intend to continue to try to persuade the government to reverse the changes, he said. 'Always been the expectation,' says government spokesperson But Department of Education spokesperson Tara Chislett said "there has always been the expectation that teachers will report to schools to work, even if students are learning from home," as part of planning for red alert levels. She did not respond to a late afternoon request to provide any documentation. In the event of a confirmed case in a school — at any alert level — teachers may be asked to work from home to allow Public Health to complete contact tracing, said Chislett. "These situations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, based on comprehensive risk assessments carried out by Public Health," she said in an emailed statement. The Department of Education works closely with school districts, schools and Public Health in the rollout of outbreak management plans when a case is confirmed in a school, said Chislett. School and district staff will follow any advice that may be provided by regional Public Health authorities, she said. Treasury Board spokesperson Jennifer Vienneau said she was unable to respond to a request for comment because of pre-budget consultations. On Sunday, when the Education minister announced changes to keep K-12 schools open, even at the red alert level, he said if a positive case was confirmed at a school, the school would be closed for a minimum of three days to allow for contact tracing and that the school would become a testing site for school staff. But he made no mention of the requirement for teachers to teach from the closed schools. The department's Changes in Directives for Early Learning and Childcare Facilities and Schools, dated Jan. 20 and posted online, makes no mention of the requirement either. The chief medical officer of health has repeatedly urged people to stay home as much as possible to help get the second wave of the pandemic under control. 30 new cases, Edmundston lockdown Saturday Russell announced 30 new cases on Friday, pushing the provincial total of active cases to 331. There are five people in hospital, three of whom are in intensive care. The Edmundston region, Zone 4, will go into a full lockdown Saturday at midnight, said Russell, due to rising cases and spread in "several" workplaces and two special care homes, the Manoir Belle Vue and Le Pavillon Le Royer. The Moncton region, Zone 1, Saint John region, Zone 2, and Fredericton region, Zone 3, remain at the red level, while the Campbellton region, Zone 5, Bathurst region, Zone 6, and Miramichi region, Zone 7, remain at the orange level. But Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the situation is constantly being reassessed. "We will be meeting with Public Health in the days ahead, and if the numbers are trending in the right direction, we may be able to move at least Zone 2, the Saint John region, and Zone 3, the Fredericton region, back to orange."
The Newfoundland and Labrador NDP announced Thursday a commitment to change the Medical Transportation Assistance Program (MTAP) so it would no longer require upfront payment and reimbursement for users. NDP Leader Alison Coffin was in Labrador on Wednesday and Thursday this week, talking to Labradorians and campaigning with the local candidates. Coffin said they’ve been hearing about a variety of issues from people, including affordability, access to medical care and transportation. Coffin said the MTAP, which covers up to $1,000 of a flight, is insufficient for the needs of Labradorians, and changes need to be made. “We’re proposing that the flights be covered. That should be covered by government,” she told SaltWire Network. “If you have a medical appointment or if you have a procedure scheduled, that shouldn't be a burden on families and individuals at a time they’re already concerned about their health. That’s grossly inappropriate, so the right thing to do is fund those flights.” Coffin said the fact that people sometimes have to fundraise to cover the cost of the flights to get medical treatment is "ridiculous," so the NDP wants to make sure it’s meeting the needs of Labradorians. “It’s an example of government downloading the cost of health care to individuals,” she said. “That is not appropriate. We have a universal health-care system. Why are individuals incurring enormous costs to access health care? That’s not a universal health-care system.” People having to travel as much as they do for medical services is another part of the issue, Coffin said, and stressed that the MTAP changes are just part of the changes the NDP sees that are needed to health-care delivery in Labrador. Labrador West resident Dawn Willcott said she agrees the program needs to change, and as it currently stands is prohibitive to Labradorians accessing health care. Willcott said she had to travel from Labrador West to St. John’s for knee surgery and when she arrived was told they didn’t have the time and would have to rebook. “He calls me months later and says, ‘Can you come next week?’” she said. “I was like, ‘Do you know where Labrador City is?’” Willcott said she sees it as just one way that health care needs to be improved in Labrador, and things like more video conferencing and sending specialists to the area even for a few weeks to see patients would cut down on medical travel and the subsequent expenses. The key issue, she said, is finding ways to get doctors to come to the area and to stay. “There is always the stress of leaving family, work and their home (for travellers),” she said. “They should be looking at ways to provide more services locally instead.” She said less travel would improve morale, businesses wouldn’t lose employees for as long, and people would not be so worried about leaving their home and family. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
WASHINGTON — Testing wristbands are in. Mask-wearing is mandatory. Desks are socially distanced. The clearest sign that there's a new boss at the White House is the deference being paid to coronavirus public health guidelines. It’s a striking contrast to Donald Trump’s White House, which was the epicenter of no less than three separate outbreaks of COVID-19, their true scale not fully known because aides refused to discuss cases publicly. While the Trump administration was known for flouting safety recommendations, the Biden team has made a point of abiding by the same strict guidelines they’re urging Americans to follow to stem the spread of the virus. It’s part of an overall effort from President Joe Biden to lead by example on the coronavirus pandemic, an ethos carried over from his campaign and transition. “One of the great tragedies of the Trump administration was a refusal to recognize that many Americans model the behaviour of our leadership," said Ben LaBolt, a former press secretary to President Barack Obama who worked on the Biden transition. “The Biden administration understands the powerful message that adhering to their own guidelines and modeling the best public health behaviour sends, and knows that that’s the best path to climbing out of this until we can get a shot in the arm of every American.” To that end, most of Biden’s White House staff is working from home, co-ordinating with colleagues by email or phone. While the White House aims to have more people working onsite next week, officials intend to operate with substantially reduced staffing for the duration of the pandemic. When hundreds of administration staffers were sworn in by Biden on Wednesday, the ceremony was virtual, with the president looking out at team members displayed in boxes on video screens. The emphasis on adhering to public safety guidelines touches matters both big and small in the White House. Jeffrey Wexler is the White House director of COVID-19 operations, overseeing the implementation of safety guidelines throughout the administration, a job he performed during the transition and campaign. During her first press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested those working in the office would receive daily testing and N95 masks would be mandatory. Indeed, Biden's new federal mask mandate executive order requires that federal employees, contractors and others in federal buildings and on federal lands wear masks and adhere to social distancing requirements. The executive order allows for agency heads to make “case-by-case exceptions" — like, for instance, Psaki's. She wears one until she steps up to the podium for briefings. Officials in close contact with Biden wear wristbands to signify they have been tested that day. Every event with the president is carefully choreographed to maintain distancing, with strips of paper taped to the carpet to show the likes of Vice-President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony Fauci where to stand when Biden is delivering an address. When Biden met with his COVID team in the State Dining Room on Thursday, the five people in the room sat at individual tables placed at least six feet apart and four others joined by Zoom to keep numbers down. Plexiglass barriers have been set up at some desks that are in open areas, but nearly all staff who are already working in the building have enclosed offices. The Biden team already had a robust contact tracing program set up during the transition, which it's keeping around for any possible exposures. Staffers also were issued laptops with wallpaper displays that offer a list of COVID symptoms and a directive to “call the White House medical unit” if they have experienced any of them. The Trump White House was another story altogether. After one virus scare in May, the White House mandated mask-wearing, with a memo from chief of staff Mark Meadows requiring their use in shared workspaces and meetings. Simple surgical masks were placed at the entrance to the West Wing. But after only a few days of moderate compliance, mask-wearing fell away almost entirely, as Trump made it clear to aides he did not like the visual of people around him wearing masks — let alone wearing one himself. Trump’s White House reduced staffing capacity during the earliest days of the pandemic, but by late spring, when Trump was intent on projecting that the country was “reopening” from pandemic lockdowns — and the U.S. was at roughly 80,000 deaths — aides quickly resumed normal operations. That provided ideal conditions for the spread of an airborne virus. It was only after Trump himself tested positive that some aides began staggering their work schedules to provide enhanced distancing and contingencies in case someone tested positive. Those working for the new administration welcome the stricter guidelines now, but they do pose some potential complications as the Biden team builds out its operation. Karen Finney, who was a spokeswoman in the Clinton White House, said the first challenge may simply be creating a cohesiveness and camaraderie when some new staffers are brought on board without ever having worked in the same room. “When you sit in the same office as everyone, it’s just a different dynamic," she said. “There's a sense of, ‘We’ve got each other's backs, we're going to be working together on this.'” Finney added that most of the staff are used to working remotely at this point, so it's not necessarily a new challenge. But she allowed that the national COVID response itself could be somewhat hamstrung by the COVID requirements at the White House. “Having to co-ordinate between limited staff in the office, those working remotely, along with governors, mayors, their staff, those on the Hill — it’s a challenge,” she said. “They’ve had the time to think through how to do some of this, but look, it’s going to be a work in progress." Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Republican lawmaker and doctor who questioned whether members of “the colored population” were disproportionately contracting the coronavirus because of their hygiene is drawing new criticism from Black lawmakers after his appointment to lead the state Senate Health Committee. “Could it just be that African Americans – or the colored population — do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear masks? Or do not socially distance themselves?” state Sen. Stephen Huffman asked a Black health expert in June 11 testimony. “Could that just be the explanation of why there’s a higher incidence?” The comments resulted in calls from Democrats and the ACLU of Ohio for him to resign from the GOP-controlled Senate. Huffman, of Tipp City, was appointed last week by Senate President Matt Huffman, his cousin, to chair the committee even after he was fired from his job as a Dayton-area emergency room physician for his comments. In a letter Wednesday, the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus demanded a health committee leader who understands and can respond to the inequities of healthcare in Ohio “without political influence.” “If the Senate leadership will not replace Sen. Huffman as Chair, then we will expect Sen. Huffman to use his position to improve the health of Ohio’s African-American population by working with OLBC to pass legislation that effectively addresses health disparities in the state of Ohio,” director Tony Bishop said in a news release. Huffman remains a licensed medical doctor in Ohio. “Senator Huffman is a medical doctor and highly qualified to chair the Health Committee," spokesperson John Fortney said Friday in a written statement. "He has a long record of providing healthcare to minority neighbourhoods and has joined multiple mission trips at his own expense to treat those from disadvantaged countries. Fortney added that Huffman apologized at the time “for asking a clumsy and awkwardly worded question.” “Sincere apologies deserve sincere forgiveness, and not the perpetual politically weaponized judgement of the cancel culture,” he said." ___ Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Farnoush Amiri, The Associated Press
While one Northern Ontario health unit has decided to ban some outdoor activities such as snowmobiling, skating and hill sliding, that is not currently in the plans for Sudbury's public health region. As of Thursday January 21, all OFSC (Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs) trails and associated sledding trails on crown land within the jurisdiction of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit were shut down by order of Dr. Jim Chirico, the medical officer of health. This takes in thousands of square kilometres from the Quebec border to Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. There are roughly 1,900 kilometres of groomed trails. The order will be in effect for the duration of the provincial stay-at-home order and can be reassessed in the future, said the news release. “We have been told to stay home and we need to do this,” said Dr. Chirico in the release. “I have received many complaints about people travelling from other districts to use the local snowmobile trails, thus putting our district at risk of COVID-19. "The OFSC recommends that snowmobilers avoid trailering and travelling to destinations that are outside their health unit region to snowmobile, but people have not taken the direction seriously. “We are also seeing groups of snowmobilers congregating on trails, in parking lots and other locations not maintaining a two-metre distance and exceeding the gathering limits.” The decision sparked an outcry on social media from hundreds of avid sledders who have paid the $270 annual fee for riding OFSC trails across Ontario. Many are upset about the loss of sledding privileges and question the concept of closing down outdoor activities where many believe there is little chance of contracting the coronavirus in an outdoor setting, where most riders wear helmets and face shields. Northern Ontario trails also attract hundreds of riders from Southern Ontario owing to the greater number of long-distance trails. Some local sledders said if anything, police and trail wardens should be sending out-of-town riders back home. The snowmobiling ban came a week after another controversial call by the North Bay Parry Sound health unit. On January 14, it decreed that all outdoor public ice skating rinks, tobogganing hills and skating trails on public property across the district to be closed. It too was done in accordance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act according to a news release. “Travelling to skating rinks and tobogganing hills can increase risk of spread of COVID-19 when individuals choose to travel with people who they do not live with,” said Dr. Chirico. “Skating rinks and tobogganing hills are locations where we have seen a lot of individuals gather without physical distancing and many times without face coverings. While enjoying these amenities COVID-19 restrictions may get forgotten and put our community at risk.” Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD), which also covers large urban and rural areas, has taken a different approach. In response to an inquiry from Sudbury.com, PHSD said outdoor activities would continue and it encouraged people to observe physical distancing and to wear masks. "At this time, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is not recommending the closure of snowmobiling trails, sliding hills, or outdoor skating rinks. Public Health will continue to monitor the local COVID-19 situation closely to protect the health of the community," PHSD said. "There is a higher risk of COVID spread if people are congregating together. Remember to stay with people you live with or in groups of five or less outdoors while keeping at least two metres of distance. Wear a mask if there is a chance you are going to get within two metres of others. As part of the stay-at-home order, avoid non-essential travel. Everyone is required to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise, or for essential work," said the PHSD response. Similar to the Sudbury position, the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit, has taken the softer approach. On January 19, Simcoe-Muskoka’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner, held a media briefing and said it hadn't occurred to him to take the restrictive action imposed by the North Bay Parry Sound health unit. "At this point in time I’m not considering doing that. I think I would have to see evidence that it is both helpful and necessary to make that kind of restriction," said Gardner in a live-streamed event. Gardner was also quoted as saying that although an argument could be made for keeping snowmobilers at home, there could be some individuals who rely on sledding as a primary means of transportation at this time of year. He said he would need more evidence before shutting down outdoor activities. Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the federal government. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
BRUCE COUNTY – Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce medical officer of health, addressed Bruce County council on Jan. 14 with an update on the COVID-19 situation including vaccinations. Arra said the most recent projections locally indicate the surge in cases over the holidays is over, and numbers are heading back to where they were, “with four to six or seven” cases per day reported. The surge had been expected, due to holiday gatherings. The situation across the province is completely different, Arra said. It shows a gradual but steady increase that does not corelate to the holidays or current lockdown, and is presently about 3,000 per day. “Fifty per cent of hospital ICUs are at capacity,” he said, adding that this is expected to continue for four to six weeks. As for the vaccine, “Today (Jan. 14) we received 200 doses.” Another 800 doses are expected to arrive the last week of January. Both are going to the long-term care sector, said Arra. That includes residents, staff and essential caregivers. The priority in the province, he said, has been “hot spots” – which Grey-Bruce definitely is not. County Coun. Anne Eadie, mayor of Kincardine, asked if it is true the general public probably will not be vaccinated until April or May. Arra confirmed it, stating the province plans to vaccinate in three phases, with the first phase, for the most vulnerable, completed by March, the second phase for essential workers following that, and the third phase being everyone else. “It’s estimated phases two and three will not be completed,” he said, and will end when the pandemic ends, when herd immunity is achieved. County Coun. Robert Buckle, mayor of South Bruce, asked if the vaccination will provide lifetime immunity. Arra answered that no one knows the answer to that one yet. At present, it seems likely the vaccine will be “somewhere between the flu and measles,” and will last between one and three years, rather like pertussis. County Coun. Luke Charbonneau asked when the vaccine “will be in arms” and why the stay-at-home order was needed in Grey-Bruce. The answer for the first part was easy – immediately, or as soon as is practical. The second part was more complicated. Strict lockdowns have proved effective in other jurisdictions, such as Australia and France. While the numbers in Grey-Bruce remain relatively low compared to the rest of the province, meaning a lockdown wouldn’t have been needed here “if we were an island.” However, the fact is we are not an island. Arra said others would have come to our area, bringing COVID-19 with them. Before the lockdown, hockey teams from outside the area were beginning to rent ice time here. Arra responded to a question from Warden Janice Jackson, mayor of South Bruce Peninsula, by saying it’s the Pfizer vaccine (the one that must be stored at extremely cold temperatures) that’s coming to Grey-Bruce, and all of it will be used as soon as possible, since more is coming by the time the second dose needs to be administered. , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
GREY-BRUCE – Although there are still 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, the number of new cases continues to drop from the post-holiday spike. As of Jan. 18, there had been five new cases in the previous 24 hours – one each in Owen Sound, Brockton, Grey Highlands, Hanover and West Grey. This brings the cumulative total to 653. There are 115 high risk contacts associated with active cases. Two people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. There are no outbreaks in Grey-Bruce. An outbreak with the Town of The Blue Mountains has been declared over. The first shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 200 doses, have been administered. People are being urged to follow the basic measures that brought down numbers during the first wave – wash hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally six feet) and wear a face covering correctly. Everyone should also avoid crowds and unnecessary travel as the provincial lockdown continues. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
France has one of western Europe's highest rates of distrust in modern-day vaccines. On Unreported Europe we take a look at why, what anti-vaxxers have to say and what can bring sceptics rounds. View on euronews
A Nepean retirement home where 10 people have died from COVID-19 is the first in the city to begin vaccinating residents and staff against the illness, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says. "As part of Phase 1 of the COVID vaccine rollout in Ottawa, Valley Stream Retirement Home was identified as a high-risk retirement home and the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was made available and administered to staff, essential caregivers and residents on Jan. 17," OPH confirmed Thursday. OPH finished administering the first vaccine doses to residents in long-term care homes in mid-January, but Valley Stream is the first high-risk retirement home to be offered the same opportunity. At a news conference on Wednesday, Ottawa's general manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte said that while second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be delayed for some, one high-risk retirement home and one "congregate home with older adults" would still have a chance to receive first doses of the vaccine. In total, 51 of Valley Stream's 134 residents have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began on Jan. 2. Thirteen of those cases are now considered resolved. Another 27 staff members have also tested positive, 10 of which are now resolved. Jennifer Rose's 80-year-old father Richard Currie lives at Valley Stream, but has tested negative so far. "I'm obviously grateful and thankful that they're getting vaccines, and [with] my dad still testing negative, I'm happy he's getting that protection," Rose said, adding she's sympathetic to families that haven't been so lucky. "I just find it's so hard for the families that did lose somebody to this," she said. "They were close to being able to get that vaccine. It's just heartbreaking that it was almost within their grasp." Cleaning protocols enhanced Revera, which owns numerous long-term care facilities in Ontario and across North America, said it's working closely with OPH to maintain proper protocols and limit the spread of the virus at Valley Stream. "We are doing enhanced cleaning at Valley Stream, frequently disinfecting high touch surfaces like handrails and doors, common areas and staff rooms," the company's chief medical officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, wrote. Collins said all residents are being monitored and tested if they show symptoms, while staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shifts. Visits are restricted to essential caregivers, as well as essential visits for palliative residents. "We recognize how difficult these measures are for residents and their families, and we appreciate their patience and understanding as we put these precautions in place for the safety of our residents," Collins wrote. According to OPH, the recent delay of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine "did not impact the administration of vaccines at Valley Stream." Earl Brown, professor emeritus of virology at the University of Ottawa, said while it's important to administer the second dose within a specific period of time after the first shot, giving more vulnerable people a single dose may prove the best option — as long as that second dose isn't too far behind. "It really comes down to maximizing your benefit," Brown said. "So numbers-wise, it generally has tended to favour spreading out the first dose and getting the second dose in somewhat of a timely manner. " But while the two vaccines both report higher than 90 per cent effectiveness in stopping the virus, Brown said it's believed they're less effective for older people. "I think the unknowns loom larger with this group."
Coup de théâtre mercredi après-midi, alors que le Directeur général des élections du Québec (DGEQ) informait l’avocat de Virginie Dufour qu’une enquête était ouverte relativement aux allégations de financement politique illégal qui visent sa cliente. Cette information est tombée dans les heures suivant une entrevue que Mme Dufour, conseillère municipale de Sainte-Rose, accordait au Courrier Laval, où elle annonçait son retour au sein du comité exécutif dont elle s’était retirée le 30 novembre dernier «pour ne pas nuire aux affaires de la Ville». Or, ce mercredi 20 janvier, elle estimait que l’«injustice» dont elle se dit victime «a assez duré». D’autant que, affirmait-elle, le DGEQ ne l’avait jamais relancée à la suite de son courriel - il y a sept semaines - où elle demandait à l’institution de faire enquête sur les allégations formulées à son endroit afin de «rétablir sa réputation». À défaut d’une enquête formelle, elle disait réintégrer l’exécutif «la tête haute» avec en main un affidavit signé par Normand Cusson, l’homme qu’on entend sur l’enregistrement incriminant rendu public par le Journal de Montréal, le 30 novembre. Dans une déclaration assermentée, M. Cusson, un proche de Virginie Dufour, affirme avoir menti lorsqu’il dit que ses contributions versées par chèque au Mouvement lavallois – Équipe Marc Demers lui sont remboursées en argent comptant par l’élue de Sainte-Rose. Considérant que le DGEQ ouvre une enquête, Virginie Dufour entend-elle se retirer à nouveau du comité exécutif le temps que la lumière soit faite sur ces allégations? Une décision devrait être rendue d’ici les prochaines heures, informe-t-on au cabinet du maire.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized.