Check out this pup's epic fail as it tries to jump and play with a toy. Don't worry, nobody was hurt!
Check out this pup's epic fail as it tries to jump and play with a toy. Don't worry, nobody was hurt!
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
VICTORIA — The B.C. government says a review of legal options has made it clear it cannot prevent people from travelling to the province from elsewhere in Canada. Premier John Horgan says in a statement that much of the travel that is happening between provinces is work-related and can't be restricted. The province had asked for a review of legal options related to restricting interprovincial travel last week in response to concerns that visitors have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. Horgan says the province also asked for "a better understanding of the impact of travel on transmission" of the illness. He says B.C. can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of residents. If transmission increases due to interprovincial travel, the premier says B.C. would impose stronger restrictions on non-essential travellers, though he did not offer details on potential measures in Thursday's statement. Horgan said he spoke with premiers in other provinces Thursday and asked them to share messages that now is not the time for non-essential travel. "We ask all British Columbians to stay close to home while vaccines become available. And to all Canadians outside of B.C., we look forward to your visit to our beautiful province when we can welcome you safely," he said. Public health officials indicate it's most important that everyone obey health orders, wherever they are, rather than imposing mobility rules, said Horgan. While announcing the legal review on Jan. 14, Horgan said he wanted to put the matter of interprovincial travel restrictions "either to rest, so British Columbians understand we cannot do that" or find if there's a way to do it. Horgan added that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is exploring further restrictions on international travel and “B.C. stands ready to assist.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Manitoba is loosening lockdown measures as its COVID-19 case counts continue to level off, but while other provinces see early signs of a similar slowdown, experts warn that some of the worst impacts of the recent surge may be yet to come. The Manitoba government announced Thursday that it's easing some of its restrictions in most regions as the province sees an overall decline in daily diagnoses after leading the country in new infections per capita last fall. Starting Saturday, Manitoba will allow non-essential retail stores to reopen at 25 per cent capacity after months of being limited to delivery or curbside pickup. Barber shops, hair salons, reflexologists and some other personal care services will be able to resume operations. A ban on social visits will also be relaxed, with the province allowing each household to designate two guests to welcome into their home. Up to five people will be able to gather outdoors. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Manitoba's chief public health officer said Thursday. The northern part of the province will remain under the strict protocols imposed in November as outbreaks in isolated communities have kept case counts high. Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said this "cautious" approach is warranted given Manitoba's hard-fought gains since Thanksgiving, when the province began to see an exponential surge in infections. But as two of Canada's hardest-hit provinces — Quebec and Ontario — see infections tick down from their post-Christmas peaks, Carr said Canadians shouldn't confuse a drop-off with an excuse to drop their guards. "We have to continue to be part of the solution, and take a very slow approach," said Carr. "Otherwise you're just going to sabotage all the progress we've made." Ontario marked a fourth consecutive day of fewer than 3,000 daily cases Thursday, reporting 2,632 new infections. Quebec reported 1,624 new cases, a slight uptick from Wednesday, but maintained a five-day streak of fewer than 2,000 diagnoses. However, a lag between diagnoses and the onset of severe symptoms may be concealing the lethal consequences of the recent surge, Carr said. Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, also expects cases of severe illness will continue to rise as people's conditions worsen in coming days, leading to more hospitalizations and deaths. "Strong and sustained efforts are needed to reduce heavy demands on the health-care system," Tam wrote in her daily update Thursday. "Without this, the ability to continue with the present level of elective procedures will become increasingly difficult in heavily impacted areas." Alberta began to slowly loosen restrictions earlier this week as overall numbers have trended down. Still, the province recorded 16 more deaths Thursday, pushing the overall toll past 1,500. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw warned that hospitalizations across the province are still as high as they were on Dec. 8, when stricter restrictions were brought in. Tam said the virus has spread to new areas in the country, some of which may not have the health-care resources to cope with a complex medical emergency. On Thursday, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health said the province is at a "tipping point" as officials reported 32 new cases Thursday. The Atlantic province is reporting a total of 324 active cases after months of relatively few infections. Premier Blaine Higgs said officials are seeing signs of improvement, but the future direction will depend on whether people follow the rules in place. British Columbia's top doctor and health minister warned in a statement that community clusters and outbreaks are behind a high number of cases in the province, despite the infection curve trending downward. There were 564 new cases in B.C. on Thursday and 15 more deaths. The province is expected to release an update on its vaccination rollout Friday as the possibility looms that thousands of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine won't be delivered this month. Carr warned that Canada remains on track for a serious resurgence in cases, and with the threat of new, more transmissible variants of the virus swirling, things could get worse before they get better. "We're (not) out of the woods at all yet," said Carr. "We have to stay very careful in every province." Tam said Canada has averaged 6,309 new diagnoses a day over the past week, and 148 deaths from the illness each day. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
B.C. laboratories are working on fast-tracking how they test for new, more infectious COVID-19 mutations, so that the province's recent success in flattening its pandemic curve is not quickly undone. The province's seven-day average of new daily cases is hovering around 481 as of Thursday, but when it comes to genetic code a tiny change could be enough to alter a province's pandemic trajectory. "It could simply be one single change, and you can imagine the difference between the spelling of new versus now. It could be a subtle change, just one letter different," explained Natalie Prystajecky, a microbiologist at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. She says data on the U.K. variant suggests that subtle change is enough to make the new strain 50 per cent more transmissible from person to person than the common strain of SARS-CoV-2. If it spreads, it could dramatically increase the growth rate of the pandemic curve in B.C. So far, there have been only four confirmed cases of a variant of COVID-19 that first emerged in the U.K. and one case of a mutation originating in South Africa. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said last week that the cases have been isolated and that the new strains aren't yet spreading in the community. In the meantime, laboratories at the BCCDC are ramping up their capacity to identify cases of the new mutations. Full genome sequencing Prystajecky, who is the program head for the environmental microbiology program at the CDC, says the routine COVID-19 test collected by swabs or gargle does not detect the new mutation. "The spike protein, which is where the majority of mutations occur, is not the best place for a diagnostic target for routine testing," Prystajecky explained. To identify mutations, labs have to create a full genomic sequence of COVID-19 test samples The first step involves extracting the nucleic acid — which contains DNA and RNA, the virus's genetic code — a process that can take approximately two days. The nucleic acid is then put into one of the CDC's sequencers which can take up to 19 hours to generate the specific order of letters in the genetic code which can then be analyzed. "So from end to end, we're looking at three to four days to do all samples tested," said Prystajecky. "We have a higher amount of cases in British Columbia than we have sequencing capacity right now, which is why we're trying to ramp up the amount of screening that we can do for variants of concern." Those strategies include prioritizing samples from returning travelers for sequencing and developing screening assays that can cut down the time it takes to detect mutations to half a day. Contact tracing 'on steroids,' says researcher A mathematical biologist at the University of British Columbia says because the U.K. variant is more infectious, detecting cases has to go hand in hand with more stringent contact tracing.. "One way to do it is to kind of put our contact tracing on steroids," said Sally Otto, who works with a group of researchers on modelling the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C. Currently, if an individual tests positive for COVID-19, public health authorities will reach out to the recent close contacts of the infected person and ask them to isolate and monitor for symptoms. "What I mean by [on steroids] is we also ask those contacts to identify the individuals that they have been in recent contact with and really make two layers of protection around these new variants." Expanding tracing efforts to that second layer of contacts could push B.C.'s contact tracing capacity to its limits, but, Otto says, with the curve flattening, now is the time to double down tracing cases of the new, more infectious variants.
Sask Polytech and three partner institutions have received a funding boost from the Lawson Foundation for a project that will help in their efforts to advance outdoor early learning and teaching across Canada. The collaborative project by Bow Valley College, New Brunswick Community College, Okanagan College and Saskatchewan Polytechnic is called Outdoor Pedagogy in Early Childhood Education: From Colleges to Communities has been awarded a grant of a grant of $750,000. Project lead Dr. Beverlie Dietze, director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College, explained that outdoor education is vital for children because of health benefits, physical literacy and connecting with nature. “Those are core components in children’s development as well as we look at it from a social development, peer play and experiences that support children in preparing for later academic skills. Much of the foundations, for example, of science and math are started as children engage in outdoor experiences,” Dietze said. She explained that outdoor education is vital as part of health and wellness and supports students in returning to the outdoors as a place where they participate in daily lives. “This is how we build environmental stewardship and how children are going to become further connected with their environment and care for their environment,” she explained Nancy Holden, Sask Polytech School of Human Services academic chair agreed. She added that children could be educated in various curriculum through outdoor learning. “They are doing it without realizing what they are doing. So there is science when they try to put two sticks together and wonder if they are going to hold each other up or they are going to do math when they are playing in the rocks and they want everyone to have the same number. All parts of their being and growth — whether it is creatively, cognitively — all of those pieces can be tapped into when they are playing outdoors,” Holden said. According to Dietze, there is social learning and physical learning in outdoor learning including strengthening body structures as a physical aspect. “The whole notion of what we call self-regulation or knowing how far they can push and pull with their friends — that happens when they are outdoors in a rough and tumble experience. And when we look at it emotionally it’s a very important place for children to again gain that sense of calmness and ability to deal with some of their stressors and to really be able to refocus,” Dietze said. She explained that it is important from a health and educational perspective. “When we look at young children and preparing them for later academic skills it very much is connected to those earlier experiences. When we look at the increase in children with diabetes, when we look at the children having visual difficulties, those are all related to them requiring action and activity in the outdoor environment. We can actually contribute a great deal to reducing our heath care costs when we have children engaged in regular outdoor experiences.” The goal of the three-year project is to demonstrate a model of outdoor pedagogy practices, teaching, learning and mentoring that will create a shift in curriculum in post-secondary Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs and in community early learning and child care programs. According to a press release, in 2018 only five out of 100 college ECE programs had explicit outdoor pedagogy courses and no practicum experiences for students had outdoor play requirements. In addition, a Canadian survey of 896 ELCC educators who enrolled in an online outdoor play training course found that 89 per cent of respondents had never received any training in outdoor pedagogy, and 72 per cent indicated that they lacked the training and experience to implement outdoor pedagogy in their work. “Pedagogy means a combination of experiences and knowledge creates learning. So when we look at it from an outdoor perspective, we use the term outdoor pedagogy because it’s going to be the experiences, the play, the connections to land that will contribute to children building on their learning and their knowledge foundations,” Dietze said. Through the collaboration, the group aims to support college instructors, their students, and early childhood educators, in implementing high quality outdoor experiences and play opportunities to and with children. Dietze explained that the project’s purpose is to support ECE students to work on understanding the impact of outdoor play and experiences with children. “So that is the intent that we will increase the amount of education that those educators see. And then when they are working with children they will see the outdoor environment as a very important part of the experiences that children require,” Dietze said. Holden explained that the learning occurs naturally. “It is adults who put labels on things. Children don’t sit around and say okay I am going to engage in a cognitive activity now and I am going to sit down and do some science, but yet, that is what they are doing,” Holden said. Children playing in nature can learn through the labels and language that already exist. “So it is a great opportunity and when you think about. We often ask our students to think about one childhood memory that brings you joy and it’s interesting because 98 per cent of the students will reflect on an outdoor activity,” she added. Dietze explained that land-based learning is part of the package for children. She said that it supports children in looking at the place they are and utilizing, preserving and getting to what is in the land. “It’s all interconnected. Whether we utilize the term land-based or outdoor pedagogy the principles are the same. We are wanting children to connect to their environment and to use that as a lab for their play,” Dietze said. According to Dietze. Saskatchewan is a large part of adding to the knowledge base of the project because of experiences in the land. That will be part of the research as it spreads internationally. “Your communities are very important to this project as we learn and create that new awareness of how land-based and outdoor pedagogy can be implemented in communities such as yours,” Dietze said. “Further from the college perspective how it makes a difference in their graduates in being prepared when they graduate to bring this new knowledge base to the children and the families of your communities.” Holden explained that one goal would be ideally to develop an outdoor demonstration center similar to one that currently exists for ECE programming. “We may be able to develop a demonstration center in outdoor play where we have an opportunity for children to come and they live outdoors for the entire time that they are in there,” she said. “When you say to someone that they are going to send a three-year-old outside at minus 20 degree weather most people would cringe. There are ways around that and this will be part of the project that we will be able to prove to people that there are safe ways to allow children to be outdoors during those times,” she explained. Holden explained that the different institutions bring different experiences with four partners each bringing their own perspective. “Saskatchewan plays a really key part in a lot of different ways. Definitely in our harsh winters comparative to places like British Columbia or New Brunswick. But also our level of Indigenous and how can we incorporate Indigenous ways of doing that are very much ties to the outdoors and nature and what can we offer there.” Sask Polytech is happy to be part of the partnership as it grows. “Really we see it as a Canada-wide opportunity to really make a difference in the future for our communities and for our society,” Holden said. “When children get these opportunities to be outdoors and to learn through nature and improve their health it is nothing but a win-win and I think this is just the beginning of what is to come.” Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
OTTAWA — It will likely be another year before a federal review of the government's key transparency law is complete, fuelling the frustration of openness advocates. Newly released terms of reference for the government study of the Access to Information Act say a report will be submitted to the Treasury Board president by Jan. 31 of next year. The review, announced last June, has prompted skepticism from open-government proponents, who point to a pile of reports done over the years on reforming the access law. The law, introduced in 1983, allows people who pay $5 to ask for a range of federal documents, but it has been widely criticized as antiquated and poorly managed. "Putting the government in charge of reviewing its own secrecy and delay problems was never a good idea," said Ken Rubin, a researcher and longtime user of the access law. The Liberals should either present a new transparency bill before the next general election or let Parliament and the public figure out how to improve access to federal records, he said. Cara Zwibel, director of the fundamental-freedoms program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said she is frustrated by the review because many of the issues have already been studied by bodies including the federal information commissioner and the House of Commons committee on information, privacy and ethics. The timetable likely means that any change to the law or how it works is at least 18 months to two years away, and even that would assume the Liberals were still governing and had the same priorities, she said. "I am disappointed that we remain in a holding pattern when it comes to advancing in this area." Conservative MP Luc Berthold, the party's Treasury Board critic, called it another example of the government failing to take transparency seriously. "It’s irresponsible for the Trudeau Liberals to wait another year to fix the issues in Canada’s information system," he said. "The time to act is now.” The terms of reference say the review will focus on the legislative framework, opportunities to improve proactive publication to make information openly available and assessing processes to improve service and reduce delays. "The review will seek to broaden understanding of the Access to Information Act, its important role in our democracy and the values and principles it balances." Details about consultations and procedures for making written submissions will be posted on the review's website. The government says the resulting report, to be tabled in Parliament, will include a summary of feedback received during the review and provide recommendations to improve access to information for Canadians. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone Thursday, the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer's Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada's deliveries over four weeks in half. In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021. Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February. Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn't know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada's doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned. Trudeau has been under pressure to call Bourla, as the delayed doses force provinces to cancel vaccination appointments and reconsider timing for second doses. Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn't blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it. "If I was in (Trudeau's) shoes ... I'd be on that phone call every single day. I'd be up that guy's yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn't know what hit him," he said of Pfizer's executives. Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday. Trudeau didn't suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected. Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays. Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn't say which ones. Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment. Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks. Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March. Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Nothing illustrates the political passions of a television network's audience quite like ratings for a presidential inaugural. The 6.53 million people who watched President Joe Biden take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address on MSNBC Wednesday was a whopping 338% bigger than its audience for Donald Trump's swearing in four years ago, the Nielsen company said. On the flip side, Fox News Channel's audience of 2.74 million for Biden on Wednesday represented a nearly 77% drop from its viewership for Trump in 2017, Nielsen said. A preliminary Nielsen estimate shows Biden's inaugural viewership on the top six networks beat Trump by 4%. Nielsen said it doesn't have a complete estimate for inaugural viewing because it is still counting people who watched on other networks or outside their homes. CNN, with 10 million viewers, easily beat ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox during Biden's big moment, Nielsen said. That's 196% more than watched Trump four years ago. CNN, which has been on a hot streak in the ratings since Biden's victory, also topped all the others for its coverage of the primetime inaugural celebration. MSNBC, meanwhile, said it recorded the highest daytime ratings of the network's nearly 25-year history on Wednesday. ABC had 7.66 million viewers for the oath-taking (up 10% from 2017), NBC had 6.89 million (down 12%) and CBS had 6.07 million (down 13%), Nielsen said. David Bauder, The Associated Press
Health PEI says the province's two intensive care units are operating at reduced capacity, all as a result of a nurse staffing crunch. According to the agency, only four of the six ICU beds at Summerside's Prince County Hospital are operational. That's because 9.6 of the 15.6 ICU nurse positions there are vacant. At Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, just eight of the 10 ICU beds are open. The agency says between the ICU and the critical care unit, which share staff, there are 5.9 vacant nursing positions. 'It's huge when you get a loss from the ICU' The P.E.I. Nurses' Union says while many areas of health care continue to face staffing shortages, recruiting and training ICU nurses has proven particularly challenging. "When you get vacancies in areas like ICU, you can't just train an ICU nurse in two weeks," said Barbara Brookin, the union's president. "It's six months minimum before you get a nurse that works in ICU able to work as a second, or take charge of patients and not just supporting the other nurses. So it's huge when you get a loss from ICU." According to the union president, nurses from other departments have been shuffled around to cover some ICU shifts. Health PEI says while the staffing crunch has been manageable to date, it would become more challenging if P.E.I. saw a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, and increased demand for ICU beds and ventilators. "We could have a certain number of ventilators at Prince County Hospital. But if we don't have the nursing level to safely look after them, we wouldn't be able to receive that ventilated patient," said Arlene Gallant-Bernard, the hospital's chief administrative officer. "They probably would look at going to QEH, or on some occasions, we'd have to send them off-Island." Bubble closure hurting recruitment Gallant-Bernard said Health PEI is advertising the ICU nursing positions across Canada. The agency's also offering a $5,000 signing bonus, plus $10,000 to cover moving expenses. But she said the pandemic and closure of the Atlantic bubble have made finding nurses more challenging. Normally, she said, there are nurses living in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, willing to travel here to work during the week. "People have been in those arrangements. But it's getting harder now to make that look appealing because of all the guidelines. And every province's guidelines are a bit different," said Gallant-Bernard. "So when we had the bubble, we had a much broader group to draw from. But now we don't have that." Though one aspect of the pandemic is giving the hospital CAO some recruitment hope. She said the fact P.E.I. has had relatively few COVID-19 cases, restrictions, and health-care pressures should make it a more attractive place for nurses. "It's a very appealing place to come to right now," she said. "So I think if we can recruit, now is the time." More P.E.I. news
Barricades that blocked the Highway 6 bypass around Caledonia for the past three months came down this week, but traffic is not flowing just yet. Land defenders from Six Nations carted away construction debris and moved a large dirt pile off the road. But a trench dug just south of Argyle Street needs to be repaired before the bypass can reopen. Skyler Williams, spokesperson for the land defenders, told The Spectator that Ministry of Transportation inspectors were out assessing the state of the bypass. “The MTO and OPP have full access,” Williams said. “So it’s just a matter of them fixing the road.” The bypass has been blocked three times since the dispute over a planned subdivision on McKenzie Road started in mid-July, when land defenders occupied the 25-acre site — which they claim as unceded Haudenosaunee territory — and named it 1492 Land Back Lane. The most recent barricades started to go up Oct. 22, prompted by a skirmish with police hours after a Superior Court judge made permanent a pair of injunctions barring land defenders from occupying the McKenzie land or blocking roadways in Haldimand County. Williams said trenches were dug across the bypass, Argyle Street and McKenzie Road that night “to protect our camp from police violence.” On Monday, the Land Back group announced it would move off the bypass and shrink the occupied zone on Argyle Street in hopes of persuading the federal government to engage in nation-to-nation negotiations. “In August, barricades were removed in good faith because (federal ministers) Carolyn Bennett and Marc Miller said they would meet with our community, but that hasn’t happened,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to push the feds and the province to come here with a mandate to make some real changes.” Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt reacted with tempered enthusiasm to the news. “This is a step in the right direction, but we’re not breaking out the champagne at this point,” he said. “We stand behind the process we took with the developer and Six Nations in getting to the point where this particular development was to proceed. We believe there’s still a long way to go for us to get to where we feel we belong.” Reopening the bypass should relieve pressure on detour routes that have been clogged with transport trucks and plagued by collisions. But access in and out of Caledonia will still be limited. Land defenders still control roughly one kilometre of Argyle Street south of the town, from the south end of the Caledonia Baptist Church property to just north of a Hydro One transfer station the utility company took offline as a security precaution in October. Williams said his group moved the school bus that had been blocking access to the church parking lot as a gesture of good faith. Trenches ring the construction site on McKenzie Road, while the mangled rail line that runs through the community remains out of service. The barricades serve a tactical purpose, making it harder for the OPP to reach the Land Back camp. Land defenders also hoped to raise public awareness of what they consider an unjust development and put pressure on the government to act. But Hewitt said talks can’t proceed against a backdrop of blockaded roads and occupied land. “It all has to start with roads and infrastructure being opened up,” the mayor said. “So if this is the sign of those steps moving forward, then I’m encouraged, and I encourage that to continue.” The federal ministers have said they are waiting to be invited to a meeting at which Six Nations Elected Council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council can speak with one voice. Getting to that point involves overcoming a century of political division on the reserve that Williams said was created by the federal government instituting the band council system to supplant traditional leadership. “The government and the police, and the Brits before Canada, have tried really hard to divide not just our community, but every (Indigenous) community,” he said. “So for them to take advantage of that century-old divide in our community and say you need to get over the division of the last 100 years, that reconciliation has to come with some trust-building.” Hewitt said it only makes sense for Ottawa to want a lasting solution “that’s embraced by all.” “We can’t continue to have a conversation today with one faction (on Six Nations) and then find out tomorrow that that faction is no longer valid,” he said, calling it “unfortunate” that Caledonia residents and McKenzie homebuyers are stuck in the middle. “We’re looking forward to not only this road, but every road being open, and a strategy that Haldimand and Six Nations can embrace with respect to land development and opportunities that can benefit both communities,” Hewitt said. Williams cautioned that the barricades could go up again if the land defenders and their allies feel they are in danger of being forcibly removed by police while political negotiations proceed. “We know our community supports us and believes in our right to our land,” he said. “We know that if police escalate this situation again, that community will show up for us.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's Liberal party took the first steps Thursday towards selecting a new leader while also addressing a constitutional technicality that still has Andrew Wilkinson as party leader. The party appointed former cabinet minister Colin Hansen as co-chair of an organizing committee to oversee the campaign. A date hasn't been set yet to choose a new leader. Hansen, known as a stalwart in the governments of former premier Gordon Campbell, will co-chair the seven-member committee with Victoria lawyer Roxanne Helme. Interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond said she is energized by the formation of the campaign oversight committee and downplayed the fact Wilkinson hasn't followed the protocol to resign under the party's constitution. "I just have to say this, that British Columbians this morning didn't wake up and worry about whether or not there was constitutionally a technical issue with who's the leader of the B.C. Liberal Party," she said at a news conference. Wilkinson announced his resignation after the Liberals lost the election last fall and dropped seats that were once considered safe for the party. In the days following the Oct. 24 election, Wilkinson held a brief news conference where he said he planned to resign, but would remain leader until a replacement is chosen. About one month later he posted on Facebook: "It is now time for me to leave the role as Opposition leader as voters in B.C. have made their preference clear." Although Wilkinson hasn't official resigned, Bond said she is leading the Liberals. "I'm speaking to you today as the leader of the Opposition, make no mistake about that," she said. Wilkinson is not receiving any leadership benefits from the party and he has no leadership responsibilities, Bond said. "I can assure you this, Andrew Wilkinson is focusing on his role as an MLA," she said. "He has no responsibilities, no stipend, nothing like that related to the B.C. Liberal Party. We certainly expect a letter of resignation at some point in the next few weeks, but the fact of the matter is I lead the official Opposition." Wilkinson was not immediately available for comment. Bond, who has already ruled herself out of the Liberal leadership race, said 2021 will be a year of reflection, renewal and rebuilding for the party. "In the meantime, the party will continue to create and unveil the leadership contest rules and how it will work," she said. "I'm quite energized looking at what candidates might emerge and eventually they will transition to take on the role that I have now." Other members of the organizing committee to help pick a leader include legislature members Jackie Tegart, Derek Lew, Sarah Sidhu, Don Silversides and Cameron Stolz. The committee's mandate includes determining the timeline for the leadership election, establishing the campaign's rules and implementing the election process for party members. — By Dirk Meissner in Victoria This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Despite the current provincewide stay-at-home order, Community Care Peterborough programs are still continuing. “We have been deemed an essential service. Our health care and seniors support programs are necessary to keep the most vulnerable safe in their own homes,” executive director Danielle Belair stated. “In particular, our food support services for seniors including meal and grocery delivery are particularly important at this time.” Hot Meals on Wheels that cost $8 to $10 each are available in Peterborough city on weekdays and in Lakefield, Norwood and Havelock on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Frozen Meals on Wheels — with entrées for $5.25 each, soups for $2.50 each and desserts for $2.50 each — are also available in Peterborough, Lakefield, Norwood and Havelock, as well as in Buckhorn, Apsley, Bridgenorth, Ennismore, Keene and Millbrook areas. “We have great menu options available, and I encourage residents to try these meal deliveries, delivered right to your door and can be conveniently heated when you need them,” Belair stated. For those who’d prefer to prepare their own meals, grocery shopping and delivery services are also available, according to the organization. “If you are interested in grocery shopping services, please call the Community Care office closest to you to make arrangements to purchase a grocery card which will be used by your volunteer shopper to purchase your groceries,” stated Catherine Pink, Community Care Peterborough’s director of support services. “If you have preordered your groceries and need someone to pick them up and deliver to your home, we just need to know what store and time and date for pick up.” To limit the spread of COVID-19, the organization has cancelled blood pressure clinics, foot clinics, in-person (indoor) falls prevention and exercise classes and has also closed the New to You thrift stores. “All other programs like Meals on Wheels, transportation, home help and maintenance, home at last, etcetera, will remain in operation, all adapted to comply with safety protocols,” Belair stated. “Our exercise and wellness supervisor co-ordinator also has an exciting catalogue of free fitness classes geared to older adults, available by Zoom, for those who are looking for active activities.” Belair said Community Care remains focused on supporting Peterborough city and county residents. “We appreciate all those who are staying home and allowing our staff and volunteers to remain focused on providing programs that are supporting our clients and area residents to remain safely in their homes,” Belair stated. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — On the first day of Joe Biden's presidency, Native Americans had reason to celebrate. Biden halted construction of the border wall that threatened to physically separate Indigenous people living on both sides. He also revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that tribes fought in court for years, and he agreed to restore the boundaries of the first national monument created specifically at the request of tribes in southern Utah. Inaugural events showcased tribes across the country in traditional regalia, dancing and in prayer. But amid the revelry, some Native Americans saw a glitch in Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony. The only mention of Indigenous people came in the benediction delivered by the Rev. Silvester Beaman. And then there was the mishmash of songs sung by Jennifer Lopez that included lyrics from “This Land is Your Land." The folk tune is popular around campfires and in grade schools, but it also called to mind the nation's long history of land disputes involving tribes. “Oh, I love J.Lo," said Kristen Herring, who is Lumbee and lives in Austin, Texas. “It wasn't super disappointing that she sang it. But I was like, ‘Oh, why did that have to be on the list of things to sing?’" Woody Guthrie, who wrote the song in the 1940s, meant it as a retort to “God Bless America” and a rebuke to monetizing land at a time of economic crisis, said Gustavus Stadler, an English professor and author of “Woodie Guthrie: An Intimate Life." Lopez put a twist on it, throwing in part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish that translates to “justice for all.” The Guthrie song has been a symbol of equality, inclusion and unity. Lady Gaga sang a rendition of it at the Super Bowl months after Donald Trump took office. It was part of Barack Obama's inaugural programming, with a trio of singers, including Bruce Springsteen, adding back some of the original, more controversial verses. But arriving amid an effort by some tribes to be recognized as stewards of ancestral land, a movement known as Land Back, the lyrics hit the wrong note for some tribal members. “It's a nice little sentiment that America is this mixing pot,” said Benny Wayne Sully, who is Sicangu Lakota and lives in Los Angeles. “But does anybody believe this land was made for you and me? Or was it made for white folks? People forget this land was made of brown people before it was colonized." Rep. Deb Haaland, who is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, acknowledged that perspective in a virtual welcoming to the inaugural events over the weekend. She's been nominated to lead the Interior Department, which oversees tribal affairs. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American in a Cabinet post. That's one of the reasons Cherie Tebo was able to look past the song that she said was inappropriate and emphasized how little some Americans know about Indigenous people. She sees an opportunity for tribes to have a seat at the table in Biden's administration, citing Haaland and Winnebago tribal member Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, who has been named a deputy solicitor for the Interior Department. “In order to make it work, ‘this land is your land, this land is my land,' people (need) to understand it doesn’t belong to us,” said Tebo, who also is Winnebago. “If anything, we belong to it. And when our land is sick, we are sick." ___ Fonseca is a member of The Associated Press' Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FonsecaAP. Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press
Researchers at Ruhr University use designer protein brain injections to regenerate spinal nerves which allow paralyzed mice to walk again.
Jurisdictional issues are causing concerns when it comes to the distribution of coronavirus vaccines to Indigenous people. “There … (are) challenges to overcome when we try to work in partnership with multiple levels of governments and the prioritization province-by-province,” said Marion Crowe, CEO for the First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA). During the weekly virtual townhall Jan. 21 hosted by FNHMA, Crowe referenced comments by premiers who have questioned the need to provide their provinces’ allocated vaccines to Indigenous peoples because First Nations are a federal responsibility. Crowe said one premier even went so far as to say that First Nations were not a priority. She did not report which premiers she was referring to in her comments. The federal government’s role is to procure the vaccines. It’s up to the provinces to distribute them. However, said Dr. Tom Wong, executive director and Chief Medical Officer of Public Health with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), that distribution should follow the guidelines set out by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Wong, who sits on NACI, told the virtual forum audience that NACI did a “thorough evidence review” and developed prioritization recommendations, including Elders and residents and staff in long-term care and Elder care facilities; frontline healthcare workers; and Indigenous peoples in communities in settings where they are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. “Those are the groups right at the very, very beginning. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is telling the whole country please follow these evidence-based guidelines and that includes marginalized, racialized groups in urban settings, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit in those settings,” Wong said. Issues have arisen in dealing with the urban Indigenous population and Wong highlighted outbreaks in Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg. “In particular, the (intensive care unit) admissions for off-reserve in urban areas in Manitoba has been found to be even worse than that on reserve. So this really highlights the point that, yes, there are great needs in the north, but equally that there’s huge needs in some of the urban centres where there’s a lack of services, overcrowding, in homeless shelters,” he said Kim Daly, senior nurse manager, Communicable Disease Control Department with ISC, is also with the COVID-19 vaccine working group for urban Indigenous populations. She told the virtual audience that working with provinces goes beyond prioritizing Indigenous groups. It’s also about making the vaccine accessible. “When we’re talking about items such as systemic racism, it’s important that provinces recognize that just opening a clinic down the road does not mean equal access for all the populations. We’re really trying to break down those barriers so that they know that it’s not just on reserve. It’s not just on remote and isolated (communities). There are barriers all across this country and we’re working together with them,” she said. Epidemiology, said Daly, also dictates how the vaccine is used province-to-province and that was clear throughout the country. Some provinces, like Newfoundland/Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia prioritized remote, isolated or fly-in communities, while other provinces, like Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, prioritized those 18 years and over in Indigenous communities. Manitoba, Alberta and the Northwest Territories prioritized Elder care homes. In Saskatchewan, northern communities were included in the first phase. Daly applauded provinces, like Quebec, which initially saw only about a 50 per cent uptake from Indigenous residents in remote communities for the vaccine. “The province was really gracious with communications, stating, ‘When you’re ready, the vaccine will be here.’ And there was a provision they kept back vaccines… So we really like that approach so people don’t have to make an on-the-spot decision, that they feel comfortable to come back through,” said Daly. Vaccine hesitancy, she added, should be answered with “kindness and understanding and facts.” Daly also pointed out that there were some First Nations and organization like Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which led the process, setting the example for how the vaccine should continue to be rolled out. Wong said more than 160 Indigenous communities have started immunization clinics. “As vaccine deployment continues it remains critical that First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders and partners are included at decision-making tables in each province and each territory and continue to engage in co-planning to determine ongoing capacity and needs with respective communities,” he said. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
On Christmas Day, Jess Lamb needed three injectable vials of naloxone to revive her partner from a fentanyl overdose in their home. The next day, when Patrick Evans experienced an overdose again, it took three nasal sprays and one injection by Lamb to save their life. “I was too scared to call 911 for the second overdose. I didn’t know what would happen to him,” said Lamb on the phone from the couple’s home in Cranbrook. She loses at least one friend a week to the overdose crisis, but Lamb “didn’t want paramedics to show up again and take him without me because of COVID.” The province’s expanded safer supply program is supposed to provide prescription drugs for people — heroin, hydromorphone and others — as an alternative to increasingly poisoned illicit supplies, preventing overdoses and deaths. But for Evans and others, the program has failed to deliver on its promise, advocates say. Evans had been in recovery and not using for over two years when they started using heroin again in the summer. In September, they went to their physician and was prescribed Dilaudid, an oral form of hydromorphone, as an opioid substitute. Like most participants in the program, they crushed and dissolved the pills and injected them. For Evans, safer supply meant being in control of their days and focusing on things beyond their substance use. “When I’ve put one foot in front of the other and tried, navigating substance use disorder is a full-time job,” they said. Lamb used substances including crystal methamphetamine and heroin until 2015 before stopping to only use cannabis. But when Evans began Dilaudid, “the drug of choice was in my house, and it got the best of me,” Lamb said. Under pandemic risk mitigation guidelines announced in March, the province allowed doctors to prescribe alternatives to people at dual risk of COVID-19 and drug overdose. Research from the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2012 estimates as many as 83,000 people in the province are opioid dependent. Between March and December, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said the number of people being prescribed Dilaudid nearly quadrupled from 677 to 3,348 across the province. And by October, Lamb and Evans were among them. But what they first saw as relief quickly became a source of stress that put their lives at risk. Stigma and a lack of understanding from doctors have made safer supply difficult to obtain and even harder to keep, said Evans and Lamb, putting their lives at risk even as the province touts a growing number of people with access to Dilaudid. The couple said both their doctors were hesitant to begin prescribing alternatives at all and began pressuring them to taper off their doses almost as soon as they started. Evans said the challenges began immediately. “It was barely enough, and she was constantly pressuring me to taper down because she didn’t want to be prescribing narcotics,” said Evans. “We had difficulties at the pharmacy too, and there was just so much stigma.” Lamb said her doctor was worried she would be at fault if Lamb injected a prescribed substance meant to be taken orally and overdosed or developed an embolism as a result of air in the needle. “If I’m getting Dilaudid, that’s reducing my risk of an overdose, not increasing it,” said Lamb. Lamb, who works in harm reduction at Ankors AIDS Outreach Centre and Support Society in Cranbrook, has been advocating for people to get on safer supply since March’s risk mitigation guidance came out. But it has been an uphill battle in her work as well as her personal life, Lamb said — even after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced in September that safe supply programs would be expanded and registered nurses would be allowed to prescribe drug alternatives. Four months later, there are few details on plans to expand supply, and nurses still can’t prescribe prescription alternatives to illicit drugs. Lamb and Evans said that as it became difficult to access adequate prescribed alternatives under safer supply programs, they began rationing the pills they did have in the late fall. Their prescription supply dwindled, and Evans began turning to the illicit supply, which led to their back-to-back overdoses during the holidays. The couple says their struggles to access and maintain safer supply won’t be alleviated by allowing nurses to prescribe if the stigma and hesitance of doctors and nurses remains. Lamb said substance users and their peers need to be involved in addictions medicine training for doctors and nurses to ensure they understand the gravity of the problem, Lamb said. The colleges representing and regulating nurses, doctors and pharmacists in B.C. have publicly supported the new expansion plan. But Jordan Westfall, president of the Canadian Association for Safer Supply, says physicians’ concerns about prescribing safer options need to be addressed by the college, particularly around any potential disciplinary issues. “Individual doctors can, and they always have been able to, prescribe safer supply. But running into problems with their college, that’s a huge chilling factor,” said Westfall. “So allowing nurses to prescribe too doesn’t address the root cause.” Hydromorphone tablets were initially chosen as the option because of their portability. Now Westfall wants the government to use the Fair PharmaCare program to make injectable alternatives more widely available. That would increase support from the regulatory colleges, he said, by reducing concerns that people are crushing and injecting pills under the current program. A spokesperson for the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, responsible for rolling out the expanded program, said the plan isn’t complete. But the first cohort of trained nurses are expected to begin prescribing suboxone, an opioid substitute, in February. “This means there will soon be more health-care practitioners available to prevent overdoses, and reach more people and provide more options, especially in underserved areas,” he said in an email. In the last two weeks, both Lamb and Evans have been able to begin accessing opioid substitute treatment through a weekly clinic offered by a visiting doctor. They are now both taking Kadian, a slow-release oral form of morphine, and a reduced dose of Dilaudid, with the intention of transitioning to either methadone or suboxone. While Lamb is grateful to have access to this potential solution, she feels they both had to “play ball” with their doctors to stay on any form of treatment at all. She would have preferred to stay on Dilaudid, because now she worries about how she will get off of Kadian, particularly if methadone or suboxone don’t work for her. And in a place like Cranbrook with limited support and options for accessing health care for substance use, Lamb worries about the people who don’t have the knowledge or the energy to advocate for what they need. Lamb has to call colleagues and contacts in Vancouver to convince her doctor to give her a prescription, she said. “I have to fight for my life,” she said. “When you’re using drugs and trying not to die, you don’t have much time to do other things, and one of those things is advocating for your health care.” Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is back. In truth, the nation’s leading infectious-diseases expert never really went away. But after enduring nearly a year of darts and undermining comments from former President Donald Trump, Fauci now speaks with the authority of the White House again. He called it “liberating” Thursday to be backed by a science-friendly administration that has embraced his recommendations to battle COVID-19. “One of the new things in this administration is, If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess,” Fauci said in one pointed observation during a White House briefing. “Just say you don’t know the answer.” Fauci’s highly visible schedule on Thursday, the first full day of President Joe Biden’s term, underscored the new administration's confidence in the doctor but also the urgency of the moment. His day began with a 4 a.m. virtual meeting with officials of the World Health Organization, which is based in Switzerland, and stretched past a 4 p.m. appearance at the lectern in the White House briefing room. The breakneck pace showcased the urgent need to combat a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and reached its deadliest phase just as the new president comes to office. Fauci made clear that he believed the new administration would not trade in the mixed messages that so often came from the Trump White House, where scientific fact was often obscured by the president’s political agenda. “The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know and what the science is ... it is something of a liberating feeling,” Fauci told reporters. White House press secretary Jen Psaki had invited Psaki to take the podium first at her daily briefing. While choosing his words carefully, Fauci acknowledged that it had been difficult at times to work for Trump, who repeatedly played down the severity of the pandemic, refused to consistently promote mask-wearing and often touted unproven scientific remedies, including a malaria drug and even injecting disinfectant. “It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based in scientific fact,” Fauci said. He added that he took “no pleasure” in having to contradict the president, a move that often drew Trump’s wrath. Biden, during his presidential campaign, pledged to making Fauci his chief medical adviser when he took office, and the 80-year-old scientist was immediately in motion. Fauci was up well before dawn Thursday for the virtual meeting with WHO, which Biden had rejoined the previous day after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the group out of anger over how it dealt with China in the early days of the pandemic. Fauci told the group that the United States would join its effort to deliver coronavirus vaccines to poor countries. In the afternoon, the doctor stood alongside Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris in the White House as they unveiled a series of executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, which is killing more than 4,000 Americans a day, as well as bolstering the nation’s sluggish vaccine distribution program. Fauci had chatted amiably with reporters while awaiting the tardy new president. He acknowledged it was a long day and said that while he’d prefer to go for a run, he planned to powerwalk a few miles Thursday evening. It was all a stark contrast after being kept on a tight leash by the Trump administration. Their West Wing press shop had tightly controlled Fauci’s media appearances — and blocked most of them. The doctor went from being a constant presence in the briefing room during the first weeks of the pandemic to largely being banished as Trump grew jealous of the doctor's positive press and resentful of Fauci's willingness to contradict him. Moreover, Trump frequently undermined Fauci’s credibility, falsely insisting that the pandemic was nearly over. The president regularly referenced Fauci's early skepticism about the effectiveness of masks for ordinary Americans, a position that Fauci quickly abandoned in the face of more evidence. The president's attacks on Fauci — and his dismissiveness of the science — handicapped medical professionals trying to get Americans to take the virus seriously. “There was clear political influence on the message of the pandemic. It became political to say that the pandemic was devastating our community because it was interpreted as a judgement on Trump,” said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious-diseases physician and a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine. “It actively created enemies of the public health folks in a segment of the population.” Having Fauci return to a central role, Bhadelia said, is a sign “that science was being repressed and now back.” As his handling of the pandemic became the defining issue in the 2020 campaign, Trump insisted on portraying the virus as a thing of the past. He also mercilessly attacked Fauci, retweeting messages that called for the doctor’s dismissal and reveled in “Fire Fauci!” chants at some of his rallies. Trump sidelined Fauci but dared not dismiss him, after aides convinced him of the move’s political danger. But Fauci, who has now served under seven presidents, persevered, telling friends that he would keep his head down and aim to outlast Trump and the obfuscations of his administration. “Clarity of message is the most important thing the government can be doing right now; the single biggest disservice Trump did was constantly telling people that pandemic was about to be over,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, who has known Fauci for more than 20 years. In his return to the briefing room, Fauci joked with reporters, seemingly far more relaxed than at any point last year. And as he stepped off the stage, Psaki said she'd soon have him back. ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
Essex-Windsor EMS chief Bruce Krauter has issued a public apology after admitting that an EMS managerial staff member travelled outside of the country during the Christmas holidays. In a statement to CBC News, Krauter apologized for the "error in judgement" from himself and the staff member and urged the public to follow COVID-19 rules. "The decision to travel out-of-country was regrettable, considering public health recommendations advising against non-essential travel," Krauter's statement reads. "The leadership team at Essex-Windsor EMS understands the importance of leading by example, especially in this time of crisis and recognizes this incident is inconsistent with public health messaging." Krauter said the staff member has not had contact with patients or paramedics and quarantined after returning to Canada. He added that the travel is unrelated to a COVID-19 outbreak that was declared last week at an Essex-Windsor EMS facility. At the time, the organization said that 10 paramedics tested positive, two of which were connected to the outbreak. Krauter ended his statement by telling the public to not be discouraged from following public health advice due to this incident and said everyone must continue to do everything they can to slow the spread of COVID-19.
A trade organization representing Canada's movie theatres is calling on British Columbia health officials to explain why cinemas in the province can only open if they're operating as restaurants or bars.Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada, says COVID-19 guidelines that allow theatres to project sporting events on the big screen, but not movies, "highlights the kind of absurdity of what's happening" in the province.The frustration comes as B.C. leaders have allowed gyms, restaurants and bars to stay open, but forced movie theatres to close last November.Vancouver's Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday by pivoting its business to operate as a bar. The city's Hollywood Theatre made a similar move in December.Those sorts of creative rebrandings were applauded by the province's Health Ministry in a statement on Wednesday that recognized those in "the arts and culture sector who have worked hard to find new ways to reinvent themselves during the pandemic."Bronfman says the trade group takes issue with suggestions that movie theatres should be embracing "ingenuity in order to survive.""Most movie theatres don't have liquor licences, and they are on the verge of shutting their doors forever," she says."All we're asking is to be looked at as an industry, as a sector that has a very low risk of any kind of transmission of the disease."Theatres across Canada have been shuttered for a large part of the pandemic over concerns they are a spreading ground for the virus. But representatives for the industry have argued there's no data that points to cinemas as being a point of transmission.Bronfman says if concerns about airflow are part of the issue, it's unclear why health authorities would deem it safe for people to sit across from each other at a bar, but not inside a theatre with high ceilings.It's equally confusing why showing a Sunday night football game would be allowed, but not a screening of sports favourites "Rudy" or "Friday Night Lights," which are shorter and would provide less theoretical exposure to the virus."We're not getting the answers as to why we can't open," she says."There's a level of frustration and quite frankly desperation."Before they were closed, cinemas across the country had introduced various safety protocols that limited the size of crowds and kept them distanced with assigned seating.However, there were critics of the reopening of movie theatres who questioned whether proper enforcement was in place at multiplexes to prevent people from sitting in groups.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. There are 731,450 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 731,450 confirmed cases (67,099 active, 645,729 resolved, 18,622 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,955 new cases Thursday from 102,162 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.8 per cent. The rate of active cases is 178.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,079. There were 160 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,040 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 149. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,895,320 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 397 confirmed cases (nine active, 384 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 284 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.35 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 77,326 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 419 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 87,989 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,565 confirmed cases (21 active, 1,479 resolved, 65 deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 939 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.16 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 17 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,703 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,057 confirmed cases (325 active, 719 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 32 new cases Thursday from 1,457 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 41.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 28. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 132,168 tests completed. _ Quebec: 248,860 confirmed cases (18,260 active, 221,327 resolved, 9,273 deaths). There were 1,624 new cases Thursday from 8,900 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. The rate of active cases is 215.2 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,033 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,719. There were 65 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 397 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 57. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.67 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 109.29 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,687,068 tests completed. _ Ontario: 247,564 confirmed cases (26,063 active, 215,887 resolved, 5,614 deaths). There were 2,632 new cases Thursday from 67,959 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 178.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,254 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,751. There were 46 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 379 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,826,459 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 28,089 confirmed cases (3,205 active, 24,091 resolved, 793 deaths). There were 196 new cases Thursday from 2,090 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.03 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,135 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 162. There were five new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 38 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.91 per 100,000 people. There have been 446,640 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 21,338 confirmed cases (3,099 active, 18,000 resolved, 239 deaths). There were 226 new cases Thursday from 1,157 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 20 per cent. The rate of active cases is 263.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,005 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 286. There were 13 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 33 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.35 per 100,000 people. There have been 325,825 tests completed. _ Alberta: 119,114 confirmed cases (10,256 active, 107,358 resolved, 1,500 deaths). There were 678 new cases Thursday from 14,378 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,529 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 647. There were 16 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 111 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 34.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,048,875 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 62,976 confirmed cases (5,847 active, 56,010 resolved, 1,119 deaths). There were 564 new cases Thursday from 4,334 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. The rate of active cases is 115.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,368 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 481. There were 15 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.07 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,040,843 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from seven completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,210 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (seven active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 77 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been seven new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,959 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 161 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,179 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press