"Dinner with the Gaffigans" & "Jim Eats The World” creator Jim Gaffigan observes how his life has quickly transformed into a non-stop routine of cooking and cleaning.
In response to a reporter's question on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford passed on a chance to take a shot at the federal government over the carbon tax — and instead thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his pandemic measures and called Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland "an absolute champion."Physical distancing may be keeping people apart to keep the novel coronavirus at bay, but in Canada some partisan divisions seem to be eroding as politicians of all stripes work together to fight the pandemic.Those divisions haven't gone away entirely, of course. Polls suggest that Liberal voters are much more likely than Conservative voters to approve of how Trudeau has handled the pandemic.But the split isn't as stark as it has been on other issues in less challenging times. And the split is also significantly smaller here than it is between ideological opponents in the United States.On average, Trudeau and his government received 63 per cent public approval of their handling of the health emergency in three recent surveys by EKOS Research, the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) and the Innovative Research Group (IRG).Among people who voted Liberal in the last election, or would vote for the party today, Trudeau and his government stood at 88 per cent approval. That's not an unusual level of approval for a political leader among supporters of his or her own party.Much less typical is the amount of support the federal government is getting for its management of the novel coronavirus outbreak among its political opponents. That support averaged 69 per cent among New Democrats, 45 per cent among Conservatives and 33 per cent among Bloc Québécois voters.So support for the federal government's performance is an average of 43 percentage points higher among Liberals than it is among Conservatives. The difference is 19 points for New Democrat supporters and 55 points for Bloc supporters.That margin between Liberals and Conservatives seems rather wide — until you put it in context. ARI's final pre-election poll last October found Liberals were more likely than Conservatives to say they had a favourable opinion of Trudeau by an 81-point margin.By comparison, partisanship is a far more significant source of division in the United States.Big partisan divide in the U.S. but not the U.K.Trump's job approval rating on the pandemic averaged 46 per cent in two recent polls by Pew Research and YouGov. Among Republicans, he averaged 83.5 per cent approval. Among Democrats, it was just 17.5 per cent.That puts the partisan division between Republicans and Democrats in the United States at 66 percentage points — greater than any partisan split in Canada.The size of that split stands out not only in comparison with Canada, but with other countries as well. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's job rating on the pandemic averaged 68.5 per cent in two recent polls by Opinium and Number Cruncher/Bloomberg.Among his own Conservative supporters, Johnson averaged 88.5 per cent. Among people who said they would vote Labour, the main opposition party in the U.K., his approval averaged 47.5 per cent. The margin between Conservative and Labour voters was 41 points — similar in size to the partisan division in Canada.With all three countries imposing restrictions on their citizens in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, these partisan divisions could affect how seriously people take these measures.The messaging coming from U.S. President Donald Trump on the outbreak has been inconsistent. He has tweeted that the country couldn't let "the cure be worse than the problem itself" and voiced the hope that life and commerce could return to normal by Easter. He reversed course over the weekend, leaving the physical distancing guidelines in place until the end of April.But the YouGov poll shows that Republicans had heard the earlier message loud and clear. They were nearly three times as likely as Democrats to say the threat posed by COVID-19 was being exaggerated and were half as likely to say they were "very worried."Just 16 per cent of Democrats said COVID-19 was as dangerous as, or less dangerous than, the seasonal flu. That number was 43 per cent among Republicans. (COVID-19 is more contagious and more deadly than the seasonal flu.)By double-digit margins, Americans who voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election were less likely than those who voted for Hillary Clinton to say they were washing their hands more frequently or avoiding crowded public places.Partisanship less of a risk to public health in CanadaWhile this kind of partisan division is present in Canada, it does not appear to pose the same potential health risk.ARI found that Conservatives made up a disproportionate number of those who think the COVID-19 threat is overblown — but polling over time shows that those holding that opinion are making up less and less of the population. Overall, ARI found that Conservatives were just as likely as Liberals to say they were washing their hands more frequently, while the vast majority of them said they believe the outbreak poses a serious threat.EKOS found Conservatives were more likely than Liberals to say the federal government's measures haven't gone far enough — and were just as likely to say they had gone too far (for both Liberal and Conservative supporters, the percentage of those polled saying pandemic measures had overreached was less than six per cent).The widest partisan division in Canada — between Liberal and Bloc voters — has even fewer health implications. ARI found no difference at all between how seriously Liberal and Bloc voters are taking the threat or how they're changing their behaviour — and EKOS found Bloc supporters to be even less likely than Liberals to argue that the measures have gone too far.For the most part (and particularly when compared to our neighbours to the south) it seems that Canadians are not letting politics get much in the way of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. The fact that formerly implacable foes like Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau can put their differences aside is perhaps the clearest sign of all.
Science magazine had been trying for days to speak to the elusive George Gao, head of China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.When the magazine asked him if he could point to any mistakes that might explain why Western countries were struggling to flatten the coronavirus curve, he didn't miss a beat."The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren't wearing masks," he said."You've got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others."That advice is contradicted by the World Health Organization, the government of Canada and federal public health officials like Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam. On its webpage, the WHO says that "if you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected [COVID-19] infection.""Putting a mask on an asymptomatic person is not beneficial, obviously, if you're not infected," Tam said Monday. Watch: Dr. Tam on why Canadians don't need to wear masksOnly medical masks such as those labelled N95 are designed and fitted to filter out particles that carry the COVID-19 virus. Other masks, such as surgical masks, are looser fitting and made of material that may reduce concentrations of some aerosol particles.A 2015 randomized clinical trial found that cloth masks, for example, did not block influenza and respiratory viruses and actually increased the rate of infections among health care workers, and even surgical masks blocked only slightly more than half of virus particles.Asymptomatic spreadersDr. K.K. Cheng, director of the Institute of Applied Health Research at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., said that Tam's advice makes a dangerous assumption — that an asymptomatic person is not a spreader."The important thing about this coronavirus is that some patients start to shed virus, and become infectious, even before they have symptoms," he said."In public health, a principle is we try to limit the source of harmful exposures rather than do mitigation, if we can. Hand-washing is a form of mitigation."I'm not suggesting in the least that people should stop washing hands. It's very important. But if you're out in public in a supermarket, or in a subway train or on the bus, I think it makes a lot of sense for everyone to wear a mask."While officials in the West caution that the explanations for Asian countries' greater success in controlling the pandemic are complex, officials from the countries themselves — such as Gao and Cheng as well as some South Korean specialists — often point to masks.Now some European governments are choosing to follow pro-mask policies.Austria on Monday banned members of the public from entering a supermarket without one. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that is only the first step toward wider adoption of masks.Next door, the Czech Republic requires everyone to wear a mask in public. The country has experienced a lower-than-average spread of COVID-19.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. is also reportedly considering whether it should revise its guidance on masks, according to the Washington Post. It, too, recommends that only those with symptoms and those caring for them wear masks.Masks or elbowsOf course, the fact that many countries where mask use is widespread have been more successful at flattening the curve does not necessarily mean that the masks themselves account for the difference. Most experts would point to a mix of factors, including more aggressive testing and tracing of infections and tight controls on movement of the population.But Cheng said much of the opposition to masks arises because officials in Europe and North America "have never really grasped the point that wearing masks is not primarily to protect the wearer. The original motivation is to protect others.""In a severe pandemic, the main objective of any public health intervention is to limit the source of infection, things that are coming out of our respiratory tract," he told CBC News.For Cheng, the concern expressed by some public health officials — that people will end up wearing masks that aren't up to the highest standards — is a red herring.He said any mouth and nose covering is superior to telling people to cough into their elbows, as the government of Canada does now."I just don't understand that. Really, it's a simple mechanical thing," Cheng said. "If people wear masks as a self-protective measure and want to protect themselves from others, then I think you really need a hi-spec mask, and no one has got an oversupply of those."But we don't really need that if everyone practices this."The most sophisticated masks must be saved for the health care workers who face the greatest exposure.Dr. Elaine Shuo Feng is part of an Oxford University team that studied different countries' approaches to masks. She agrees that health workers must get priority."But I don't think this is a good reason … to tell the public that a face mask is not effective and to work on the supply issue," she told CBC News. "I think there are a lot of things that you need to do."False sense of confidenceCanadian officials have cited the risk that people won't use masks properly and could expose themselves to greater danger as a result as one of the reasons not to recommend mask wearing for the general public."What we worry about is actually the potential negative aspects of wearing masks where people are not protecting their eyes, or you know, other aspects of where a virus could enter your body," said Tam."And that gives you a false sense of confidence, but also, it increases the touching of your face. If you think about it, if you've got a mask around your face, sometimes you can't help it, because you're just touching parts of your face."Cheng said masks, in fact, inhibit contact between the hand and the mouth, and people can be taught to wash their hands after touching them."Very few people before this pandemic knew how to wash their hands properly," he said. "But you don't go about telling people there's no point in washing your hands. You show them a video showing them how to wash their hands. "It's not a logical argument, really. It's not beyond the realm of most people's IQ to learn how to wear a mask properly."The WHO's guidance on the use of medical masks makes clear that their use alone is insufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19 without proper hand-washing and other measures to protect against human to human transmission.Not everyone can self-isolateCheng agrees that people with symptoms should not be going out at all. But he said it's wrong to base advice on the assumption that everyone can self-isolate."During this phase when we're locked down, unfortunately, there are still heroes of our society who've got to go to work to keep the country going. Health care workers, bus drivers, supermarket workers," he said.Cheng said he doesn't agree with arguments about creating a false sense of security."People have raised the hypothesis that if you ask people to wear a mask, they'll feel invincible, and then they won't bother with handwashing, for example," he said."There's absolutely no evidence that this is the case. I would argue it's the opposite — that this would heighten one's sense of caution and hygiene, and it would stop people from touching the mouth."Shuo Feng stressed that she does not recommend using self-made masks, which do not block the virus. "I think people better stay at home if they could, stay as much as possible and do the best of social distancing," she said."However, there could be situations that people cannot avoid the crowded areas, and in that case, if they cannot get a surgical mask, then having a self-made mask might be better than not wearing a face mask … it might not be as effective as a surgical mask, but at least it provides some protection."Open to change?In her remarks Monday, Tam did seem to suggest that the government was open to reconsidering its advice."We are continuing to evaluate. Of course, we can be flexible if we find any new evidence."The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. denied this weekend that it was about to reverse its advice on masks.But cracks are appearing in the North American public health establishment. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said the Centers for Disease Control "should be putting out guidelines ... on how you can develop a mask on your own."The WHO has advised against the use of cotton or gauze masks in any circumstance. Even for medical masks, the WHO provides strict advice on the correct disposal of used masks and recommends against the re-use of single-use masks.But Cheng said the wider use of masks can be part of the eventual unlocking of society."Maybe two months from now, if we're lucky, we may emerge from this, and we have to think about how we reopen the economy," he said. "We have to reduce social distancing."I think everyone wearing a mask for a period of time to be determined would actually help us to get back to normality. People would still have to practise social distancing but without all the schools being closed and so on."Shuo Feng said there's no single approach that will beat the virus, but "now is the right time to talk about face masks and to reconsider the recommendation of face masks to the general population."Watch: The National: Clearing up the confusion around whether masks protect against COVID-19
THE LATEST: * Forty-three more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in British Columbia. * As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 1,013 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province. * Five more people have died, for a total of 24 in B.C. * One hundred twenty eight are in hospital, including 61 in intensive care. * Just over half of all patients, 507 in total, have now recovered from the disease. * B.C.'s Interior region is experiencing its first COVID-19 outbreak, in a group of temporary foreign workers at Bylands Nurseries in West Kelowna. * New protocols are being putting in place to help non-paramedic first responders, such as police and firefighters. * Premier John Horgan addresses British Columbians, extends state of emergencyOn Tuesday evening, Premier John Horgan spoke directly to British Columbians, and extended the province's state of emergency.In a televised address, Horgan emphasized how important the next 14 days are in the fight against the pandemic, and implored people to stay home, to physically distance, to wash hands, and to not gather in groups."What we do today will affect what our doctors, nurses and first responders face in the days and weeks ahead. It will determine how many of us stay healthy, and how much we can do to flatten the curve," he said. "You might not feel it in your living room, but everyone in B.C. Is pulling together and their early signs that our actions are making a difference. But we can't stop now."Horgan also thanked "every essential worker" including transit operators, truckers, grocery store workers, child care providers, gas station attendants, pharmacy workers and others. But the Premier reserved his strongest praise for health care workers, and said the province is working hard to secure personal protective equipment, or PPE."You are moving heaven and earth to help people who are sick, and we know you're stressed. We know you're exhausted. And we know you're being pushed to the very limit. We know you're putting yourself in harm's way to keep others safe," said Horgan. "And for that, you have our deepest gratitude.""We may be separated, but we're not alone," said Horgan, who asked British Columbians to recommit to the province's healthcare workers, and to each other."Do your part, stay home, stay safe and we'll bend this curve together."B.C.'s Interior region is experiencing its first outbreak of COVID-19, at Bylands Nurseries in West Kelowna.According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the outbreak occurred within a group of temporary foreign workers who arrived in Canada before international travel restrictions were put in place.At a briefing Tuesday, Henry said that some of the workers began experiencing respiratory symptoms, and public health officials performed tests and investigated the group's housing facilities last weekend.The officials found the workers could be safely housed on the site, and the infected individuals could be effectively quarantined."The business itself is being quarantined and everybody is able to be isolated effectively in the very good housing that is onsite there," said Henry."We want to thank both the workers themselves and the owners and operators of the nursery for being fully cooperative. And everybody is being cared for very well."Henry said the workers had stayed on the farm and not visited the local community, so there was little risk of the outbreak spreading beyond the agricultural facility.There have been 1,013 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. as of Tuesday, and five more deaths, for a total of 24 who have died from the virus in the province.Cases have been detected at 19 long-term care and assisted-living facilities, all of them in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. Nearly all of the COVID deaths in the province are related to one of those facilities.Currently 128 people are in hospital as a result of the virus, with 61 patients in intensive care. Just over half of all patients — 507 in total — have fully recovered.Provincial officials have also changed the way first responders approach emergency calls during the COVID-19 crisis.Specifically, firefighters and police officers who might normally attend to medical emergencies along with paramedics will no longer be dispatched, unless their services are required.Henry says the move will help better protect non-paramedic first responders, and reduce unnecessary use of valuable personal protective equipment, or PPE, during the COVID pandemic."The protocol allows for paramedics to be dispatched only to most medical calls unless there's a need for backup from either police or fire services," said Henry Tuesday afternoon."So I think that's a really important measure that we want to make sure protects our non-paramedic first responders and ensures that our paramedics are able to respond effectively with the personal protective equipment that they need."B.C. is now into its third week of physical distancing, and arriving at a "critical" juncture in the provincewide effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the peak of the outbreak is still to come in B.C., and it's crucial that people continue to keep their distance from others to minimize its impact."We know that, right now, it is still dangerous for us to be gathering in groups because that's where transmission can happen. We need to keep that firewall between us for the next couple weeks until we have a better idea of how this virus is moving through our community," Henry told CBC's The Early Edition on Tuesday."I think it's important for people to know that this does make a difference. It is important and it is working and we need to continue to do it for the next few weeks and then we can reassess and, hopefully, take a bit of a breath."Asked whether B.C. is nearing the point of shutting down non-essential businesses and ordering the public to stay home, Henry said the province could be approaching that phase."I think we are close to it now. We are at the point where we have closed all of those same businesses that they're calling for in many states, et cetera, and we're trying to find that balance," she said.19 hospitals designated as primary care sitesOn Monday, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that 19 major B.C. hospitals are now designated as COVID-19 primary care sites. According to Dix, an additional 200 beds are being made ready at the Vancouver Convention Centre.Henry said the convention centre is being prepared in case all of B.C.'s hospitals were to ever fill."My hope is that we will never have to use it," she said Tuesday.Henry said the overflow centre is being readied proactively to avoid situations seen in other jurisdictions like New York City, which has had to bring in a U.S. Navy Hospital ship to house patients after hospitals were overwhelmed.On Monday, B.C. also announced paid parking will be suspended for the public, staff and patients at all health authority sites as of April 1 to support physical distancing.Nationally, the federal government is moving forward with the private sector on agreements to purchase equipment for the response to COVID-19.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday production of ventilators, masks and test kits is now underway with companies in Ontario and Quebec. He said one company, Thornhill Medical, is making 500 ventilators and hopes to have them ready within weeks.Trudeau said the government has signed letters of intent with five other firms to bolster the national stockpiles of badly needed equipment and has allocated $2 billion to purchase personal protective equipment for health-care professionals.Important reminders:Health officials widely agree the most important thing you can do to prevent coronavirus and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.What's happening elsewhere in CanadaAs of 3 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Canada had 7,474 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, with 92 deaths. Provinces and territories reported 1,114 cases as resolved, though it's important to note that data isn't available in all areas.The numbers, which are updated at least daily by the provinces and territories, are not a complete picture, as they don't account for people who haven't been tested, those being investigated as a potential case and people still waiting to learn the results of their test.For a look at what's happening in other provinces and the territories, check the CBC interactive case tracker.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep at least two metres away from people who are sick. * When outside the home, keep two metres away from other people. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Masks won't fully protect you from infection, but can help prevent you from infecting others.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at email@example.com.
TAMPA, Fla. — It might be the biggest diversion from the pandemic: binge-watching the luridly fascinating Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”Now a Florida sheriff is asking the public for tips regarding one of the lingering mysteries raised in the recently released show: What happened to Carole Baskin's husband?For those who aren't up to speed, here's a primer: Carole Baskin is the owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Tiger King, the documentary, is about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic," a former Oklahoma zookeeper who loves guns, younger men, and big cats.Earlier this year, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. He was convicted of trying to hire someone to kill Baskin, who had tried to shut him down, accusing the Oklahoma zoo of abusing animals and selling big cat cubs.In retaliation, Maldonado-Passage raised questions about Baskin's former husband, Jack “Don” Lewis, who disappeared in 1997. His often violent and expletive-filled rants about Baskin were not only broadcast on his web TV show, but also in the documentary. Since the show was released, speculation about Baskin and Lewis has run rampant — and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister wants to take advantage of all the attention.“Everyone’s home. They’re watching Netflix and they’re home,” Chronister said in a news conference Tuesday, adding that Lewis' case remains open and that he's recently assigned a detective supervisor to handle new leads.The documentary extensively covered Maldonado-Passage's repeated accusations that Baskin killed her husband and possibly fed him to her tigers. Baskin has never been charged with any crime and released a statement refuting the accusations made in the series.“We hope the Sheriff’s plea for leads will result in new information about what happened to Don Lewis,” said Susan Bass, Big Cat Rescue's spokeswoman, in an email.Chronister said at least six new leads a day about Lewis have come in over the past week.“Nothing credible,” he said. “Most tips are more theories.”The sheriff debunked a few allegations raised by Maldonado-Passage in the documentary, including that Lewis is buried under the Big Cat Rescue septic tank (that wasn't put in until years after Lewis' disappearance) and that Lewis' body was put through the meat grinders used to process food for the tigers (those were removed several weeks before his disappearance, Chronister said).The documentary filmmakers “certainly spun it for entertainment purposes,” Chronister said, adding that he too binge-watched the series. “I think that’s why all of us were so intrigued and engaged.”Maldonado-Passage isn't giving up, either: From behind bars, he filed a federal lawsuit seeking nearly $94 million in damages, claiming among other things that he was convicted based on false and perjured testimony. He also says he was singled out for prosecution because he “is an openly gay male with the largest collection of generic tigers and cross breeds.”The Associated Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 31 ... COVID-19 in Canada ...Governments must be as transparent as possible with Canadians about response measures for COVID-19, says former Liberal public safety minister Ralph Goodale.The cascade of daily briefings from the prime minister all the way down to local health officials are essential to that process, but he said it's equally important that the government makes sure its being held accountable as it develops its response. "It's very important for them to be there and be present and visible and accessible in order for people to have the confidence that the system and the country is working," Goodale said in an interview.The Liberals faced major criticism last week when their emergency aid bill for COVID-19 contained broad powers to raise and spend money without Parliament's approval for the next 21 months.The Opposition demanded a change, and those provisions now expire at the end of September.Goodale said he's not sure why the government would have sought such extended authority. He doesn't believe they were trying to hide anything, given that they took the unusual step of giving opposition parties the bill ahead of time."The dispute was unfortunate, it set back that process of working together a bit," he said.\---Also this ...The union representing Canada Post employees is asking Canadians to disinfect their mail boxes to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.And the post office itself is asking Canadians with dogs to keep their doors closed during deliveries, where possible.The Canadian Union of Postal Workers says daily washing and disinfecting of letter boxes, along with handrails and door knobs, will help keep mail carriers safe.CUPW national president Jan Simpson says Canadians are relying on the postal system to keep packages and letters flowing to them as they self-isolate in their homes.And she says they need to know their mail is safe.With so many people home during the day now, Canada Post says the number of interactions between postal carriers and dogs has been increasing, making physical distancing difficult and increasing the risk of dog bites.\---COVID-19 in the U.S. ...New York's governor issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers amid a "staggering" number of deaths from the coronavirus, as he and health officials warned that the crisis unfolding in New York City is just a preview of what other communities across the U.S. could soon face."Please come help us in New York now," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the state's death toll climbed by more than 250 in a single day to a total of more than 1,200 victims, most of them in the city. He said an additional 1 million health care workers are needed to tackle the crisis."We've lost over 1,000 New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "To me, we're beyond staggering already. We've reached staggering."Even before the governor's appeal, close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals in New York were stepping up to volunteer, and a Navy hospital ship, also sent to the city after 9-11, had arrived with 1,000 beds to relieve pressure on overwhelmed hospitals."Whatever it is that they need, I'm willing to do," said Jerry Kops, a musician and former nurse whose tour with the show Blue Man Group was abruptly halted by the outbreak.\---COVID-19 around the world ...India is adding more resources to tackle its increase in coronavirus cases by announcing that private hospitals may be requisitioned to help treat virus patients, and turning railway cars and a motor racing circuit into makeshift quarantine facilities.The steps were taken after a nationwide lockdown announced last week by Prime Minister Narendra Modi led to a mass exodus of migrant workers from cities to their villages, often on foot and without food and water, raising fears that the virus may have reached to the countryside, where health care facilities are limited.Indian health officials have confirmed more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 29 deaths.Experts say that local spreading is inevitable in a country where tens of millions of people live in dense urban areas with irregular access to clean water, and that the exodus of the migrants will burden the already strained health system.As India's under-resourced health care system prepares to confront a wave of coronavirus cases, some state governments have asked liquor factories and breweries to produce liquid sanitizer after the initial supply failed to match demand. Designers, non-profit groups and prisoners in various jails have stepped up to help overcome shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment.\---COVID-19 in entertainmentBillie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Dave Grohl opened their doors — literally — as the musicians performed from their homes for an hour-long benefit concert to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus crisis.Keys kicked off the Sunday's event — which also honoured health professionals and first responders — singing her song "Underdog" from a piano in her home. She thanked those "risking their lives to keep us safe." Carey, one of the last performers, sang "Always Be My Baby" from her home studio in New York, then told the audience she was going to put on gloves.Elton John sang and also hosted the special that aired on Fox and iHeartMedia radio stations; he said he hoped "this entertainment will feed and fuel your soul."The homebound setting wasn't a stretch for the home-schooled Eilish, who typically performs live alongside her brother-producer Finneas, who is either on guitar or piano. On Sunday, he strummed along as Eilish sang her No. 1 hit "Bad Guy" from their couch. The concert special came on the one-year anniversary of Eilish's Grammy-winning debut album "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" — which Finneas and Eilish produced and recorded from their home in Los Angeles.Eilish told viewers she was happy she and her brother could provide "some sort of comfort during the crazy, crazy time."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2020.The Canadian Press
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every province and territory. Medical officers of health and Canada's chief public health officer are encouraging people to wash their hands, give each other space and wear a mask if they're sick.Ottawa has put money into health-care research and the economy. It has also put restrictions on international travel and is enforcing 14-day quarantines for travellers returning to Canada to try to limit spread of the novel coronavirus.Classes are suspended or cancelled at schools throughout the country.Each province and territory also has its own emergency measures to detect cases and prevent spread of the virus.Here's a look at some of the ways different jurisdictions are responding:British ColumbiaB.C. declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18, a day after announcing a public health emergency.The measure gives the province authority to take any action necessary to protect people and communities, including charging people who ignore public health orders.The province has also prohibited reselling essential supplies such as food and cleaning material.All parking fees at B.C. hospitals starting April 1 will be cancelled to ensure safer access for patients and staff.Officials have prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people in one place, including restaurants, schools, places of worship, theatres, casinos, sports arenas and outdoor venues.Some provincial parks are closed.Officials have also issued fire restrictions as the wildfire season begins.\---AlbertaAlberta declared a public health emergency on March 17.The province has given law enforcement agencies full authority to enforce orders and issue fines for violations.There are restrictions on mass gatherings of more than 15 people, both indoors and outdoors at places of worship, weddings or funerals. Any gathering must allow people to keep the two-metre distance from others.All non-essential businesses have been ordered closed, including personal service providers, clothing stores and furniture stores.Albertans are prohibited from attending public or private recreational and entertainment facilities. Restaurants have been ordered closed, except for takeout or delivery. Casinos are closed.Vehicle access to provincial parks and public lands is also prohibited to visitors.Albertans who have been ordered to quarantine cannot leave their property for 14 days. That also bars people who live in apartments to use the elevators.\---SaskatchewanPremier Scott Moe declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18.It directs all orders from the chief medical health officer be followed and gives police the authority to enforce them.Public gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.Nightclubs, bars and lounges are closed, but they are allowed to provide takeout food or alcohol.Recreational and entertainment facilities are closed. Personal service providers such as tattoists, hairdressers, estheticians and relaxation masseuses cannot operate.Dental, optometrist, chiropractic and podiatry clinics are closed — except for emergencies.\---ManitobaThe Manitoba government declared a provincewide state of emergency on March 20.The province has limited public gatherings to no more than 10 people, down from an earlier limit of 50.It includes any indoor or outdoor spot, places of worship or family events such as weddings and funerals.Non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. Salons, spas, bars and other establishments will be closed starting Wednesday. Restaurants can remain open for takeout or delivery only.The closures do not affect health-care facilities, government services and other institutions.Bingo and gaming venues as well as wellness centres and gyms are closed.\---OntarioOntario declared a state of emergency on March 24.All business except those deemed essential have been shut down.All bars and restaurants, except for takeout and delivery, have been closed.Also closed are recreational facilities, public libraries, private schools, licensed child-care centres, movie theatres and concert venues.Any public events of more than 50 people, including parades, events and services at places of worship, are prohibited.Provincial parks are closed.The City of Toronto has also shut down playgrounds, sports fields, off-leash dog parks, skateboard parks and picnic areas. Parking lots attached to parks are closed.\---QuebecQuebec declared a public health emergency on March 13 and renewed it a week later.The government has reduced non-priority services and prohibited indoor and outdoor gatherings.Quebec has also prohibited non-essential visits to hospitals, residential and long-term care centres or between children in foster families and their biological families.Designated clinics have been opened for anyone displaying symptoms.To give retail employees a break, stores will be closing on Sundays in April, with only pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and takeout restaurants remaining open on those days.Montreal's mayor has also declared a state of emergency to help authorities better manage the spread of COVID-19 among the city's homeless.\---New BrunswickA state of emergency was declared in New Brunswick on March 19.Businesses serving food and beverages have been restricted to takeout and delivery. Lounges and clubs are forbidden from allowing customers to enter.Customers are not allowed to enter retail businesses, unless they serve food, medication, fuel or other essential supplies.Many health services — such as chiropractors, dentists and optometrists — are prohibited from seeing patients in person unless absolutely necessary.No gatherings larger than 10 people are allowed and residents are urged to stay home as much as possible.Any unnecessary travel into New Brunswick is prohibited.\---Nova ScotiaThe province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency on March 22.It set out specific rules for self-isolation and self-quarantine for people returning from outside Canada.All schools and daycares are closed. Long-term care facilities and residential care facilities are closed to visitors.Casinos have closed and no business is allowed to operate a video lottery terminal.Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Drinking establishments are closed.There are also restrictions on health professionals such as chiropractors and dentists.\---Prince Edward IslandPremier Dennis King declared a public health emergency on March 16.It included an order to Islanders to refrain from attending any public gatherings and a closure of libraries, child-care facilities, gyms and schools.Measures announced a week later included fines for anyone who doesn't comply with a direction to self-isolate.The public health officer recommends people who are self-isolating stay on their own property when outside.The government is working to open an out-patient clinic to allow for increased testing and to ease the load on hospitals.\---Newfoundland and LabradorThe province declared a public health emergency on March 18.It includes the closure of most businesses — with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other stores considered essential.Gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. That includes funerals and weddings.Anyone arriving from outside the province is required to self-isolate for 14 days.Health officials have the authority to restrict the rights and freedoms of people in a time of crisis. People who violate orders face fines.\---YukonYukon declared a state of emergency on March 27.Yukon residents flying into Canada with COVID-19 symptoms must quarantine at their arrival destination, and those without symptoms are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days when they get home.Yukon has asked everyone arriving in the territory, including mine workers, to self-isolate for 14 days.The government has closed bars and limited social gatherings to 10 people or less.Recreation facilities, libraries, museums and visitor centres are closed. School classes are suspended until at least April 15.Long-term care facilities are closed to visitors and volunteers, while all non-urgent or routine services, including lab tests, X-rays, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are suspended.All dentists must also suspend non-urgent treatment until further notice.\---Northwest TerritoriesThe Northwest Territories declared a public health emergency on March 18, which has now been upgraded to a state of emergency.It requires anyone who arrives in the territory from outside its boundary to self-isolate for 14 days.Travel through all points of entry into the territory — both air and road — is prohibited.The orders exclude essential service workers such as medical professionals or emergency services.The territory has asked that all indoor and outdoor gatherings be cancelled — regardless of size or number.Many businesses, including tour operators, gyms, museums and theatres, have been ordered to close.The government said it will help Indigenous families who want to head out on the land as an alternative to physical distancing. It will administer a $2.6-million grant to help families buy the proper gear and supplies to head out to fishing and hunting camps.\---NunavutNunavut declared a public health emergency on March 20.It has no known cases of COVID-19, but it has restrictions in place.There is a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period at one of four locations in southern Canada for any resident that wants to return to Nunavut.Critical employees who need to return to work must apply for an exemption.All non-essential medical travel has been cancelled.Public gatherings, including at playgrounds or parks and at religious, cultural or spiritual services is prohibited.\---Sources: Provincial and territorial government websitesThis report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2020The Canadian Press
Deanna Henry panics if her husband doesn't phone her every day at the regular time. Jonathan Henry is serving a 10-year sentence at the Edmonton Institution. "It's literally consuming me every day," she said. "If I don't hear from him when I usually do, I get extra worried that maybe they've gone into a lockdown. And if they go into a lockdown, there's no telling when they would be out again." According to court records, Jonathan Henry, 32, has a lengthy criminal record, consisting mostly of drugs and weapons charges. In October 2017, Henry was sentenced after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking as well as a number of firearms counts.Henry is eligible to apply for parole and has a hearing scheduled for May, but he worries about spending any more time behind bars while the COVID-19 crisis grows."I have chronic asthma," he told CBC News during a telephone interview from the prison. "I take medication for high blood-pressure, so I'm more susceptible to catching whatever this thing is."Inmates are not given hand sanitizer and the only way to regularly wash their hands is to use dish soap, since buying a bar of soap is expensive behind bars and the soap is saved for showers, he said. Henry doesn't think all staff is taking the coronavirus threat seriously. "They think it's a big joke," Henry said. "You'll ask for something like a request form and he'll pretend to sneeze on the request form. Like, it isn't funny to me."For two days last week, he complained, inmates were without toilet paper and a shipment of cleaning supplies had been held up. In an email to CBC News, a Correctional Service Canada spokesperson said there is now a supply of toilet paper, soap and cleaning supplies at Edmonton Institution. "CSC has enhanced cleaning protocols, including disinfecting common areas of contact and increased prevention awareness in all workplaces," the spokesperson wrote. "CSC has been working with institutions to identify stock and determine the need for disinfectant cleaners and hand sanitizers.""Our cells are maybe a metre apart'That does little to comfort Jonathan Henry and his wife. "We know of some staff that actually had recently come from different parts of Canada," Jonathan Henry said. "So they travelled to Ontario, and they're back, and they're working right away."He pointed out that the prison designed to hold 324 maximum security inmates does not lend itself to social distancing. "It's basically a hallway with 12 cells," he said. "We eat together. Our cells are maybe a metre apart." Deanna Henry is also concerned about all the people coming and going from the maximum security prison. "They're doing transfers every day," she said. "Staff and the correctional officers all coming in and out. So it's not saying 'that' if they get this, it's 'when.'" 'We're all just sitting in limbo' Deanna Henry said she's been frustrated with the lack of information being shared by the federal government and CSC. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday that the public safety minister would soon announce measures to mitigate the risk to inmates, adding his government is "very concerned" there could be greater vulnerability to COVID-19 in correctional facilities."He's just dancing around it, and he says that he's concerned," she said. "But we're all just sitting all in limbo just waiting for some kind of an answer." An answer of sorts was revealed Monday when CSC announced in a news release that two inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at Port-Cartier Institution in Quebec. Even before that diagnosis, nine employees at the same prison had also tested positive. In response, the two inmates were medically isolated from the general inmate population and the prison has been put on lockdown. Staff members there are now wearing masks. Disinfecting has been done and all inmate transfers and programming has been suspended. The most recent statistics available on the CSC website indicate that as of Sunday, 44 inmates nation-wide had been tested for COVID-19. Twenty of those tests were conducted on Alberta inmates. Sixteen inmates at the Bowden medium security prison were tested and all results came back negative. Two inmates have been tested at the Edmonton Institution. Those test results have not been received. Jonathan Henry said he feels like a sitting duck. "It's only a matter of time before it comes in here," he said. "Once it comes in here, it's going to spread like wildfire."His wife agreed. "As soon as it gets onto the range, it will infect all of the inmates on the range," Deanna Henry said. "When Jonathan got sentenced, he got a 10-year sentence. He didn't get a death sentence."
The first person from northern Alberta to die of COVID-19, a 34-year-old man from Big Lakes County, Alta., is being remembered as a dedicated family man with an unflappable sense of humour.Shawn Auger was among five Albertans to die of COVID-19 in the province on Monday. Auger, who suffered from asthma, is the province's youngest victim of the disease to date.The five deaths were announced Monday by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, who called it "one of the hardest days yet" as the number of confirmed cases in Alberta reached a sobering 690. "Each death is a tragedy, and this many in one day is heartbreaking," Hinshaw said Monday during a news conference in Edmonton."Each of these individuals had a life that mattered and people who loved them."Auger was a government youth worker at the Youth Assessment Centre in High Prairie, about 370 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. He was also heavily involved in the community as a youth hockey coach and volunteer.He was married and had three children. Auger's sister, Kandace Auger, said her brother was a role model in every aspect of his life. He wanted to inspire young people in his community. "He was a fantastic father, husband and provider," Auger said in a statement to CBC News. "He went over and above for his family." And while Auger worked hard to serve to his family and his community, he always had time for a joke, she said.Auger was known as "the jokester," she said. "His favourite thing to do was to take pictures of people eating and post them on Facebook. This was one of the ways he liked to bug people." Auger said her family will work to preserve her brother's legacy in their home community and beyond. "My brother was an amazing man," she said. "His dream was to open a group home in our hamlet of Grouard which his wife and our family will continue to work on in his memory." 'Deeply saddened'A statement identifying Auger as a victim was issued Monday on Facebook by Big Lakes County, a municipal district on the western side of Lesser Slave Lake about 300 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.It urged community members to get support during their grief."Big Lakes County is deeply saddened by the news of our first COVID-19 death," the statement said."We are a close-knit community, and this news will be hard for everyone." A statement from the Valleyview Jets hockey club said Auger had been diagnosed on March 13.The team is asking people to place hockey sticks on their porches in a show of solidarity with Auger's friends and family. "Recently we lost a young man from High Prairie to COVID-19, he was fighting since first being tested positive on March 13. Today he lost his battle. "Let's put our sticks out in honour of Shawn and his hard, short battle. He left behind a wife and three teenage hockey players. RIP Shawn."'The biggest heart'Shane Farnham worked with Auger at the High Prairie Youth Assessment Centre from 2014 until 2017."He's been a friend of mine, he's been a mentor, he's been a brother to me and one of the guys I've always looked up to," Farnham told CBC News on Tuesday."I think everyone would tell you the same thing. He's got the biggest heart of anyone that you would ever meet, and he cared so much about what he did. He gave so much to the community and to all of the kids that he worked with. Everyone around him just really admired him and looked up to him."Farnham said he was "green" when he started with Auger, and learned a lot."He taught me so much about self-confidence, and backbones, and sticking up for people while always keeping people's best interests in mind. So many lessons," he said."I think a lot of the kids would tell you that even in the toughest situations, he could always bring in a lot of humour, and was so funny, yet at the same time so caring."There's kids that have worked with him years and years ago that still reach out to him just because of how well he was just able to be there for them in their time of need. That goes beyond his work, too, to his family and his friends and just anyone that he encountered."Alberta has now recorded eight deaths from COVID-19. The province reported 29 new cases on Monday, which came on top of 119 reported over the weekend. Up to 65 cases in the province are thought to have involved community transmission. Ninety-four people are listed as having recovered from the illness.The five people who died Monday included a woman in her 70s from the Calgary zone, a woman in her 50s from the Calgary zone and two men in their 80s from the Edmonton zone. "Although these individuals had risk factors like older age or chronic medical conditions, their lives mattered as much as any of ours," Hinshaw said.
Rent comes due on the first of the month, and for many left in precarious financial situations due to the global novel coronavirus pandemic, financial help has yet to arrive.On Friday, the Alberta government introduced new protections for renters. Here's what that means.What if I can't pay my rent, or what if my tenant can't pay?Tenants can't be evicted for non-payment of rent before May 1, the government of Alberta said. Instead, the province is asking landlords and tenants to communicate with each other and develop a payment plan while the public health state of emergency is in place."We are expecting landlords and tenants to work together to figure out payment plans that help everyone meet financial obligations as we manage COVID-19, and we are doing further policy work on support for renters during these tough times," Premier Jason Kenney said Friday.However, landlords can still evict tenants if the reason for eviction isn't related to not paying rent — for example, if there's a safety concern or a tenant is partaking in criminal activity. If rent isn't paid, can landlords charge a late fee? Starting April 1, landlords can't charge late fees on rent for the next three months, even if there's a signed agreement stating late fees can be applied. Those late fees can't be collected retroactively, either.Can landlords hike rent?No, rent cannot be increased while the province's state of emergency remains in effect — even if notice of a rent hike was already delivered. That counts for both residential properties and mobile home sites.Who do I contact if my landlord/tenant and I can't resolve an issue?In the event of a dispute, either party can turn to the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service. But, the dispute resolution service won't hear disputes about payments unless, the province says, a reasonable attempt has been made to work out the issue first.Because of COVID-19 concerns, all hearings are being conducted by telephone. "Non-urgent applications, such as for damages or return of the security deposit, are being received, but will not be scheduled for hearing while COVID-19 is being managed," the province said.The Consumer Contact Centre can provide information on many topics related to landlords and tenants. Call 780-427-4088 or toll free 1-877-427-4088.You can also refer to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) Handbook.What other financial supports are available?The province has unveiled a $7.7-billion package to help alleviate financial burdens brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.Here are some of the other supports included: * ATB customers can apply for deferrals on mortgages, loans and lines of credit, and other credit unions are also implementing supports. * Interest on student loans is waived for six months, and payments can be deferred for the same period of time. * Utility payments can be deferred for 90 days.Albertans might also be eligible for federal supports like EI, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the increased Canada Child Benefit and the GST rebate increase.OK, so what about if I have a mortgage?Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau asked the heads of Canada's big banks to allow people to defer mortgage payments for up to six months.Banks responded by issuing a statement saying they "have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; child-care disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19." Some credit unions have begun offering deferrals as well.But, not everyone has been able to access that support, and it's been unclear who qualifies for a mortgage deferral with each institution and what level of support they will receive.
Construction on Maple Leaf Pool in Regina will begin this week with some modified working conditions to limit the spread of COVID-19.Construction, considered an essential service, is among the services and industries allowed to operate during the current novel coronavirus pandemic."Construction on infrastructure has to continue on," Mayor Michael Fougere said. "We have to build our city and move forward but in a way that's safe for those working on site but also ensure we meet our commitment to actually have this pool built."The city unveiled its preferred plan for the pool in October: L-shaped with a zero-depth, beach-like entry designed to improve access for swimmers with mobility issues. Change room and washroom facilities will also feature an accessible lift and table.The city planned to close the pool but decided to rebuild it instead after residents rallied to keep the facility, which has been a fixture in the Heritage neighbourhood for more than 70 years.Increased safety measuresSafety measures being put in place are site monitoring, physical distancing, hand washing protocol, additional cleaning in shared services and personal protection equipment.City manager Chris Holden announced the City of Regina has implemented a distancing standard which has resulted in minimizing contact with other people both during work duties and during personal time."We're looking at no more than five people in work areas, meeting rooms, our shops, and maintaining that two metre distance," Holden said.Holden said workers will now have seating arrangements to maintain physical distancing in fleet vehicles.Workers who need to work side-by-side, there will be work place health and safety staff who will look at modifications to the work site and ensure PPE is available.Holden also asked residents to maintain distance if and when they engage city workers out in the city."There is still a city that is operating day in and day out," Holden said.Holden said contractors hired by the City of Regina have their own policies on distancing, including the company building Maple Leaf Pool, Westridge Construction, but that the city's distancing rules will be respected on the work site.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp is seeing signs of a sales recovery in China, it said on Tuesday, as the country starts to return to normal following the coronavirus lockdown. "The (Chinese) market has entered a full recovery stage, and... has already recovered to 80 to 90% of the normal level," Chief Financial Officer Shou Zi Chew said on an earnings call. "If we take reference from China's experience, I think smartphone demand is resilient," said Chew.
A few dozen people waiting to go home to Nunavut are under strict self-isolation orders in a Winnipeg hotel that they aren't allowed to leave unescorted and where they remain under 24/7 security surveillance.Angel Aksawnee, her mother and others from Nunavut are among those under isolation. They say they can't leave the room without permission and a security escort.Angel hasn't been tested for COVID-19, though her mother was because she had pneumonia."We feel like we're treated worse than inmates and people in prison," said Aksawnee, who travelled with her mother from Baker Lake, Nunavut, to Winnipeg for medical treatment recently.After her mother was discharged from hospital Tuesday, the pair and others began 14 days of self-isolation in a Winnipeg hotel.All out-of-territory residents must undergo two weeks of isolation before returning due to measures implemented by the Nunavut government Tuesday aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 to the territory.For those in Winnipeg hoping to head home, that means waiting out the isolation period in a government-designated hotel. Security is monitoring residents night and day to ensure they don't leave, though they are allowed outside with a guard escort."The monitoring is one measure to help ensure Nunavummiut return home in a safe and timely fashion," Chris Puglia, a Nunavut government department of health spokesperson, said in a statement."The security component isn't being done due to a lack of trust, but for reporting purposes to ensure the government can be as transparent as possible with the public that those returning to Nunavut are low risk of bringing COVID-19 with them."Due to the nature of housing, availability of health care and other social determinants of health in remote northern communities, some worry that if the virus emerges in Nunavut, the impact could be devastating beyond what's happening in densely populated urban areas to the south."These [security and isolation] measures were also frequently requested by Nunavummiut who were concerned about the government continuing to allow travel into the territory," Puglia said.Patients movedAngel said she and her mother recognize COVID-19 should be taken seriously, and that's why they elected to begin self-isolating at the HSC Canad Inns hotel on Tuesday, when her mother was discharged.What's been inconvenient and frustrating, she said, is that they already had been self-isolating for several days when the government moved them to the new hotel and forced them to restart the process.Winnipeg boarding or overflow hotel accommodations for Nunavut patients and their escorts are typically handled by Kivalliq Inuit Centre.But early last week, the organization learned the Nunavut government would take over the care of its patients, Kivalliq operations manager Ainsley Bishop said.Bishop estimates 20 to 30 patients were moved from the Canad Inns hotel at Health Sciences Centre to a government-designated Hilton Hotel late last week.The Nunavut government assumed responsibility for the patients, including taking care of food, laundry and transport, if necessary, Bishop said, and Kivalliq is no longer involved.The COVID-19 pandemic has escalated quickly, but Kivaaliq could have better prepared its patients had it known sooner about government plans to move and monitor those people under strict conditions, Bishop said.'It would be catastrophic'What makes the measures particularly strict is that patients are under round-the-clock surveillance and aren't allowed to come and go as they please, Bishop said."I feel really badly for our patients and escorts that are in this situation, being told, sort of relatively out of the blue, that this is what their life is going to be for two weeks."She is of two minds about the measures, which apply even for people who haven't been tested and don't show respiratory symptoms of COVID-19."In many ways it feels unfair. The other side of that is, should COVID get to Nunavut, it would be catastrophic — completely — due to the close living conditions in communities, and there are many at-risk people."There are currently no known cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, a government spokesperson said Monday morning."Their determination is to keep it that way," Bishop said."I think they're doing what they think is right to ensure that that remains the case. That being said, it is definitely more of a stringent policy than I've ever seen."'We ask for patience'In a statement on Monday, Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said his government is trying to improve self-isolation for people in the south."This situation has not been smooth, but pulling all this together so quickly is not easy," he said in a statement. "Safety is our Number 1 priority, but we ask for patience as we sort all this out."Aksawnee said at first, the wave of patients moved to the self-isolation hotel felt they were being treated poorly by hotel staff and security. That's since improved, she said.Still, it's depressing being away from home during a global pandemic, she said, and she misses eating caribou.
The opening of a site where people experiencing homelessness can recover from COVID-19 is now on hold, partly due to what appears to be a misunderstanding between the City of Toronto and its partner in the project.The facility, located in a converted 200-room hotel in an undisclosed location, was to begin operations Tuesday, but now the city will not say when it will begin operations there.Inner City Health Associates (ICHA), a group of 100 doctors working with the city on the initiative, says the site isn't suitable, and says Tuesday's attempt to open it was the result of "miscommunication" on the part of the city."It is neither open yet, nor is it designed in any way or funded to be a site for people who are confirmed to be COVID positive for any form of recovery," said Andrew Bond, ICHA's medical director, in an email to CBC News Tuesday.Bond says he made the city aware of his group's concerns "consistently" and reiterated those misgivings on Monday."The physical building cannot, in our professional opinion, and that of our humanitarian organization advisers, offer sufficiently safe space or with a sufficient staffing model for people who are COVID-19 [positive] for observation and monitoring. This has been articulated clearly and remains the case," he said"I was informed that there was a misunderstanding on the side of the city and that the misunderstanding has been clarified and that they understood the reasoning," he said.Despite that, City of Toronto staff pressed ahead Tuesday afternoon with a news conference unveiling the site. And when CBC News asked for a response to Bond's comments, no direct answer was given."We do recognize that there are going to be situations where somebody will need to go to hospital. We also recognize that the hospital is going to be under considerable strain. We want to make sure people who are experiencing homelessness who tested positive, that don't have severe symptoms, have a place to recover from this illness," said Mary Anne Bedard, the general manager of shelter support for the City of Toronto.But Bond says the converted hotel is currently funded and designed to act as a holding facility for those waiting for test results and nothing more.'Close observation is not possible'"Close observation is not possible within a 13-story, single-room, single bathroom model, that would require an extremely intensive clinical model very similar to a hospital level of resources and staffing," he said.In an email Tuesday evening to CBC, Bedard said the hotel will both provide isolation spaces for those waiting for tests results as well as to who have tested positive to recover if "their health status and support needs are mild enough not to require hospitalization and where no other adequate facility is available."But later, in response to emailed questions from CBC News, she said the centre is not open yet, although "our staff are onsite and ready to receive clients" and ICHA staff have been at the site "since last week.Bedard also said the centre "has been toured by City Occupational Health and Safety staff and [CUPE] Local 79 staff. She also said approval by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada is "in the works and we will open as soon as that is in place."She did not give a date for the opening and would only say the site would be operational when "the medical model is in place."
Different organizations, restaurants, city officials and government staff across B.C. are working to ensure long-haul drivers have access to food and clean bathrooms as many of their traditional pit-stops shutter due to the coronavirus.Dave Earle, president and CEO of the British Columbia Trucking Association, says truck drivers have an essential service designation, which means many truckers are putting in long hours to make sure essential supplies like groceries and medical supplies are getting where they need to be."It's been a tough journey over the past week ... [Some] companies are absolutely all hands on deck trying to get what's in distribution centres out to where it needs to be," Earle said. "[But] like every other industry, we do have people who are self-isolating."An additional strain, he says, is the fact that many of the traditional pit stops along trucking routes have shuttered, and at other locations, in order to increase physical distancing, truckers were being asked to stay in their vehicles and not use facilities at a delivery site, for example. Earle says so far, they've been working closely with restaurants along the routes. This can mean allowing drivers to order online through an app, or working with restaurants to keep their restrooms open for truck drivers. "Over the weekend, I saw [one location of] McDonald's post a sign saying the restaurant is closed except for truck drivers," he said. Earle said the association is also working with the Ministry of Transportation to get washroom facilities up and running at weigh and scale stations. These would be more substantial than a portable bathroom, with the goal of having hot and cold water and cleaning staff on hand to make sure the facilities are maintained.The town of Sidney on Vancouver Island took matters into its own hands, setting up what it calls a "critical supply chain rest stop" in an employee parking lot in its downtown core close the highway, with an area to rest and portable washrooms. The nearly one-hectare site can hold about 10 to 12 freight trucks and is located close to amenities, including a 24-hour TIm Hortons which is working with the municipality to keep their washrooms open for truck drivers. "This is a small gesture we can undertake and provide," said Randy Humble, the director of Sidney's Emergency Operations Centre.Earle says the pandemic has brought to light how our current economy and society depends on trucking."There is a consideration to realize and understand .. how important it really is."The Ministry of Transportation said it's exploring options for additional washroom facilities for commercial drivers throughout the province.In a statement, it also said keeping public rest areas clean and well supplied is the responsibility of its maintenance contractors, who are monitoring rest areas daily to ensure the facilities are clean, sanitary and well-stocked.Listen to the full interview with Dave Earle of the British Columbia Trucking Association:If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A group of friends and neighbours in Sackville meet each day at noon to sing simple songs they all know by heart to build a connection while physical distancing keeps them apart.About 14 people turned up in cars, on the sidewalk and on front stoops on Monday to sing along to songs like She'll be Coming Round the Mountain and The Hokey Pokey.In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anne Pirie thought group singing would be a fun, safe way to connect with her neighbours."And the first thing that came to mind were songs that we know by heart, like nursery rhymes and songs like that," she said.One member beats a small drum, and another strums along on a mandolin, making way for cars and pedestrians who happen to be travelling along the street."We talk to one another and then we sing," said Pirie.It's a welcome distraction, according to Linda Rae Dornan."It's called keeping your sanity, and it's having a little social life ," she said with a laugh.When she isn't singing from her front lawn, Dornan said she keeps in touch with friends and family via video chats and messaging, but online visits aren't the same as real life interactions."I can't hug anyone and there's no kissing happening, so this is terrific." Dornan made a sign the group displays when it meets that reads "Union Street sing-along, noon."Anyone who wants to sing while keeping a two-metre distance is welcome. People come and go, yesterday we had five cars on the road, people singing in their cars," said Dornan.The advantage of songs like The Hokey Pokey is that most people know them. If not, they're easy to pick up and the actions help keep the singers warm."Today's not too bad, but we've had a couple of days where it's been really cold," said Dornan.The group intends to continue to meet every day at noon as long as physical distancing is necessary to keep people safe.
In another blow to Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry, an exploration drilling campaign planned this year for the Flemish Pass has been delayed because of the global pandemic.That's a setback for an industry hoping to expand the province's oil industry into a new, deepwater basin.In a statement to CBC News, CNOOC International confirmed that plans to drill what's known as the Pelles well has been delayed."We have concluded that given that we are in the early stages of our exploration program, we cannot safely execute offshore in Atlantic Canada in the near term due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement reads.Spain battling a severe outbreakThe COVID-19 crisis in Europe is a big factor in the decision.That's because the drill ship Stena IceMax is in Spain, and it cannot sail for Newfoundland, said Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady."It would have to come across the ocean into Newfoundland and Labrador waters and that is not permissible at the time because of the COVID situation," said Coady.The IceMax recently underwent a workover in a Spanish shipyard, and was scheduled to start drilling the Pelles A-71 location in early April.But Spain is battling a severe outbreak of COVID-19, with hundreds of its citizens dying daily.The IceMax is also crewed by an international contingent of specialists, and sailing into Canadian waters during a pandemic is not a good idea, said Coady.So the three wildcat wells planned for this year — at a reported day rate of $299,000 — are now on hold but CNOOC says it remains committed to the campaign, and this is a delay.Coady says she believes the current wave of bad news will soon end. "I guess I'm cautiously optimistic that once we are through this pandemic, things will come back and surge again," she said.Bay du Nord not dead, says CoadyThe decision follows a similar move by Equinor and its partners to defer the Bay du Nord project, also located in the Flemish Pass.Equinor cited plummeting oil prices in its decision, but Coady is also confident that it will eventually get the green light."They still have their project team together, and are still working to advance it," she said.Meanwhile, two other drilling campaigns are either underway, or are about to begin.Coady said ExxonMobil is continuing its drilling work, while she's confident Equinor will proceed with its own campaign, with a drill rig anchored in Bay Bulls.CNOOC — which stands for China National Offshore Oil Corporation — did not reference challenging market conditions in its statement, and CBC has requested more information from the company."Like all organizations, we continue to respond to the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Maintaining the safety and well-being of our workforce remains our top priority," CNOOC wrote.The company called the decision to delay its drilling campaign "difficult but necessary."However, the company said it remains "fully committed to Newfoundland and Labrador.""We continue to assess appropriate timing and next steps to safely execute our exploration program in the Flemish Pass," reads the statement.CNOOC is one of the largest national oil companies in China.The Stena IceMax drill ship contracted to carry out its drilling campaign has never operated in Newfoundland's offshore, but has worked for Shell Canada in Nova Scotia's offshore.CBC has learned that workers began receiving messages early this morning, saying the exploration campaign was being postponed."CNOOC had mobilized people from all over the world for this project and now they are at a standstill," said a source close to the project.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says restaurant inspections in the province are now being handled on a complaints basis, as the food service industry tries to adapt to operating through the coronavirus pandemic and the province tries to limit the virus' spread.On Monday, Morrison said the province has already "reached out" to some operators, "especially if we have any indication of some concerns around certain businesses … maybe doing drive-thru or takeout."Last week, the province said it had received 41 complaints related to businesses on its COVID-19 information line, but it's not clear whether any of those were related to restaurant operations.It's been two weeks now since Morrison ordered bars and dining rooms to close.Some restaurants shut down operations entirely. Others have adapted, offering pickup and delivery, in many cases developing systems so food can be delivered without any physical contact between staff and customers.P.E.I.'s Department of Health has published recommendations for food-service operators to help them continue feeding customers while minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19.'New territory for everybody'The P.E.I. Restaurant Association has been involved in efforts to try to make restaurant operators aware of the recommendations."It's new territory for everybody," said president Carl Nicholson.Restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and other businesses are all "working through the same thing," Nicholson said. "Trying to maintain those social distances and use the sanitation guidelines in order to keep all of the products that we're selling safe."'Unlikely' virus will spread through food, says provinceAccording to the documents prepared by the Department of Health, it's "unlikely" the coronavirus can be passed along through food. "Experience with SARS and other similar viruses suggest[s] that people are not infected with the virus through food," according to a document entitled Food Premises on P.E.I.: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions."Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects for short periods of time (a few hours to a few days)."Some of the recommendations contained in that document and a second handout containing COVID-19 safety tips for food service operators are: * Drop at door deliveries should be the standard, to prevent contact between the delivery person and the customer. Handoffs at the drive-thru should be without contact. * Payment should be by credit or debit card, preferably done online. * Food premises should "consider creating an enhanced cleaning and sanitizing schedule" focusing on frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs, soap dispensers and light switches. * Staff should maintain physical distancing, and should not be permitted on-site if they are sick.One of the documents states that if food premises can't provide takeout, delivery or drive-thru service "in a safe manner, then the premises must close."Quick pivot to 'contactless service'Sarah Bennetto O'Brien, owner and chef with the P.E.I. Handpie Company in Albany, said the past two weeks have been "a little bit wild" not just for her but for everyone in the food services industry."Speaking as a small business owner, I mean we have had to pivot very quickly to offering much more of a contactless service," said Bennetto O'Brien.The Handpie Company quickly developed a contact-free pickup service where customers place their orders online and choose a time slot for pickup from their processing facility."Then they give us a call whenever they come into the parking lot and pop the trunk and we run it right out and we're doing like a trunk-drop delivery service," said Bennetto O'Brien.She said Island businesses are sharing information on best practices among themselves, but a visit from a health inspector would be welcome "to go over not just the regulations but giving a little bit of coaching of how we can all absolutely ensure safety, because trust me, that's the first concern for all of us."COVID-19: What you need to knowWhat are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.
Windsor City Council is expected to make a "real tough choice" this week — likely Wednesday afternoon — on whether or not to continue paying city staff who have been sent home and are not working during the COVID-19 pandemic."No one wants to be in this position," said Mayor Drew Dilkens. According to his chief of staff Andrew Teliszewsky, there are about 600 workers, represented by CUPE Local 543 and CUPE Local 82 who are currently not working and are being paid. "A lot of our revenues have dried up," Dilkens said, explaining that expenses are adding up as well. "This is a business decision as well."Dilkens said that the city has a good relationship with the bargaining groups that represent workers, and that this will be a "gut-wrenching" decision because he works with these individuals every day. Teliszewsky added that according to their collective agreement, CUPE normally doesn't allow workers with Local 543 to be deployed to Local 82 duties, and vice-versa, but that given the circumstances of the time, they've allowed staff members working at a facility that has closed to be re-deployed to another office that is still operational — wherever possible. "They have been tremendous to deal with since the outset of this," he said. Dilkens acknowledges this is not a "fair" situation but that council will effort to find a solution that's fair and reasonable for everyone, and is one that the tax payer can accept as well. The city first decided to close its public facilities in the middle of March, and the closure was expected to continue until at least Monday, April 6. Since then, about 100 to 120 employees have been able to work from home, and Teliszewsky said the city has been doing everything it can to equip as many people as possible with that ability.Meanwhile, another 600 employees are still working in their regular work environments. About 60 per cent of them work at Huron Lodge and as social support workers.At City Hall, 3-1-1 employees continue to operate the core function to provide social services for city residents. Teliszewsky said employees are "going above and beyond, doing amazing work for the most vulnerable during this time."City Hall 350 and 400 are at a 10 per cent occupancy right now.
Now in week three of no school, seven-year-old Ryan Haines sure is missing his friends at Dr. A.T. Leatherbarrow Primary School in Hampton.In fact, the list of things he's missing keeps growing — gym, art class, playing outside with his friends, the library, choir, Lego club. "I miss everything," he said by phone from his Bloomfield home. He also misses his Grade 2 teacher, Mary Kierstead. That's why he was so happy to see her face and her message to students as part of a YouTube video from school staff. "It really brightened his day," said his mom, Katie Haines. "He had a huge grin on his face" as he called out the names of those he knew. Haines and other parents are praising teachers who are reaching out to home-bound students and re-establishing connections that were lost when schools were closed more than two weeks ago in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. When Dr. Leatherbarrow teachers got together online last week, they tried to come up with a way to let the students know they were thinking about them. Principal Lisa Jardine said they decided on a video message on YouTube with each of them holding up a message. The teachers were so eager to get the message out that the video was ready to go the following day. Teachers let students know, in both official languages, that they miss them — with the occasional mention of being active, staying safe and even helping with household cleaning. At the end of the video, children were invited to send their own messages back to the teachers and there was such an overwhelming response, said Jardine, that vice-principal Sara Creighton put together an eight-minute video collage of them and posted it today. Jardine estimates that about half the students in the kindergarten-to-Grade-2 school sent in photos with their own messages for the teachers. They also let them know what they've been up to for the last two weeks. Some have been having lots of outdoor adventures, some are learning to bake, one helped build a deck and another learned to ride a bike. Jardine said teachers were grateful for the updates and to hear that students were keeping busy as best they can. "We certainly understand that not all learning takes place in the classroom," she said. "We're cognizant of that every day at all levels but particularly at K to 2, they need to be exploring and using their hands and being outside as much as possible to learn as well. So it's nice to see so many of the photos that we're receiving have children outside actually doing things like learning to ride a bike."Jardine said it's particularly important for younger children. "In many ways, we're kind of like a parent figure to them at that age. Sometimes they inadvertently call us mom in the classroom," she said. "But it's that kind of relationship. We teach them everything from how to eat independently at lunch time to tying their shoes and how to get dressed independently. It's a lot of life skills that have nothing to do with academics."She said every teacher in her school has reached out to their students' parents, and in many cases, they were able to speak directly to the students. "You can hear the smile in their voice on the telephone," said Jardine. While the primary purpose of those calls is to reconnect and check in on families, "it's also for our own mental health," she said. The kindergarten teachers at Forest Hills Elementary School have been posting daily messages to their students online since school closed more than two weeks ago. Teacher Bryan Raymond said he also uses an app called Remind, which is designed to help teachers stay in contact with students. He said he exchanges daily messages and photos with almost every one of his students, through their parents. On Monday morning, one of the parents asked if he could phone her son. Raymond said he was more than happy to reach out. "He was joyful," said Raymond of the exchange. "He and his family were all really appreciative." "There's no play dates right now, so it's just nice to have that phone call with a familiar voice, letting you know that there's still some normalcy in the world." \- Denise MillerIn fact, six-year-old Kendrick Bassey was so excited that he wanted to share the experience with the rest of the family. He passed the phone to his older sister Kayla, then his dad, Bassey, and finally to his mom, Atim, who said Kendrick's excitement lasted the entire day. "It was very heartwarming," she said and is grateful to Raymond for taking the time to reach out to the family. She said her son looks forward to his teacher's daily message, funny pictures, and other activities. But Raymond said he gets a lot out of it, too. He said hearing the boy's voice and his excitement also lifted his spirits. He's now working on a way to get his class together for a video chat so they can stay connected and lift each other's spirits. Denise Miller said a recent phone call from a Hampton High School teacher "meant the world" to her 14-year-old daughter, Hunter. The Kingston Peninsulas resident even tweeted about it."My daughter's teacher from Hampton High, Erin Duncan called her here at home the other day to check in. This meant the world to a freaked out Grade 9 student in these strange times. Just wanted to pass this on that they may not be on the clock, but are still awesome."Miller said the last three weeks of social isolation has been difficult for Hunter. "There's no play dates right now, so it's just nice to have that phone call with a familiar voice, letting you know that there's still some normalcy in the world."
Grocery stores and online delivery services are dealing with a surge in demand as online shopping increases with so many people staying at home and practising physical distancing, leading to long wait times for delivery and pickups.PC Express, the e-commerce service owned by Loblaw Companies, has seen its business more than double over the past few weeks, the company said in an email."Two weeks ago, we'd have an order ready in an hour. Now, it can take four days or more," Loblaw Companies CEO Galen Weston said in a statement posted on the company's website on Friday. Ken Rockburn, a former host of CBC Radio's All In A Day, is one customer who has experienced the backlog firsthand.Rockburn said he placed an order through PC Express for pickup at the Real Canadian Superstore on Richmond Road last week. While the service's website typically allows users to choose a time to pick their groceries up, Rockburn said he never received a confirmation email with his receipt.When he checked the website, it said his order wouldn't be available until April 8, almost two weeks away at the time. "Had I realized they were so backed up, I probably wouldn't have done that," he said. "I'm sure there's people out there in much more dire need than I am."Customers hoping to place an online order with IGA on Monday were placed into a virtual queue, an attempt to triage what the company said was "an extremely high volume of users." The estimated wait time to begin shopping was more than an hour.Grocery delivery services in demandEli Ilatov, owner of Ottawa-based grocery delivery service Fill My Fridge, said demand for home deliveries has taken off since public health officials began telling people to stay home.Ilatov said a 10-fold increase in orders from individuals has helped keep his business going after it lost all its business clients."Originally, it was scary because our main business dropped to zero," said Ilatov. "But two days after we started getting so many residential requests."Ilatov said he's had to hire five new employees to keep up with the demand.Fill My Fridge now has a daily cap on the number of orders it can handle, Ilatov said. Customers who do make an order can expect to wait between one and three days for their groceries to arrive.California-based Instacart, which delivers groceries in cities throughout most of Canada, has also seen its order volume and customer base grow over the past several weeks, the company said in an email.Over 250,000 new people signed up to become Instacart shoppers, and 50,000 have already started shopping on the platform, the company said.The company did not say how long the average wait time is, but said delivery times vary across stores and the availability of shoppers.
The bodies of a woman and her adult son have been found in an eight-unit residential building on Barnstone Drive in Barrhaven following a fire there early Tuesday morning.Another woman, 51, was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation and is in stable condition. The injured woman is the daughter of the deceased woman, according to Sgt. David Christie of the Ottawa police arson unit.Investigators are working to determine both the cause of death and the cause of the fire.Christie said investigators have not deemed the fire suspicious, and said it's protocol for the arson unit to investigate when there's been a death.Fire crews were called to the home near the Vimy Memorial Bridge at 2:10 a.m.The fire spread from the unit where it originated, prompting firefighters to call for backup. At one point firefighters had to retreat due to the intensity of the flames, which caused part of the roof to collapse.The fire was declared under control at about 4:15 a.m.Ontario Fire Marshal investigators were also called to the scene Tuesday morning. Officials are trying to assess the damage to the rest of the building.Neighbours displacedFire officials said residents from all eight units of the building have been displaced.Nancy McCurdie's 83-year-old mother lives in the unit next door to where the bodies were discovered. Her unit was badly damaged."She's definitely shaken, but she's strong," McCurdie said. " She called us at about 3 o'clock in the morning [to say] that there was a fire. It was controlled chaos at that time." It's bad any time, but right now I just feel so bad for everyone because we're dealing with COVID. \- Coun. Carol Anne MeehanThe area's city councillor, Carol Anne Meehan, was also at the scene on Tuesday morning."It's heartbreaking. It's bad any time, but right now I just feel so bad for everyone because we're dealing with COVID, and now we've got people displaced, and people have lost family," Meehan said. "My heart just goes out to everybody affected. It's just awful."Investigators on scene said they were trying to take precautions in light of the pandemic, but it's difficult to maintain social distancing measures when responding to an emergency."We still have to do what we have to do. We'll try and do as best we can, keeping ourselves safe and wearing our masks. We still have to go in there. We're still going to have to deal with the situation," Christie said.Because so many are self-isolating, fire officials said it's more important than ever to take proper fire safety precautions."Don't leave cooking unattended, do not charge electronics on flammable surfaces, properly discard smoking materials, and practise your home escape plan," Ottawa Fire Services said in a statement.
The federal government is waiving more than $330 million in rent for 21 airports from March to December as the coronavirus pandemic brings air travel to a virtual standstill.
Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says she expects the number of positive cases on P.E.I. to continue to increase. At a media briefing Tuesday, she announced three more positive cases, bringing the total on the Island to 21.All are residents of P.E.I., she said, and all are related to travel. There have been no deaths on P.E.I.In a late afternoon briefing, the province outlined its plans for home-based schooling, which begins on April 6. Education Minister Brad Trivers also announced that emergency child-care services would be available for essential workers at some child-care centres beginning as early as Wednesday.P.E.I. National Park is closing access roads to discourage people from gathering there.The P.E.I. government has issued a call for a long list of supplies the provincial health system needs as it deals with the pandemic.Apartment buildings are making changes to help tenants respect physical distancing guidelines.Restaurant inspections are moving to a complaint-based model, to limit direct visits of inspectors.On Monday, a 27-year-old Summerside man was issued a $1,000 fine for violating a health order to self-isolate.Recent storiesFinancial relief * IRAC has suspended rental hearings indefinitely in response to the pandemic. * The Charlottetown water and sewer utility is offering options for flexible payments to people suffering financial difficulties during COVID-19. * Small businesses affected are eligible for loans of up to $100,000. * The province's largest landlord, the P.E.I. Housing Corporation, suspended evictions for six weeks as of March 17. Health * Health PEI is rescheduling non-essential appointments, and said those affected will be contacted directly.EducationTravel * Any Islanders who have travelled out of province — whether experiencing symptoms or not — are required to self-isolate for 14 days following their return. This applies to people who have travelled internationally since March 8, and anyone who travelled to another province since March 21.COVID-19: What you need to knowWhat are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.
Joëlle Békhazi had a plan.The 15-year veteran of the Canadian women's water polo team was going to compete in her first Olympic Games, and in 2021, she was going to start a family."I was supposed to retire after these games," said the 32-year-old competitor.On Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the new dates for Tokyo 2020. The games will be held starting on July 23, 2021.Békhazi is relieved the COVID-19 outbreak didn't entirely dash her Olympic dreams, but pushing it back a year is an adjustment."It's another year that I have to keep my body healthy and keep myself at the top of my game," she said. "I am getting a little bit older. My husband is very supportive."Békhazi made Canada's national team back in 2005, and it's been a journey filled with ups and downs, including failed attempts to reach the Olympics in 2008, 2012 and 2016.The 2012 games were particularly heartbreaking — Team Canada narrowly missed out after an epic dual with Russia for the final spot in the Olympic tournament, in a game that was decided in a shoot out."I was the one who missed the last shot," she said. "It's still been haunting me."When Canada earned a berth in Tokyo at the Pan-Am Games in Peru last summer, she thought her wait was over, until the COVID-19 pandemic threw everything into doubt.It's been a rollercoaster of emotions since."I love this sport so much. I was starting to have those nerves, and the fear that this was the end of my career."New timeline to transition out of fencingJoseph Polossifakis, 29, has a tough conversation coming up with his employer.For the past year, he's been juggling his duties working full time with his efforts to qualify for fencing in Tokyo."I had a specific timeline in mind, and then I was going to slowly transition to something else," he said. "Now I have to get back into it."With the games now pushed back an entire year, he's hoping to know more before going to his boss and asking for another year of scheduling flexibility.Polossifakis competed for Canada at the 2016 games in Brazil but had yet to qualify for Tokyo.Even though the dates for the Olympics are now set, he's not sure when the sport will get back to competition."I guess this could be a blessing in disguise," he said. "I've had injuries for a while and it's harder to come back from injuries when you're also working full time."Qualified athletes will keep their spotGymnast René Cournoyer narrowly missed out on reaching the 2016 Olympics, and last October, he earned a spot in Tokyo.This weekend he learned his qualification will still be valid, even though the games won't be held until 2021."It's a relief. It's something that I was not too worried about, but deep down I still was," Cournoyer said.He said in gymnastics, so much changes from year to year that he wouldn't be surprised if he was told he'd have to qualify again."To assume that the 90 athletes already qualified would remain the best 90 a year later was something that was worrying me," he said."They could have made us re-qualify, to make sure that you are still the best. But it also wouldn't be fair to deny someone who qualified the year before. It was a hard decision."Each Olympics is special in its own way, but there is a consensus that the Tokyo Games will be especially memorable, because they've been postponed due to an unprecedented situation."The pandemic will be behind us and the whole world will be united," said Counoyer. "It's going to be great, and to be part of it will be amazing."