New York plans to prioritize nursing home residents and staff when it begins distributing the first doses of coronavirus vaccine, hopefully later this month. (Dec. 2)
New York plans to prioritize nursing home residents and staff when it begins distributing the first doses of coronavirus vaccine, hopefully later this month. (Dec. 2)
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci is accused of being the driver in a gang-related drive-by shooting that left one man dead and another wounded, authorities said. The 29-year-old rapper turned himself in Wednesday, a day after Atlanta police announced murder charges against Lucci, whose real name is Rayshawn Bennett. Police said Bennett and other “gang members” drove through rival gang territory on Dec. 10 and two people inside the car opened fire, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported citing an arrest warrant. The rivals returned fire, hitting James Adams, 28, in the head, police said. Adams was “manually ejected” from the car and police later found his body lying in the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Later that day, Kevin Wright, 32, arrived at a fire station with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He survived. Police said Ra’von Boyd, 23, was also in the vehicle during the shooting. Boyd and a 17-year-old juvenile were charged in the incident and were both arrested in Miami. A warrant was put out for Bennett's arrest Tuesday, charging him with murder, aggravated assault, participating in criminal street gang activity and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Before he surrendered to authorities Wednesday night, he released his latest music video on his Twitter and Instagram pages. Bennett's attorney Drew Findling said a “review of the initial evidence” provided “no basis for any criminal charges.” Lucci is best known for his 2016 song “Key to the Streets” featuring the Atlanta-area-based rap group Migos. The Associated Press
National home sales set an all-time record in December, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported Friday. Sales were up 47.2 per cent compared to December 2019, the largest year-over-year increase in monthly sales in 11 years. The spike in sales from November to December, 7.2 per cent, was driven by gains of more than 20 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver. It was a new record for the month of December by a margin of more than 12,000 transactions. For the sixth straight month, sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019. It was also a record for the entire year. Average home price up 17% Almost 552,000 homes traded hands over Canadian MLS systems — a new annual record. It was an increase of 12.6 per cent from 2019 and 2.3 per cent more than the previous record year, 2016. The actual national average home price was a record $607,280 in December, up 17.1 per cent from the final month of 2019. The CREA said that excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the most active and expensive markets, lowers the national average price by almost $130,000. Many of the areas with the biggest price gains last month were in Ontario, including Belleville, Simcoe, Ingersoll, Woodstock and the Lakelands region, where prices were up more than 30 per cent from December 2019. Areas with more modest price growth included Calgary and Edmonton, where prices rose 1.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively. TD expects sales and prices to cool "What a fitting end to a surprisingly strong year," TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi said in a note to clients. "Relative strength in high-wage employment, record low mortgage rates, rising supply of homes available for purchase and solid demand for larger units all supported exceptional sales and price growth last year. "Looking ahead, we're expecting sales and prices to cool somewhat from their robust pace in the first quarter. However, December's surprisingly strong performance makes hitting our forecast a tougher proposition." Shaun Cathcart, CREA's senior economist, said in a statement that Canada faces a "major supply problem" in 2021. "On New Year's Day there were fewer than 100,000 residential listings on all Canadian MLS systems, the lowest ever based on records going back three decades," he said. "Compare that to five years ago, when there was a quarter of a million listings available for sale. So we have record-high demand and record-low supply to start the year. How that plays out in the sales and price data will depend on how many homes become available to buy in the months ahead."
Steven Snively says he had a hard time sleeping the night Yosif Al-Hasnawi died. But he went to work the next day because he didn't want Hamilton to have one less ambulance on the road. That's also when he wrote his report about what happened the night before. Snively is one of two former Hamilton paramedics on trial in superior court for how they treated Al-Hasnawi on Dec. 2, 2017. When they arrived at a sidewalk near Main and Sanford, they thought he'd been shot with a BB gun, the court has heard. They didn't leave for the hospital for 23 minutes. In fact, Al-Hasnawi had been shot with a .22 caliber bullet. By the time he arrived at the hospital, nearly all the blood had drained from his heart. Snively says he and codefendant Christopher Marchant gave the 19-year-old CPR at the hospital as emergency doctors tended to him. Snively said he was shocked and distraught when Marchant told him Al-Hasnawi was dead. "I was overwhelmed with an array of emotions," he told the court Friday. "I can't recall them all now, but it was shock. Disbelief. Doubt. There was just … uncertainty." The idea of writing an incident report that night "just didn't come to mind," Snively said. Instead, he wrote it the next day, he told the court. He sat alone at a desk, he said, and wrote that Al-Hasnawi had "a soft tissue injury from a pellet gun." He also wrote that he thought it was primarily a mental health call. He wrote the report, he told the court, in a "state of fatigue." "Did you get any sleep the night before?" asked his lawyer, Michael DelGobbo. "No, sir," Snively said. As for why he didn't call in sick the next day, he said, "if I didn't show up, the service would have been down one truck." Snively, 55, and Marchant, 32, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life. It's a rare case, one that could hold first responders criminally accountable for how they treated a patient. Some Crown witnesses said the pair laughed during the call, and said Al-Hasnawi should get an Oscar for his acting. The paramedics deny saying that. In his testimony this week, Marchant said Al-Hasnawi was "uncooperative," and they thought it was a mental health call. That's why they took him to St. Joseph's Hospital rather than Hamilton General, a regional trauma centre. The court has also heard that Marchant, in talking to a dispatcher, said Al-Hasnawi was "acting like a dickhead." What happens next Snively said he and Marchant, with the help of Sgt. Nesreen Shawihat from Hamilton Police Service, restrained Al-Hasnawi in the back of the ambulance. Al-Hasnawi's condition spiraled about a minute from the hospital, Snively recalled, and that's when he hit the sirens. The trial resumes Wednesday, when the Crown will cross-examine Snively. Jeffrey Manishen of Hamilton is representing Marchant. The Crown attorneys are Linda Shin and Scott Patterson. Justice Harrison Arrell is presiding over the judge-only trial. The person who shot Al-Hasnawi, Dale King, was acquitted last year of second-degree murder. That case is being appealed.
PERINTON, N.Y. — Nearly 100 cats have survived a house fire in a town outside Rochester, New York, according to an animal protection group. The Lollypop Farm shelter had been told as many as 70 cats lived in the Perinton home when it caught fire. But its workers had rescued 97 cats as of late Thursday, the Democrat and Chronicle reports. Many of the cats suffered smoke inhalation, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester said, and it wasn't clear whether all of them would survive. The fire began about 1 a.m. Thursday and was confined to one room, according to the Bushnell's Basin Fire Department. Two adults were outside when firefighters arrived and declined medical treatment, Bushnell’s Basin Assistant Fire Chief Mark Alberts said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
BRACEBRIDGE, Ont. — A boil water advisory has been lifted for an Ontario cottage country town affected by a water main break. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says lab tests have confirmed the water in Bracebridge, Ont., is now safe to drink. The order lifted Thursday had been issued Jan. 10. The health unit says residents should run cold water for five minutes to ensure it’s running clean.Larger users like restaurants, hospitals and schools may have to run water for longer to ensure it isn't cloudy. People are also advised to replace water filters, drain water heaters, dispose of ice made after Jan. 10 and clean any appliances connected to the water.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
Canadians are reporting feeling frustrated, anxious and depressed after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Registered psychologist Christine Purdon answers audience questions about the mental health impacts of the pandemic.
SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S. industrial production rose 1.6% in December, a third straight monthly gain, but remains below its pre-pandemic level. The December gain in industrial output followed a 0.5% increase in November and a 1% increase in October, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. Even with those gains, industrial output is still about 3.3% below its level in February before the pandemic hit. Manufacturing increased 0.9% while mining production rose 1.6%. Utilities' output rose 6.2% as a rebound in December demand followed unseasonably warm weather in November. U.S. industry operated at 74.5% of capacity in December, still below the pre-pandemic rate of 76.9% in February. Matt Ott, The Associated Press
The deal will be largely paid through cash and Lazy Audio's management team will get post-acquisition equity-settled awards, Tencent said. The acquisition comes at a time when the music streaming site is looking to bolster its content library in order to put it behind a paywall and add more paid users.
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Seguin Township has completed Milestone 1 of the Integrated Community Energy and Climate Action Plans (ICECAP) project as of December 2020. Milestone 1 tasked municipalities involved with ICECAP to create a greenhouse gas emissions inventory of both the corporate and community aspects of the township. During its Jan. 13 council meeting, members of council discussed what moving forward into Phase 2 of the program would look like. Here’s the discussion captured in five quotes: 1\. “There’s two pieces to Milestone 1 — one being corporate, the township; one being community, all the residents,” said Daryle Moffatt, ICECAP co-chair and Seguin councillor. “ … The next hurdles are to set emissions targets and develop a plan. We’ve done a number of things corporately and residents have done a number of things, we just need to continue to set our goals to see if we can achieve some lower greenhouse gas emissions.” 2\. “How long will it take to set targets? What is the procedure going into Milestone 2 and what’s the timing?” asked Coun. Rod Osborne. 3\. “We will be working with other ICECAP members (and) organizations around the table in 2021 to start to develop our emission reduction target as well as our local plan,” said Moffatt. “What we’ve realized is ICECAP is not one-size-fits-all — it’s going to ebb and flow. It’s going to be a work in progress but it is a goal in 2021 to achieve Milestones 2 and 3.” 4\. “I will emphasize again to all the councillors, if you have not done your own personal carbon calculator, please do it. It will make a difference to how West Parry Sound moves forward,” said Seguin’s mayor, Ann MacDiarmid. “It’s worth doing. It’s a real eyeopener.” 5\. “I would extend that to all staff and residents, not only in Seguin but across all the municipalities that are participating in ICECAP,” said Moffatt. “It is critical to capture that data because it will only help us going forward.” MacDiarmid thanked those involved with the ICECAP initiative from Seguin and mentioned that the carbon calculator could be used as a good school assignment for teenagers. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
New modelling released by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) suggests the number of daily COVID-19 cases could more than triple to 30,000 if people increase their contacts during a time of widespread community transmission. The report also projects that if Canadians simply maintain their current levels of contact with people outside their households, case counts will still rise to roughly 13,000 a day from 7,900 now. The modellers said that, based on current case counts, Canada "remains on a rapid growth trajectory," with roughly 2,000 more people expected to die over the next 10 days as the country approaches a death toll of 20,000. As many as 100,000 more people could contract the virus over the next week and a half, PHAC said. "Quick, strong and sustained measures are needed to interrupt rapid growth and maintain COVID-19 control," PHAC said in its report. "Reducing COVID-19 activity is urgently needed as rollout of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines begins." Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told a news conference that the vaccine rollout, which is now protecting priority groups of high-risk Canadians, will not have a big impact on the numbers in the short term. WATCH / Dr. Theresa Tam on the impact of vaccine on COVID-19 transmission: "In terms of the national projections and the transmission in communities, you're not going to see that in the initial months, which is why I think our message ... is [to] absolutely get on with the public health measures," she said. "Do all of those things, don't do non-essential travel. All that really counts. It works. And when you can suppress that projection, the vaccines have a longer runway." Data to determine impact of vaccine rollout Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said government and external experts are working to determine the impact of vaccine rollouts on the numbers mid- and long-term. "But at the present time, it's really difficult to say. There are so many factors involved. Even today, we're seeing issues in terms of vaccine supply, how vaccines are being rolled out across the country," he said. "There's other factors in terms of the increasing rates of infection in various parts of the country. So there are many different factors in play." Right now, Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec are the provinces reporting the highest infection rates per 100,000 people. Rise in cases post-holidays Tam said many provinces, including some that had been on a downward trajectory, saw a sharp rise in daily case numbers after the holidays. That's likely due to people having more contacts over the holidays and reduced testing during those weeks, she said. Since the holidays, stronger community level public health measures have been adopted across Canada and some areas are showing that public health measures are working to slow growth. "However, we have yet to see the widespread and sustained declines in daily case counts that would indicate we are bringing the pandemic under control nationally," she said. Some 10 months into this pandemic, long-term care homes continue to report hundreds of daily cases. There are now more than 400 outbreaks nationwide — a situation which is expected to push hospitalization rates higher still. Alberta and Manitoba are reporting the highest rates of hospitalization per 100,000 people. PM calls LTC deaths 'tragic' During a news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the outbreaks now occurring in long-term care homes in Ontario and across the country are "tragic." "Our parents and grandparents built this country. They raised us. And they deserve so much better," he said. "It is vital that we continue to get vaccines to vulnerable people as quickly as we can. And that's exactly what we're focused on. But remember – no one is invincible. Even if you're young and healthy, this virus can be very dangerous. And that's why we all have to keep doing our part." Trudeau said that while vaccines are rolling out across the country, Canadians must reduce their in-person contacts. "For the moment, that's the only way to get these numbers down," he said. "Since yesterday, Ontario is now under a stay-at-home order. This is the kind of tough but necessary decision that provincial governments are having to make." PHAC said COVID-19-related deaths are steadily rising and may soon exceed levels seen during the first peak. Calling the new modelling "alarming," NDP health critic Don Davies called for stronger federal measures to reduce the spread of the virus. "The numbers released today paint a very sobering picture," he said. "COVID-19 is claiming the lives of 145 Canadians every single day and the situation is getting worse. Clearly, what we've been doing isn't working. PHAC's forecast shows that a stronger response is necessary to slow the alarming spread of COVID-19."
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says he will recommend new restrictions next week if COVID-19 case numbers don't decline. The province is averaging 313 new cases a day over the last week, a rate that Dr. Saqib Shahab said is too high. "If you continue to see cases as high as this week I will be speaking to the Minister of Health Mr. [Paul] Merriman, about additional measures which may be required next week," Shahab said Thursday during an update on the virus. The Saskatchewan government has refrained from introducing new COVID-19 containment measures since mid-December, choosing to rely on public compliance to reduce transmission. "We should all be knowledgeable over the guidelines and follow them to a dot. It's the only chance we've got. Otherwise in a week or two it will lead to stricter restrictions, and that always has stronger consequences," Shahab said. On Tuesday, the province extended it's current health measures to at least Jan. 29. Worst infection rates in Canada Saskatchewan's rate of active cases continues to be the highest in Canada for the fourth consecutive day, as neighbouring provinces like Manitoba and Alberta have seen a decline. As of Thursday, the rate of active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan was 329 per 100,000 people. The national average is 207 per 100,000 people. "Our case numbers have been going up," Shahab said. "We're also the second-highest in Canada in terms of our average cases over the last seven days." The province falls just behind Quebec. "We're seeing a significant escalation and we really need to pull together to address this," Shahab said. Saskatchewan's average test positivity rate is 12 per cent, but in some areas, like the far north central zone, it's as high as 31 per cent. Shahab said transmission is found "in health care settings and workplaces, but primarily it is household exposure and then in other public and other social settings." He added those who are testing positive for COVID-19 have an average of one to 35 close contacts. "We should be able to count our close contacts on one hand," Shahab said. ICU availability declines to 5% Rising case numbers have also led to rising hospitalization. Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone said ICU availability in the province is at five per cent. "We're at 95 per cent capacity. And about 34 per cent of the current ICU beds are taken up with COVID patients," Livingstone said. He said the SHA has the ability to double capacity, but he added "we're pushing ourselves to the limit." "This is the most fragile point in the pandemic," Livingstone said. Since the pandemic began there have been nearly 700 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, with over 200 people dead. Hospitalizations continue to break record after record. "This has not been a minor event by any stretch of the imagination," Shahab said.
P.E.I. RCMP say they impounded a vehicle in Cornwall Friday morning after catching the driver going close to double the speed limit. Const. Jamie Parsons tweeted the vehicle was travelling 166 km/h in a 90 zone. The incident happened at 9 a.m. In the spring RCMP on P.E.I. dealt with a spate of excessive speeding, including three incidents of vehicles driven over 180 km/h in just two days at the end of May. RCMP warn that at high speeds it can take up to 250 metres to stop in an emergency, and that vehicles are not designed to keep passengers safe at those speeds. More from CBC P.E.I.
Lorsqu’on gère un événement difficile, comme l’actuelle crise sanitaire, le courant électrique qui régit notre cerveau s’en trouve modifié. Des techniques permettent de mieux réguler notre humeur.
With snowmobiles in high demand, there may be a lot of newcomers to the winter sport, which is why safety on the trails is always important. Out alone on the pristine waterfront in the McKellar area, Morely Haskim has volunteered with the Dun Ahmic Snowriders for over 30 years. He suggests that people educate themselves first by going online to mto.gov.on.ca where there is a snowmobile safety category or the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s website where there are six courses someone can take online. “As far as anybody starting out, there’s the obvious things such as wearing proper gear: helmet, snowmobile suit and boots,” said Haskim. “And usually try to snowmobile with somebody else — don’t go alone.” Another important tool for snowmobiling safety is making sure to check the trails on the interactive trail map provided by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s website. “Do your own homework before you get out there,” said Haskin. “You’re in control of your own destination even though the clubs are doing the best they can to make sure all the trails are safe and open.” Safety on the trails is important because it can be life threatening and Haskim advised that snowmobilers shouldn’t be speeding. “We have a lot of families out there now with their young kids on the machine with them and if they meet a bunch of people racing it may not end up being the best situation,” he said. The speed limit on most trails is 50 km/hour. While there are risks that come with snowmobiling, Haskim says his favourite thing about it is volunteering on the trails. “I used to be a real snowmobiler,” he said with a laugh. “I would go out in big groups back years ago and have pretty much snowmobiled everywhere around our area but eventually I phased out of personally snowmobiling.” Now, he tries to get out two times a week to groom, stake or inspect trails. “I report our trail conditions to our district who then puts the condition of the trails on the interactive trail guide.” Out along the Hwy. 522 corridor, Matthew Wagenaar, who manages the popular snowmobiling Instagram page The Daily Doo with his friends, rides the Argyle Riders trails. “The place I stay is right off the C105D trail,” Wagenaar said. “A large portion of that trail is crown land. So, early in the winter season, myself and a few friends go up and try to clean up the trail by cutting up trees and getting them off the trail.” When it comes to snowmobile safety, Wagenaar said that the most important thing he would say to newcomers is to know your machine. “Snowmobiles don’t behave like most other off-road vehicles,” he said. “Get familiar with the sled by riding but riding with added caution.” However, the biggest risk, according to Wagenaar, who does a lot of backcountry riding as well, is riding over open water. “(You) could go through the ice but that can be easily taken care of by waiting until you have over eight inches of ice and also knowing where the open water is,” he said. But, echoing Haskim in McKellar, the good times are worth it. “The best part is the time spent in nature with friends — the awesome part about Port Loring is it truly is God’s country up there,” he said. “There’s nothing like waking up and seeing a fresh couple of inches of snow on the sled, heading out at dawn and watching the snow-covered trees get hit by the first sun rays.” “Though safety is important at work and at play,” he said. “We all have someone we want to go home to.” Story behind the story: With snowmobile sales through the roof and snowmobile clubs anticipating new riders on the trail, our reporter wanted to find out the best safety tips for new and seasoned sledders. So, she reached out to local club volunteers and trail enthusiasts to find out what the best practices for snowmobiling the Parry Sound and Almaguin trails were. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative., Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
The City of Edmonton is set to sell a plot of land deemed a surplus school site for more than ten years, despite ongoing opposition from public interest groups. The city recommends selling the Kiniski Gardens site in southeast Edmonton at 38th Street and 38th Avenue to the Headway School Society of Alberta for $2.5 million, a report posted Thursday outlines. The proposed sale is up for discussion and approval at council's next executive committee meeting Monday. If council approves the sale, Headway plans to build a private school on the lot — a move that has its share of opponents. Wing Li, communications director for Support Our Students Alberta, is among several groups that think the site should remain in the public realm — like a park, seniors centre or community centre. "The municipality selling this is sort of counterproductive to what the municipal government should be doing, which is providing barrier-free access to resources for its citizens," she said. In an interview with CBC News Thursday, Li argued that if the sale goes through, it could set a precedent of encouraging private education. "That it's accepted that you can have these private identities within communities that have struggling public schools and diverting resources that are supposed to be for everyone." Headway secures bid The Kiniski Gardens surplus school site was listed for sale in March last year for $2,450,000 through a public offering. The city received six other offers, which remain confidential. The current Headway School is in Forest Heights in central Edmonton and many of its students live in Mill Woods. Moe Banga, Ward 12 councillor, said if Headway opened a school at the Kiniski Gardens site, it would mean many of its students wouldn't have to travel as far. "I'd say it's a good thing for people in the area," Banga told CBC News Thursday. On its website, the Headway School describes itself as a "culture-based academic school that offers Punjabi language as a subject." In 2017, principal J.S. Sidhu told CBC News that about 370 students spend an hour on the bus each way to attend the school. "It does cater to that community of course," Banga said. "I support this move because this is a regular school and people do need choices to send their kids to school." The site was an elementary school until 2009 when the Edmonton Public School Board declared the site surplus. When a site is deemed surplus, it's offered to other school districts. In this case, the Catholic school board and Francophone school boards did not express interest in using the site for another place of education. "Once a surplus school site has been declared surplus by the school boards, the City is free to dispose of the land to any party," the report says. In 2016, Headway inquired to buy the site from the city. At the time, a coalition of organizations led by Public Interest Alberta and the Edmonton and District Labour Council objected to the city selling the land to a private school. City council put the discussion on hold and asked administration to try to resolve the conflict. When there was still no resolution in October 2019, council directed administration to continue proceeding with the land sale. If the executive committee approves the sale, Headway can continue planning and anticipate starting construction in July 2022.
Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services’ drum circle was forced online last year due to COVID-19 social restrictions, but the facilitators have been working hard to keep the group connected. “We could all use some connection this New Year — to each other, to the land, to our own spirit,” reads the drum group’s recent Zoom invitation. Organized by their culture team, coordinator Frank Shaw from Stz’uminus, says everyone is welcome to join. Participants range from “toddlers bobbing along to the drumming, to Elders,” and all ages between, he says. “We are led through traditional songs and maybe even some dances if anyone’s feeling up to it, and sharing stories, sharing laughs. It’s a way to connect while we can’t connect in person,” says Shaw. Kw’umut Lelum is a family services agency and fully Delegated Aboriginal Agency (DAA). It serves nine Coast Salish Nations who signed an agreement with B.C. and Canada in 1997, on Vancouver Island, from Qualicum down to Malahat. Shaw describes his cultural programming work as being on the non-delegated side of operations. “Our team puts together various programming for the nine nations,” he explains. There is a range of community programs offered — for families, youth, cultural wellness, and more. COVID-19 has moved a lot of the programs online, but the drum circles continued in person until November when case numbers started to rise in the area. Qualicum carver and artist Xwulq’sheynum, Jesse Recalma is hosting Kw’umut Lelum’s online drum circle this week. Recalma’s grandpa was a drum maker so he grew up around drumming. He got even more into drumming a decade ago after attending Tribal Journeys, a celebrated canoe journey started in 1989 to unify communities across the Northwest Pacific Coast. A full time artist and part time language teacher, Recalma teaches Hulq’umi’num to students in School District 69. He’s been a cultural resource in schools for over 20 years. “I do drum practices with our canoe family and usually I would be one of the ones leading songs,” Reclama says. “And then I started doing some drumming with my K’omoks family as well.” When Kw’umut Lelum put out the call for drummers and singers to lead the online circle, “they called, and I answered,” says Recalma. “I really enjoy singing. It’s something that I’ve not really been able to do a lot of over the past year. And so I’m happy that I can actually have this place to sing with people,” says Recalma. Shaw has organized several drummers to host sessions. Patrick Aleck has very close connections to Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus, and Penelakut. Jesse Recalma will be joining, and on January 21st, Stz’uminus singer Nate Harris will facilitate the circle, Reclama says. Shaw says the circle seeks to address social isolation and strengthen cultural continuity. “Indigenous and Coast Salish culture, it’s all about connection and gathering and with COVID and everything, we just haven’t been able to do it, to bring people together and connect as best we can,” Shaw says. “It’s on Zoom, but it’s still a great time.” Reclama agrees, emphasizing the importance of practicing his culture during these difficult times of separation. “We’re used to being in a lot of situations where we can hear drumming and singing,” he says. Normally, there are a variety of ways the need for social connection is met — through powwows with bone games, or during smoke house season. Some attend tribal journeys, where Recalama says, “there’s just as much true drumming and singing as there is paddling in the canoe.” The online drum circle is an ongoing series that takes place on Zoom every Thursday evening. To get the link, Shaw says people can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. “A drum circle helps you feel warm and comforted, especially for those who are in sorrow,” says Recalma. He says hearing the drumming and singing can be good medicine, and brings joy in a way that might be hard for some to find during the pandemic.Odette Auger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse