Eminem dropped a surprise sequel to his last EP 'Music to be Murdered by'.
Eminem dropped a surprise sequel to his last EP 'Music to be Murdered by'.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
The Vancouver Whitecaps went international in the first round of Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, taking a Nigerian forward and Jamaican defender. The Whitecaps selected Akron forward David Egbo ninth overall before taking Jamaica's Javain Brown from South Florida with the 23rd pick, obtained in the December 2018 trade that sent Erik Hurtado to Sporting Kansas City. Egbo, a 22-year-old senior from Enugu, Nigeria, scored 21 goals and added 13 assists in three seasons with the Zips. Egbo, who says he can play a variety of attacking positions, is not short on confidence "Personally I think I'm good at everything," said Egbo, who came to the U.S. in 2014 on an academic scholarship to Pennsylvania's Kiski School. "That's not to sound cocky … I wouldn't say I'm the perfect striker but I think I have a little bit of everything and that's what makes me different from the rest of the strikers." The 24-year-old Brown, who has won four caps for Jamaica, scored three goals in 15 games with South Florida in 2019. Expansion Austin FC took Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira first overall. The 20-year-old sophomore started all 26 games he played in for the Hokies with six goals and six assists. A native of Venezuela, Pereira was a teenager when his family came to the U.S. seeking asylum. Pereira was one of five players signed to Generation Adidas contracts, which don't count against the league's salary cap. All five went in the top seven of the draft. Toronto traded its 18th overall pick to Minnesota United, acquiring the 25th pick and US$50,000 in general allocation money in exchange. TFC used the pick to fill a need at fullback with Maryland's Matt Di Rosa. Toronto has incumbents Richie Laryea and Brazil's Auro at fullback. Veteran Justin Morrow's contract has expired and Tony Gallacher's loan from Liverpool is over. Di Rosa won the 21018 NCAA title with the Terrapins, scoring the winning goal in the semifinal against Indiana. CF Montreal's Amar Sejdic scored the lone goal in Maryland's 1-0 win over Akron in the championship game with Canadian Dayne St. Clair, now with Minnesota United, getting the shutout. Di Rosa's twin brother Ben, a defender from Maryland, went in the second round (44th overall) to New York City FC. Toronto chose Virginia forward Nathaniel Crofts in the second round (45th overall). The native of Sheffield, England, had 11 goals and 11 assists in 64 games (63 starts) with the Cavaliers. Vancouver picked UCLA midfielder Eric Iloski and Michigan defender Joel Harrison, a native of Langley, B.C., in the second round (46th and 53rd overall, respectively). CF Montreal, formerly known as the Montreal Impact, previously traded its first-round pick to Austin for Canadian defender Kamal Miller and its second-round selection to Minnesota in the Mason Toye deal. In 2019. the six-foot-one 185-pound Egbo led Akron in goals (7), assists (4), points (18), shots (49), while ranking second in shots on goal (19) en route to earning first-team all-Mid-American Conference honours. The 5-11 160-pound Brown played for HarbourView FC in Jamaica. Both players will require an international spot if signed to an MLS contract. There were 12 Canadians among the 170-plus players available in the draft, which was reduced to three rounds from four this year. Wake Forest and Clemson dominated picks No. 2 through 4. FC Cincinnati used the second overall pick on Wake Forest forward Calvin Harris, another Generation Adidas player and the son of former Sheffield United player Terry Harris. The 20-year-old from England, who grew up in Hong Kong and New Zealand, had 16 goals and six assists as a sophomore in 2019, his last season. Colorado traded up to get the third pick from Houston, using it to select Clemson midfielder Phil Mayaka. The 21-year-old, another GA player, was ACC Freshman of the Year and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy in 2019. Mayaka emigrated from Kenya to the U.S. as a teenager. The pick cost Colorado $200,000 in general allocation money, with Houston possibly receiving another $50,000 of 2022 GAM as part of the deal. D.C. United took Clemson forward Kimarni Smith with the fourth pick and then acquired the fifth overall selection from Atlanta, using it to select Wake Forest defender Michael DeShields. D.C. also got the 32nd overall pick in the deal that sent Atlanta $125,000 in general allocation money and the 31st selection. Houston took Washington centre back Ethan Bartlow with the sixth pick. Virginia midfielder Bret Halsey went seventh to Real Salt Lake. Both are Generation Adidas players. Orlando City used the No. 8 selection on Georgetown' forward Derek Dodson. The pick was acquired from Portland in exchange for $100,000 in general allocation money — $75,000 in 2021 and $25,000 in 2022. Earlier Thursday, the Whitecaps flipped second-round draft picks with Nashville SC, acquiring a 2021 international roster slot in the process. Vancouver gave up the 36th overall pick, receiving the 46th overall selection. The deal also involved an exchange of general allocation money. Vancouver sent $175,000 to Nashville with a promise of up to $75,000 in return based on "performance benchmarks" of the player selected by Nashville. In other moves, Houston acquired former U.S. youth midfielder Derrick Jones from Nashville SC for $100,000 in general allocation money and $150,000 in 2022 GAM. ---- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Here are quick facts about Julie Payette, who resigned as governor general on Thursday:Age: 57Hometown: MontrealEducation: Attended primary and secondary school in Montreal and earned an international baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. Studied electrical engineering at McGill University before obtaining a master's degree in computer engineering from the University of Toronto. Has 24 honorary degrees.Early career: Conducted research in computer systems and speech-recognition software as an engineer with various organizations, including IBM and the University of Toronto, before being chosen by the Canadian Space Agency to become an astronaut in 1992. Payette was one of four people chosen out of more than 5,300 applicants.Astronaut experience: Technical adviser on a robotics system that Canada contributed to the International Space Station before obtaining her commercial pilot licence and military pilot qualification, studying Russian and other training in preparation for travelling to space. CSA's chief astronaut from 2000 to 2007. First space mission was an 11-day trip to the International Space Station to deliver supplies in 1999, when she became the first Canadian to board the ISS. The second was a two-week flight to the ISS in 2009.Post-space life: While still part of the CSA, Payette accepted a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. in 2011 before becoming a representative for the Quebec government in the U.S. capital. She retired from the space agency in 2013 to become the head of the Montreal Science Centre as well as vice-president of a federal Crown corporation, the Canada Lands Company.Viceregal appointment: Sworn in as Canada's 29th governor general in October 2017 following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recommendation to the Queen. Trudeau recommended Payette after abolishing a panel designed to vet and recommend potential governors general.Post-appointment controversy: Following Payette's appointment, it emerged that she'd been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charge unfounded, and it has since been expunged. She was also involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both revelations nonetheless raised questions about the government's decision to recommend her. She also raised eyebrows for using a speech shortly after taking over the position to mock those who question climate change and believe in creationism, and reducing her participation in traditional duties and responsibilities of her office.Toxic work environment: Reports emerged within the first year of her time in office of problems at Rideau Hall, before explosive allegations erupted last year of a toxic work environment within her office. A private firm was hired to investigate and its findings led to her resignation on Thursday.Interests and experiences: Running, skiing, racket sports and scuba diving. Fluent in French and English, conversant in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. Plays the piano and has sung at venues in Canada and Switzerland. Has also produced a number of science productions for broadcast.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
A yet-to-be identified variant of COVID-19 found in a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home is extremely concerning because it appears to be spreading more quickly among residents, public health officials said Thursday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said the unusually rapid spread of the virus at Roberta Place earlier this month prompted officials to start testing for a variant strain. Fifty-five people at the nursing home became ill within 48 hours of the first COVID-19 case being identified, said Dr. Colin Lee, the unit's associate medical officer of health. As of Wednesday evening, the health unit reported that 122 residents and 69 staff had been infected, and 19 residents had died. The variant was identified in six cases and further results are expected in the coming days, the unit said. "The problem is that this spreads so quickly to so many people that ultimately you're going to have a higher chance of more people severely ill and (more) deaths," Lee said. There's a "very high probability" that the variant detected at the home is one of three known COVID-19 variants – strains from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, said Lee. Public health officials will be carrying out more testing at the home and will be trying to immunize as many residents and staff at the facility as possible, he said. An earlier immunization effort saw only 21 residents vaccinated as most others were already infected with COVID-19, he said. "We went in there on Saturday and immunized as many as we could," he said. The health unit is trying to reach all close contacts of those infected as quickly as possible so they can self-isolate if needed, said Lee. "One of our primary goals right now is to prevent the spread further, as it gets into households and other hospitals," Lee said. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical of health, said public health officials will also be stepping up infection prevention and control at the home. Yaffe said the source of infection is still hard to determine as the outbreak at the home is still under investigation. "At this point, we know a mutation is in there. The 501 mutation that’s associated with increased transmissibility ... We don’t know which mutant it is, or which variant of concern," she said. “So it’s hard to say right now how widespread it is because we don’t even know exactly what it is.” Last week, the Canadian Red Cross was deployed to Roberta Place to help with the growing outbreak. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, along with other local organizations, has also been asked to help manage it. The Ministry of Long-Term Care said Thursday that it was working with its health partners to ensure staffing levels at the home were sufficient. “This development underscores the need for everyone to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our long-term care homes, especially as we find more evidence of new variants in our communities,” said spokeswoman Krystle Caputo. The nursing home's website says it can accommodate 137 residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault says critics of the provincewide curfew who say homeless people should be exempted are trying to divide Quebecers. The premier was responding to calls from all three opposition parties, the mayor of Montreal and the federal Indigenous Services Minister, who said the homeless shouldn't be included in the health order requiring people stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Their calls followed the death of a homeless man who was found frozen in a portable toilet Sunday morning. Legault told reporters Thursday he was saddened by the death of Raphael Andre. But, he added, Montreal police know the city's homeless population "very well" and won't give fines to that community "for fun." "I've asked the opposition and many people to give me one example of a police officer who took a bad decision and they cannot answer that, so it's working well," he said, regarding the curfew. The premier said everyone wants to help the homeless, adding that those who had criticized his government are trying to sow division in society. "I find it very unfortunate to see certain people try to divide us, trying to say that there are good guys and bad guys, that there are some who care for the homeless and some that don’t care. We all want to help the homeless, it’s complex and it’s not the time to divide us, it’s the time to work together,” he said. Legault has said the province has sufficient overnight shelter beds to accommodate the homeless during the curfew, which is scheduled to be in effect until at least Feb. 9. Quebec, however, recently announced it was adding 262 shelter beds in the Montreal area — including 150 beds in a soccer stadium for homeless people with COVID-19 who don't need to be hospitalized. The curfew is working, Legault said, citing the fact that the province's infection rate has been lower over the past ten days compared with the beginning of January, before the curfew. Legault didn't rule out extending the curfew, particularly in the Montreal area. Meanwhile, Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters nearly 100 per cent of long-term care residents in Quebec have received a first dose of vaccine. Quebec, however, is sticking to its plan to delay administering second doses up to 90 days from the first dose, he added. Public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said he's aware of reports from Israel suggesting one dose provides significantly less protection than the two doses required by vaccine manufacturers. He said he's waiting to read scientific papers on the efficacy of a single dose before the province changes course. Legault repeated his call for the federal government to ban non-essential flights to Canada. If Ottawa refuses, the premier said he'd like to see travellers forced to quarantine for two weeks in hotels — at their own expense — where they can be monitored by police. Legault said he's particularly worried that people travelling to resorts in warm destinations could catch the highly contagious COVID-19 variants and bring them back to the province. Quebec reported 1,624 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 66 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 22 that occurred in the past 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by 14, to 1,453, and the number of people in intensive care remained stable at 216. Quebec has reported a total of 248,860 cases of COVID-19 and 9,273 deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
BATON ROUGE, La. — Julia Letlow, the widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, described herself as “both full of grief while also having hope for the future" as she registered Thursday to compete for the congressional seat her husband was unable to fill because of his death from COVID-19 complications. After filing her paperwork for the March 20 election, Julia Letlow faced reporters at the same podium where she stood with her husband six months earlier when he signed up for his bid to represent northeast and central Louisiana. This time, she stood alone. She pledged to continue Luke Letlow's vision for the 5th District, defended her own accomplishments and talked of the respect for public service she shared with her husband and wanted to pass along to their two young children. “We don’t always get to choose what happens to us. But we do get to choose how to respond. Today, I choose to continue to move forward. Today, I choose hope,” said Julia Letlow, 39, a Republican who lives in the small town of Start in Richland Parish. Her husband died Dec. 29 at the age of 41, only weeks after winning a runoff election for the congressional seat and days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office. Julia Letlow said she knows the issues of the poverty-plagued district from travelling with her husband during the campaign and because of Luke Letlow's tenure as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican who stepped down after three terms and endorsed Luke Letlow for the job. Abraham now is supporting Julia Letlow for the seat in the special election. “I wouldn’t have done this without his blessing,” Julia Letlow said of Abraham. Julia Letlow has never run for office “besides sixth-grade president" but said she often had conversations with her husband about the possibility. She dismissed suggestions she was riding her husband's political coattails or trying to capitalize off sympathy to get the congressional job, saying she has her own experience to qualify her for the position. “While Luke and I were a dynamo team and I miss him every day, still you’re your own individual person with your own qualifications and accomplishments in life, and I feel like I am very well qualified to run for this 5th Congressional District seat,” Julia Letlow told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “Look at my qualifications. Take a look at my bio. Make your decision there.” She has a career in higher education, with a Ph.D. in communication. She's on leave from her job with the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she works as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach. Six other contenders so far are vying for the congressional seat on the March ballot, including two who ran last fall. One of them, Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican, said Wednesday he’s worried about Julia Letlow’s two young children. Guillory said if Julia Letlow wins the congressional seat, “those kids could lose two parents.” Julia Letlow responded that she's running because of 3-year-old Jeremiah and 1-year-old Jacqueline. “I hope to illustrate for them the power of fortitude, resilience and perseverance," she said. Her campaign platform remains similar to her husband's priorities, with a focus on job development, expanded access to broadband internet and support for agriculture industries. She said she intends a bipartisan approach, “while staying true to my conservative ideals and values that I hold dear.” Asked if she thought President Joe Biden was properly elected to the office, Julia Letlow paused. Then, she said she believes Biden “is the legitimate U.S. president." When pressed, she said she does not have the continuing concerns that some Republicans have cited about fraud. She noted those allegations were litigated in many court cases, where no widespread voter fraud was found. “I have faith in our election cycle, I do,” she said. “I have faith in our democracy.” The sprawling 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, including the cities of Alexandria and Monroe. It's one of two congressional seats on the March ballot. Voters also will fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat, which is open after Democrat Cedric Richmond left the position to work for President Joe Biden’s administration. The signup period for both races wraps up Friday. ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Irving Oil has laid off 60 workers from its Saint John refinery, saying the pandemic has had an "extreme and serious" impact on its business and industry. The company says it also reduced its contractor workforce to 225 workers from its average first-quarter workforce of about 1,000 earlier this year. Irving Oil says the collapse in demand for motor fuels, jet fuel and other refined products continues to create prolonged and significant challenges. In addition, it says extreme market volatility, serious negative impacts on refining margins and high levels of uncertainty about the depth and duration of the downturn have forced the company to make operational changes. The company says it's sorry for the impact the changes have had on its team, and it's committed to supporting its employees through the difficult transition. It says the 60 laid off workers represented about seven per cent of our Saint John refinery team. Irving Oil announced the layoffs in a statement on its website Thursday attributed to president Ian Whitcomb and executive vice-president and chief brand officer Sarah Irving. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia has restored an online portal through which the public can submit freedom of information requests, almost three years after the site was shut down because of a security breach. The new site was launched Thursday and allows people to track the progress of requests, pay fees and receive responses. The site was shut down in March 2018 after a 19-year-old downloaded documents from the site to his home computer. About 7,000 documents were accessed over two days, affecting 700 people. The young man wasn't charged because he told officers he had used a widely available software to search for documents about a teachers' labour dispute, and it became clear to authorities that the basic firewalls weren't in place. The province says it has updated and improved security features on the site to prevent further breaches. Paula Arab, Nova Scotia's Internal Services minister, said the province has a five-year contract worth $760,000 with two companies to operate the site. Arab said it took time to set up the portal because the project was split into several parts. One portion involved receiving requests while another involved disclosing documents. Added security measures also required time, she said. "We wanted to do as many security tests as we could and to come up with the right solutions, and we took seriously two reports given to us following the (security) breach," Arab said. The new access to information application site can be found at iaprequest.novascotia.ca. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Interior Health is ordering a review for “lessons learned” from the outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver, after 17 residents died in just over a month. The focus of the review will be around multi-bed units in long-term care facilities, according to Carl Meadows, South Okanagan executive director of clinical operations for Interior Health. “With McKinney, I’ve requested a review for lessons learned,” Meadows told the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District Board while giving an update on COVID-19 in the South Okanagan at their Jan. 21 meeting. A total of 55 residents tested positive at the facility out of the 59 who lived there at the beginning of the outbreak in December, 2020. Interior Health has previously stated the spread of COVID-19 at the facility was partially due to a lack of single-bed rooms to isolate residents who have tested positive. McKinney Place is an older facility which does have more congregation areas and has fewer private rooms than some newer long-term care facilities, which may have contributed to the spread, Interior Health officials previously stated. “There’s going to be more awareness around these four-bed long term care units and how to do something about them in the near future because it was very difficult to cordon off or cohort infected patients with four-bed units,” Meadows said. In the South Okanagan, including Penticton and Summerland, COVID-19 case numbers are down, but so are the number of tests, Meadows said. “Our COVID numbers in the community are dropping but we have had obviously some significant events at places that have been made public so it has been a very long few months, we’re still in an incident command structure in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. “Our numbers are going down, what we don’t know is our testing numbers are also down, so we don’t know if people are getting tested and of course now we’ve got the Pfizer vaccine that has been delayed and Moderna.” Right now, Interior Health’s primary focus is on the vaccination of long-term care and assisted living staff and residents with priority vaccinations for emergency/intensive care staff and COVID units in Penticton, Meadows said. “(COVID-19) has tested our health system like we’ve never experienced and McKinney was the latest example where it was very challenging. But I can assure you our teams are nothing short of amazing, you’re in very good hands in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
A director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association believes provinces should set targets for vaccinating inmates in provincial jails — something half of jurisdictions have yet to do. The Correctional Service of Canada has started vaccinations for federal prisoners who are older or considered "medically vulnerable." But, as of last week, provinces had yet to start giving shots to inmates awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences in provincial jails. "Prisoners are disproportionately impacted by health conditions that would make them very susceptible to serious illness and death as a result of COVID," said Abby Deshman with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Because of a limited vaccine supply, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends people in correctional centres get inoculated behind those in long-term care homes, seniors 70 and older, critical health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities. British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia said that, as of last week, prisoners and staff are scheduled for vaccination in the second round of inoculations, with estimated start dates between next month and June. Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec didn't provide a timeline for when inmates will receive their shots. Newfoundland and Labrador said its inmates will be part of the second phase of its vaccine distribution, but didn't specify dates. Saskatchewan said the ranking of vulnerable groups is still to be determined. The Northwest Territories and Yukon planned to start giving shots this week and the Nunavut government says it plans to start vaccinating prisoners and correctional staff in Iqaluit starting Thursday. Deshman was part of a research project that tracked COVID-19 cases in jails and prisons. It found that since Dec. 1, there have been at least 1,962 infections among staff and inmates — more than all of the cases reported from last March until November. “We should have targets for immunizing key vulnerable populations, regardless of who they are," she said. “If those targets need to be adjusted, if they cannot be met, that needs to be publicly communicated and explained.” She noted some politicians, including federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, have pushed back against early vaccinations for federal inmates. Justin Piche, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said there are far fewer older prisoners in provincial jails than in federal prisons, where one out of five inmates is 50 and older. He said rhetoric from leaders that pits one group against another isn't helpful. “Prisons are among the congregate settings that are seeing significant transmission," he said. “You have prisoners who are getting COVID-19 at higher rates. You have prison staff that are going in and out of there on a day-to-day basis, going back to their families, going back to their communities." The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers believes it's wrong that Ottawa didn’t vaccinate correctional staff along with prisoners, and instead left it up to provinces to decide where staff fall in the vaccine line. "It’s completely foolish," said national president Jeff Wilkins. “We have (Saskatchewan Penitentiary), for example, which has seen quite an extensive outbreak. Our members are getting burnt out." As of last week, Manitoba listed provincial and federal correctional health-care workers as eligible to be vaccinated. Wilkins wants to see correctional officers inoculated along with long-term care staff. "In some areas, we’ve seen the rates of the institution be much higher than the community.” Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, questions why doses were sent to institutions in Atlantic Canada, which have no active COVID-19 cases, while inmates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are at higher risk. Latimer is also concerned about what she says is solitary confinement-like measures being used to contain the novel coronavirus. “It’s a very, very harsh correctional environment right now," she said. "We’re probably going through the worst period in terms of general corrections, at least on the federal side, in the last 50 years." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — A day after President Joe Biden’s inauguration went off with only a handful of minor arrests and incidents, more than 15,000 National Guard members are preparing to leave Washington, D.C. and head home. The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to D.C. for the inaugural, just 10,600 remain on duty. The bureau said the Guard is helping states with co-ordination and the logistics so that troops can get home. Thousands of Guard troops from all across the country poured into D.C. by the planeload and busload late last week, in response to escalating security threats and fears of more rioting. Military aircraft crowded the runways at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, carrying Guard members into the region in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Guard forces were scattered around the city, helping to secure the Capitol, monuments, Metro entrances and the perimeter of central D.C., which was largely locked down for several days leading up to Wednesday's inaugural ceremony. The U.S. Secret Service announced that the special security event for the inauguration officially ended at noon Thursday. The Guard said that it may take several days to make all the arrangements to return the 15,000 home, but it should be complete in five to 10 days. Guard members will have to turn in equipment, make travel plans and go through COVID-19 screening. Some local law enforcement agencies have asked for continued assistance from the Guard, so roughly 7,000 troops are expected to stay in the region through the end of the month. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Calgary police are urging vigilance after more than a dozen women were assaulted while walking alone in the last three months. Investigators are looking into the possibility that one man has assaulted at least 15 women since November. The groping incidents take place both in daylight and at night, according to police, who say the attacker flees immediately after. CPS is asking women to call 911 immediately if they have been targeted so that police have a better chance at finding the offender. "Officers will be dispatched to the area to help locate the suspect in a timely manner," said police in a written statement. Multiple attacks in 5 communities Communities where the assaults took place include downtown, Mission, Thorncliffe, Huntington Hills and Hillhurst. The most recent attack was on Tuesday in Thorncliffe. The method of attack has been similar. While walking alone, women have been approached from behind by a man who then groped them. In some incidents, the attacker seems to have waited for opportunities when the victims were distracted, either by an electronic device, or, as police explain, "during moments when their situational awareness was lowered, such as looking in a bag." Investigators haven't yet determined if all of the incidents are connected to one person, or if there are multiple assailants involved. Police have offered the following safety tips: Walk with others or in well-populated areas. Stay in well-lit areas with clear visibility. Be aware of your surroundings — limit the use of devices that would distract. Limit the number of belongings that you are carrying in your arms to reduce vulnerability. If you are attacked: Make noise to attract attention. Do not try to hold on to your possessions or valuables. Pay attention to the physical attributes of your attacker and what they are wearing. Call 911 immediately.
TORONTO — As Ontario struggles to beat back a dire wave of COVID-19, workplace spread has been singled out by public health experts, mayors and top health officials as a major source of infections. Experts and workers say government measures so far haven’t directly targeted the issue, but fairly simple practices would help track and reduce infections. Epidemiologist Colin Furness at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health said there should be clear consequences for employers that don't take proper precautions at this point in the pandemic. “We know from contact tracing data and outbreak investigations what some of the most risky environments are. We should be coming down on them like a ton of bricks,” Furness said. Hundreds of people have been infected in recent outbreaks linked to workplaces, including at least 121 workers at a Canada Post facility whose cases were reported this week and more than 140 people at a Cargill-owned meat processing facility in Guelph, Ont., last month. Hundreds of migrant workers tested positive on Ontario farms last summer, and more than 5,000 long-term care staff have been infected to date. But observers said there isn’t consistency when it comes to penalties for employers, or even naming workplaces where outbreaks happen. Traditionally, workplaces have been challenging for public health because harsh enforcement might mean future issues are covered up, Furness said. There are some signs of change, however, led by Toronto Public Health. The health unit said this month it would name employers with significant outbreaks and enforce reporting of cases among workers, a move Furness called “revolutionary.” Putting pressure on employers is also important to make sure other measures are effective, Furness said, including paid sick leave, which has become a prominent political issue in Ontario. Mayors from province’s largest cities have been calling for months for accessible, universal paid sick leave so workers don't come to work sick over fear of losing income – an argument supported nearly universally by public health experts. Janice Mills, who has a job in auto manufacturing, said sick leave is the biggest issue at the Glencoe, Ont, plant where she works with about 50 other people per shift. Workers can apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit introduced to support people missing work over a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure, but they’re only eligible if they miss 50 per cent of the work week. That's an issue for hourly workers at Mills' plant, she said, because if someone falls ill on Thursday or Friday, they can’t make use of the benefit until the following week. “That's very difficult for people to wrap their heads around,” Mills said. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said Ontario isn’t looking to implement its own sick leave policy because there are still millions of dollars available through the federal benefit. He said the program is sufficient, but workers may not know about it, and he’s asking federal ministers to ensure there isn’t a delay in getting money out to people. “I feel strongly that we shouldn't duplicate this program,” he said in an interview. Furness said sick leave is important, but it doesn’t guarantee workers won’t face repercussions for accessing it – so employers should be held accountable if people are pressured into working while sick. Tim Sly, an emeritus professor of epidemiology at Ryerson University, pointed to regular asymptomatic testing as another key measure that would help assess workplace spread. He noted other regions have made use of rapid tests to find the virus among people who may not know they're infected, but Ontario has until recently been reluctant to introduce the practice. “Why we've delayed it so often, I have not a clue," he said. "It costs so little, it's easy to do, and if you repeat it, you're getting up to really good standards of screening.” Some industries in Ontario, such as film and television production, are already regularly testing employees for COVID-19, and the government plans to ramp up asymptomatic testing in the coming months by sending rapid tests to hard-hit sectors like farms, manufacturing and long-term care. McNaughton said an asymptomatic testing pilot has already begun on construction sites in the Greater Toronto Area, and he said there will be "huge emphasis" on testing workers going forward. He also pointed to the government’s recent “inspection blitz” of big-box stores, which is expanding to more industries. Most fines have been relatively small, at less than $1,000 per infraction, but McNaughton said some larger investigations are underway, and employers should be aware of the potential for fines up to $1.5 million. “I hope my message was clear to every big corporation out there, every shareholder, that if they're not having a safe work environment for their workers, and for customers, I won't hesitate to shut them down,” he said. Meanwhile, frontline workers say appreciation for their work isn't often reflected in the province's official pandemic response. Brittany Nisbett, who works at a group home for disabled adults in the Niagara Region, said new restrictions announced this month haven’t changed anything in her working life – in fact, she said new limits on store hours have made it harder to complete errands during time off. She said it’s been an emotionally taxing year, especially when co-workers and clients have tested positive for the disease, but one silver living has been growing public acknowledgment of the work she does. She’d like to see that reflected with a permanent wage increase, paid sick days and more staff for support. “If you’re going to call us heroes, then I think that we need to be treated like heroes,” Nisbett said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals. “That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug's makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.” Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva. The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated. ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things. Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots. “Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine. Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. “There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said. Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop. Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service. Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well. A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors. "Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point," Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks. Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents. The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased. "We're relieved by today's announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible," council spokesman John Graham said. While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery. With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather. "Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies," Roussin said. Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics. Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits. "We don't have enough enforcement people to check every household," Pallister said. "We're asking you to follow the rules because that's how we'll keep each other safe." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
BILLINGS, Mont. — The Biden administration announced Thursday the suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters for 60 days, as officials moved quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment. The suspension, part of a broad review of programs at the Department of Interior, went into effect immediately under an order signed Wednesday by Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega. It follows Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves to help address climate change. Under former President Donald Trump, federal agencies prioritized energy development and eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of the Republican's goal to end reliance on foreign energy supplies and boost domestic production. Trump consistently downplayed the dangers of climate change, which Biden has made a top priority. The order did not limit existing oil and gas operations under valid leases, meaning activity won't come to a sudden halt on the millions of acres of lands in the West and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico where much drilling is concentrated. Its effect could be further blunted by companies that stockpiled enough drilling permits in Trump's final months to allow them to keep pumping oil and gas for years. The order also applies to coal mining and blocks the approval of new mining plans. Land sales or exchanges and the hiring of senior-level staff at the agency also were suspended. The order includes an exception that gives a small number of senior Interior officials authority to approve actions that are otherwise suspended. Those officials include the agency secretary, deputy secretary, solicitor and several assistant secretaries. Biden’s move could be the first step in an eventual goal to ban all leases and permits to drill on federal land. Mineral leasing laws state that federal lands are for many uses, including extracting oil and gas, but the Democrat could set out to rewrite those laws, said Kevin Book, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners. The administration's announcement drew a quick backlash from Republicans and oil industry trade groups. They said limiting access to publicly owned energy resources would mean more foreign oil imports, lost jobs and fewer tax revenues. Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said the administration was “off to a divisive and disastrous start." He added that that the government is legally obliged to act on all drilling permit applications it receives and that “staff memos” can't override the law. “Impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery,” American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said in a statement. National Wildlife Federation Vice-President Tracy Stone-Manning welcomed the move and said she expected Biden to make good on his campaign promise to end leasing altogether, or at least impose a long-term moratorium on any new issuances. “The Biden administration has made a commitment to driving down carbon emissions. It makes sense starting with the land that we all own,” she said. “We have 24 million acres already under lease. That should get us through." Oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of annual U.S. production. Extracting and burning those fuels generates the equivalent of almost 550 million tons (500 metric tons) of greenhouse gases annually, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a 2018 study. Under Trump, Interior officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico, over a three-month period that included the election, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. Those permits, which remain valid, will allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undercutting Biden’s climate agenda. But there are other ways an ambitious Biden administration could make it harder for permit holders to extract oil and gas. “The ability to get your resources out, to get right of way, to get roads, to get supporting infrastructure, not all of that is signed and sealed right now,” Book said. Under former President Barack Obama, the Interior Department in 2016 imposed a moratorium on federal coal leases while it investigated the coal program's climate effects and whether companies were paying a fair share for extracting resources from public lands. Trump lifted the moratorium soon after taking office. __ AP writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York. ___ Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter: @MatthewBrownAP Matthew Brown, The Associated Press
The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen (CFSOS) is announcing $80,000 in grants to local organizations supporting gender equality. IndigenEYEZ, Foundry Penticton and the South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS), whose projects are working towards advancing gender equality in local communities, each received part of the funding to advance their work. “Our investment in their work is key in working towards equity and inclusion and in supporting women who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Sarah Trudeau, manager of grants and community initiatives with CFSOS. The Fund for Gender Equality is a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and the Equality Fund which is supported by the Government of Canada. “The organizations who received funding have demonstrated a commitment to empowering women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people through their mission, activities or partnerships,” said Trudeau. IndigenEYEZ was awarded $40,000 for their Stepping Up Together program, empowering women leaders in the South Okanagan. The Indigenous-led leadership program is inclusive of women, gender diverse and two-spirit people with the goal of developing skills and supportive alliances to increase capacity to act as leaders in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. SOWINS was awarded $15,000 for the Explore Pre-Employment Program, a workshop-based, pre-employment program for women who have experienced gender-based violence to help them achieve economic empowerment and financial security. Foundry Penticton was awarded $25,000 to build a team-based approach to gender-affirming care in the South Okanagan. “Advancing the gender-affirming model will promote health and positive development for trans and gender-diverse youth aged 12 to 24. By integrating primary gender-affirming care, mental health, peer support and social services, the program will work towards eliminating health disparities, discrimination and stigma,” states a press release from CFSOS. To learn more about the national fund, click here. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Wearing mittens made out of recycled materials and a warm winter jacket, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled off a casual inauguration outfit — and vibe — that only he could. Many people quickly highlighted the 79-year-old independent Vermont senator's look, and created endless memes, from Wednesday's inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, which he said was more about keeping warm than fashion. “You know in Vermont, we dress warm, we know something about the cold, and we’re not so concerned about good fashion, we want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today,” Sanders told CBS on Wednesday. People were particularly enthralled with Sanders’ mittens, which were made by a Vermont elementary school teacher who has a side business making mittens out of recycled wool. “I love it that he loves them, and that he wears them,” Jen Ellis, an elementary school teacher, told NECN-TV. “And I’m totally honoured that he wore them today.” Ellis has never met Sanders. But when her daughter went to a child care centre owned by one of his relatives, she was able to slip a pair into Sanders' hands. “I think people like a heartwarming story — especially now,” she said when asked about the all the attention the mittens were getting on social media. The widespread interest in the mittens prompted Ellis to tweet Wednesday that there were “no more” of the coveted hand warmers. Sanders has donned the mittens before while running for president in 2020 and in interviews with Vermont journalists, the station reported. “Mittens are easy to slip on, they're cozy, you know you're hands stay a little warmer in a mitten, you've got the the body heat thing,” said Ryan Leclerc, a hard goods buyer for Onion River Sports in Montpelier, Vermont. “And you just can't deny how stylish they are, especially the ones he was wearing." Sanders’ inauguration look, including a brown winter jacket made by Burton snowboards, has spawned countless memes since Wednesday including the former presidential candidate on the subway, on the moon, sitting on the couch with the cast of “Friends”. In memes spreading across Indian Country, Sanders is draped with a Pendleton blanket sitting alongside the parade route during a tribal fair, next to the fire during a ceremony and riding in the back of a pickup truck across remote land. Even before inauguration day, he was dubbed “cheii,” the Navajo word for “grandfather." Ryan Leclerc, a hard goods buyer for Onion River Sports in Montpelier, Vermont, said Sanders is more about substance than style, noting the senator's inauguration attire emulated what is “great” about the him. “Those are the mittens you might see when you’re sipping cider around a fire. Sanders doesn’t care and it’s not important to him," Leclerc said. The Associated Press
A doctor at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax says pregnant women should talk with their doctors and weigh the risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine given the lack of data available right now. Pregnant women were excluded from initial clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which means there's no information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for them. Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, said there's no blanket recommendation telling Canadian women who are pregnant or breastfeeding not to get immunized, but "theoretical risks" should be considered. "It's really a case-by-case basis, individual decision of that risk," he told CBC's Information Morning on Thursday. "If somebody is not seen coming into contact with people with COVID-19 and they're pregnant, they might be able to afford to wait several months and get the vaccine as soon as they deliver." Women working on the front lines of the pandemic may have different considerations, he added. "If somebody is in a position where they are much more likely to be exposed, then that individual risk might be more from the COVID-19 and a woman might choose to get the vaccine during pregnancy, and we're seeing both of those situations and both of those different types of decisions," Halperin said. Early research released in December from the University of British Columbia shows that pregnant women are at higher risk of being hospitalized if they do get the virus compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group. Researchers cautioned that their study is preliminary and only included data from cases in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. Data could be available later this year Halperin said at this point there are no red flags that the COVID vaccines themselves are harmful to a mother and baby. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which provides advice to the federal government, recommends that approved COVID-19 vaccines may be provided to people excluded from clinical trials, "if a risk assessment deems that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks for the individual." "The biggest risk is if somebody, a woman, had a fever with the vaccine, which you can get and if it were a high fever, fever itself can be harmful, not all the time, but occasionally to the fetus, so it's that type of risk that we're looking at," Halperin said. That could be a small risk compared to the risk of getting COVID-19, he added. Halperin estimates it could still be six to eight months before data about how pregnant and breastfeeding women respond to the vaccine is available. "There are women who are getting the vaccine and we'll be collecting data from women who do receive the vaccine in order to see how they respond to the vaccine and to ensure that it is safe," he said. Halperin advises women trying to get pregnant to take a similar approach and weigh the risks. "If one gets the vaccine, one should wait about a month or six weeks before getting pregnant … even theoretically there wouldn't be lasting risks so one doesn't have to not get pregnant for a year, just for a matter of weeks." He said at one time pregnant women weren't involved in clinical trials at all over concerns about harming the fetus. "That's no longer considered to be ethically sound because we need to use vaccines in pregnant women, and therefore we need to get data from clinical trials from pregnant women, but they're still excluded from the initial studies," Halperin said. Studies involving pregnant women and children are only done once the vaccines are deemed safe for the general public, he said. More vaccines on the horizon People who are immunocompromised also weren't part of the initial clinical trials for the vaccines, and Halperin said it's a good idea for them to talk with their health-care providers about the risks of getting immunized. "Right now, there are very few exclusions to getting vaccinated," he said. "People who have had anaphylactic reactions to vaccines in the past … should take care with immunizing." Halperin said more vaccines will be available to Nova Scotians in the months ahead. The U.K. was the first country to approve the new AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and Halperin expects Canada won't be far behind. "Hopefully within a month or so, we'll have maybe four vaccines and further ones a couple of months beyond that." MORE TOP STORIES