Deborah the Yorkie plays hide-and-seek with two nimble ferrets. She is trying to catch them and cannot understand where they disappear to!
Deborah the Yorkie plays hide-and-seek with two nimble ferrets. She is trying to catch them and cannot understand where they disappear to!
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
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
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
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.
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
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
During a COVID-19 modelling update on Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the rise in case numbers is largely due to Canadians gathering during the holidays. She added that measures must be “further intensified,” in order to help stop the spread.
Some of the first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine in the southern N.W.T. are reminding residents that it will help them stay safe. The statements come as the government found an undetected COVID-19 result in Hay River's wastewater earlier this week. Vaccine clinics popped up in three of the smaller South Slave communities this week: K'atl'odeeche First Nation, Enterprise and Kakisa. 'I'm going to do it for my community' April Martel, chief of K'atl'odeeche First Nation, was one of the first people in line for the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday. For a few days before the clinic, Martel had gone door-to-door with a translator, sharing vaccination information with elders in her community. Still, she got nervous as soon as she walked through the doors of the Chief Lamalice Complex with a team of nurses. "I was so excited to get it, but at the same time I was scared," Martel told CBC. She said she was reluctant at first because she knew it was a new type of vaccine, and didn't know how her body would react to it. She was convinced after seeing a long lineup of elders behind her, waiting for their dose. "I felt a little bit better, knowing that [the elders] are getting the vaccine," she said. "They're doing it for their community, so I was like I'm going to do it for my community." Martel said more than 100 people got the first dose of the vaccine that day. There were more who wanted to take it, she continued, but had to be turned away because they were sick or recently got the flu vaccine. More people got vaccinated after positive COVID wastewater test A few hours after being vaccinated, Martel's phone rang. It was Dr. Kami Kandola, the N.W.T.'s chief public health officer, calling to let her know that there was a positive COVID-19 result in Hay River's wastewater system. "I was like 'are you … kidding me, oh my god!'" Martel said. After posting the news on the nation's Facebook page, Martel said more people decided to head to the community centre to get their vaccine. For those who didn't make it, they'll be able to go back again in 28 days to get their vaccine. If they decide not to at that time, Martel said, she will still respect their choice — but she wants people to be comfortable knowing that elders in the community are getting the vaccine. "People were happy [Wednesday], so I just want to share that with people," she said. 'It's the smart thing to do' Enterprise resident Jim Dives was flagged down Thursday morning by a team of nurses looking for the community centre. Dives took them to the right place and helped them carry some of their medical supplies through the door. In the small hamlet of 130 people, appointments for the Moderna vaccine are first-come-first-serve. "They said, 'I guess you're first,'" Dives laughed. "Right place, right time." Dives describes himself as over 70, a little overweight and diabetic — all factors increasing his risk of contracting COVID-19 so he had "no qualms" getting the vaccine. "I think it's the smart thing to do," Dives said. "I think the Northwest Territories is primed to have a large outbreak and ... getting the vaccine is the easiest way to protect everybody." On his way out, Dives said he saw about 15 to 20 people waiting for their turn to get it. Enterprise has a large population of seniors, Dives said. He believes most people in the hamlet will be open to getting the vaccine. "The more people that get the vaccine, the better off we're going to be down the road because that's the only way to stop this thing," Dives said. Dives said he will continue to wear his mask, wash his hands and limit his gatherings even after getting the vaccine to minimize his risk as much as possible.
Quebec's workplace safety board says it has issued fines to nine Dollarama locations in the province for failing to respect sanitary guidelines. The Commission des normes, de l'equite, de la sante et de la securite du travail visited 68 Dollarama locations since March 2020 and issued 11 fines to the nine locations, the agency said Thursday. In its release, the agency did not specify the nature of the violations. The agency's announcement comes after Dollarama workers held protests last year decrying a lack of sanitary measures at the company's facilities. The nine Dollarama locations are in the regions of Gaspesie, Valleyfield, Saint-Jean-sur-le-Richelieu, Saguenay, Quebec City and Yamaska, the agency says. Dollarama says it cannot comment on the nature of the notices, adding that it has not received all of them and the ones it has received do not "clearly indicate what the infractions are." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:DOL) The Canadian Press
The week ahead will be a crucial one for the province as it teeters on the edge of the orange recovery phase. On Friday, after two weeks of climbing cases and two weeks since the holiday season ended, Premier Blaine Higgs was asked yet again about whether the province will be tipped back to the most restrictive "red" phase of recovery. Higgs said he really doesn't want to do that, because it "shuts everything down" and has a drastic impact on business. But he isn't ready to rule it out yet, either. Case numbers are "levelling off," Higgs told reporters in a scrum at the legislature, "but we need to see them going down." "If we see them starting to drop off to 20, to 15 to 10, then you get the kind of comfort level," he said. "But if they stay at 25 for the next seven days, you kind of say, 'OK, we should be at the other end of this by now.' And then you look across the province and say ... 'Are we in a situation where some areas have to go red and others don't?' " The week ahead will likely be a deciding factor, Higgs said, noting the "biggest problem we face" is whether the people who have been told to isolate are doing so. As of Thursday, there were 2,161 New Brunswickers self-isolating as they awaited test results. "And if they are isolating, we're good," Higgs said. "But if they're not, if they're basically saying 'I'm supposed to isolate, but I need to go to the store,' that's an issue ... That's why the next few days are so critical." 25 new cases, new record-high active case count Public Health is reporting 25 new cases of COVID-19, with new cases in six of seven zones and a new record-high number of active cases. The cases break down this way: Moncton region, Zone 1, four cases: three people 30 to 39 an individual 40 to 49 Saint John region, Zone 2, five cases: two people 19 or under two people 40 to 49 an individual 70 to 79 Fredericton region, Zone 3, five cases: two people 20 to 29 an individual 40 to 49 an individual 60 to 69 an individual 80 to 89 Edmundston region, Zone 4, six cases: an individual 20 to 29 an individual 50 to 59 three people 60 to 69 an individual 80 to 89. Campbellton region, Zone 5, four cases: an individual 19 or under an individual 20-29 an individual 40-49 an individual 60-69 Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case: an individual 30 to 39 All cases are self-isolating and under investigation. There are 256 active cases across the province. Four people are hospitalized, including one who is in intensive care. The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began in March is 884 and 615 have recovered. There have been 12 COVID-related deaths. As of Friday, 169,256 tests have been conducted, including 1,480 since Thursday's report. Edmundston rolls out the vaccine Health-care workers in Edmundston rolled up their sleeves Thursday evening as the first COVID-19 vaccine clinic got underway. Staff members from the Edmundston Regional Hospital, the extramural program, Ambulance New Brunswick and health-care workers from First Nations communities and nursing homes received vaccines. The clinic received a total of 488 doses to be administered. How the 7 zones stack up for case rates New Brunswick recorded a new record-high number of active cases on Friday, with 256 cases. The following chart shows the active case rates and total case rates for each of the province's seven zones, based on population numbers provided by the Department of Health and on current case counts. Region Active cases Active case rate* Cases to date Rate of cases to date* Moncton 58 26.0 220 98.8 Saint John 48 27.2 183 103.8 Fredericton 65 35.4 202 110.1 Edmundston 46 95.3 82 169.9 Campbellton 35 138.9 173 686.5 Bathurst 4 5.1 18 22.8 Miramichi 0 0 6 14.2 *per 100,000 population Minister apologizes for travel rebate delays Following a host of complaints from New Brunswickers who still haven't received their promised travel rebates, Tourism Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace is apologizing for a month of delays. More than 25,000 people applied for a 20 per cent rebate on their local travel through the Explore NB Travel Incentive program between July and October. The applications include 47,000 receipts worth more than $17.4 million. "It was an incredibly popular program and we really are proud of it, but we know there's been some hiccups along the way … and we apologize for that," the minister of the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture said. While the incentive designed to pay New Brunswickers to vacation at home was widely accepted, the province now faces backlash as just over 6,000 of the applications have been processed so far. Scott-Wallace said the province decided to implement the program just as New Brunswick was moving out of lockdown and announced the program before it was built to get people travelling over the summer months. "That did mean building a brand-new program, and that definitely has taken more time than we expected," she said. Scott-Wallace said New Brunswickers were initially told they would receive rebates 10 to 12 weeks after applying, but about 16 weeks have passed. "We apologize for that, but it has been developing that program that's taken a bit longer than expected," she said. Scott-Wallace said the applications will likely be processed by the end of January or February. Upwards of 15 Service New Brunswick staff are working to process them, she said. "We are not denying there has been disappointment from people who haven't heard" back yet on their claims, she said. "Many" claims have been denied because they did not include the required overnight stay with a hotel accommodation, the minister said. But there have also been cases where receipts were illegible because of scanner issues, or where applications included a hotel confirmation email instead of a receipt. "There are these things that we know are just human-error and unintentional," she said. Specific reasons for a denied claim will now be outlined, and applicants will have a couple of weeks to resubmit. Scott-Wallace said the department will look at whether it will reimplement the program this summer. Two Woodstock schools extend closures by one week The Anglophone West School District announced Thursday night that learning at Woodstock High School and Townsview School will continue online until Jan. 21 in order to allow students and staff to self-isolate for the recommended 14 days. Students will be allowed back in the schools beginning Jan. 22. The decision was made following discussions between the Anglophone West School District and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. "I have had very positive feedback on the commitment of students and their engagement with learning," superintendent David McTimoney said in a message to parents Thursday. "I am grateful to the teachers and staff who are working hard to make sure the learning continues in a meaningful way." Students and staff of both schools were asked to self-isolate last weekend, after three cases were confirmed at Woodstock High School and one case was reported at Townsview School Saturday. Edith Cavell School in Moncton reported its second COVID-19 case this week. In a tweet Thursday night, Anglophone East School District said Edith Cavell and T.E.S.S. (Therapeutic Education Support Site) students would have an "at home learning day" on Friday. Kennebecasis Valley High School in Quispamsis closed Thursday morning, and the Anglophone South School District later reported the school's first case of COVID-19 in an email to parents. Garderie Tic Tac Toe, a Dalhousie daycare centre, also reported one case. Exposure notifications Public Health identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flights: Jan. 3 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:23 a.m. Jan. 6– Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:30 a.m. Public Health also identified potential public exposure at the following locations: Gusto Italian Grill & Bar, 130 Westmorland St., Moncton, on Jan, 3, 4 and 7, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bo Diddley's Lounge,295 Collishaw St., on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (285 Collishaw St., Moncton) Miss Cue pool hall,495 Mountain Rd., Moncton, Jan. 1 to 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Foggerz Five-O-Six, an e-cigarette store in Woodstock, has closed because of possible COVID-19 exposure. If you were at any of these locations, and you have no symptoms of COVID-19, self-monitor and follow all Public Health guidelines. If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and do not need to talk to a nurse, complete the self-assessment and get tested. No exposure alert was issued after Saint-Quentin industrial company Groupe Savoie reported four cases this week. Public Health only issues exposure notifications when it believes members of the public are at risk. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
COPENHAGEN — U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer confirmed Friday it will temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity to 2 billion doses per year. “This temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” a spokeswoman for Pfizer Denmark said in a statement to The Associated Press. Line Fedders said that to meet the new 2 billion dose target, Pfizer is upscaling production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, which “presupposes adaptation of facilities and processes at the factory which requires new quality tests and approvals from the authorities.” “As a consequence, fewer doses will be available for European countries at the end of January and the beginning of February,” she said. Germany’s Health Ministry said Friday Pfizer had informed the European Commission, which was responsible for ordering vaccines from the company, that it won’t be able to fulfil all of the promised deliveries in the coming three to four weeks. The ministry said German officials took note of the unexpected announcement by the Commission ” with regret” because the company had made binding delivery commitments by mid-February. “The federal and state governments expect the EU Commission to provide clarity and certainty as soon as possible in negotiations with Pfizer about further deliveries and delivery dates,” the statement said. The Commission sealed the vaccine deals on behalf of all 27 member states, but is not responsible for the timetable and deliveries. Asked Friday whether Brussels has been informed by Pfizer about delays in the EU, Commission health policy spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker said all questions on production and production capacity should be directed to the company. “The Commission stands ready to support and facilitate contacts between the company and member states whenever needed,” he said. De Keersmaecker said deliveries are made on the basis of purchase orders and specific contracts that are concluded between the member states and the companies. "The specificities of these arrangements are laid down in these purchase orders or contracts,” he said. The Commission has secured up to 600 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine that's produced in partnership with Germany's BioNTech. Norwegian authorities also said Friday they had been notified by Pfizer about the reduction that will start next week as the company raises its annual dose target from the current 1.3 billion. “We had predicted 43,875 vaccine doses from Pfizer in week 3. Now it seems that we get 36,075 doses,” said Geir Bukholm, director of infection control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. ”The stock we now have will be able to compensate for a reduction in the planned deliveries for a few weeks ahead if there is a need for this,” he said. In Finland, broadcaster YLE said the delay would cause domestic delivery problems at the end of January and the beginning of February. ___ Samuel Petrequin in Brussels and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed. Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his entire Cabinet resigned Friday to take political responsibility for a scandal involving investigations into child welfare payments that wrongly labeled thousands of parents as fraudsters. In a nationally televised speech, Rutte said he had informed King Willem-Alexander of his decision and pledged that his government would continue work to compensate affected parents as quickly as possible and to battle the coronavirus. “We are of one mind that if the whole system has failed, we all must take responsibility, and that has led to the conclusion that I have just offered the king, the resignation of the entire Cabinet,” Rutte said. The move was seen as largely symbolic; Rutte’s government will remain in office in a caretaker mode until a new coalition is formed after a March 17 election in the Netherlands. The resignation brings to an end a decade in office for Rutte, although his party is expected to win the election, putting him first in line to begin talks to form the next government. If he succeeds in forming a new coalition, Rutte would most likely again become prime minister. The Netherlands is the third European country thrown into political uncertainty this week in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. In Estonia, the government resigned over a corruption scandal, while Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte’s governing coalition is at risk of collapse after a small partner party withdrew its support. Rutte said earlier this week that his government would be able to keep taking tough policy decisions in the battle against the coronavirus even if it were in caretaker mode. The Netherlands is in a tough lockdown until at least Feb. 9, and the government is considering imposing an overnight curfew amid fears about new, more contagious variants of the virus. “To the Netherlands I say: Our struggle against the coronavirus will continue,” Rutte said. On Thursday, the leader of the Dutch opposition Labor Party stepped down because he was minister of social affairs in a governing coalition led by Rutte when the country’s tax office implemented a tough policy of tracking down fraud with child welfare. Lodewijk Asscher’s decision put further pressure on Rutte ahead of Friday's Cabinet meeting. Ministers were to decide on their reaction to a scathing report issued last month, titled “Unprecedented Injustice,” that said the tax office policies violated “fundamental principles of the rule of law.” The report also criticized the government for the way it provided information to parliament about the scandal. Many wrongfully accused parents were plunged into debt when tax officials demanded repayment of payments. The government has in the past apologized for the tax office’s methods and in March earmarked 500 million euros ($607 million) to compensate more than 20,000 parents. One of those parents waited near parliament as the Cabinet met and said she wanted it to resign. “It's important for me because it is the government acknowledging, ‘We have made a mistake and we are taking responsibility,’ because it's quite something what happened to us,” Janet Ramesar told The Associated Press. Rutte plans to lead his conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy into the March election, and polls suggest it will win the most seats. That would put Rutte, who has been in office for a decade at the head of three different coalitions, first in line to attempt to form the next ruling coalition. Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren, who serves as interior minister, said as she entered Friday's meeting that “it is very important to be accountable and also to show responsibility in the political sense, and we are going to talk about that in the Council of Ministers today.” Mike Corder, The Associated Press
BOSTON — A major memorial honouring Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King is moving forward in Boston, where they met and studied in the 1950s. King Boston, the privately funded organization co-ordinating the estimated $9.5 million project, said this week that fabrication of a roughly 22-foot-high bronze sculpture depicting four arms embracing is expected to begin in March after years of planning. When unveiled late next year, “The Embrace” will be one of the country’s largest new memorials dedicated to racial equity, the organization says. It will be installed on Boston Common near the site of a 1965 rally and march led by MLK, who would have turned 92 on Friday. Imari Paris Jeffries, King Boston's executive director, said organizers hope their broader effort serves as a model for how public monuments can spark positive action in the wake of the national reckoning on racism sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. Besides the King memorial, the organization is also raising money to build an economic justice centre in Roxbury, a historically Black neighbourhood in Boston where MLK preached. It also plans to launch an annual gathering exploring issues of race and equity. “It's not only how symbols and monuments represent this commitment to equity and inclusion," Jeffries said. "It's also about how research, data and policy work to find new solutions, and how we use the arts and humanities to ground us.” Dr. Vicki Crawford, director of the MLK collection at Morehouse College, the civil right’s leader’s alma mater in Atlanta, Georgia, said the Boston project also stands out because it honours the sizeable contributions of Coretta Scott King alongside her husband. She founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and led the successful push to make his birthday a national holiday after his assassination in 1968. “She hasn’t received adequate recognition for institutionalizing his philosophy of nonviolence,” Crawford said. “He could not have done it without her by his side.” Other recent monuments to MLK include a bronze statue on Georgia Capitol grounds, dedicated in 2017, and the towering granite likeness off the National Mall that opened in 2011. King Boston was launched in 2017 to address what organizers viewed as a glaring deficiency, considering MLK spent some of his formative years in Boston. The Georgia native earned a doctorate in theology from Boston University and was assistant minister at the city’s Twelfth Baptist Church. The memorial effort was later broadened to honour Coretta Scott King, who earned a degree in music education from the New England Conservatory. It has been further expanded to also recognize Boston civil rights leaders during the 1960s, whose names will be memorialized in the surrounding plaza. Like other racial justice efforts, Jeffries said King Boston has been bolstered by civic activism following Floyd's killing. The organization collected roughly $8 million of the total $12 million it has raised to date in roughly eight months last year, he said. The project also comes as Boston, which was scarred by violent protests over efforts to desegregate its public schools in the 1970s, is enjoying something of a “Black Renaissance,” Jeffries said. The city of almost 700,000 residents, roughly a quarter of them Black, now has its first Black police commissioner and is also home to the state's first Black female district attorney and the state’s first Black congresswoman. Soon, New England’s largest city will also have its first Black and first female mayor. “It seems with every passing day this piece becomes so necessary,” said Hank Willis Thomas, the Brooklyn artist who designed the Boston memorial. “I never imagined how prescient this would be.” Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press
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 McKellar Firefighter Association wants to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by volunteering to flood private skating rinks for McKellar residents. At McKellar's Jan. 12 council meeting, Coun. Don Carmichael commented that it was acting fire chief Ron Harrison’s idea. “We have very little public ice available,” said Carmichael. “And now (with) further restrictions of only five people can be together on an ice surface at any point in time, we have two options. One would be to flood public grounds which we would be responsible for or we can flood private grounds which is the responsibility of the homeowner.” In a report submitted to council, Ron Harrison wrote to request the use of the apparatus and equipment to assist in the initial flooding of at-home rinks to provide an opportunity for ratepayers to have additional activities to do at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. “This is a fantastic initiative brought forth that will help the ratepayers of McKellar (by) staying home and skating,” Harrison said. “This will also pose benefit in the reduction of pressure on our municipal rink and reduce the use of the lake ice which can be unpredictable.” According to Carmichael, the fire department would be using the secondary tanker and portable pumps and said the initiative could be used as a training opportunity for the firefighters as well. “It would be another training opportunity to be doing this in freezing conditions which we don’t normally do unless in the event of a real fire,” he said. “So, this is a winter training opportunity in addition to providing a service to our private landowners.” But could it affect fire department response times? Coun. Marco Ancinelli, who is also a firefighter for McKellar, said that it wouldn’t as the fire department wouldn’t be using the main equipment. “It’s a different animal all together when you’re fighting a fire in the summertime or in the winter time so I think it’s great practice,” said Ancinelli. However, David Moore, a McKellar ratepayer, questioned the cost the township could incur with usage of the machinery that has been paid for by ratepayers. “Taking expensive township equipment onto private property seems to have insurance claim written all over it,” said Moore. “Should a malfunction or breakage occur, is there enough available equipment to contend with the next fire call?” But Carmichael said during the meeting that township staff had contacted the insurance carrier who provided suggestions on what landowners should be doing. For a ratepayer to have the fire department provide the initial flooding of their private rink, they must reach out to the township and request to have their rink flooded. Ratepayers will have to provide a site plan, sign a waiver and follow a checklist. The procedure also includes a visit from the fire department to ensure it can be done safely. While some ratepayers expressed their concerns online, Coun. Mike Kekkonen said that he thinks council has covered the due diligence aspect with any liability concerns. “With that, I feel comfortable with the firefighters giving their time,” said Kekkonen. “Some people might say that there’s a cost but then again if a child or a family gets a skating rink and have an enjoyable winter, that’s priceless.” Council voted unanimously in favour of the resolution approving the fire department to utilize the apparatus at the discretion of the acting fire chief to provide a free service to McKellar residents to flood ice rinks on private property. The fire department volunteer staff will not be paid an hourly rate nor accumulate points for this activity. 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
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. Question: What is Brandon’s test positivity rate? We are anxious for loosening restrictions and feel we should be counting on our own numbers rather than the rest of Manitoba’s stats. I got a little worried yesterday when seeing Winnipeg’s positivity rate has dropped, but the rest of Manitoba of which we are part of didn’t. Dr. Jazz Atwal: Sorry, I don’t have all the test positivity rates off the top of my head or on a paper in front of me right now. So I do apologize. I do know, Manitoba test positivity is 10 per cent, Winnipeg is 7.1 per cent. I think it’s somewhat intuitive to know that the Northern RHA (regional health authority) likely has a high positivity rate with all the new cases and a smaller population. Again, I think we need to understand that test positivity is just one indicator that public health looks at, right? So, when we look at our epidemiology, we look at test positivity, we look at cases, we look at risk. We look at a whole bunch of different things when we’re looking at restrictions and orders and what should be done from an orders perspective, to look at those things. So, again, we don’t look at one indicator. I know people get fixated on a case number or just test positivity, or both, but there are many other indicators on top of that, that we look at. We look at hospitalizations, etc. to take those next steps, to create a sound plan for Manitobans. Follow-up question: Is it nevertheless possible to provide the region’s positivity rate or even just Brandon’s? Is it possible to tease that out for the area? Atwal: I have to come back to you on that. We’ll have to seek out that information and see what we can provide. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
MONTREAL — Quebec's labour minister is threatening to impose more restrictions on the province's construction and manufacturing sectors for allegedly flouting health orders. Jean Boulet said today in a statement he's received many reports of non-compliance connected to the two sectors since the government imposed new restrictions Jan. 9. The new measures — in effect until at least Feb. 8 — require the two industries to limit operations to essential activities and to reduce the number of workers in factories and on construction sites. Quebec's new health orders also include a provincewide curfew from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m., in an attempt to reduce COVID-19 transmission and reduce the strain on the health system from rising hospitalizations. Boulet does not enumerate the violations, but says it's zero tolerance for those who don't follow the rules and is warning the government could impose additional restrictions. The Canadian Press recently contacted three construction industry associations, who all said they hadn't reduced operations since the new health order was imposed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has criticized the United States for kicking his country out of the F-35 stealth jet program after Ankara purchased a Russian missile defence system, a move that also triggered U.S. sanctions. Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey paid “very serious money” for the F-35 fighters but hasn't received them. “This is a very serious mistake that America, as an allied country, has done to us,” Erdogan said. “I hope with Mr. Biden assuming office and with discussions, he will take more positive steps and we can straighten this out,” he added. Turkey was removed from the F-35 program even though it produced some parts for the jets. The U.S. said the Russian system could jeopardize the safety of the F-35s. The U.S. halted the training of Turkish pilots and said Turkey would not be allowed to take final possession of the four aircraft it bought. Erdogan remained defiant, saying the country was in continued dialogue with Russia about a “second package” of the S-400 surface-to-air missile system and would discuss details at the end of the month. Turkey received the first batch of the system in 2019 and tested it in the fall. Washington also sanctioned four Turkish defence officials last month under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, a U.S. law aimed at thwarting Russian influence. The sanctions, which included a ban on issuing export licenses to Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries, were the first time the law was used to punish a NATO ally. “No country can decide on the steps we will take for our defence industry,” Erdogan said. The Associated Press
COPENHAGEN — The ex-partner of Norway’s former justice minister was convicted and sentenced to 20 months in jail Friday for setting a fire outside the politician’s home and other threatening behaviour. The Oslo District Court found Laila Bertheussen guilty of setting fire to a garbage container and scrawling graffiti that included the word “racist” and a swastika on the Oslo home of then-Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara in 2018 and 2019. She also was found guilty of writing Wara a threatening letter. Bertheussen, 55, also was found guilty of making threats against other peoples. Throughout her trial, she pleaded innocent and argued that Norway’s domestic security agency had conducted a one-sided investigation. Presiding Judge Yngvild Thue rejected the defence argument, saying the court found the investigation to have been exceptionally thorough. Bertheussen was arrested in March 2019. Wara stepped down at the same time because of the case, which made headlines in Norway. He has described the vandalism as “unpleasant and scary.” The Associated Press
THE LATEST: B.C. health officials confirmed 509 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. on Friday. Another nine people have died. A total of 1,047 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are 349 people in hospital, including 68 in intensive care. Active cases continue to fall in the province, with the tally at 4,604 active cases. To date, 75,914 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C. Thirteen more cases have been linked to the Big White community cluster. B.C. has identified its first case of the infectious coronavirus variant first seen in South Africa. B.C. is seeking legal advice on whether an inter-provincial travel ban is doable. The director of UBC's school of public health has resigned after travelling during the holidays. B.C.'s curve has started to bend down again following a bump after the holidays, but health officials are warning British Columbians to keep following public health measures as they watch for two confirmed coronavirus variants in the province. Health officials announced 509 new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Friday. Active cases continued to fall, with the tally now at 4,604. Another nine people have died from the virus, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,047. B.C. recorded one new health-care outbreak at the Hilltop House care home in Squamish, B.C. Interior Health has identified 13 additional cases of COVID-19 linked to the Big White Mountain community cluster. The total number of cases identified to date is 175. Of those, 110 reside on Big White Mountain. There are 32 active cases at the resort and 143 people who have recovered. Vaccine delay A total of 75,914 people have been vaccinated in B.C. so far. On Friday, the federal government announced that global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine in order to expand manufacturing capacity at a facility in Belgium. That means fewer shipments of the Pfizer vaccine to Canada at least until March. Henry and Dix said they were were disappointed to hear about the delay. The province is working with the federal government to determine how the delay may impact the rollout in B.C. Officials said they would provide more information in the coming days. New variant Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on Thursday the first confirmed case in B.C. of a more infectious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa. Henry said health officials are investigating how the person in B.C. contracted the variant, as they have not travelled or been linked to any travellers. She also confirmed four total cases in the province of the variant linked to the U.K. All four cases have been traced and officials don't believe they have led to spread, Henry said. Both variants spread more easily and rapidly, and have led to surging cases in a number of countries. On Friday, during an interview on CBC's The Early Edition, Health Minister Adrian Dix said officials are concerned about another variant linked to Columbus, Ohio. Dix did not say there were any cases of the variant detected in B.C. at this time. Seeking legal advice on travel ban The B.C. government is getting legal advice to determine whether an inter-provincial travel ban would be doable — or constitutional — as a way to protect the province, as COVID-19 case numbers soar in other parts of Canada. Premier John Horgan on Thursday said he and other leaders would be speaking about the issue later in the day and on Friday during a virtual, two-day cabinet retreat, with the goal to nail down which options the government can take — if any — by the end of the summit. He said he hopes to announce an update on the issue early next week. Henry said she would not issue a public health order against inter-provincial travel. "It's hard to see how that is feasible in British Columbia, for many reasons," she said. "Our borders are very different. We have many ways that people can cross, particularly from Alberta." Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief medical health officer, says stopping non-essential travel would be a difficult decision for B.C., but it could reduce COVID-19 transmission by cutting the number of contacts. Tam said B.C.'s decision to seek legal advice reinforces the message that it isn't time to go on a cross-country vacation. UBC director resigns after holiday travel Peter Berman has resigned as director of the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health just over a week after admitting to holiday travel during the school's winter break. Berman announced his resignation in a Friday statement posted online. He said it would take effect at the end of the day. Berman said in a letter posted last week that he travelled to Hawaii. Businesses deny Indigenous people entry CBC has learned that Save-On-Foods in Powell River, the Glen Lyon Restaurant in Port Hardy, and a dentist's office in Duncan, B.C., all refused service to Indigenous people, citing cases of COVID-19 in their communities as a reason. The businesses claimed they were trying to stop COVID-19 from spreading from nearby Indigenous communities. In a statement, Henry said the incidents were an issue of racism. "COVID-19 has illuminated longstanding inequities and in particular those faced by First Nations in B.C.," she said. "I want to add my voice to the chorus who have condemned such behaviour." What else you need to know Meanwhile, B.C.'s seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie is investigating what went wrong at Little Mountain Place in Vancouver — the location of B.C.'s deadliest care home outbreak. Forty-one residents infected with the virus have died, while 71 staff and 99 of 114 residents have tested positive. While a million British Columbians have already received their B.C. Recovery Benefit, more than 400,000 others are still waiting for their applications to be approved. The tax-free cash payout can mean up to $1,000 dollars for eligible families and $500 dollars for individuals. B.C.'s Finance Minister Selina Robinson said Wednesday that staff are working through a high volume of applications, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. Dix says it's "very disappointing'' that some doctors in Vancouver jumped the queue to get a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Dix says there will be an investigation into these incidents. The province's vaccination strategy has been to maximize the number of people getting vaccinated by extending the interval between doses as far as possible. Some doctors and nurses have expressed concern over the dose interval, though Henry herself has said it falls within national and World Health Organization recommendations. B.C.'s health restrictions are in effect until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. The current orders include a ban on gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household. The province's non-essential travel advisory remains in place, including travel into and out of B.C., and between regions. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 4 p.m. PT on Thursday, Canada had reported 688,891 cases of COVID-19, with 77,956 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 17,383. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.