After nearly five days of negotiations, the European Union has reached a trillion-dollar deal to help the bloc's hardest-hit countries recover from COVID-19.
After nearly five days of negotiations, the European Union has reached a trillion-dollar deal to help the bloc's hardest-hit countries recover from COVID-19.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Indian hyperlocal courier startup Dunzo has raised $40 million from existing investor Google and others, it said on Tuesday, after seeing a surge in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many Indians stayed indoors for much of 2020 because of the health crisis, Dunzo and food-delivery apps Zomato and Swiggy recorded a fresh surge in popularity. Naspers-backed Swiggy also runs a hyperlocal courier service.
A busy thief smashed out the glass doors to two businesses in downtown Halifax early Tuesday morning making off with two cash registers, according to Halifax Regional Police. The first break in happened around 2:55 a.m., an alarm went off at Boston Pizza on Granville Street drawing police to the scene. When police arrived they found part of the restaurants' glass door had been smashed. A cash register and other items had been stolen from inside, according to a news release from the Halifax police. Then around 3:05 a.m. another business' alarm went off this time at Creamy Rainbow, a bakery and cafe on Dresden Row. Once again the thief had smashed the business' glass door to get inside, and taken the cash register. So far no one has been arrested. The suspect in both break ins is a white man about 30 years old, with short brown hair and glasses. The man was wearing a black jacket with a white hoodie underneath, black pants and black sneakers with white soles. Police say anyone with information about the incident or suspect should contact them or send an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers. MORE TOP STORIES
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
MADRID — Atlético Madrid appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday to suspend Kieran Trippier’s ban for breaching betting rules. Atlético filed its appeal to CAS a day after FIFA rejected the Spanish club’s attempt to keep the ban imposed on the defender by the English Football Association from being applied worldwide. The England international was punished by the FA for passing information on his 2019 transfer from Tottenham to Atletico to be used by friends to bet on. Spanish league leader Atlético succeeded two weeks ago in getting FIFA to pause Trippier’s 10-week ban that was imposed in December and runs through Feb. 28. As it stands, Trippier would miss nine more games, including the Champions League fixture against Chelsea in the round of 16 on Feb. 23. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
Central Health is revealing more information about a problem with its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which forced the health authority to hastily organize an immunization clinic to prevent it from losing some doses. After repeated requests from CBC, the health authority provided more details by email Tuesday afternoon. The statement said a shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine "went to a temperature that did not permit longer storage" on its way to Grand Falls-Windsor on Jan. 7, and had to be administered within six hours. The health authority said that batch made up only a "small portion" of its supply: 160 doses that were allotted for a clinic the next day. The temperature monitor for the shipment went outside the recommended 2 to 8 C, meaning they could not be refrozen. According to the statement, the health authority "engaged provincial consultants who confirmed the vaccine was safe to use but had to be administered in the required time frame." The health authority says it suspects there may have been an issue with the placement of the monitor that was measuring the temperature of the vaccine. It said the doses fell out of the recommended temperature range, but none of them were wasted. "We quickly organized an impromptu clinic with priority health-care workers, along with a small number of additional employees who were available to attend at such a short notice," the statement said. "The 160 doses were safely administered with no wastage. Many of those who were immunized already had appointments booked for Friday onward." Central Health refused two requests to do an interview with CBC, and wouldn't provide more information on the incident until Tuesday afternoon, such as what the exact problem was, what type of vaccine was involved, and how many people ended up vaccinated. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the health authority said someone would speak about the issue to CBC's Newfoundland Morning on Thursday. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored at ultra-low temperatures to be viable, between –60 C and –80 C. The Moderna vaccine is more stable, but must still be stored at around –20 C. The provincial government has said that due to Moderna's stability, those doses were earmarked for remote communities in Labrador. Also on Tuesday afternoon, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the person in charge of national vaccine distribution, said Canada would not receive any doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week, as the company upgrades its European plant. Fortin said that delay will have "considerable impact." It's not clear yet on how the drop in shipments will affect Newfoundland and Labrador. No new cases Tuesday The province has five active cases of COVID-19, with one person in hospital, the Department of Health said Tuesday. No new cases were reported Tuesday, and one person in the Eastern Health region has recovered since Monday, with a total of 384 people recovering since March. As of Tuesday, 76,740 people have been tested, and as of last Wednesday, 5,291 vaccine doses had been administered. The Department of Health has said vaccination data will be released weekly. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Boris Johnson has promised a compensation fund for seafood exporters hit by post-Brexit bureaucracy, but describes their difficulties as "teething problems".View on euronews
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has delayed its high school scenarios process yet again, leaving parents of junior high students waiting to find out where their child will attend high school. Some of those parents say it's time for the school board to "pull the Band-Aid off," allowing families to plan for the future. Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of the CBE, said the purpose of this work will determine the catchment areas for students entering high school in the 2022-2023 school year. The plan is meant to deal with growing capacity issues faced by numerous high schools in the city. "Otherwise what will happen is we'll have situations where if a school is way above capacity, then we run into challenges around safety and even our ability to be able to provide effective programming because there are just too many students in that one building," he said. "You probably heard in fall of last school year that one of our high schools, [Ernest Manning], was way over capacity and we were really challenged from a health and safety standpoint." Changing timelines Documents posted on the CBE website in May 2019 said the original timeline for the engagement process would see the scenarios finalized and communicated between July and October 2021. In February 2020, the timeline was adjusted, pushing back the engagement and presentation of possible scenarios from March to June 2020, to September to November last year. However, that never happened, and in November, CBE parents were informed that the board would be sharing the high school scenarios with them this month. But in an email sent home last week, the CBE informed parents there would be yet another delay — and that scenarios would be released and and engagement would take place between Feb. 23 and March 17. Kelly Van Webber has a daughter in junior high who will be directly impacted by these decisions. The area their family lives in is currently designated for Ernest Manning, but these potential boundary changes could see them designated to Central Memorial. "The concerning part around that is … when they redid the boundaries for [Ernest Manning High School] before, they basically said in November of that year, 'your kids are going to these schools,' and it was under a year to plan and families were thrown into chaos," he said. COVID-19 to blame for delays Usih said all of the delays to this process have been caused by COVID-19 and the challenges the school board has faced when it comes to school re-entry and online learning. He said it's been an adjustment to switch to engaging families and staff online, as opposed to an in-person session. Van Webber said he struggles to see how this work can be dragging on for more than a year-and-a-half. "[The CBE] knows the numbers, so make a decision and let people plan," he said. "Pull the Band-Aid off already." For his family, Van Webber said knowing which high school their daughter is designated to has big implications. "We're going to see where our designated high school is and we've talked to different families and said, 'Hey, do we form some sort of carpool to go to Bowness?' for example. A bit of a circuitous route to get there, but at least it's a shorter commute," he said. "We've kicked around the idea of, do we move basically a kilometre away to get on the other side of Old Banff Coach road to get into the catchment for Manning if we decide that's the best or the appropriate school? Should move into the catchment area? So, going back and forth with that." CBE confident parents will have time to plan Usih said he appreciates and understands that families want their child to attend a school where there's strong and effective programming. "And, if parents have concerns about programming or any aspect of the school there, we have processes in place for addressing those," he said. "But I cannot emphasize enough the need to ensure that we have strong programming in every one of our schools." Van Webber said the uncertainty of this process is beginning to weigh on students too. "My daughter is in Grade 8 now, and she and her friends are starting to talk about it and, you know, you kind of want some certainty for them as they go into high school, especially with all the wackiness that COVID has caused," he said. Usih said he knows the last year has been a difficult period for many. "We want to make sure that we are we are doing our due diligence to communicate clearly and to provide opportunities for families to know what our plan is going forward," he said. "And I'm confident that, you know, the timelines that we've we've indicated will will satisfy that expectation." Following the engagement in March, Usih said the scenarios are subject to change. But, he said the CBE is committed to finalizing all scenarios for 2022-2023 by no later than December 2021.
The City of Summerside, P.E.I. has set the wheels in motion to expropriate four parcels of land in the north end of the city to construct a new roundabout. The roundabout will go at the corner of Central Street and Pope Road, part of a major realignment for that section of road which will also include new sidewalks and upgrades to exits to businesses in the area. Coun. Justin Doiron, chair of the technical services committee, said the city needed about a half dozen parcels of land and they were able to negotiate deals with some landowners,.but they were not able to strike a deal with the owners of four properties, so the city moved to expropriate them. "What those resolutions were tonight was serving notice of our intention to expropriate," Doiron said following a meeting of Summerside city council Monday night. Independent, third-party appraiser hired The vote on expropriation will be in February, Doiron said. In the meantime, the city will continue to negotiate with the landowners, which include one commercial and three residential lots, in an effort to come to a negotiated agreement. If no agreement is reached by next month's council meeting, the city will proceed with expropriation, he said. The city hired an independent, third-party appraiser to come up with a price for the land. Doiron said these are small parcels of land. "Nobody is going to have to relocate. It is minimal impact on homeowners, landowners and business owners," he said. 'We just want safety' Coun. Barb Ramsay said the intersection is dangerous. She is glad to see it's finally going to be fixed. "It's not lined up, there are no sidewalks, they've tried to adjust it a number of years ago. That didn't work," said Ramsay. "We just want safety for our residents." Construction is expected to begin on the new roundabout in the spring. The cost of the project is still not known. Doiron said the city has been trying to get this section of road upgraded for nearly three decades. "There has already been improvements to that intersection," said Doiron, adding that lanes at the intersection have been widened. "It's not like they haven't addressed the problem before; it's just population grows, traffic increases. It's time to really solve it for good." More from CBC P.E.I.
Tiny Township residents can expect a 1% blended tax rate increase for this year. The decision was forwarded to the next meeting after hours of deliberation at Monday's budget meeting. Where a majority easily agreed on the option, one council member expressed some concerns. A blended tax rate is achieved after incorporating the county and education tax rates. "I’m not comfortable with 1%," said Coun. Tony Mintoff, adding he also wasn't comfortable sacrificing important projects to find the $400,000 to keep the township's tax rate increase at zero per cent. "Based on that, I will reluctantly agree to a 1% blended rate increase." Council approved $70,000 in salary for a full-time human resource person. Staff pointed out that there may yet be savings in this line item once recommendations from the North Simcoe services operations review comes forward in March. Further, even if the township hires an independent HR staff member, the $70,000 annual salary will not be realized in full for this year. Then council found $30,000 in savings by directing staff to take out the extra ask for arena use from the Town of Penetanguishene. "It’s my understanding the recreation master plan had created the recommendation that fulsome discussion be held with all three municipalities that provide arena facilities to us," said Mintoff. "Given the fact that hasn’t happened yet, my recommendation would be to remove the $30,000 that was asked by Penetang, subject to the discussions to take place in 2021." Agreeing with staff, council decided to delay the purchase of a vehicle for the parks department, instead moving the $70,000 to reserve funds. At the end of the day, staff was sent back to find efficiencies in departments or seek out projects that could be delayed to make up for the $8,500 in funding gap that still remains if the tax rate is to be set at 1%. Other budget approvals include a 6% increase in funds to be moved to the municipal infrastructure reserves. As well, council approved a 1% cost of living increase for staff wages, despite Mintoff's suggestion to the contrary so the township could show solidarity with residents who had suffered through the pandemic. "This has been a very difficult year financially for a lot of our residents," he said. "The majority that live in the private sector world and those who live on retirement income. I’m pleased we were able to maintain full employment for our staff, so I think it would be inappropriate and insensitive of us to consider any kind of increase in wages. My recommendation would be to remove this salary increase from the budget." Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma disagreed with his peer. "I can 100% justify the cost," he said. "When you look at municipal employees as a whole, there’s very little you can do in terms of incentives. There are no bonuses and there’s no additional time off you can get. I know there’s been a CPP increase this year. If we’re going to take a look at our retirees being affected, we have to back it up with quantitative evidence as well. "If a statement needs to be made in terms of leadership, then I’d be in favour of council taking no increase," added Walma. "The savings can be donated to a local charity. Or the council could take the 1% increase and donate it back to the municipality into the bursary program." Other council members agreed with his suggestion. And so did Mintoff. "I have no issue with council taking zero per cent increase," he said. "Speaking about council’s initiative to raise our rate of pay for staff from 50th percentile to the 55th percentile, how much did that bumping up of salaries cost? "I believe it was several hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t want my comments to be misconstrued that we don’t value our staff, but I believe we pay them above a comparative group. I don’t want staff watching to think they don’t deserve fair recognition and compensation for what they do." Staff will now bring back a third and possibly final draft of the 2021 budget at a meeting next month. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
AL-QAIM, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq is tightening security along its 600 km (400 mile) border with Syria to curb the movement of Islamic State militants, drug smuggling and other illegal activities. Iraqi commanders on Monday toured the remote desert frontier controlled by various different forces, including the Iraqi military, Iran-aligned militias, the Syrian army, anti-Damascus rebels, and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. The border is a flashpont for tension between Iran-backed groups and the United States, and is also tense because of Islamic State incursions and Turkish pressure on Kurdish rebel groups.
This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years. When word leaked this week that Joe Biden would pull the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline project the first day he's sworn in as president, the only person who seemed shocked was Premier Jason Kenney. "We hope president-elect Biden will show respect for Canada and will sit down and at the very least talk to us," said Kenney during an online news conference where he lectured, hectored, and pleaded with the Biden administration. Politically speaking, Kenney was at times on his knees begging, on his toes dancing, shaking his fist, shaking his head, and bending over backwards to justify sinking $1.5 billion into the troubled project in 2020 and promising another $6 billion in loan guarantees in 2021. It was like watching a tap dancer trying to juggle as he set his hair on fire. Kenney, of course, should have seen this coming since March last year when he announced the "wise investment." It was no investment but a gamble on a troubled project. He called it a "bold move." That should have been the first red flag. Whenever politicians describe something they're doing as "bold" they mean controversial or contentious or risky. Kenney, it turns out, meant all three. Another red flag was Kenney acknowledging the project "never would have moved forward" without $7.5 billion in support from the Alberta public. When government's jump in where private corporations fear to tread, plan for a rough landing. And, of course, there was this red flag big enough to cover the pipeline's proposed 2,000-kilometre route from Alberta to Nebraska: "I've been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tar sands that we don't need, that in fact is a very, very high pollutant." That was Biden on the campaign trail promising to take action against climate change. Hot button issue Just as Keystone has become a symbol of economic salvation for Alberta, it has also become a symbol of all the evils of global warming. Both are simplistic tropes. Building Keystone won't solve Alberta's systemic economic problems. Killing it won't end global warming. But, boy, it's been a lightning rod for more than a decade. Keystone was twice rejected under the presidency of Barack Obama and even though it received approval under Donald Trump, Biden promised to scrap the project should he become president. He'll be sworn in on Wednesday. Kenney says cancelling the Keystone expansion project "would be, in our view, an economic and strategic error that would set back Canada-U.S. relations with the United States' most important trading partner and strategic ally: Canada." WATCH | Kenney's message for Joe Biden Kenney is falling into the same political conceit that has beguiled Alberta premiers for decades: the belief that they or Alberta or even Canada really matters on the U.S. stage when partisan politics is involved. Yes, we are major trading partners but, to paraphrase Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's father, we are a mouse sleeping next to an elephant. And the elephant isn't taking our calls. Almost 20 year ago Ralph Klein travelled to Washington in a futile attempt to open up the closed U.S. border to Alberta beef during the mad cow scare. Others including Alison Redford and Jim Prentice tried to educate U.S. politicians and business leaders about the oil sands and its strategic importance in North America, as if highly placed Americans had never heard of Alberta. They have, but they'll only act in Alberta's interests if it's in their interests. Kenney seems to be under the assumption that if he can just get Biden, or someone close to him, on the phone, he could convince the new president to overturn an election promise to shut down Keystone. But Biden made an election promise — just like Kenney did in 2019 to scrap Alberta's carbon tax. Perhaps Biden should simply send Kenney a four-word email the premier would understand: "promise made, promise kept." Kenney asked Biden to "show respect for Canada" and sit down to talk. But where was Kenney's respect last November when he suggested Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was "brain-dead" because her state waged a legal fight last summer against Enbridge's Line 5? Whitmer isn't just any U.S. governor. She was a national co-chair of Biden's presidential campaign. Five days after Kenney's slur, Whitmer took legal action to shut down the pipeline completely this year. Maybe American politicians do listen to Kenney, after all. For Kenney, the impending death of the Keystone project isn't just an end to thousands of construction jobs or another hit to Alberta's beleaguered economy, it's a political humiliation and a harbinger of things to come as the world moves away from fossil fuel. Kenney campaigned in the 2019 Alberta election on a promise of jobs, economy and pipelines. Thanks in large part to the pandemic, Alberta now has some of the highest jobless rates in the country, the depressed price of oil has undercut the economy, and, what must be the most galling of all for a staunch conservative like Kenney, the only pipeline to tidewater under construction is the Liberal-government-owned Alberta-to-West-Coast Trans Mountain pipeline project. There are two questions looming: can Canada convince Biden at the last minute to change his mind on Keystone? If not, how long before Kenney hits his default button and lays the blame at Trudeau's feet?
Brock University is joining the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business as a member. The council will provide Brock with a conduit to more than 1,000 businesses operated by Indigenous peoples and access to diverse programming, tools and training. Acting vice-provost of Indigenous engagement Robyn Bourgeois said joining an organization meant to support Indigenous businesses illustrates how everyone plays a role in the university’s decolonization and Indigenization efforts. “It’s such a great example of how we can operationalize what we mean by that pillar of fostering a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization and showing our support for Indigenous peoples,” she said. Chuck Maclean first suggested that the university join the council. Maclean, who helps units across the university with purchasing, said he learned about it at a conference and realized the school could benefit from joining. “If Indigenous businesses can give us like services and a good value, why not be supportive of them when it’s appropriate?” he said. “It’s a great collaboration. We’ll start from a foundation and build up, introducing these businesses to the university and the value of their work.” While 2021 marks Brock’s first full year as a CCAB member, it has a connection going much further back. One of the CCAB’s founding members was Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, who died in 2006. She was an important figure in Brock’s history who served two terms on the board of trustees and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 2002. The Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Scholarship at Brock has helped opened the doors to post-secondary education for more than two dozen Indigenous students. Michele-Elise Burnett, a trustee and co-chair of Brock’s Aboriginal education council, said her mother would be proud of Maclean’s vision. “My mother always believed Brock University would lead by example and become Canada’s Indigenous school of excellence, raising the bar for all universities to emulate.” Bourgeois hopes Maclean’s example will help lead to others thinking about what role they can play in Indigenizing the university. “Quite often, when we think about Indigenizing, we think in siloed terms,” she said. “In reality, that commitment to Indigenization and decolonization should be infused throughout the university, and that means all levels and areas could be involved.” Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
THE LATEST: As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths. There are currently 4,331 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C. 329 people are in hospital, with 70 in the ICU. 92,369 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. There are no new health-care facility outbreaks. B.C. health officials confirmed 465 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and said 12 more people had died of the disease. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 329 people, 70 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,090 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. B.C. recorded no new outbreaks in health-care facilities. The outbreak at The Emerald at Elim Village, a long-term care facility in Surrey, has been declared over. For the first time since a second round of restrictions was implemented in November, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry offered a glimmer of hope that B.C.'s COVID-19 case count could be tipping in the right direction. Henry said in a Monday afternoon news conference that outbreaks are slowing in B.C. and the province is at a "tipping point" she feels positive about. "Clearly the things we are doing in our community are working," Henry said Monday, while acknowledging that outbreaks continue in essential workplaces and long-term care homes. She said that if B.C.'s case count continues to trend downwards, there is a possibility some restrictions could be lifted by the Family Day weekend in mid-February. B.C.'s current 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. But Henry said that while B.C.'s numbers continue to decrease, the risk of transmission remains high in all areas of the province, and that outbreaks in Interior Health and Northern Health are of concern. B.C. 'prepared' for vaccine delays Henry said the province will soon finish vaccinating all residents of long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, and is on track to complete vaccinations in all long-term care homes by end of next week depending on when doses arrive. She said visits to long-term care homes could possibly resume by late March, or once two incubation periods have passed since a long-term care home outbreak has ended. The federal government on Friday announced Pfizer is temporarily reducing shipments of its vaccine in order to expand manufacturing capacity at a facility in Belgium. The move means there will be fewer shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech coming to Canada until at least March. Henry said on Monday that the delay is a "setback" and will temporarily slow the province's delivery of the vaccine to at-risk people. But she said the province is working to ensure the highest number of people are immunized. Henry added that the province will be providing more first doses of the vaccine in March than originally planned, with second doses being pushed to later in March when supply increases. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 9 p.m. PT on Monday, Canada had reported 712,816 cases of COVID-19, and 18,120 total deaths. A total of 73,919 cases are considered active. 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.
(ANNews) – Alexis Nakota Sioux Chief Tony Alexis is criticizing the vaccine roll out in Alberta. In November 2020, The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released preliminary guidance on the key populations for early COVID-19 vaccinations, “for the efficient, effective, and equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine(s).” The NACI guidance came because of the limited supply of the vaccines which necessitates that there be “prioritization of immunization in some populations earlier than others.” The key populations in Stage 1 of the national vaccine rollout, which were identified by the NACI, are as follows: Residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors. Adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, then decreasing the age limit by 5-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available. Health care workers (including all those who work in health care settings and personal support workers whose work involves direct contact with patients). And adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences. On January 19, Chief of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Tony Alexis, condemned the Alberta Government for its handling and distribution of its COVID vaccines. "Provinces across Canada are following the NACI guidance and vaccinating Indigenous communities early, with other populations like the elderly identified as vulnerable,” said Chief Alexis. “Meanwhile in Alberta under Minister [of Health] Shandro’s watch, First Nation communities are seeing case numbers rapidly rise, while the rest of the Alberta COVID numbers decline.” Alarmingly, First Nations in Alberta have experienced the most on-reserve COVID cases in the entire country. At the time of writing, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) lists Alberta as having 4,086 confirmed cases within First Nations. A few days ago, it was also reported that Maskwacis has had a total of 1,573 cases – nearly 10 percent of its entire population. Chief Tony Alexis continued by saying, “after weeks of discussions and ‘consultation’ with Chiefs across Alberta – the government of Alberta deceived us and made special arrangements to distribute vaccines early to only one First Nation community. There was no direct communication for this action beforehand.” “This behaviour belittles First Nations people and is a tactic that has been historically used by the government to divide Indigenous people in an attempt to pit us against one another.” “Please know, my outrage is not directed to the community receiving the vaccine early, it is directed to Minister Shandro and the UCP government,” Chief Alexis emphasized. “I am tired of being consulted and urged to work together when it truly does not matter. The UCP government continues to leave us in the dark on issues that directly and disproportionately affect Indigenous people.” The Chief ended his statement by urging Minister Shandro that 10,000 doses would not be enough and that they need to comply with the NACI’s guidance. Then just yesterday, Jason Kenney announced that the provincial government’s plan to vaccinate First Nations and Métis individuals aged 65 and older, which was expected to begin in February, has been put on hold until further notice. “We have quite simply run out of supply,” Kenney said at a press conference. Jacob Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Native News. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
Iranian army commandos and paratroopers started exercises near the mouth of the Gulf on Tuesday, the last full day of U.S. President Donald Trump's administration. State television showed paratroopers landing behind mock enemy lines near the port of Jask on the Gulf of Oman and preparing attacks with missile launchers. "The recent war games show to enemies the Iranian nation's will to defend its independence and territorial integrity," Revolutionary Guards commander General Hossein Salami told state TV.
The Township of McMurrich/Monteith is still apprehensive about the one-fifth funding model used to calculate the financial contribution towards a regional fire training program. At its Jan. 12 council meeting, the discussion got heated once again, with councillors raising concerns about Burk’s Falls, Ryerson and Armour’s funding. Here is the discussion encompassed in quotes by council: “I have some grave concerns about what I’m reading in the newspaper regarding the (funding formula) and I believe I have voiced that,” said Coun. Alfred Bielke. “I have some further concerns about what has transpired — the number is quoted as $95,000 in this document here — the cost of the RTO agreement was $95,000 when in fact the numbers in that agreement come down to 92,900. Divided by five, it isn’t the number we were quoted in December.” “The tri-county has always had a cost-sharing model of 50-25-25 (per cent) but in the last couple of years, Armour wanted it one-third, one-third, one-third. It’s the very same discussion we are having right now,” said Coun. Lynn Zemnicky. “(This current agreement) buys us three more years to come up with a solid argument on paper saying, ‘look, this is what it’s costing everyone — we don’t care that you have your own cost-sharing agreement. If you’re going to have seven votes, seven municipalities then that’s how it should be split,” said McMurrich/Monteith Reeve, Angela Friesen. “I’m not saying I agree with this process, but I just don’t want our fire department and our residents to suffer because we make a decision here tonight that doesn’t give our people the protection they need,” said Coun. Dan O’Halloran. “I totally agree that that this thing needs to be looked at in the next three years and hammered out … I think we need to get this on the table, get this thing passed and then sit into negotiations to get this straightened out so we don’t have these discussions anymore.” “… I think you also have a responsibility financially and I resent subsidizing someone larger than ourselves,” said Zemnicky. “It’s always been a couple of townships pushing for the one-fifth and if you look at the numbers it relieves them quite a bit.” McMurrich/Monteith decided to defer its decision on the regional fire training program until its next meeting. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Greek coastguard officials recovered the body of one man and rescued 27 people from a rocky beach on the island of Lesbos after they apparently arrived by boat from Turkey, authorities said on Tuesday. The influx of refugees and migrants to Greece fell by 80% last year compared to 2019. Turkey hosts more than three million refugees and migrants and more than 90,000 are also in Greece, mostly housed in overcrowded camps while waiting for their applications for asylum to be processed.
MADRID — As soon as the lifeless body is silently pushed away on a stretcher, a cleaning battalion moves into the intensive care box. In a matter of minutes, the bed where the 72-year-old woman fought for over two weeks for another breath gets rubbed clean, the walls of glass isolating it disinfected with a squeegee. There is little time to reflect on what has just happened, as death gives way to the possibility of saving another life. “Our biggest source of joy is obviously emptying a bed, but because somebody is discharged and not because they have passed away,” said Ignacio Pujol, the head of this Madrid ICU. “That's a little space there for somebody else to get another chance.” As a surge of infections is once again putting Spain’s public health system against the ropes, the Nurse Isabel Zendal Hospital that employs Pujol, a project seen by many as an extravagant vanity enterprise, is getting a fresh opportunity to prove its usefulness. Named after the 19th-century Spanish nurse who took smallpox vaccination across the Atlantic Ocean, the facility was built in 100 days at a cost of 130 million euros ($157 million), more than twice the original budget. It boasts three pavilions and support buildings over an area the size of 10 soccer fields, looking somewhere between a small airport terminal and an industrial warehouse, with ventilation air ducts, medical beds and state-of-the-art equipment. The original project was for 1,000 beds, of which roughly half have been installed so far. The Zendal opened to a roar of competing fanfare and criticism on Dec. 1, just as Spain seemed to dampen a post-summer surge of coronavirus infections. By mid-December, it had only received a handful of patients. But Spain on Monday recorded over 84,000 new COVID-19 infections, the highest increase over a single weekend since the pandemic began. The country’s overall tally is heading to 2.5 million cases with 53,000 confirmed virus deaths, although excess mortality statistics add over 30,000 deaths to that. As the curve of contagion steepened after Christmas and New Year's, the Zendal has gotten busy. On Monday, 392 patients were being treated, more than in any other hospital in the region of 6.6 million. Spain's surge follows similar infection increases in other European countries, most notably in the U.K. following the discovery of a new virus variant that experts say is more infectious. The London Nightingale, one of the temporary hospitals across Britain designed to ease pressure on the country's overwhelmed health care system, has also reopened for patients and as a vaccination centre. Spain's top health officials insist they have found no evidence that new variants wreaking havoc elsewhere are contributing in any way to its own rocketing infections. Some experts dispute that, claiming the country's limited ability to sequence coronavirus cases is distorting reality and that a new stay-at-home order is necessary. On the ground, increasing hospitalizations for the virus already surpass the peak of the second resurgence. Nearly one out of every five hospital beds has a patient with COVID-19. The new illness is also taking up one-third of the country's ICU capacity and non-urgent surgeries are already being called off. Joined by some medical experts, left-wing politicians and workers’ unions accuse Madrid's conservative government of spending on vote-attracting hardware instead of reinforcing a public health system they have underfunded for years. Investing in contact tracing and primary care previously, they say, could have averted the need for a Zendal altogether. “Rather than the success they boast, the filling up of this makeshift hospital represents a tremendous failure of those at the helm of the pandemic's response, and also a failure of all of us as a society that could have done better," said Ángela Hernández, a spokeswoman for Madrid's main medical workers' union, AMYTS. The last straw for the unions, she said, has been the regional government laying off medical staff who refuse to abandon their positions in regular hospitals when they are reassigned to the Zendal. "The project has been nonsense from beginning to end," Hernández said. "A few beds without adequate personnel don't make a hospital.” Fernando Prados, Zendal's manager, says he doesn't mind the debate but the 750 patients treated over the last month and a half have already taken significant pressure off other hospitals. “We have already contributed in one way or another," Prados said. "We know that we will continue to have COVID patients and once the pandemic is over this infrastructure will be here for any other emergency.” Past automatic glass doors, patients recover in modules of 8 beds, leaving little space for privacy but providing better monitoring of possible complications in their recovery, said Verónica Real, whose challenge as the head nurse has been to organize staff teams drawn from other hospitals. “Some of the sanitary workers arrive with a degree of anger for all the noise out there about our hospital,” Real said. “But once here, the attitude completely changes.” The Zendal's managers say a modern ventilation system renews the entire facility's air every 5 minutes, which contributes to a safer work environment. But they are most proud of the expansion of the intermediate respiratory care unit, where patients receive varying types of assisted respiration to overcome lung inflammation. The unit's chief, Pedro Landete, says by admitting potentially worsening patients in one of its 50 highly-equipped beds, they are reducing the number of people who later require the more demanding intensive care. José Andrés Armada arrived with mild symptoms at the facility after all his family was infected despite what he said was a very careful approach to the pandemic. But the 63-year-old's health quickly deteriorated and last week he was on the brink of being intubated in one of the Zendal's dozen ICU boxes. “I know that the economy is something to safeguard, but health is more important. We should be in lockdown by now. You can’t have bars and other places open," the former entrepreneur said. “I never imagined it could attack you in such a way." ___ AP reporter Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Aritz Parra, The Associated Press