Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said Friday that European countries “give us a clue” on how COVID-19 variants could contribute to a third wave of the virus, saying now is the time “to be vigilant against the variants.”
Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said Friday that European countries “give us a clue” on how COVID-19 variants could contribute to a third wave of the virus, saying now is the time “to be vigilant against the variants.”
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
Residents may see a new roundabout in Paradise just a moment’s drive from the Topsail Road - McNamara Drive roundabout. “The provincial government is in the process of constructing a new intermediate school near the Diane Whalen Soccer Complex,” explained councillor Alan English. “Upgrades are required to the access road and the intersection at McNamara Drive. The current soccer complex access road would be upgraded with allowance for a future bypass road and the intersection at McNamara Road will be enhanced with an allowance for a two-lane roundabout in the future.” That soccer complex access road, which is marked by both a sign proudly announcing the land as the site of the new school and a sign promoting the soccer complex, is across from the Rotary Paradise Youth and Community Centre. To allow for the upgrades, the town has to purchase a portion of a piece of land referred to as ‘Lot 9.’ “Lot 9 is located at the corner of the access road and McNamara Drive and the Town required a portion of Lot 9 to facilitate area improvements,” said English. “The lot will be impacted by the construction of the roundabout and improvements to the access road. As well, the property access will be negatively impacted due to the plans to install a median on the access road when upgraded to a by-pass road.” To allow access to Lot 9 from the access road, the town also needed to deed a piece of the town-owned land to the owner of Lot 9, which can only be done with ministerial approval. “Council discussed the negotiations extensively in privileged meetings of council, and are unanimously in favour of the offer,” said English. That offer was $100,000, and the motion was passed unanimously to purchase a portion of Lot 9 near McNamara Drive for that sum. A second motion, for the Town to request ministerial approval to dispose of a portion of town-owned land located alongside the access road to the Diane Whalen Soccer Complex, also passed unanimously. All in all, English applauded the decision. “The town is making a strategic move here by acquiring this piece of property, because in the event that we don’t, we will actually block access to the land owner and be subject to legal action, possibly, for devaluing their property, and the town has taken the initiative to negotiate an agreement with the landowner, and while the amount is significant, $100,000, the end result is much, much cheaper than going the legal route,” said English. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
LOS ANGELES — Detectives are looking at data from the so-called “black box” of Tiger Woods' SUV to get a clearer picture of what occurred during the Southern California rollover crash that seriously injured the golf star, authorities said Wednesday. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said traffic investigators executed a search warrant Monday to retrieve data from the device from the Genesis SUV that Woods was driving. There was no immediate information regarding what was found in the black box, Deputy Trina Schrader said in a statement. The 2021 GV80, made by the Hyundai luxury brand, is likely to have a newer version of event data recorders nicknamed “black boxes” after more sophisticated recorders in airplanes. The devices store a treasure trove of data for authorities to review. Woods suffered a serious leg injury when the SUV he was driving went off a Los Angeles County road and rolled over on a downhill stretch known for crashes. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods was not drunk and was driving alone in good weather when the SUV hit a raised median, went across oncoming lanes and rolled several times. The crash injured his right leg, requiring surgery. Deputies will review data from the black box to “see if they can find out what was the performance of the vehicle, what was happening at the time of impact,” said Villanueva, who previously faced criticism for almost immediately calling the crash “purely an accident.” During a live social media event on Wednesday. the sheriff said the new data could provide more information on the cause of the accident. “And that’s all it is, and we’ll leave it at that,” he said. California law allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for data recorders that were involved in motor vehicle crashes that result in death or serious bodily injury. Law enforcement must show that the recorders could have evidence of a felony or misdemeanour in the crash, and detectives must limit their review of the data to information directly related to the offence. USA TODAY first reported the search warrant. A black box is a computer that stores data from a vehicle’s sensors, which can be downloaded. The boxes usually are below the centre of the dashboard or beneath seats to be protected from damage. There aren’t any federal regulations requiring the boxes, but the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says nearly all vehicles have them now. The government does require the recorders to store 15 data points including speed before impact and whether brake and gas pedals were pressed. __ Associated Press Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report. Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan reported 121 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths on Wednesday. Both deaths were people in the 80-plus age group, with one each from the Regina and Saskatoon zones. There were also 180 recoveries reported Wednesday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 27,239. There are 1,431 known active cases in the province. So far there have been 389 COVID-related deaths. The new cases Wednesday are in the following provincial zones: Far northwest (two). Far northeast (40). Northwest (six). North central (six) Northeast (three). Saskatoon (17). Central west (two). Central east (seven). Regina (35). Southwest (one). There are 153 people receiving care in hospital, with 20 of them in intensive care. The Regina zone has the most known active cases in the province with 431. Saskatoon zone active cases have dropped to 264. The province processed 2,588 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday. Saskatchewan's per capita rate is 489,658 tests performed per million population. The national rate is 647,827 tests performed per million population. The seven-day average of daily new cases in Saskatchewan is 12.5 new cases per 100,000. Vaccinations The province administered 1,358 more COVID-19 vaccine doses over the past day in the following zones: far north central (21), far northeast (11), northwest (six), north central (452), central east (351) Saskatoon (391) and Regina (126). The total number of vaccine doses administered in the province stands at 81,597. As of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority health-care workers had received a first dose, the province said. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by the end of Wednesday. (CBC News Graphics) CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
MERIDEN, Conn. — Jill Biden, the teacher in the White House, along with new Education Secretary Miguel Cardona went back to school Wednesday in a public push to show districts that have yet to transition back to in-person learning that it can be done safely during the pandemic. “Teachers want to be back," the first lady said after she and Cardona spent about an hour visiting classrooms and other areas at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Meriden, Connecticut. “We want to be back. I’m a teacher. I am teaching virtually.” Biden is a veteran community college English professor who is now teaching remotely from the White House. She said her students recently told her they can’t wait to be back in the classroom. “But we just know we have to get back safely,” she said. The trip was the first order of business for Cardona, Connecticut's former education commissioner, who was sworn into his new Cabinet job only the day before. Biden and Cardona were also visiting a Pennsylvania middle school on Wednesday. Their visits came as the clock ticks down on President Joe Biden’s promise to have most K-8 schools open for classroom instruction by the end of his first 100 days in office, or the end April. To help nudge that along, Biden said Tuesday he is pushing states to administer at least one coronavirus vaccination to every teacher, school employee and child-care worker by the end of March. The issue of vaccinating teachers became a flashpoint in school districts around the country as many teachers held the line and refused to return to their classrooms unless they were given the shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not include vaccinating teachers in its guidelines for schools to consider when reopening after months of teaching students remotely over computers. “We must continue to reopen America’s schools for in-person learning as quickly and as safely as possible,” Cardona said. He said the president’s directive that teachers and school staff be vaccinated quickly will be “my top priority.” At Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, Biden and Cardona saw kids seated some distance apart at individual desks, each one wearing a mask. See-through plastic partitions separated groups of four students who sat at half-moon-shaped tables. Hand sanitizer dispensers were available in the hallways. “I love that,” Biden said after a teacher pointed out the partitions. The teacher also said her youngsters had “no issues” wearing the masks. The school reopened in late August, Cardona said, and “it was done in a way that protected the students and their families.” The first lady and Cardona also visited a “sensory room” complete with colorful climbing walls, zip lines, monkey bars, stability balls and a mat, where special needs students can collect their emotions. Biden asked the teacher in the sensory room whether she had seen anxiety in children increasing because of the pandemic. The teacher said she had. Biden and Cardona later listened as another teacher described her transition back to in-person learning. The school visit also served as a homecoming for Cardona, who is from Meriden and was so warmly praised that Biden referred to the welcome as a “love fest.” His parents were among those on hand in the school lobby for the remarks. “Now our nation is going to have that love for you,” she said. “Educators’ favourite three words are not ‘I love you'," she joked. “It’s going to be Education Secretary Cardona.” Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government has ordered a review of mental health crisis care following the suicide of a teenager who waited eight hours at a hospital emergency room without being helped. Health Minister Dorothy Shepard says she has asked Norm Bosse, the province's child, youth and seniors' advocate, to conduct a review, although the terms have not been set. Lexi Daken, 16, took her own life on Feb. 24, less than a week after seeking help at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton. Shephard says the regional health authority has also been asked to identify possible improvements and report back by the end of the month. Green Leader David Coon was seeking a public inquiry into the care Lexi received and says urgent action is needed. Chris Daken, Lexi's father, says he hopes her death is not in vain and that it prompts government to make changes that will help others in the future. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
There were two deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Wednesday. Both deaths were in the 80 plus age group and were located in Regina and Saskatoon. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is now 389. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. This was among 121 new cases reported in Saskatchewan. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 19 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 30 active cases and North Central 3 has 15 active cases. There are currently 153 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 133 reported as receiving in patient care there are 14 in North Central. Of the 20 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 154, or 12.5 cases per 100,000 population. The high was 312 reported on Jan. 12. Of the 29,059reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,431 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,239after 180 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,059 of those 7,437 cases are from the North area (3,024 North West, 3,259 North Central and 1,154 North East). There were 1,358doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 81,597. There were 232 doses administered in the North Central zone yesterday. The other zones where vaccines were administered were in the North West, Far North Central, Central East, Far North Central, Far North East, Saskatoon and Regina. According to the province as of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority healthcare workers received a first dose. This percentage includes healthcare workers from long term care and personal care home facilities. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by end of day March 3. There were 2,588 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 28. As of today there have been 582,829 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The NY PopsUp program will serve as a test run for the return of live artistic performances in New York City after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered plays, ballet, opera and concerts in the city. "In April, select Broadway theaters ... will open their doors to audiences for the first time since March 12, 2020, with a series of special NY PopsUp programs," organizers said in a statement. New York officials said on Wednesday that event spaces could reopen at one-third of their capacity, or 100 people indoors, starting on April 2.
BURNLEY, England — Leicester’s bid to qualify for the Champions League received a further setback with a 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened Burnley in the Premier League on Tuesday. Brendan Rodgers’ injury-hit team recovered from conceding a fourth-minute goal to Matej Vydra, with Kelechi Iheanacho’s volley in the 34th earning a point at Turf Moor. However, more dropped points — coming three days after a 3-1 loss to Arsenal — further opens the door for Leicester’s top-four rivals with around a quarter of the season left. Leicester is third, five points ahead West Ham and six clear of fifth-place Chelsea having played a game more. Rodgers’ injury list is growing, with Harvey Barnes the latest player out to join James Maddison, James Justin and Jonny Evans on the sidelines. It forced the Leicester manager to field a makeshift lineup against Burnley and one of the fringe players called up, Hamza Choudhury, was at fault for Burnley’s goal. Choudhury’s weak back pass was seized on by Vydra, who went round Wilfred Ndidi and shot high past Kasper Schmeichel. Iheanacho equalized when he span his marker and met a floated pass forward by Ndidi with a volley on the turn that flew past outrushing Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, whose positioning was open to question. Youri Tielemans struck the post in the closing minutes for Leicester, but Burnley applied more pressure with Schmeichel producing fine saves to keep out headers by James Tarkowski and Chris Wood. Leicester also struggled with injuries late last season and dropped out of the Champions League places in the final weeks of the season on the back of just two wins of its last nine games. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The United States is at a COVID-19 crossroads — and public health officials are worried about which path the country will choose. After a year of more than 513,000 deaths, a devastating economic crisis and restrictions on their personal freedoms, Americans have been basking in a recent torrent of seemingly good news. Daily caseloads are well off their January peaks, President Joe Biden is promising enough vaccine for every U.S. adult by the end of May and state after state is throwing off the shackles of the pandemic. Not so fast, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control warned Wednesday. "We are at a critical nexus in the pandemic," Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a briefing by the White House COVID-19 response team, her second straight day of waving a red flag. The seven-day average rate of new cases in the U.S. is currently about 66,000, she said — a 3.5 per cent increase over the previous seven-day period, which itself was up 2.2 per cent. And "hyper-transmissible" variants of the virus, including the one known as B.1.1.7, are looming large, "ready to hijack our successes to date." Americans are in a weakened and vulnerable state after having waged war against COVID-19 for the last 12 months, she acknowledged. "Stamina has worn thin, fatigue is winning and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored," Walensky said. "How this plays out is up to us." As caseloads have come down over the course of the last two months, states and municipalities have gradually eased restrictions. Virginia, Massachusetts and South Carolina are among those that pushed back curfews and lifted limits on indoor dining and large gatherings in recent days. Texas and Mississippi went even further, promising Tuesday to lift all restrictions and mask-wearing mandates by next Wednesday, if not sooner. "It is time!" tweeted Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, as he announced an immediate end to all statewide restrictions. "We need to recognize that none of these orders, in any state, are anything short of unprecedented. They have to end at the earliest possible moment. This is that moment for Mississippi." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his order, which takes effect March 10, is the result of an accelerating rate of vaccinations — 229,000 alone on Wednesday, he said — that is resulting in fewer people in hospital. "We are able to contain COVID and safely allow Texas to open 100 per cent." Biden dismissed those attitudes Wednesday as "Neanderthal thinking." "It's critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science," he said. "I wish to heck some of our elected officials knew it." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all but ignored questions Wednesday about the shifting perspectives south of the border, focusing on his government's own vaccination timetable. All Canadians who want the vaccine will be able to get it by the end of September, he vowed — maybe sooner if the stars align. But he wasn't about to allow any mixed messages to pull focus away from Canada's vaccination efforts. "Obviously, the pandemic has had a very different course in the United States, with far greater death tolls and case counts, and that has had its own impact on the American economy that Canadians haven't quite felt the same way," he said. "We're going to continue to work to get as many Canadians vaccinated as quickly as possible by following the science and following the best recommendations of our experts." That's what the president is doing, and what people in states where restrictions are being lifted should be doing as well, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. "This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic," Psaki said. She acknowledged the hard-won gains of a difficult year, and how Americans have good reason to start feeling optimistic, whether it's news about vaccines or fully stocked grocery store shelves. "But there's still more work that needs to be done," she said. "We need to remain vigilant." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today. They involve two people in their 20s in the Fredericton region and both cases are travel-related, as well as a person in their 50s in the Miramichi region which is under investigation. Officials have identified a list of locations in Miramichi where there may have been public exposure, and a mass testing clinic will be held to determine if there has been any further spread in the area. The clinics will be held tomorrow and Friday at the gymnasium of the Dr. Losier Middle School. There are now 37 active cases in the province and three people are hospitalized, including two in intensive care. There have been 28 COVID-19-related deaths in the province since the onset of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — More than one-third of U.S. nonprofits are in jeopardy of closing within two years because of the financial harm inflicted by the viral pandemic, according to a study being released Wednesday by the philanthropy research group Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. The study's findings underscore the perils for nonprofits and charities whose financial needs have escalated over the past year, well in excess of the donations that most have received from individuals and foundations. The researchers analyzed how roughly 300,000 nonprofits would fare under 20 scenarios of varying severity. The worst-case scenario led to the closings of 38% of the nonprofits. Even the scenarios seen as more realistic resulted in closures well into double digit percentages. Officials of Candid, which includes the philanthropic information resources GuideStar and Foundation Center, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which analyzes charitable giving during crises, said the most dire scenarios could be avoided if donations were to increase substantially — from the government as well as from private contributors. “If you are a donor who cares about an organization that is rooted in place and relies on revenue from in-person services, now is the time probably to give more,” said Jacob Harold, Candid’s executive vice-president. Among the most vulnerable nonprofits, the study said, are those involved in arts and entertainment, which depend on ticket sales for most of their revenue, cannot significantly their reduce expenses and don’t typically hold much cash. Other studies have concluded that smaller arts and culture groups, in particular, are at serious risk. Californians for the Arts, for example, surveyed arts and culture nonprofits in the state and found that about 64% had shrunk their workforces. Roughly 25% of them had slashed 90% or more of their staffs. And a report last week from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli found that employment in New York City’s arts, entertainment and recreation sector tumbled 66% during 2020. “It really has been devastating,” said Kristina Newman-Scott, president of BRIC, a Brooklyn arts institution best-known for its community TV channel and Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series. “We have a lot of empathy for our colleagues and friends in the arts space who, based on their model, see things that are just not going to be the same for them. They will be navigating a very different financial pathway.” Newman-Scott said BRIC has been helping sustain smaller arts nonprofits and offering artists unrestricted $10,000 grants through its Colene Brown Art Prize. “We are anxious to get back to in-person events,” she said. “But we want to do it as part of a community. We don’t want to be the only one. We want other organizations that are and have been doing extraordinary work, especially the smaller folks who have it harder because they just don’t have as many resources. We want them to be around us also.” Harold, the Candid executive, said that while arts and entertainment groups may be at particular risk, nonprofits from all sectors are in danger. According to the study, the District of Columbia was expected to lose the most nonprofits per capita, followed by Vermont and North Dakota. The most vulnerable nonprofits may try to reduce costs this year by narrowing their focus or by furloughing workers. Some may seek a merger or an acquisition to bolster their financial viability, Harold noted, although doing so would still mean that fewer nonprofits would survive. “A lot of non-profit boards were able to say, ‘Oh, this is going to end soon’ and ‘We’re fine for a year,’” Harold said. “But they might not be fine for two years. So if they dragged their feet last year, they may find themselves really having to scramble this year to make the structural changes now.” The perils that nonprofits face are similar to the economic damage from the pandemic that forced so many restaurants to either close or operate at deep losses over the past year. An estimated 110,000 restaurants — roughly one in six — closed in 2020 and, according to the National Restaurant Association, the pandemic could force 500,000 more to shut down. President Joe Biden last week ordered the Small Business Administration to prioritize businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees in the awarding of loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, 400,000 small businesses have closed — 400,000 — and millions more are hanging by a thread,” Biden said. “It’s hurting black, Latino and Asian American communities the hardest.” Harold said that while the federal government's focus on small businesses and small nonprofits will help some of them survive, “it’s not going to have a huge impact.” The Candid/Center for Disaster Philanthropy study found that $20.2 billion was donated to combat COVID-19 in 2020, with 44% of it coming from corporations. It was one of many notable shifts in philanthropy during the pandemic. “We were definitely seeing more grants for flexible operating expenses and general support,” said Grace Sato, Candid’s director of research. “More grants were explicitly designated for vulnerable communities, communities most impacted by the pandemic.” The pandemic also made some major foundations recognize how burdensome their grant process has been and finally took steps to simplify it, Harold said. “One of the dominant emotional dynamics is guilt,” he said. “They finally crossed the threshold. We saw that with hundreds and hundreds of foundations.” ___ The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Glenn Gamboa, The Associated Press
WHITEHORSE — Yukon's premier says COVID-19 vaccine uptake has been "fantastic" as just over half the territory's residents have received their first dose, but he's concerned about rising numbers of variants elsewhere in Canada. Sandy Silver says the territory is focusing on meeting its goal of vaccinating 75 per cent of the population to reach herd immunity before lifting current restrictions despite zero cases in Yukon. He says a clinic for everyone aged 18 and over opened in Whitehorse this week and mobile clinics are returning to smaller communities to provide second shots to people over 60. Silver says as of Monday, 11,503 Yukon residents had received their first shot while second shots were administered to about half that number. He joined chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley in saying numbers on vaccine uptake would not be provided for specific areas to prevent pitting communities against each other. Hanley is urging residents to continue taking all precautions as clinics go "full tilt" in the territory. "If cases, and particularly variants, lead to increased COVID our risk of importing variants will go up day by day," he says. Seventy-one Yukoners have recovered from the illness and one person has died since the pandemic began. Hanley says 850 people were immunized in the mass clinic on Tuesday, and he would be among those lining up for a shot in the arm on Wednesday. Yukon and other territories have received a higher allocation of vaccine doses because remote areas have limited access to specialized care. "While we recognize that immunizing the territories is the right thing to do for Canada this incredible opportunity should provide us with extra motivation to step up and get a vaccine," Hanley says. However, he says "vaccine hesitancy is a reality" and it will be important to address people's questions so they're comfortable being immunized in order to protect everyone. Hanley says despite four weeks without any active cases, the restrictions will remain because the territory is in a "nebulous" time and on guard against variants. "This is a huge consideration for us because regardless of whether we have zero or 10 cases right now we are always managing risk of importation," he says. "Vaccine uptake is so critical to getting to a place where we can be much more confident about being able to propose a solid framework for opening up." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
After Mateo Perusse-Shortte, experienced racism while playing his sport, he and his mom decided to plan a hockey diversity group in Quebec.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia will get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week. Health officials said today the upcoming shipment must be used by April 2 and therefore all 13,000 doses will be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15. The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations in Nova Scotia on a first come, first served basis. Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Tuesday that it not be administered to people 65 years of age or older. Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine was found to be 62 per cent effective in clinical trials, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, which boast effectiveness rates of over 90 per cent. Officials say the delivery of the new vaccine won’t interfere with the scheduled rollout of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines for people aged 80 years and up. Health officials in Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 today, all of which involve close contacts of previously reported cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is extending the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to four months. Public health officials said Wednesday the change will help them vaccinate 40,000 more people with a single dose by the end of March. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey says the decision is a game changer for the province's vaccination prospects. British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry raised eyebrows Monday when she announced her province will delay the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to four months. Henry said Monday she expected the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to issue a statement in the coming days aligning with B.C.'s decision. Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today and say all are linked to previously reported infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo intends to remain in office in the face of sexual harassment allegations that have weakened his support and led to calls for his resignation, he said Wednesday. The Democratic governor, speaking somberly in his first public appearance since three women accused him of inappropriate touching and offensive remarks, apologized and said that he “learned an important lesson” about his behaviour around women. “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.” Cuomo acknowledged “sensitivities have changed and behaviour has changed” and that what he considers his “customary greeting” — an old-world approach that often involving kisses and hugs — is no longer acceptable. He said he will “fully co-operate” with an investigation into the allegations being overseen by the state's independently elected attorney general. Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct the probe and document its findings in a public report. Asked about calls for him to step aside, the third-term governor said: “I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign." Cuomo addressed the allegations during a news conference that otherwise focused on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the kind of briefings that made him a daily fixture on TV and a national star among Democrats. Before that, Cuomo last spoke to reporters during a conference call on Feb. 22. His last briefing on camera was Feb. 19. Two of the women accusing Cuomo worked in his administration. The other was a guest at a wedding that he officiated. Former aide Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett said she believed he was gauging her interest in an affair. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations. Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan. The accusers rejected his latest attempt at an apology. “How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGovCuomo to lead our state if you “don’t know” when you’ve been inappropriate with your own staff?” Boylan tweeted. Bennett's lawyer, Debra Katz, said the governor's news conference “was full of falsehoods and inaccurate information.” She said Cuomo's claim that he was unaware he had made women uncomfortable was disingenuous, considering that Bennett had reported his behaviour to her boss and one of Cuomo's lawyers. “We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint and we fully expect that the Attorney General’s investigation will demonstrate that Cuomo administration officials failed to act on Ms. Bennett’s serious allegations or to ensure that corrective measures were taken, in violation of their legal requirements,” Katz said. Cuomo said he inherited his gregarious way of greeting people from his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and that he intended it as a way of welcoming people and making them feel comfortable. He said he realizes now, “it doesn’t matter my intent, what it matters is if anybody was offended by it.” Speaking about the allegations, Cuomo initially said he was apologizing to “people” who were uncomfortable with his conduct, but he didn’t make clear as he continued which of the women he was referring to. At one point, he said he was apologizing to “the young woman who worked here who said that I made her feel uncomfortable in the workplace,” though that description could apply to both Boylan and Bennett. Asked what he was saying to New Yorkers, Cuomo said: “I’m embarrassed by what happened... I’m embarrassed that someone felt that way in my administration. I’m embarrassed and hurt and I apologize that somebody who interacted with me felt that way.” The governor, who has touted a law requiring all workers in New York to receive sexual harassment training, said he felt at the time that his behaviour was innocuous but now acknowledges that sexual harassment centres on how the victim is impacted — not the offender’s intent. “I didn’t know at the time I was making her feel uncomfortable. I never meant to, but that doesn’t matter," Cuomo said. "If a person feels uncomfortable, if a person feels pain, if a person is offended, I feel very badly about that and I apologize for it. There's no but — it's, I'm sorry.” __ Sisak reported from New York. __ This story has been updated to correct the day of the press briefing. It was on Wednesday, not Tuesday. Marina Villeneuve And Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau signalled Wednesday that Canada will stand up for an Ottawa sociology professor facing trial in France as human-rights advocates renewed calls for the Liberal government to intervene. The prime minister's words left Hassan Diab's supporters wishing Trudeau had been more forceful in pledging assistance. In late January, France ordered Diab to stand trial for a decades-old synagogue bombing, a move his lawyer called the latest misstep in a long odyssey of injustice. The Canadian government has been communicating with officials in France about the case and will continue to do so, Trudeau said during a news briefing Wednesday. "It has been a priority for us to make sure that we're standing up for our citizens all around the world, with countries that are challenging, but also with our allies," he said. "And those conversations will continue." Canadians would rightly expect their prime minister and government to stand up for a falsely accused citizen, said Donald Bayne, Diab's Ottawa lawyer. "But what does that ambiguous phrase mean?" Born in Lebanon, Diab became a Canadian citizen in 1993, working in Ottawa as a university teacher. The RCMP arrested him in November 2008 in response to a request by France. French authorities suspected Diab was involved in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured dozens of others, an accusation he has consistently denied. After lengthy proceedings that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Diab was extradited to France, where he spent three years behind bars, including time in solitary confinement. In January 2018, French judges dismissed the allegations against him for lack of evidence and ordered his immediate release. Trudeau said later that year that what Diab went through "never should have happened." Diab's supporters have long argued he was in Beirut — not Paris — when the attack took place and that his fingerprints, palm prints, physical description and age did not match those of the suspect identified in 1980. Earlier this year, Bayne called the French move to have Diab stand trial "a travesty of justice," saying the latest analysis of handwriting evidence in the case makes the argument for pursuing his client even weaker. Diab, 67, is now back with his wife and young children in Ottawa as his lawyers in France appeal the latest decision. Alex Neve, former secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, said in January it is "cruel and baffling" that French authorities continue to suspect Diab. Neve said the Canadian government must become involved at the highest political levels and not simply stand aside on the grounds that justice must be allowed to run its course. Justin Mohammed, a human rights law and policy campaigner with Amnesty Canada, said Wednesday the organization was encouraged by Trudeau's remarks but stressed that Canada must not co-operate with extradition requests that prolong Diab's ordeal. "It would be unconscionable to return him to face trial in France given the way his case has proceeded.” The Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group has called on Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau to intervene with their French counterparts "to put a stop to this endless, Kafkaesque affair." The group, which represents dozens of civil-society voices, also wants the prime minister to commit to not extraditing Diab to France a second time. It also says Canada must reform its extradition laws to ensure no one else is forced to go through what Diab has endured. Tim McSorley the group's national co-ordinator, said Wednesday that while the prime minister's words were encouraging, Trudeau missed an opportunity to "clearly and publicly denounce the ongoing miscarriage of justice being faced by Hassan Diab." Early last year, Diab filed a lawsuit accusing the Canadian government of negligent investigation and malicious prosecution, saying federal officials violated his constitutional guarantees of freedom of movement, liberty and security of the person. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Canadian and American rescuers are describing a tightly choreographed effort in heaving Atlantic seas that saved 31 seafarers early Wednesday before an offshore scallop dragger sank off Nova Scotia. The hoisting of the crew aboard the 39-metre FV Atlantic Destiny onto helicopters began late Tuesday night and extended into the next morning after the ship caught fire at sea south of Yarmouth, N.S. Lt.-Cmdr. Edward Forys, commander of a United States Coast Guard fixed-wing aircraft that flew above the scene, outlined the close co-operation of the two countries in the frightening seas. "It (the Atlantic Destiny) was taking on water when we arrived and they didn't have any power or ability to steer," Forys said Wednesday in an interview from the coast guard base in Cape Cod, Mass. "So they were bobbing in the water and it was imperative we started to get people off that ship." He estimated that winds were gusting from the northwest at more than 90 kilometres per hour, with sea swells of between five to seven metres pitching the stricken ship up and down as the hoists were lowered. The lieutenant-commander said that at first, Canadian Forces CH-149 Cormorant helicopter lowered two of its search and rescue technicians on board the floundering vessel. He said the Cormorant carried out the first hoists, followed by lifts conducted by two American Jayhawk helicopters, with a total of 27 people brought into the rescue aircraft. The 43-year-old officer said it was the most hoists during one incident he's witnessed in his 13-year career with the coast guard. Each time the basket came down to lift up crew, the two Canadian search and rescue technicians on board would help them strap in, as the teams from the two countries communicated by radio and international hand signals, Forys said. As this was going on, the American and Canadian fixed-wing aircraft were relaying information from the helicopters back to command centres on shore to provide updates on the condition of the survivors and indicate where they needed to be taken. Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens of the search and rescue co-ordination centre in Halifax, confirmed the Atlantic Destiny sank at 10:36 a.m. Wednesday morning after succumbing to damage it sustained in the fire. Owens said 27 crew members were taken to Yarmouth by the three helicopter crews during the night, where they received medical attention, food and accommodations. The remaining crew members, as well as two search and rescue technicians who were on board, were transferred at about 8 a.m. from the fishing vessel to the Canadian Coast Guard ship Cape Roger, Owens said, adding that they were on their way to shore on Wednesday afternoon. The rescue co-ordination centre said it had received a call from the ship around 8 p.m. Tuesday night reporting there was a fire on board and that it had lost power and was taking on water as it drifted in the rough seas and powerful winds. Ocean Choice, the owner of the ship, said other offshore fishing vessels, including the Cape LaHave, Maude Adams and the Atlantic Protector, took part in the rescue effort. "They're professional seamen and we have an experienced captain and crew members that handled this incredibly well," Ocean Choice CEO Martin Sullivan said in an interview Wednesday. “The collective efforts of our crew and all those who came to assist the crew and the vessel resulted in the best possible outcome for this situation,” Blaine Sullivan, the president of Ocean Choice, said in a statement. “We are sincerely thankful to everyone that helped ensure that every single crew member is safe and accounted for.” Ocean Choice said an investigation into what caused the fire will begin in the coming days, adding that no injuries were reported as a result of the fire. The company said the Atlantic Destiny, one of six of its offshore fishing vessels, harvests and freezes sea scallops. Its home port is Riverport, N.S. The Atlantic Destiny was involved in a similar incident in 2017 when its main engine broke down, causing a blackout on the ship while it was southwest of Nova Scotia. No injuries were reported. Martin Sullivan said the trawler had a major overhaul about a year ago and the ship was signed off by a classification society, which inspects and certifies vessels on behalf of Transport Canada. Meanwhile, Forys said the teams returning from the international rescue were tired but satisfied by Wednesday's outcome. "This is a major case," the lieutenant-commander said. "This is one of the search and rescue cases you'll remember." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. — With files from Sarah Smellie in St. John's, N.L. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Michael Tutton and Danielle Edwards, The Canadian Press
For the first time, an outbreak of COVID-19 in an Alberta long-term care facility has been linked to a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus. The outbreak was confirmed late on Friday at Churchill Manor in Edmonton with a single case, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday at a news conference. Since Friday, 27 staff and residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, she said, which includes 19 cases confirmed as positive for the variant. "This is a reminder that of course we are not out of the woods yet with respect to COVID-19, and the rapid spread that is possible with the variant," Hinshaw said. "Of course, it's very concerning to see an outbreak where we go from one case to 27 within a matter of days, and it's a reminder that all of us need to be taking the precautionary measures seriously every single day." Local public health teams and the operator of Churchill Manor are taking the outbreak seriously and working to limit spread and protect everyone involved, Hinshaw said. "Last week, before this outbreak started, we implemented mandatory new protocols that are being followed. These created new, stronger measures for when a variant case is identified in any supportive living, long-term care or hospice site. "Staff working at an outbreak site must not work at any other workplace for the duration of the outbreak, and anyone entering the facility will be required to wear a mask and eye protection continuously." Enhanced lab testing and rapid screening are being used help control the outbreak, she said. Hinshaw said she did not have details on how the outbreak began. Residents at Churchill Manor got their vaccinations as scheduled on Monday, she said, as part of the rollout. "That, of course, would not protect individuals who've already been exposed, but it will help those at that site to now be building their immunity, and those who haven't been exposed would be expected to have some protection against infection and severe outcomes within the next couple of weeks." Now 3 vaccines Now that Health Canada has approved the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, she said, there will be three safe, effective vaccines to help the fight against COVID-19. Alberta is scheduled to receive some doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week but those shipments will likely be small, Hinshaw said, and no details are available yet about who will be eligible for those inoculations. "We are still working to confirm exactly how many doses we will receive, and when they will arrive. We hope to update you soon on how these vaccines will be distributed here in Alberta. "What's clear is that all three of these vaccines reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and prevent serious outcomes, including hospitalization and death," Hinshaw said. About 255,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province, and more than 89,000 people have now been fully immunized with two doses, she said. "In the last week alone, we have administered almost 20,000 doses of vaccine," Hinshaw said. This is great news for our most vulnerable Albertans and those who care for them." Gap between doses extended Hinshaw also announced that Alberta will join other provinces in adopting the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommendation to extend the period between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. In an effort to protect as many people as possible as quickly as possible, starting on March 10 those who book a first dose of vaccine will have their second-dose timeline extended to up to four months, Hinshaw said. Those who already have second-dose appointments booked will go ahead as scheduled. Anyone who books their appointment before March 10 will be able to book a second appointment within the 42-day window. From March 10 on, people who book vaccinations will only be able to book their first appointment, and will later receive a reminder to book a second dose, she said. "The evidence on COVID-19 is constantly evolving, and it is critical that we use the most up-to-date information as we refine our approach," Hinshaw said. Recent research in Canada suggests that one dose of vaccine can provide about 80 per cent protection against infection, she said. Data from the U.K. released this week suggests 70-per-cent effectiveness from a single dose of Pfizer, a level of protection that remained at a stable level over several months. "This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose," she said. "The more people that we can offer this protection to in the coming weeks and months, the more effective we will be at stopping spread. "At the same time, second doses are still important, and we are recommending that every Albertan receive one within the 16-week window in order to provide long-lasting protection. This change is about providing the most benefit to the most people, based on evidence that we have seen from around the world." Latest case numbers The province reported 12 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and 402 new cases. Across the province, hospitals were treating 251 patients with the illness, including 48 in ICU beds. About three per cent of Albertans (134,052 cases) have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began a year ago. Of those, about 4.4 per cent (5,942 people) have ended up in hospitals, including 974 who spent time in ICU beds. Of the 1,890 people who have died so far, 84 per cent were age 70 or older. Over the past year, the province has closed down twice. With new cases and hospitalizations declining, Alberta is once again starting to ease restrictions. Alberta reported two more deaths and 257 news cases on Tuesday. Hospitals were treating 261 patients for the illness, including 54 in ICU beds. Testing has now confirmed 492 cases in Alberta of two highly contagious variants first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.