Parenting expert Alyson Schafer shares tips for new moms to cope postpartum during the pandemic while dealing with the isolation of lockdown.
Parenting expert Alyson Schafer shares tips for new moms to cope postpartum during the pandemic while dealing with the isolation of lockdown.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LONDON — U.K. authorities have launched an investigation into Apple's App Store over concerns it has a dominant role that stifles competition and hurts consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday it was looking into “suspected breaches of competition law" by Apple. The announcement adds to regulatory scrutiny of the iPhone maker's app distribution platform, which is also the subject of three antitrust probes by the European Union's executive Commission. Apple said the App Store is “a safe and trusted place for customers” and a “great business opportunity for developers.” The investigation was triggered in part by complaints from app developers that Apple will only let them distribute their apps to iPhone and iPad users through the App Store. The developers also complained that the company requires any purchases of apps, add-ons or upgrades to be made through its Apple Pay system, which charges up to 30% commission. “Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," Andrea Coscelli, the authority's CEO, said in a statement. “So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny." The watchdog said it would consider whether Apple has a “dominant position" in app distribution for Apple devices in the U.K., and, if it does, whether the company “imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers” that results in less choice or higher prices for consumers buying apps and extra. Apple said it looked forward to explaining its App Store guidelines to the U.K. watchdog. “We believe in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish," the company said by email. “The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place — applied fairly and equally to all developers — to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent." The Associated Press
La rareté de logements s’aggrave. Le taux d’inoccupation a baissé une nouvelle fois, atteignant son niveau le plus bas depuis plusieurs années. Le taux d’inoccupation des logements locatifs à Matane se situe maintenant à 2 %. Difficile donc d’en trouver dans les secteurs plus recherchés, et surtout à prix abordables. Selon des chiffres de la Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement (SCHL), ce taux d’occupation est en deçà du point d’équilibre du marché fixé à 3 % . À titre de comparaison, il était à 6,8 % en 2016, à 6,2 % en 2017 à 3,6 % en 2018, à 3, 6 % en 2016 et à 2,8 % en 2019. Donc en décroissante constante et sous la moyenne québécoise de 2,5 %. Même pas besoin de les annoncer Aussitôt affichés, aussitôt loués : les appartements s’envolent comme des petits pains chauds. La première à le confirmer : Candy Bond des Immeubles Alexandre Pelletier qui en possèdent plus de 300. « Je n’ai jamais vu ça, dit-elle. Nous n’avons même pas besoin de les annoncer! Nous recevons beaucoup d’appels, mais malheureusement nous n’avons presque rien de disponible à court terme. » Aux Immeubles Rioux : même phénomène avec une offre potentielle de 275 logements. Il n’y a presque rien de libre avant juin, voire juillet, mais là encore, les choses changement rapidement. À l’Office d’habitation de la Matanie, là aussi, la directrice Isabelle Durette constate une plus grande rareté de logements dans les secteurs plus en demande, notamment près du centre-ville. Les Domiciles Pop qu’elle gère affichent complet, même avec 134 unités. Raisons multiples Comment expliquer pareil phénomène de rareté de logements? Les raisons invoquées sont multiples. Tout d’abord, il y a la forte diminution des inscriptions de maisons à vendre. Ce qui a du coup un effet sur la demande pour des logements. Autre facteur: l’arrivée de nouveaux résidents en provenance des grands centres, sans doute attirés ici à cause des effets moindres de la pandémie de la COVID-19. Enfin, la présence d’étudiants du Cégep qui ont dû louer des appartements en ville dans l’attente de la fin des travaux de rénovation à la résidence. D’ailleurs, note la directrice des communications Brigitte Lavoie, chaque année, la maison d’enseignement travaille fort pour leur faciliter la recherche de logements. Principalement parce que plus de 60 % de sa clientèle provient d’un peu partout au Québec et de l’international. Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Monmatane.com
DETROIT — General Motors says it's looking for a site to build a second U.S. battery factory with joint venture partner LG Chem of Korea. The companies hope to have a decision on a site in the first half of the year, spokesman Dan Flores said Thursday. Flores would not say where the company is looking, but it's likely to be near GM's Spring Hill, Tennessee, factory complex, which is one of three sites the company has designated to build electric vehicles. A joint venture between GM and LG Chem currently is building a $2 billion battery factory in Lordstown, Ohio, near Cleveland, that will employ about 1,000 people. The site is fairly close to GM's two other designated electric vehicle plants, one in Detroit and the other north of the city in Orion Township, Michigan. GM is likely to need far more battery capacity if it's able to deliver on a goal of converting all of its new passenger vehicles from internal combustion engines to electricity by 2035. LG Chem now has a battery cell plant in Holland, Michigan, that supplies power to the Chevrolet Bolt hatchback and the new Bolt electric SUV. Industry analysts have said that automakers face a global shortage of batteries as the industry moves away from gasoline powered vehicles. Most of the world's batteries are built in China and other countries. The Wall Street Journal first reported that GM and LG Chem are pursuing a site in Tennessee to build a new battery plant. GM's venture is risky, at least based on U.S. electric vehicle sales. Last year full battery electric vehicles accounted for only 2% of the U.S. market of 14.6 million in new vehicle sales. But automakers are set to roll out 22 new electric models this year and are baking on wider consumer acceptance. The consulting firm LMC Automotive predicts that U.S. battery powered vehicle sales will hit over 1 million per year starting in 2023, reaching over 4 million by 2030. Tom Krisher, The Associated Press
BEIJING — China's ceremonial legislature will deliberate changes to Hong Kong's electoral system during its annual session, a spokesperson said Thursday, adding to concerns that Beijing intends to shut opposition voices out of the city's political process entirely. National People's Congress spokesperson Zhang Yesui said the changes are aimed at ensuring that Hong Kong's political system will “keep abreast of the times” under the principle of “patriots" administering the city. Zhang gave no details about the changes, although speculation has focused on the possibility of reassigning votes in the 1,200-member committee that selects the city’s leader to deprive a small number of elected local district counsellors from taking part. Officials have also increasingly insisted that only those who prove themselves sufficiently loyal to Beijing and the ruling Communist Party may hold office. The NPC opens Friday morning with a lengthy address from Premier Li Keqiang reviewing the past year and spelling out priorities for the coming 12 months. The vast majority of the roughly 3,000-member body's legislative work is handled by a standing committee that meets throughout the year. The crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong has intensified since China imposed a sweeping national security law on the city last year, bypassing Hong Kong’s local Legislative Council, saying it was necessary to provide stability after widespread anti—government protests in 2019, as well as to inculcate love of country in the former British colony. Critics say the law and accompanying crackdown are stripping the city of many of its rights promised by Beijing at the time of its 1997 handover to Chinese rule under a “one country, two systems” framework. In other comments at Thursday night's news conference, Zhang promoted China’s development of COVID-19 vaccines and its provisioning of doses to developing countries, including 10 million donated through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative. In doing so, China is seeking to protect global health without attaching “political strings” or pursuing a larger geopolitical strategy, Zhang said, echoing other recent statements from government spokespeople. China has been criticized by the U.S. and others for being insufficiently transparent about its handling of the pandemic in its initial stages, when the first cases were discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Questioned on this year's defence budget, Zhang declined to give a figure but said the spending level was appropriate for China's security needs and to meet its international obligations. China has the world's largest standing military and its defence budget is second only to the U.S., which sees in China's assertions of territorial and maritime claims an attempt to supplant the U.S. as East Asia's leading military power. “We are committed to the path of peaceful development," Zhang said. China's military “doesn't target or threaten any country,” he said. Asked about relations with the new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, Zhang echoed the broadly positive comments coming from Chinese officials, listing important converging interests including battling climate change and the pandemic, aiding the global economic recovery and “maintaining regional peace and stability.” “It is in the fundamental interest of both countries and both peoples for the two sides to work together ... and steadily advance U.S.-China relations," Zhang said. “This is also the expectation of the broader international community." The NPC's advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, opened its annual session on Thursday, with chairman Wang Yang pledging support for calls that only “patriots” who show undivided loyalty to the ruling Communist Party should be allowed to hold elected office in Hong Kong,. “We will strengthen unity and friendship with our compatriots overseas and in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and conduct studies and consultations on fostering patriotism among young people in Hong Kong and Macao,” Wang told delegates in the hulking Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing. Taiwan is a self-governing democracy that China claims as its own territory. The CPPCC has no legislative powers of its own but is mandated to conduct research and offer proposals to the National People's Congress. With COVID-10 on the wane in the country, the leadership decided to hold the sessions on the usual dates in March, rather than delay them until May as they did last year. However, the meetings are shorter this year and media coverage is being conducted remotely. Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press
Jerty Gaa is one of the nearly 500,000 women in Canada who remain unemployed amid the pandemic. She found herself on hiatus from her job as a hotel attendant in Vancouver when lockdown measures were introduced last spring. Then, months later, another blow. At the end of July, she says she and most of the other staff at the hotel were let go. According to the most recent job numbers from Statistics Canada, as of the end of January, Canada's economy had 858,000 fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic. But those losses are not being borne evenly across the board Women — especially ones who weren't earning much to begin with — are bearing the brunt of the job losses, as they made up a majority of the work force in hard-hit sectors like hospitality, retail and food. According to a new analysis by RBC published Thursday, nearly 100,000 working-age Canadian women have completely left the workforce since the pandemic started, which means they aren't even trying to get a job any more. The figure for men is more than 10 times smaller — a sign that on the whole, they are not feeling quite so gloomy about their prospects. While some parts of the economy are reopening, public-facing, high-contact jobs — like those in the hotel industry — are still languishing, or at the very least trying to change the way they operate on the fly. That often means running with fewer staff, and the longer that goes on, the more likely it is those jobs are gone forever, according to Dawn Desjardins, one of the authors of the RBC report. "The longer these women are out of the labour force, the greater the risk of skills erosion, which could potentially hamper their ability to get rehired or to transition to different roles as the economy evolves," the report says. Structural change For Gaa, it's been almost a full year without a job. While she is hoping to go back once the hospitality sector opens up, she doesn't know when it'll happen or if she will manage to get her old job back once the sector recovers. A masked waitress moves among the tables on an outdoor restaurant patio in London, Ont. Women with jobs in the food industry have been particularly hard hit during this pandemic. (Colin Butler/CBC) Despite working overnight shifts for 11 years, Gaa only received eight weeks' worth of severance. She says she was told that was the maximum employees can get with the pandemic. "I expect that I'm going to retire there. I work so hard. I do what I can do and try to do my best, working overnight shifts. It's not easy," Gaa said. "We do our job and this is what we get. They don't care about us." She's still holding out hope she'll be able to get her job back once vaccines are distributed and things return to normal. The 54-year-old says she's taking things one day at a time and is hoping not to have to switch careers at her age. A job change at this point would mean a pay cut from about $27 an hour to something closer to the minimum wage of $15 an hour, she says. That's not enough for her to live on. Gaa said she's had to dip into her retirement savings and didn't want to tell her kids, as she thinks of herself as pretty independent. One of her daughters, who works in the casino industry, has also been forced out of work. Uneven recovery It's not just different industries being hit unevenly, either. The RBC report shows that the job losses are worse for members of certain demographic groups, too. Mothers, visible minorities, young people and new immigrants are all disproportionately impacted. Winny Shen, an associate professor at Schulich School of Business who studies inclusion in the workplace, worries career interruptions like the ones we're seeing now might signal to employers that women are less committed. She says that can have repercussions on a company's willingness to spend money on retraining. Coming out of the pandemic, there might also be a tendency for companies to tighten the purse strings in general, Shen says. There might be issues with understaffing — asking people to do more with fewer people as a way to cut costs. A long-term issue Almost a year since that initial lockdown, a sizeable number of Canadian women are at risk of their skills atrophying, Desjardins finds. "There could be changes underway that are more structural in nature, that are going to be more long-lasting," she said. She says economists even have a name for it — they call it the scarring effect. She says some of the skills you have diminish when you're not using them. "The longer you're out, the harder it is sometimes to get back into those networks— to hear this place is happening or these are the jobs that are in demand," Desjardins said. Valentina Dzeoba, who lives in Thunder Bay, Ont., was downsized from a manufacturing job before the pandemic hit and has since decided to retrain as a hairdresser. (Valentina Dzeoba) The economist points to a few areas of potential job growth, like child care, remote working or digital sales. "Knowing how to participate in the digital economy is really essential," Desjardins said, adding that both the government and business will have a role to play in moving people into training programs. Forced to pivot Valentina Dzeoba has also been unemployed for more than a year. The Thunder Bay, Ont. resident was let go due to downsizing at the local Bombardier plant before the pandemic. For a while, she was working one day a week helping people retrain to find work, but says jobs in the community are hard to come by. Like many people, Dzeoba has pivoted, going from manufacturing to retraining as a hairdresser. She says it's something she's always been interested in, and that the change has been beneficial. "I'm in the business of making people feel good," said Dzeoba. "I love it." Desjardins said the country needs everyone to continue working to ensure a prosperous economy. She said that if women participated at the same rate as men, it would add $100 billion to Canada's GDP every year. To find secure jobs, women will likely need more digital skills or look in fields like child care, suggests economist Dawn Desjardins. (Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images) She said that as a result, everyone enjoys a bigger piece of the economic pie. "We want everyone who wants a job to have a job." Jerty Gaa said she's happy to have received the Canada emergency response benefit as well as unemployment insurance. But at the same time, she said, "people are going to be happier if we keep our jobs." She wants to know what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier are doing to prevent permanent layoffs. Hairdresser-in-training Dzeoba says she was nervous about starting over. But it turned out everyone in her program was nervous, too. When she's done training, Dzeoba thinks she'll be able to get a job — hopefully under a senior stylist, so she can keep learning. For other women considering a major shift, she suggests networking and reaching out to employment centres. "There's a lot to be depressed about, but there is help out there," said Dzeoba.
A mechanical whir fills the room as a sling slowly lifts a patient out of her hospital bed. "Wow, it's fun to see you like that," says nurse Caroline Brochu, as the woman is lowered into a chair. After spending nearly two weeks on a ventilator, severely sick with COVID-19, the patient had been extubated a few days earlier. She's slowly being weaned off the oxygen and has regained enough strength to start physiotherapy. In her early 70s, the woman was admitted to the intensive care unit at Cité-de-la-Santé hospital in Laval in early February. Like many of the patients the hospital has treated, she was generally healthy before she contracted the virus. "No comorbidities," said Dr. Joseph Dahine, an intensive care specialist. "Just high blood pressure and a little bit of asthma." Psychologists regularly check in with the ICU staff to see how they are coping with the exhaustion and emotional strain of COVID-19.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) The unknown road ahead In mid-February, CBC Montreal was granted exclusive access to the hospital's intensive care unit. A year into the pandemic, it's still difficult to predict who will only need a few days of oxygen to bounce back and who will be on a ventilator for weeks. But what is clear is the virus spares no one. The ICU has treated severely ill patients as young as 24. Back in January, about two-thirds of the patients were under 60. At the time of CBC's visit, there were five patients. Over the past 11 months, the ICU has treated a total of 175 patients. Twenty-five have died. During that time, the ICU has worked in uncharted territory, with personnel at times risking their own health to ensure those suffering the most severe COVID-19 complications get care. WATCH | Staff inside the ICU talk about the cases that still haunt them and the unknown road ahead: "Trying to keep the morale has been the hardest aspect of all of this," said Joanie Bolduc-Dionne, the ICU's head nurse. "Right now, we have some fantastic psychologists that come day, evening, night to support the team." The psychologists visit to get a sense of how staff are coping, and what they might be struggling with, she said. Family has to stay at a distance Life inside the ICU can be an emotional roller-coaster — for the staff, the patients and their families. The daughter of the woman who was recently extubated has arrived for a visit but she has to stay outside the room because her mother could still be contagious. The distance is painful for both of them. Exhausted from the effort of sitting and eating, the woman is back in her bed. Her eyes fill with tears as she looks at her daughter through the glass door. "It's harder to see her now, like this," said the daughter, turning to a nurse. "When she was intubated that was bad, but at least she didn't realize she was in that situation. Now, she knows what's going on. Dr. Joseph Dahine, pictured at right, consults with the ICU team at Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital in Laval. Treating COVID-19 patients requires constant re-calibration to pinpoint what may be causing a patient's deterioration.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Startling deterioration Following CBC's visit, the woman had an unexpected setback overnight. During her sleep, her heart started to race. The ICU team managed to bring her heart rate back down, but the doctor on shift is concerned about her breathing, which is rapid and shallow. "If we can't give you enough oxygen and you are tired with the mask, and if we don't intubate you, well, it's death," Dr. Dahine tells the woman. With a resigned nod, she agrees to be re-intubated as a last resort. As she continues to deteriorate over the next few days, doctors have no choice but to put her back on a ventilator. It's a sobering reminder of just how unpredictable this virus can still be. At the beginning of March, the patient was brought out of the induced coma, but still needs a ventilator to breathe. She had to undergo a tracheotomy. She can only communicate with her family and the staff by blinking. "She still has a long way to go to recovery but at least she is no longer in a coma," said Bolduc-Dionne. At the height of the first wave, Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital had 22 COVID-19 patients in the ICU. The week CBC visited, there were five. Although the number of cases appears to be stabilizing, health officials are worried variants of the coronavirus could trigger a third wave.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Although the number of COVID-19 cases may appear stable, the volume of cases linked to variants of the coronavirus is rising rapidly. 'The fight is not over' On Tuesday, Quebec's health minister continued to warn people to remain vigilant over the March break. This week, Laval's ICU accepted two new patients to the red zone, which is strictly for those who are severely ill with COVID-19. "The fight is not over," said Bolduc-Dionne. As the vaccination effort in Quebec gathers steam, staff here hope people don't forget there's a parallel battle being fought in the ICU, a battle the public doesn't see. "I hope they realize that [the virus] is really dangerous and that you can infect people you love," said nurse Caroline Brochu.
LATCHFORD – Latchford Mayor George Lefebvre has let his frustration be known when it comes to the current situation surrounding insurance for municipalities. Municipal insurance rates have been on the rise and the matter has been a growing concern across the province. One specific area that Lefebvre says he has an issue with is the fact that the legal system allows municipalities to be sued for accidents that occur on major highways, which he feels shouldn’t have any bearing on the municipalities. Lefebvre says those frivolous lawsuits alone are enough to help drive up the rates when the insurance companies are forced to defend the municipalities. A highway accident is “something that has absolutely no bearing (on us) whatsoever,” he said at Latchford council’s regular meeting on February 18. “We all know, we’ve seen a number of these accidents recently. Two of them have occurred in Temagami on Highway 11 and they’re suing the Town of Latchford. It’s just absolutely ridiculous. Some people on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), crossing the railroad track and caught trespassing on the pipeline and trespassing on the tracks, flipped the ATV and sued the Town of Latchford. Now where the hell is the justice in that?” The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the province’s Attorney General have been looking into the matter of rising municipal insurance costs for the past couple of years, but actions were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One municipality reported seeing their premium increase from $120,000 to $225,000. Englehart was among the lowest, seeing their insurance rate go up eight to nine per cent this year while the Municipality of Charlton and Dack saw an increase of 36 per cent. Latchford clerk-treasurer Jaime Allen told The Speaker in an email message that the town’s rate increased by 13.5 per cent. “We had to change our provider several years ago to attempt to control the increases, so (we) fully appreciate and support the effort by the other municipalities,” said Lefebvre later in an email interview. Back at their regular meeting on January 21, Latchford council passed a resolution to support Charlton-Dack’s resolution that stands up against rising municipal insurance rates. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
SAN FRANCISCO — Financial technology company Square, Inc. said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Tidal, the music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z. Under the deal, Square will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal, Jay-Z will be named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders. Tidal will operate as a distinct entity alongside the point-of-sale hardware and software offerings of San Francisco-based Square, the payments company founded by CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also co-founder and chief executive of Twitter. Tidal has presented itself as the artist-friendly alternative to other music streamers, and Square says it will take that phenomenon further for musicians just as it has for businesses with its financial systems. “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Dorsey said in the statement announcing the deal. . Jay-Z said in the statement that the “partnership will be a game-changer for many.” I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!" The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will review a decision to order a new trial for an Alberta man convicted of murder. Russell Steven Tessier was charged with first-degree murder in 2015, eight years after Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found in a ditch near Carstairs. Berdahl died from gunshot wounds to the head, and there were tire tracks, footprints and two cigarette butts near the scene. Tessier was convicted in 2018 but Alberta's Court of Appeal later ordered a new trial. The appeal court said the trial judge made legal errors concerning the voluntariness of statements Tessier made to police. As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
There are now seven more cases at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). The cases are still contained to the same unit where the initial 14 were identified over the weekend, said Richard Dionne, president of the CNCC Local 369. The corrections officer said he could not share the total number of inmates in that wing, but noted that the area remains isolated. "I don't know the full count and I can't give it to you anyway for security reasons," said Dionne, speaking to MidlandToday. He said he was thankful that no staff cases have been identified at this time. "Hopefully, it stays that way," said Dionne. "The health unit came in the other day to offer voluntary staff testing. I don't know how many staff got tested, but none of those that did, to my knowledge, have come back positive." He said the same safety protocols are being followed with staff wearing increased PPE when interacting with inmates and those incarcerated being provided with masks if needed. "There haven't been any additional measures put into place right now," said Dionne. As for the virus possibly spreading in the air, he said, every unit functions independently in terms of ventilation. "I'm very hopeful we can contain it to the one unit and not have it spread to the entire institution," Dionne said, adding the stress level among staff remains high. "The workload has increased just based on the way that the operation changes because we're limiting day-room use and following protocol around higher use of PPE. And it's also the same for inmates, he added. "They just get more and more frustrated being locked down," Dionne said. "Increased cell time is never good for anyone. That's been put out there by a number of professionals that time locked in the cell by yourself or with one other person isn't beneficial." A request for comment from the province was not received by publication time. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
OTTAWA — Health Canada says it won't require new clinical trial data from vaccine makers on booster shots being developed to target new variants of COVID-19. Instead, the regulator will rely more heavily on lab tests on blood samples, which can show how many antibodies develop following vaccination. Those antibodies are a good indicator of how well the human body will fight off an infection. The decision should help the regulator authorize the boosters for use in Canada much quicker and is in line with the process used to approve new flu vaccines each year. At least three variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in Canada and are believed to spread more easily and possibly cause more serious illness. Having vaccines adjusted to target those new strains is a critical part of managing the COVID-19 pandemic. But Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said there won't be corners cut on safety in evaluating new boosters. "They still need to demonstrate that the vaccine that comes out is still safe, effective and high quality," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week. Canada has authorized three vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca, and all are working on various boosters against variants. The documents supporting Thursday's decision note that demanding full clinical trials, as was the case for authorizing the original vaccines, would create a serious delay. "This may also be problematic from a public health perspective since delay in updating a vaccine, where needed, bears the risk that the virus is evolving even further, potentially making a new vaccine version outdated at the time of approval again," the document says. Coronaviruses don't mutate as quickly as flu viruses, but do change as they spread among people and the more they spread, the more they change. "So a virus is not going to mutate as much when it can't replicate," Sharma said. The existing vaccines have shown reduced effectiveness against the variants of concern, though Sharma cautions the vaccines are still useful even against the variants. The vaccines Canada has authorized are performing well in countries like the United Kingdom and Israel, where the B.1.1.7 variant is now dominant. That variant is thus far the most common of the three variants of concern in Canada, accounting for more than 90 per cent of about 1,430 variant cases confirmed so far. Many provinces are now screening all confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the variants of concern, and as many as 10 per cent of all confirmed cases are fully sequenced to look for any mutations to the original virus. The B.1.351 variant that first arose in South Africa is the most concerning to date in its potential to evade existing vaccines. As of Wednesday, there were 103 confirmed cases of it in Canada. South Africa stopped using AstraZeneca's vaccine altogether after lab tests suggested it wouldn't be very effective against mild illness for B.1.351, which is dominant in that country. That decision has contributed to growing concerns that AstraZeneca's vaccine is less desirable but Sharma said the details aren't that simple. "Now, if you look at severe disease, or more severe cases, it actually looked like it was still quite protective," she said. "But in a country where that is your dominant circulating stream, and in a country where they had potentially had access to another vaccine shortly, they made the decision that maybe they weren't going to go ahead with that," she said. If B.1.351 becomes a dominant strain here, and current vaccines don't show effectiveness against it, they'll be pulled, Sharma said. "We wouldn't leave a vaccine on the market if we think that it wouldn't be effective for the overall population." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
JUNEAU, Alaska — Juneau city leaders have approved changes to local COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers, including waiving a $250 testing fee for non-resident travellers who are tested at the airport and exempting “fully vaccinated” individuals from strict social distancing after testing. The changes approved by the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly on Monday are meant to be encouraging for COVID-conscious travellers, KTOO Public Media reported. The rules define fully vaccinated as people who have gone more than two weeks since receiving a second dose of a two-dose vaccine or more than two weeks after receiving of one-dose vaccine. People considered fully vaccinated must still adhere to testing protocols, according to a statement from the city. But they do not have to practice strict social distancing for five days after arrival. The city describes strict social distancing, in part, as not socializing with anyone outside the person's household and not going indoors anywhere, except for one's home or the place they are staying. Non-vaccinated travellers must arrive with proof of a negative coronavirus test result, or they can get tested at the airport when they arrive and observe strict social distancing while awaiting results. The rules expire at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, unless other action is taken first. City Manager Rorie Watt said at the assembly meeting that officials “won’t be shy” about notifying the community if plans need to change. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Even in a crazy year with so many ups and downs, consider the last 12 months of Aaron Tveit. The Broadway star was wowing fans in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” when it was suddenly shuttered by the coronavirus. Then he contracted COVID-19 himself. He recovered to lend his voice to relief efforts, got a few high-profile acting gigs and then landed his first Tony nomination. “It’s hard to have perspective,” he said. “I just think that’s going to need a little bit of time and a little bit of a 25,000-foot view to see what actually happened in the last year.” Two back-to-back blows came within weeks last March when his show was shuttered and then Tveit became one of the first Broadway actors to speak publicly about contracting COVID-19. "I wanted to kind of say, ‘Look, I’m somebody that really takes care of my health and I’d like to think I’m in good shape.’ I was basically trying to say, ‘This can affect anyone. Please take this seriously,’” he said. Tveit, 37, says he now suspects he was sicker than he thought at the time. For several weeks, he slept 13 hours a day but thankfully, his lungs weren't affected. “It was like a terrible, terrible sinus infection.” A few weeks later, he had a flare-up. “In terms of lasting effects, I think I’ve been OK,” he said. “I know a lot of people that really, really suffered. So I consider myself very lucky that I got by with as mild a case as I did.” Tveit summoned the strength to lend his support for out-of-work actors — joining stars like Sutton Foster and Jeremy Jordan for a benefit concert hosted by Rosie O’Donnell and later singing “Marry Me a Little” for a Stephen Sondheim birthday celebration. “It felt so meaningful to me to be included but also the message behind it: We can still be a community, we can still learn how to come together even under these circumstances," he said. With “Moulin Rouge!” grounded, Tveit found work elsewhere. Over the summer, he shot a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie with Laura Osnes and flew to Vancouver to work on the Apple TV+ series “Schmigadoon!” “Gratitude doesn’t even describe how I feel,” he said of the employment. “I think about it every day because I know so many people who have not been able to work at all. The question of paying rent, of being able to support families and pay bills — it’s it’s truly devastating.” Tveit's first big gig was in a “Rent” tour and he made his Broadway debut as a replacement in “Hairspray” and then “Wicked.” He then had three starring roles in “Next to Normal,” “Catch Me If You Can” and now “Moulin Rouge!” His film work includes the adaptation of "Les Misérables" and on TV he was in “Graceland,” “BrainDead” and “Grease Live!” A bright spot in a dark year was when “Moulin Rouge!” earned more than a dozen Tony nominations, which the company celebrated with a Zoom toast. “I’d like to think that our show would have done as well in any year. So I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done,” he said. Tveit was the only actor nominated in the category of best leading actor in a musical for his role as Christian and it marks his first nomination. Unopposed, he’s poised to win, as long as 60% of Tony voters vote for him in the category. “It’s the most wild thing that it just worked out that way. But I’m just so grateful and I take it as nothing but as a recognition of the hard work that I put into the show,” he said. Producer Carmen Pavlovic calls Tveit a unique musical theatre actor whose vocal talent “just blows you away,” spanning ballads and all-out rock numbers. "I’m thrilled he’s received his first Tony nomination for his performance, which reflects not only his work on ‘Moulin Rouge!’ but also Aaron’s vast body of work that brings his career journey to this special moment,“ she said. Tveit sees something of a silver lining in the Broadway shutdown: Long unaddressed social issues are being examined, top among them racial representation on both sides of the curtain. While urging donations to the national services group The Actor's Fund, he also champions Black Lives Matter groups, anti-racism organizations, bail relief and transgender resources. “I’ve done a lot of listening,” he said. “I've tried to just shut my mouth and listen to everything around me and what people need and what people feel and then look at how personally I may or may not be helping.” When Broadway restarts, he hopes the hard work can continue of ensuring all people have equal access to theatre work, not just friends or those recommended. “I think that if that means for a while making a concentrated effort to look beyond the norm, then maybe five or 10 years from now hopefully we'll be in a much better place,” he said. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
SAO PAULO — Three Brazilian states have halted their professional soccer local leagues due to a spike in hospitalizations and deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The state government of Ceará, in northeastern Brazil, on Thursday ordered the local league to stop playing, but is still allowing its clubs to take part in the Brazilian Cup. The soccer bodies in Paraná and Santa Catarina, both in the country's south, also suspended their leagues. Almost 260,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, whose death toll is second only to the United States. Many Brazilian governors expect the next two weeks to be the deadliest in the South American nation since the pandemic hit one year ago. A handful of coaches and players have started a public debate on whether soccer should be stopped all together. Lisca, the coach of recently promoted America, was the most vocal proponent for a suspension of play. “I am appealing to the Brazilian FA to give the Brazilian Cup a break so we can postpone these matches for a little time,” Lisca said after his team's 1-0 win over Athletic in the local state championship on Wednesday. “I am losing friends. I know that soccer is entertainment, and it is important for people at home. But our lives are more important, we are not super heroes.” Gremio coach Renato Portaluppi disagreed in a news conference Wednesday night, saying tests and constant medical follow-ups make the sport very safe to play. “Also, we are doing people a favour because when we play it is another reason for fans to stay home,” Portaluppi said. Portaluppi is a friend of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has long downplayed the risks of the virus. On Tuesday, Sao Paulo-based Corinthians said eight players had tested positive one day before its local league derby against rivals Palmeiras, which requested the game to be postponed. The match went ahead anyway and ended in a 2-2 draw. Brazil halted all professional soccer in March 2020, with training sessions resuming in some states in May. The main national championship, which traditionally begins in May, started in August and finished in February with Flamengo defending its title. Brazil's soccer confederation has not commented on the renewed requests for games to be suspended. Bolsonaro is against any form of lockdown and is pushing for fans to return to games. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press
Apple could face an EU antitrust charge sheet in the coming weeks after a complaint by rival Spotify that it unfairly pushed its own music streaming service, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The European Commission could send the statement of objections setting out suspected violations of the bloc's antitrust rules to Apple before the summer, one of the people said. The case is one of four opened by the EU competition enforcer against Apple in June last year.
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday repeated his pledge to keep credit loose and flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes and the economy surges on its own. With vaccines rolling out and the government fiscal taps open "there is good reason to think we will make more progress soon" toward the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2% sustained inflation, Powell told a Wall Street Journal forum. "I want to be clear about this," Powell said in anchoring the Fed's promise to keep its near zero interest rates and monthly bondbuying intact.
Takedown NOTICE Please DO NOT USE story slugged LJI-ONT-PORTBRUCE-SHELFICE headlined Close call – man falls through shelf ice at Port Bruce. This story has been killed by its news editor. Regards, Local Journalism Initiative AVIS d'annulation Prière de NE PAS PUBLIER l'article identifié LJI-ONT-PORTBRUCE-SHELFICE et intitulé Close call – man falls through shelf ice at Port Bruce. Cet article a été annulé par le rédacteur en chef de la publication. Merci de votre collaboration, Initiative de journalisme local Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) 55 Plus Activity Centre, located in Greater Napanee, is receiving an influx of funding to support the health and well-being of local seniors during COVID-19. The organization helps seniors remain independent, in their homes and active within their community by providing quality, integrated services. MPP Daryl Kramp has announced that SOS will be receiving $42,700.00 for 2020-21 operations and maintenance and also a grant of $7,995.52 for a total of $50,695.52, according to a release from his office, dated Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021. “This is a local organization which has helped multiple generations of local seniors stay in touch and engaged for many years and that says a lot about the community it serves,” said MPP Kramp. “These funds will be important both as they operate now and as they look forward to resuming their important in-person community roles.” Kramp says this year’s investment will focus on virtual programs such as teleconferences, online videos, one-on-one phone calls to help seniors stay connected from home, and support projects such as: According to the release, the seniors population in Ontario is the fastest growing age group. By 2023, there will be 3 million Ontarians over the age of 65. Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility says the past year has been especially challenging for Seniors. “Given the social isolation that COVID-19 has brought to many seniors, it is important that we look to programs that will keep them safe and connected,” said Minister Cho. “Our government’s investment in Seniors Active Living Centres helps older adults stay virtually engaged with their friends, family and communities while combatting social isolation during the pandemic.” This year’s ongoing funding has supported the application of safety control measures against the spread of COVID-19, and provided more remote and virtual programming, according to the release. Learn more about Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) on their website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com