Beautiful golden sunrise in the distance as seen from Mont Orford near Sherbrooke, Que.
Beautiful golden sunrise in the distance as seen from Mont Orford near Sherbrooke, Que.
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Another Ontario COVID-19 official has resigned over foreign travel. Premier Doug Ford's office says he has accepted the resignation of Linda Hasenfratz as a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force.Ford's office says she stepped down after it was brought to his attention that she travelled outside the country in December.No other details were released other than that she has apologized.Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Stewart resigned from a group of experts that help guide the provincial government's response to COVID-19 after travelling to the Dominican Republic over the holidays.At the time, Stewart said he regretted the non-essential travel and recognized that everyone should be avoiding non-essential trips.Stewart later stepped down as chief executive officer of the Niagara Health System and the St. Joseph's Health System.Ford's office gave a brief statement Tuesday about Hasenfratz's resignation."Thanks to the efforts of all Ontarians, we are starting to see early signs of progress in bending the curve," reads the statement. "Now is not the time to let up. We continue to urge everyone to stay home." Last week, Dr. Paul Woods, the CEO of a hospital network in London, Ont., was ousted from his post after concerns were raised about his international travel during the pandemic.Woods travelled to the U.S. five times since March, including during the December holidays, the London Health Sciences Centre said.Last month, Rod Phillips, Ontario's former finance minister, resigned from his post after it was revealed he travelled to St. Barts for a December vacation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 The Canadian Press
Local reactions to the provincial government’s latest lockdown restrictions have been mixed to say the least, and moving into another nearly total shutter on small business operations has many concerned for their future. After Premier Doug Ford announced the second provincial emergency and stay-at-home orders on Jan. 12 in response to alarming surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the province, there was near immediate confusion. Timmins MPP Gilles Bisson said there was a major lack of details from the province. “A lot of people are left scratching their heads, trying to figure out exactly what this staying-at-home order is. The Premier says, ‘I don't believe in curfews’ but he’s doing a stay-at-home order, and quite frankly a stay-at-home order is a type of curfew,” Bisson told The Daily Press. The province's release read that the stay-at-home order was “requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely.” Bisson wondered why there was no stringent travel restrictions included in the plan. “I was told there was no ban on travel between regions. So, somebody can go from Timmins to Sudbury or Toronto or wherever. I was also told by the Minister of Solicitor General that if you’ve got to pick up your son or daughter at university and bring them back home, you can do that.” He said the plan is rife with confusion and mixed messages. “The staying-at-home order needs to be clarified. Northerners are prepared to do their bit, but we need to know why government does things, based on good medical and scientific evidence, and make sure that what their orders make sense.” Bisson said he's received lot of calls from constituents over the past few days, critical of the provincial orders. “They’re saying, ‘How come I can go into Walmart and buy something, but I can’t go into my local business and buy the same thing?’ They can provide the same type of security and probably better safety when it comes to COVID, than what Walmart and other large stores are doing. “People are wondering about this stay-at-home order. They’re thinking this is rather ridiculous. If there's a five-person limit on meetings and gatherings, why are we putting kids on buses that have more than five people and putting them in classrooms of more than five people? A lot of people are just very confused.” Bisson said he is also concerned with the recent surge in cases, but this latest approach might not be the right move. “Do we need to do something? Absolutely. But what the government needs to do is be clear about what it is they’re asking us to do — and they’re not doing so.” Loralee Boucher, who operates a hair salon as well as a private party lounge in Downtown Timmins, is very concerned about the next few weeks until a new announcement comes from the province. Hair appointments are not considered essential at this time, which is a massive portion of her income. She has been unable to provide her services since Dec. 26. Her hair salon has been in operation for more than nine years. Her second venture, above the salon, is the Top Shelf Lounge which is a licensed rental space popular for parties and private functions, and sometimes offers live entertainment. It opened in August 2019. Boucher said it has been a brutal stretch for the lounge. “Top Shelf has had a minimum 80 per cent decrease in revenue over the holidays, compared to last year, because I wasn't able to rent it out nearly as much as I did last year,” she said. In the meantime she has been applying for the various assistance programs offered by the federal government. “I applied for the $900 every two weeks, which is what they gave us, online through the government, and then I applied for the grant that they’re offering, somewhere between 10 to 20 thousand,” she said, still awaiting the results. She said it would be a much-needed financial boost. “I’m hoping some kind of funds become available. I own the building. So on a single income, by myself, I have two mortgages, my home and my business. I also have double the bills, two hydro bills, two gas bills, two property tax bills and I have multiple insurances, because you have to have two business insurances, health insurance, you name it; car insurance; my vehicle payment on top of that. “I need to make a minimum of $10,000 a month just to pay that.” Boucher expressed frustration at the blanket approach the feds took with programs like The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). “The government treats everybody like they’re the same, offering everybody just 900 bucks every two weeks. Well how do you explain that I can’t pay my mortgage now, or I can’t get groceries now, things like that off just a tiny amount? For some people, it’s OK, but you’re treating everybody equally and some people have a lot more bills than others to account for.” The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) is a program offered to help businesses and landlords to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses. “You can apply for a property tax rebate, but the percentage of that is not clear. I guess it’s for them to decide. I know somebody applied for a hydro rebate, and they got $21.” Before the pandemic, her salon was booked full nearly every day. She shudders to think about the total of her lost business. “I’m losing so much money, it’s crazy.” To make it sting a little more, Boucher had also recently made a major investment by adding spa facilities to her salon, including another employee, and some very pricey equipment, only to be shut down a few months later. The only current income is selling some of the hair care products online. “They said they initially closed small businesses to stop the spread of the virus, but after our initial two week shutdown, our numbers went up dramatically.” She realized the blame will be on the holiday season, which is likely accurate, but that it proves some people will gather in large groups regardless of provincial orders, which essentially has nothing to do with small businesses. “Small businesses follow the rules. We don’t want to get closed down. We don’t want to get fines. We wear our masks. We wash our hands. For example, a salon, we’re working one on one. There’s no more risk going into a hair salon than there is going into a grocery store or Walmart.” Boucher said the vast majority of small- to medium-sized businesses have taken the protocols very seriously, and have made the necessary adjustments to their operations in order to be able to provide services safely. “There is no reason why any small business should be shut down, if you’re following protocol. If you’re not following protocol, that’s when you should be shut down.” Boucher said she started a local Facebook group called Outside The Box where small business owners can share ideas, supports, advice on grants, and other initiatives. “It’s all about helping each other. That’s why I created the group in the first place.” Although her online sales have been decent, it is but a small fraction of her standard income which relies on personal appointments. However, she does appreciate the support she is getting and feels a silver lining of this whole thing might be a renewed appreciation for local businesses. “The community has been very supportive. A lot of people are doing their part to support local, so that is a very positive outcome.” said Boucher. Another downtown business and building owner, Matthew Poulin of Total Martial Arts Centre, is irked by the fact his business can’t operate, despite the province stating that people can go out for exercise purposes. “We're actually not sure why. Based on government data, which is on their site, transmission from gyms is under 2.2 per cent and other things that are still open contributed a much higher percentage. Also the restrictions we had in place make us even safer than most gyms. Booking systems, high amount of cleaning daily, 50 per cent capacity for us is 18 people, which is extremely low for a facility of our size,” he said. In the meantime, TMAC has attempted to generate some revenue by opening up some online gear sales. “Currently we’re bringing back our online gym, which isn’t ideal but it’s something nonetheless. Also we will be selling memberships for the online gym too,” said Poulin. He said he has also applied for “as many grants as possible” to keep his business afloat. “Some of our members were able to keep their accounts open with us to support the gym during this time. Really, if it wasn’t for that, we would likely have to close. This second lockdown is scary but we’re confident we will make it through.” Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
When the current lockdown here in Ontario came into effect on Dec. 26, not much changed for some of the libraries in the area, specifically the South Algonquin Public Library with branches in Whitney and Madawaska, the Gilmour Library in Tudor and Cashel Township, and the Carlow Mayo Public Library in Hermon. The head librarians of these libraries give updates on how the lockdown has affected their operations. With the exception of the South Algonquin library branches, which have closed for the duration of the lockdown, they are continuing to offer curbside pickup of their materials for patrons to enjoy as they try to navigate this current lockdown due to COVID-19. Charlene Alexander is the CEO and head librarian at the South Algonquin Public Library and supervises both branches in Whitney and Madawaska. She gives an update on what’s going on there with the lockdown. “Both branches will be closing and staff are moving to work from home until the restrictions are lifted. We had been [before the lockdown] working towards providing in person services in addition to curbside pickup. This includes policy planning, barriers installed at the circulation desks, a maximum of three people at a time in the library, one public computer in use at a time, and one work area where patrons could use their own devices. During lockdown, library staff will focus on professional development and any projects that can be completed at home,” she says. Leanne Golan is the CEO and head librarian at the Gilmour Library in Tudor and Cashel Township and gives the following update on their lockdown status. “With the new lockdown, we are continuing to offer contactless curbside pickup only. There are no new initiatives at this time,” she says. Carrie McKenzie is the CEO and head librarian at the Carlow Mayo Public Library, and says that they are still operating curbside, and that nothing is changing for them in that regard. “Our hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” she says. While continuing to operate their curbside pickup, they have some new items in their inventory for patrons to check out. “We are updating our adult non-fiction with personal hobbies such as free motion quilting and macrame hangers. We are also adding more non-fiction about becoming more self-sufficient by homesteading. Lots of canning and gardening,” she says. “If we are going to be at home we might as well enjoy it with healthy and engaging activities!” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
Kelowna Regional RCMP say a massive amount of cocaine that landed in Okanagan grocery stores in 2019 was shipped in banana containers, and likely ended up in the stores by accident. According to a written statement from police, several bricks of cocaine were found on Feb. 24, 2019, after a local grocery store reported finding what it believed to be illicit drugs. Later that day, West Kelowna RCMP also received a call from a grocer after they uncovered what they suspected to be drugs in their banana shipment. In total, police seized 21 packages of cocaine, weighing around one kilogram each. The statement from RCMP says the drugs were likely not destined for Kelowna. The drug section of the Kelowna RCMP worked with the Canada Border Service Agency to determine that the shipments had originated in Colombia. "Our investigation leads us to believe these illicit drugs were not meant to end up in the Central Okanagan, and arrived here in the Okanagan Valley as a result of a missed pickup at some point along the way," Cpl. Jeff Carroll of the Kelowna RCMP Drug Section said in the statement. The statement said that, according to experts, the shipments of pure cocaine, once cut with other agents, would have introduced upwards of 800,000 doses of crack cocaine into the Canadian illicit drug market.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won't attend Biden's inauguration, the first outgoing president to skip the ceremony since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Months-old embers from a deadly California fire were blown back to life Tuesday by powerful winds that raked the state and prompted safety blackouts to tens of thousands of people. Firefighters chased wind-driven blazes up and down the state, trees and trucks were toppled, Yosemite National Park was forced to close and two coronavirus vaccination centres were shut down. South of San Francisco, the state’s firefighting agency said it responded to 13 vegetation fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties in 12 hours, and isolated evacuations were ordered for a total of 120 homes near two of them. The fires were small, with the largest no more than a couple dozen acres, and by nightfall were “creeping" rather than racing, according to state fire website descriptions. Two were within the area burned by last year's CZU Lightning Complex inferno. “Fires within the CZU Lightning Complex burn area were regenerated by high winds,” the local unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection tweeted. The complex started Aug. 16, 2020, during a barrage of lightning strikes. Separate fires merged, torching 1,500 buildings across 135 square miles (350 square kilometres) in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. One person died. The Santa Cruz Mountains have a thick layer of “duff,” dead vegetation under heavy timber in which deep smouldering embers can be revived by the wind, said Cecile Juliette, a Cal Fire spokeswoman. Cal Fire received nonstop reports of toppled trees and branches during the windstorm, Juliette said. Small fires blazed throughout the state, though most were quickly stopped from spreading and posed no serious threat to homes. The largest, near Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley, burned about 1 square mile (2.77 square kilometres) but was mostly surrounded. In both the north and south, residents were blacked out by utilities to prevent downed or damaged power lines from sparking blazes. Southern California Edison shut off power to more than 78,000 homes and businesses in seven counties and was considering blacking out well over a quarter-million more. Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to more than 5,000 customers. Most of California is experiencing drought conditions and the remainder is considered abnormally dry. Winter snowfall and rain have largely been woeful. Gusts howled at speeds up to 95 mph (152.8 kph) in the Mayacamas Mountains to the north of San Francisco Bay, and winds raised clouds of ash and dust from wildfire burn scars across Monterey County, the regional National Weather Service office said. High wind warnings were posted in the Sierra Nevada and adjacent foothills. “People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches,” the Hanford weather office wrote. “If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.” Yosemite National Park closed for the day, citing the winds and downed trees that smashed trucks and at least one building. In Southern California, the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds were ramping up, making travel hazardous for big rigs. Some were blown over. One gust hit 86 mph (138.4 kph) in northern Los Angeles County, the National Weather Service said. The wind forced closure of a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Hansen Dam in the San Fernando Valley. Another site at a Disneyland parking lot was closed in advance of the gusts. The city of Los Angeles instituted its program of restricting parking in hilly neighbourhoods where narrow, winding streets can be difficult for fire engines to manoeuvr. Downtown Los Angeles has had only 1.95 inches (4.95 centimetres) of rain since the Oct. 1 start of the “water year,” nearly 4 inches (10.16 centimetres) below normal. The Associated Press
Demetri Garcia describes the experience of going back to his seventh grade classroom after a month in COVID-19 quarantine as being akin to his stomach “collapsing in on itself.” “I got into the classroom, and saw my classmates, who all said: ‘Welcome back!’ and it made my stomach feel even worse. I sat down in my chair, tried not to look at them, and stayed silent because of the sheer fear of being back,” the 12-year-old wrote in a recent non-fiction narrative assignment at River Heights School in Winnipeg. “I was scared to be in public and talk to people again.” A positive COVID-19 test is unnerving enough, let alone having to return to junior high school after the fact — unsure of how people will act. In an interview with the Free Press, Demetri recalled not wanting to talk about the experience at all, once he first returned to school in late November; instead, he wanted to shrink in his seat. But days later, he decided to put his feelings on paper when given the chance in English class. Following a lesson on how to show rather than tell through writing, Demetri and his peers were tasked with picking an emotion they once felt strongly and then describe the scene with descriptive language. Demetri picked “anxiety.” His final piece, “Back in School” would be published in a classroom collection of best non-fiction narrative works from the fall. “This kind of writing is about telling your truth. We’re trying to teach kids to be honest,” said Colin Steele, a retired teacher who has been filling in for an absence at River Heights School. Steele said it’s been his job as a teacher this school year to gauge how students are feeling and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Citing how visibly anxious Demetri was upon his return, Steele said he was surprised Demetri chose to be so vulnerable in writing, which was shared with, and well-received by, the rest of the class. Not only was Demetri stressed out about being around other people after being cooped up in his room alone for weeks, the Grade 7 student said he also worried about the academic workload he had to catch up on. After learning his father had tested positive for the novel coronavirus — having been deemed a close contact of a co-worker who had broken public health directives and attended a Halloween party — Demetri went to get swabbed with his mother, who he was staying with at the time. Only Demetri, who spends time at both his mother and father’s homes, received a positive test result, in early November. He experienced a sore throat, nausea, dizziness, a cough and at one point, woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t move. “It just sucks as a parent, when you can’t do anything for your kid... knowing that he was struggling with an illness that nobody can really help him with,” said Gorete Rodrigues. Rodrigues added the situation was made even more frustrating since both she and Demetri’s father had been “extra cautious” because each household has a baby. Meantime, Demetri said his school has been strict about COVID-19 precautions. Among them: masking, announcement reminders to stay apart, and physical distancing requirements. The principal, Demetri said, has entered his classroom more than once with a measuring stick to ensure desks are spaced two metres apart. “I always thought it was real and I was pretty careful and I just kind of stayed away from people. I have the same mind-set (now),” he said, adding it is annoying to see other students mingling around in clusters outside after school. His advice for peers who are not taking the pandemic seriously? “It was not fun. It was hard to breathe, so if you value being able to breathe, take it seriously.” Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
OTTAWA — Canada is not getting any COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech next week and the federal government says it can't tell provinces exactly how many doses to expect over the next month. While there are some signs the relentless second wave of the pandemic may be easing in the biggest provinces, with numbers trending down in Quebec and Ontario, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the number of people in hospital and critical care is rising. Canada also passed 18,000 deaths on Monday. Tam said as the infections go up and down, Canadians are constantly being hit with the reality that our "actions have consequences." "Every time we get a little too tired or a little too excited about holidays or think that vaccines could give us a quick shortcut, we are met with a new spike in activity as COVID-19 tries to take the lead again," Tam told a news conference Tuesday. More than half a million Canadians have now been given at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but the rollout of the vaccines is slowing down. U.S. drugmaker Pfizer told Canada on Friday it's cutting deliveries in half over the next four weeks, as it slows production at its facility in Belgium for upgrades that will eventually allow it to produce more doses. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander co-ordinating the vaccine rollout for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Tuesday this means Canada will be getting 82 per cent of expected doses this week and nothing at all next week. "Our entire shipment is deferred," said Fortin. Canada was to get 417,000 doses over the next two weeks, and will now get about 171,000. Fortin said Canada's shipments will "pick back up again" the first week of February but he doesn't expect details until Thursday. The news prompted Ontario Premier Doug Ford to lash out at Pfizer and appeal to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden, who will be sworn into office Wednesday, to help Canada out. Pfizer is also producing its vaccine in Michigan, but doses made in the U.S. are only being shipped within that country. Every other country, including Canada, is getting doses from the facility in Belgium. Ford is asking Biden to share one million doses with Canada. He also said he's not angry at the federal government for the delivery delays, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to put pressure on Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. "If I was in (Trudeau's) shoes … I'd be on that phone call every single day," Ford said. "I'd be up that guy's yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn't know what hit him … I would not stop until we get these vaccines." Ontario is among the provinces retooling their vaccine programs to account for getting fewer doses than expected, with some cancelling or halting new appointments and others looking at delaying second doses. Trudeau said federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand has been on the phone with the company every day. He was less specific about which phone calls he has made himself or whether he has attempted to contact Bourla directly. Trudeau said this temporary slowdown in deliveries will not affect Canada's goal to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot in the arm by the end of September. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the interruption would mean the province will use the vaccine it is getting this week to complete first doses for long-term care residents and to start second doses for those who got their first shot in December. He said second doses are crucial to the strength of the program, and B.C. remains committed to a 35-day interval between doses. Other provinces have chosen to extend their second-dose time frames. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou told The Canadian Press "multiple countries around the world will be impacted in the short term" but cannot say which countries or what the effect outside Canada will be. The United Kingdom is expecting some slowdowns as well. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was on the phone to Bourla on Friday when Europe was informed it would also be getting fewer doses. Europe's dose delays were reduced to one week after that. Anand said she told Pfizer on the weekend she expects Canada to be treated equitably in the shipment slowdowns, and she got assurances that would happen. Fortin said the cutbacks will affect some provinces more than others because of the way the vaccines are packaged, but that deliveries will even out eventually. Quebec and Ontario both reported significant declines in cases Tuesday, with Quebec at 1,386 new cases and Ontario at below 2,000 for the first time in weeks. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott cautioned a technical glitch likely undercounted new cases in Toronto. Manitoba, which recorded 111 new cases, is also looking at easing restrictions on gatherings and businesses by the end of the week, including allowing non-essential stores and hair salons to reopen for the first time since mid-November. Saskatchewan, with both the highest rate of active cases and new daily cases per capita in the country, was preparing to get tougher on restaurants and bars flouting COVID-19 rules. But Premier Scott Moe said he's not ready to shut down all businesses. Meanwhile, Trudeau urged Canadians to cancel near-future plans for international trips. Trudeau said Canadians have the right to travel but the government could at any time, and without warning, enforce new restrictions on those returning to Canada. New variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 add a level of uncertainty that could affect decisions about how to handle international arrivals. Potentially worrisome variants have been detected in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. Quebec Premier Francois Legault urged Trudeau to ban non-essential international flights entirely. The Public Health Agency of Canada has documented 183 flights arriving in Canada from abroad since Jan. 4, on which at least one passenger had COVID-19. Sixty-three of those flights arrived from the U.S. That includes 78 flights from popular winter resort destinations and U.S. cities, and four flights from London since a temporary ban on incoming flights from the U.K. was lifted Jan. 6. Trudeau would not say what other measures he is considering, but noted travellers must present negative COVID-19 tests before boarding planes and must quarantine for two weeks after arriving in Canada. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
LANSING, Mich. — Attorneys for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are striking back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint water case should be dismissed because he was charged in the wrong county. Snyder was charged last week with two misdemeanour counts of wilful neglect of duty. He was indicted by a Genesee County judge who sat as a grand juror and considered evidence presented by prosecutors. “Neither of these allegations of non-feasance, or failure to act, occurred while the former Governor was in the City of Flint. At all times set forth in the Indictment, our client was the presiding governor of the State of Michigan with the Executive Office of the Governor located at the Romney Building in downtown Lansing,” attorney Brian Lennon said in a letter to prosecutors. The letter was attached to a request for documents and other evidence possessed by prosecutors, a typical step by the defence in a criminal case. Lennon indicated in the letter that he soon would formally ask Judge William Crawford to dismiss the case against the Republican former governor. A hearing took place Tuesday in Snyder’s case. The next hearing was scheduled for Feb. 23. “The reason we didn't file a motion to dismiss is we're trying to give the government an opportunity to recognize this mistake and voluntarily dismiss the indictment against Gov. Snyder,” Lennon told the judge. Assistant Attorney General Bryant Osikowicz sought time to see and respond to the pending dismissal motion. A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office declined to comment on the venue issue. Snyder was one of nine people charged in a new investigation of the Flint water crisis, including former state health department director Nick Lyon. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism. The city, under Snyder-appointed emergency managers, used the Flint River for drinking water in 2014-15 without properly treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Separately, the water was blamed by some experts for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which killed at least 12 people in the area and sickened dozens more. Lyon and former state chief medical executive Eden Wells face nine counts of involuntary manslaughter. Snyder's lawyer said the defence will soon seek grand jury records. It also wants potentially millions of documents and hundreds of electronic devices that were seized, and to know if steps were taken to ensure investigators did not have access to attorney-client communications or other privileged materials. “If a taint team was not used, it challenges and could undermine the integrity of the entire investigation against Gov. Snyder and others,” Lennon said. As it did during the old criminal probe, the state will cover the legal expenses of former state officers and employees who face charges. But in a change, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration will cap costs. The maximum hourly rate for attorneys cannot exceed $225. Some lawyers were paid two to three times that previously. The state also will impose a “ceiling” of $175,000 for a defendant's legal services before and during a trial, which can only be raised if a contract administrator recommends it. The goals are to ensure consistent treatment across the defendants' former departments and to control costs to ensure accountability, the governor's office said. Jim Haveman, a former state health director who supports Lyon, criticized the new policy. Legal fees and expenses in the first case against Lyon totalled $1.6 million over 19 months, he said. In 2019, prosecutors working under a new attorney general, Dana Nessel, dismissed charges against Lyon and seven other people and began a new probe. In an email, Haveman called on Whitmer and lawmakers to “correct this capping injustice and to assure all defendants have the best defence possible.” ___ White reported from Detroit. Ed White And David Eggert, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Two of Fox News Channel's top news executives involved in the controversial — but correct — election night call of Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden are out at the network. Bill Sammon, senior vice-president and managing editor at Fox's Washington bureau, announced his retirement to staff members on Monday. On Tuesday, as part of a restructuring of Fox's digital operations, politics editor Chris Stirewalt was let go. Fox's decision to call Arizona for Biden took the network's anchors by surprise and infuriated the White House, which believed the determination was premature. Stirewalt and Fox's decision desk chief, Arnon Mishkin, were the two most visible people defending the decision on the air amidst heat from President Donald Trump and his supporters. Mishkin, who worked the election on a contractual basis, is not a Fox employee. Two days after the call, Stirewalt said on the air that “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do and we remain serene and pristine.” He hasn't been on the air at Fox since the post-election period. Reached on Tuesday, both Stirewalt and Sammon declined comment. Fox, in a statement on Tuesday, said that “as we conclude the 2020 election cycle, Fox News Digital has realigned its business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era." Nearly 20 people lost their jobs as part of the restructuring, according to someone familiar with the changes who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to speak on personnel issues. No one at Fox would comment specifically on Stirewalt, citing the confidentiality of individual personnel matters. He's been with Fox since 2010. Fox and The Associated Press, which called Arizona for Biden later on election night, remained alone until ABC, CBS and NBC all called it for Biden on Nov. 12, eight days after the election and after all the networks had declared Biden the winner overall. Biden won Arizona by 10,475 votes out of nearly 3.4 million cast. The call angered many Fox News Channel fans. In its wake, conservative broadcaster Newsmax, which has featured many of the personalities who backed Trump’s questioning of the election results, saw a sharp viewership increase. Fox's ratings have dipped as a result, and the network recently announced lineup changes that most prominently added a new opinion show in the early evening. David Bauder, The Associated Press
A dangerous mix of dirty street drugs that's prevalent across the province has triggered a public health alert in northern B.C. Officials say opioids contaminated with benzodiazepines are rendering life-saving naloxone less effective and raising the risk of overdose. This week's alert, from Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority, comes amid a dramatic rise in overdoses in the region. Northern B.C. already has the highest per capita overdose death rate in the province. Now, new data shows ambulance calls for drug overdoses jumped 56 per cent in the north in 2020, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services. In Prince George alone, paramedics responded to almost 1,000 overdose calls last year, according to BCEHS. In the first few weeks of 2021, paramedics in the north have already responded to 120 overdose calls. "The Northern Health region had significantly higher overdose call volumes," said Shannon Miller, spokesperson for B.C. Emergency Health Services. Jordan Harris, executive director of the POUNDS Project, a northern support group for drug users, said the contaminated drugs are "extremely concerning." "You're not even sure what's in the drug that you're using, and there's the possibility of a fatal overdose," she said. Health authorities are warning that illicit benzodiazepines — drugs like Ativan and Clonazepam — are contaminating opioid street drugs. Because benzodiazepines are "downers," the toxic blend suppresses addicts' nervous systems twice over, slowing brain activity and suppressing breathing. People who have overdosed on drugs contaminated with benzos may be more difficult to rouse, may remain unconscious, and are often slow to respond to naloxone, according to Northern Health. That's because benzos work on a different pathway in users' brains, so naloxone has less impact than it would with an opioid alone. Harris, of the POUNDS Project, says drug users tell her that benzo contamination is "extremely unsettling. Their overdose looks different. They have deep unconsciousness, they have very long periods of memory loss." "It makes people very hard to revive when they're overdosing," said Dr. Rakel Kling, Northern Health medical health officer. "It takes a lot more naloxone to reverse an overdose. They may need ... several doses," she said. "[Paramedics] are administering more naloxone than ever before, sometimes multiple doses, due to the potency and toxicity of drugs across the province. It's taking more time to stabilize people," said Miller, of B.C. Emergency Health Services. The problem is not confined to the north. "Benzos are a common contaminant we're definitely seeing in the drug supply across B.C.," said Kling. Medical officials in Vancouver raised concerns about benzos and opioids in B.C.'s drug supply in 2019. "Since the start of the pandemic, the drug supply [has] become much more toxic," said Kling. "It's still very much an emergency," she said.
Premier Scott Moe floated further enforcement of ‘bad actors’ Tuesday in response to videos circulating of alleged flagrant violations of COVID-19 restrictions at restaurants and bars. Moe said he has asked public health to look at stricter enforcement, including ordering businesses to close. In a press conference on Tuesday Moe addressed a video that surfaced of the Tap Brewhouse and Liquor Store in Regina over the weekend. “I’m sure many saw the video this past weekend with patrons in a bar or restaurant here in Regina where they were evidently and flagrantly outside of what the public health orders recommend and certainly outside of what the public health laws allow for. But the vast majority of our restaurants in this province are adhering to our public health orders that are in place but there are these few outliers that are not,” Moe gave the example of sports still being restricted in the province and a petition circulating for a return of sports in the province. “I have sitting on my desk right now a petition with over 10,000 signatures on it, signatures from parents, form adults that are asking to allow their children to play hockey or to have the opportunity for competitive youth recreation,” Moe said. Moe explained that he asks himself if all restaurants need to be punished for the actions of a few who don’t adhere to public health restrictions. “We don’t need to punish all of those that are following the public health orders. But to those establishments and those individuals who flagrantly operating outside of the public health orders — they do need to be punished,” he said. However introducing new measures was off the table until the current measures have completed on Jan. 29. “I don’t believe that we need new measures put in place to bend the COVID curve here in Saskatchewan. We do need everyone to follow the measures that are in place and enough is enough. It is time for us to start enforcing those that are not following those measures,” Moe said. Moe said that children are making sacrifices including sports and it is time for adults to make the same. Moe said he has talked to public health and encourages law enforcement, when there is flagrant violations of orders in establishments, to ramp enforcement up. “We are not going to punish everyone for the acts of a few,” Moe said. Chief Medical Health Officer Saqib Shahab described his own dilemma regarding case numbers. “It is a hard and difficult situation because we continue to be stuck in this 300 range and you know like I said before we want to be heading down below 250, below 200, below 150 that is where we need to go and in December we were heading in that direction and over the holidays we really went down but that was artificial because our testing went down,” he said. Shahab said that case numbers so far in January are spiking due to a lack of compliance with public health orders over the Holiday season. “We saw cases over 300 or 400. Now, we are not seeing those numbers so much but we are seeing examples where people aren’t complying with the guidance and it seems to be mostly younger people or in situations where people seem compelled to go because of the death of a loved one and we are seeing transmission there.” Baseline transmission is high at 300 cases a day. Shahab said small gatherings can create transmissions. There have also been outbreaks connected to funerals and wakes in the north that have created uncontrolled spread. “I think we need to pay our respects virtually as much as possible. Guidance allows for close family and friends to get together for those occasions. But I think overall we have to be very cautious,” The trend numbers also show hospitalization numbers creeping up to a level that is unsustainable. “They are creeping up and over time I think that creates its own pressures on the health care system and unfortunately it generates deaths as well,” Shahab said. Moe reiterated that the measures are significant and did show some success after they were enacted in December and before the holiday increase “We peaked in the time after the holiday bump, which we had predicted would occur, with about 328 cases per day on the seven day rolling average and we are down now to about 300 so we need to continue that downward trajectory,” he said, Moe explained that he thought the cases were trending down those trends will be watched in light of the extension of public health measures to Jan. 29. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
South Korean automaker Kia Corp said on Wednesday it's reviewing cooperation on self-driving electric cars with multiple foreign firms, making no mention of a report linking it to a project with tech giant Apple Inc. Kia's comment, issued in a regulatory filing as its shares surged nearly 20% in Seoul, came after domestic online publication Edaily reported late on Tuesday that Kia's parent, Hyundai Motor Group, had decided Kia would be in charge of proposed cooperation with Apple on electric cars. Hyundai Motor declined to comment.
Calgary fire Chief Steve Dongworth called reports of racism in his fire halls "concerning" and says problem employees are difficult to deal with because they're "very clever" and "very subtle" in how they operate. "We have a culture where people tend not to report things for fear of retaliation," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. "That becomes a barrier to us finding out who those laggards are." But Dongworth said "there will be zero tolerance" when the problem employees are identified. The N-word On Monday, CBC News published detailed accounts from seven current and former members of the Calgary Fire Department who confirmed that although it's become less blunt over the years, BIPOC firefighters still experience insidious racism within the city's fire halls. Last summer, several current and retired BIPOC members and their allies sent a letter to the chief demanding change. The group alleges racialized bullying has led to suicides of CFD members. In interviews, several members, who CBC News agreed not to name because of fear of workplace retribution, said even to this day, the N-word is occasionally tossed around casually inside fire stations. Two people said that in fire halls, Black Lives Matter news reports, in particular, seemed to incite microaggressions from some coworkers. Dongworth faced criticism from retired captain Chris Coy, the first Black firefighter with CFD who retired Dec. 1. Coy said the chief has known about the racism within CFD for years and hasn't done nearly enough to change the culture. WATCH | Chris Coy on racism within the Calgary Fire Department: "Have I done enough quickly enough?" asked Dongworth, who was promoted to chief in 2014. "It never feels like that but I will tell you but I know we've steadily moved the needle on this." 'Changing minds takes an awfully long time' There are two prongs to Dongworth's anti-racism strategy. One is to set a hard line of what's considered unacceptable behaviour. "The second part is to start changing people's minds, explaining why racism is wrong, why discrimination is wrong. Changing minds takes an awfully long time." Several active and retired firefighters said their experiences with coworkers inside the fire halls were more traumatizing than the often gruesome scene calls they're dispatched to. "Every time we hear these kinds of accounts, we commit ourselves to double down on that work and make sure we do," said the fire chief. Council motion acknowledges CBC News report On Tuesday evening, the City of Calgary reaffirmed its commitment to anti-racism with a motion including wording specific to the Calgary Fire Department in light of CBC's story. "With respect to concerns related to the Calgary Fire Department, direct administration to specifically include these issues in their continuing work on internal practices and movement toward cultural change," reads the motion. Following a closed door session Tuesday evening, city manager David Duckworth and general manager of community and protective services Katie Black acknowledged the article, which reports a toxic culture suffered by some BIPOC firefighters. A day after calling the racism within CFD "horrifying," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he'll be pushing the release of information from two workplace reviews done in recent years. Chief 'absolutely committed to this work' Currently, there are no women or BIPOC members serving as deputy chiefs. Both groups account for less than three per cent of the 1,400 firefighters in Calgary. "If you don't have many people in the organization who are female or who are people of colour, Indigenous, Black, it's almost inevitable you're not going to have many in leadership positions," said Dongworth. The chief said his organization is actively trying to recruit visible minorities and women to the department. "I'm absolutely committed to this work," said Dongworth. "This has to be seen as a time where we double down on the work that we do, that we embrace those people that bring diverse cultures, genders, views to the workplace."
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
À la suite des critiques sur les systèmes de surveillance aux frontières, le premier ministre Justin Trudeau implore la compréhension de tous ceux qui envisagent de voyager et annonce la mise en place sans préavis de nouvelles mesures. «Quand je dis que tout le monde doit faire sa part, je m’adresse aussi aux voyageurs. Ce n’est pas le temps de voyager à l’étranger. Si vous aviez prévu de quitter le pays, s’il vous plaît, au nom de tous les Canadiens, annulez!», a-t-il imploré en conférence de presse. Justin Trudeau a sensibilisé sur les risques et les changements brusques qui pourraient intervenir avec les mutations du virus ces dernières heures, arguant qu’Ottawa «pourrait imposer de nouvelles mesures sans préavis». Il n’a pas donné davantage de détails sur les idées en gestation. «Ça ne vaut pas la peine d’attraper la COVID-19 et de la ramener au Canada pour un voyage dans le Sud ou ailleurs», a-t-il illustré, tout en rappelant que le gouvernement fédéral reconnait que les voyages sont un droit constitutionnel au Canada. Plusieurs témoignages dans la presse ont récemment établi des légèretés dans les systèmes de contrôle des passagers qui arrivent dans les aéroports canadiens. Selon la Loi sur la mise en quarantaine, ils doivent s’isoler pendant 14 jours, mais certains ont déclaré qu’ils se contentaient des appels et des répondeurs automatiques. Ottawa a mis des entreprises privées de sécurité à contribution. Justin Trudeau a indiqué mardi que le fédéral était «en conversation avec les premiers ministres des provinces» au sujet d’éventuelles mesures supplémentaires, mais la démarche semble insuffisante. Québec demande la suspension des vols internationaux Le premier ministre François Legault s’est dit «ouvert à la discussion pour déterminer ce qui est essentiel ou non», mais il menace d’évoluer en cavalier solitaire si Ottawa n’accède pas à sa revendication. «Je demande à M. Trudeau, au gouvernement fédéral, d’interdire rapidement tous les vols internationaux qui sont non essentiels», a plaidé le premier ministre François Legault en conférence de presse, révélant le contenu d’une discussion qu’il aurait entreprise en privé avec le fédéral. Le premier ministre québécois s’appuie sur les dispositions prises au printemps et les précédentes mesures concernant les vols en provenance du Royaume-Uni pour pousser Ottawa à aller plus loin. M. Legault redoute les conséquences de la période de relâche scolaire avec la confirmation d’un nouveau cas de la variante du coronavirus découvert au Royaume-Uni. Ces pressions interviennent au moment où les firmes pharmaceutiques annoncent l’interruption des livraisons de vaccins au Canada pendant la semaine du 25 janvier. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
Some Yukon snowmobilers are stuck in the White Pass area south of Whitehorse, after heavy snowfall and avalanches closed the South Klondike Highway — their only road home. They're not complaining much, though. Darren Domkosky of Whitehorse says they're safe, and making the best of it. "Just sledding, burning some gas. And it's nice weather," he said over the phone from a highway maintenance camp at Fraser, near the Canada-U.S. border, on Tuesday morning. Domkowsky and some friends drove to the area on Monday after a fresh snowfall. "So we were like, 'oh, we'll go hit up that new snow before everyone hits it.' So we came up, started sledding, and it was a wicked day," he recalled. When they came back to their vehicles, they found a note from a highways crew telling them the road was closed, and they should head to the nearby highway camp. Domkowsky said the local workers gave them beds for the night and fed them. "They're the best people around ... it's amazing," Domkowsky said. He's not sure when the road might open again, but he hopes it will be soon. On Tuesday afternoon, he said he was told it might happen on Wednesday, or possibly Thursday. Yukon highways officials confirmed that there had been avalanches in the area, and the government's website 511Yukon refers to drifting, blowing snow and low visibility. Officials said about 60 centimetres of snow fell on the area between Carcross, Yukon, and the border camp at Fraser, B.C. Domkowsky said he's doing his best to enjoy himself while waiting. By Tuesday afternoon, he was out of gas for his snowmobile. "My family's at home waiting for me to get home, but what can you do, right? Just make the best of what you have." WATCH — Acting Skagway Police Chief Jerry Reddick shared this video of avalanches on the South Klondike Highway:
The Columbian Centre seniors living complex in Prince Albert has been taken out of lockdown. The senior’s living complex was put under lockdown after public health detected five COVID-19 cases among residents on Dec. 23. After further testing was completed on Jan. 2, no further cases were detected and the lockdown was lifted just two days later. “The rest of us all tested negative so they lifted our lockdown on Monday, Jan. 4,” facility manager Rob Fahlman said. “Everybody in here was patient they persevered and they also recognized that the regulations during COVID have to be followed and it was Public Health and we had to do our part to curb the COVID,” The news came as a great relief to residents. “We were all very happy to hear that and very thankful. And we just attribute it to of course the Public Health looking after us and the tenants themselves being obedient” he explained. “A lot of our tenants are praying too, oh yes they were praying hard and they told me so and I believe them. Through Public Health’s assistance we were able to nip it in the bud.” According to Fahlman, after an initial positive test was confirmed on Dec. 23, public health informed Columbian Centre that seniors were not allowed to leave their rooms and visitors were not permitted. All residents were tested on Christmas Eve and the other four positive results were returned in late December. The province, in the official listings on the province’s online dashboard, listed the outbreak as declared on Dec. 27. An outbreak is declared when there are at least two active cases in a location. Things have returned to relative normalcy in the building since the lockdown was lifted. “For two weeks now people have been going about their business. They missed some time with their families of course over Christmas and New Year’s but I think most of them made up for it after within the confines of the COVID restrictions. They have reunited with their families in some way,” Fahlman said. “My hat is off to these people because they have been through a lot already. And in this time of their life family is huge for them. It was quite a sacrifice for them.” Last Friday, public health offered vaccinations to residents. Fifty took part. Still, the building isn’t taking any chances. “I tell them that from my understanding this vaccination isn’t going to kick in for another couple of weeks so there is no letting down on the masks and sanitizing that we do in the building. There is no letting down in anything so we just keep on doing what we have been doing,” Fahlman said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald