NEW YORK — If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be? Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year. “That probably isn't a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press. “Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future,” he said. The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and again in February when the first U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred. On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said. By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year. Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski noted. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said. That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said. He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn't know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort. “We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine's Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It's the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.” Merriam-Webster acted quickly in March to add and update entries on its site for words related to the pandemic. While “coronavirus” had been in the dictionary for decades, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up online, along with a couple dozen other entries that were revised to reflect the health emergency. “That's the shortest period of time we've ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,” Sokolowski said. “The word had this urgency.” Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events. Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. With Italian roots, it was used during the Black Death of the 1300s for the period of time a new ship coming into port would have to wait outside a city to prevent disease. The “quar” in quarantine derives from 40, for the 40 days required. Spikes for mamba occurred after the January death of Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba. A mass of lookups occurred for kraken in July after Seattle's new National Hockey League franchise chose the mythical sea monster as its name, urged along by fans. Country group Lady Antebellum's name change to Lady A drove dictionary interest in June, while malarkey got a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who's fond of using the word. Icon was front and centre in headlines after the deaths of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views. Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will likely wear a walking boot for the next several weeks as he recovers from breaking his right foot while playing with one of his dogs, his doctor said.Biden suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, on Sunday afternoon, his office said.“Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture,” but medical staff ordered a more detailed CT scan, his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said in a statement. The subsequent scan found tiny fractures of two small bones in the middle of his right foot, O’Connor said.“It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” O’Connor said.Fractures are a concern generally as people age, but Biden’s appears to be a relatively mild one based on his doctor’s statement and the planned treatment. At 78 he will become the oldest president when he’s inaugurated in January; he often dismissed questions about his age during the campaign.Reporters covering the president-elect were not afforded the opportunity to see Biden enter the doctor's office Sunday, despite multiple requests. Leaving the doctor's office to head to an imaging centre for his CT scan, Biden was visibly limping, though he walked without a crutch or other aid.Biden sustained the injury playing with Major, one of the Bidens’ two dogs. They adopted Major in 2018, and acquired their first dog, Champ, after the 2008 election. The Bidens have said they’ll be bringing their dogs to the White House and also plan to get a cat.Last December he released a doctor's report that disclosed he takes a statin to keep his cholesterol at healthy levels, but his doctor described him as “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”___Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Eighteen students and a staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at an east-end Toronto elementary school. A spokesman for the Toronto District School Board says the staff and students at Thorncliffe Park Public School were tested for the virus as part of a new pilot project. Ryan Bird says 14 classes have been asked to self-isolate, but the school will remain open. In a letter to parents sent Sunday night, the school principal says that's because four per cent of the school tested positive, compared to a 16 per cent positivity rate in the broader Thorncliffe Park community. He says he understands the cases are worrisome, but notes the school is actively monitoring the situation and communicating with Toronto Public Health. The Ontario government announced Thursday that it was introducing voluntary testing for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff at schools in regions with high infection rates. The expanded testing will be provided for four weeks in schools in Toronto, Peel and York regions, and Ottawa. Those who show symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID-19 case should continue to stay home and get tested at an assessment centre, the province said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A new report on food bank use across Ontario shows there was a surge in demand for those services when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the province over the winter. The latest study released today by Feed Ontario says the number of people accessing food banks had already gone up over the previous year when the global health crisis began, which exacerbated existing issues. The organization included a special analysis of the impact of the pandemic alongside its usual report on annual food bank use, which gathers data from 130 member food banks and 1,100 affiliate agencies. The annual report looks at data from April 2019 to this April, while the pandemic analysis covers data from 71 members and 339 affiliates between March 17 — when Ontario declared a health emergency — and September. It says all food banks reported a significant increase in the number of first-time users in the first four months of the pandemic. And 20 per cent of food banks surveyed reported seeing a "continued surge" in the number of people accessing their services on an ongoing basis — an increase of five to 54 per cent — even beyond that period. Government intervention in the form of income support programs or eviction bans helped reduce the demand for food banks in many regions later in the pandemic, the report says, as did the emergence of community initiatives such as meal programs. "What this means is that lowered numbers are not always representative of a decrease in need, but rather a redistribution of community support services that fall outside of our network’s data collection and surveying," the organization says in the report. It also notes that some people, notably seniors, were too afraid to leave their homes to access community services, which may have contributed to the decrease in demand. Food banks in Burlington, Cornwall, Kanata, Orillia and Windsor surveyed close to 200 or their visitors in September and found each said the pandemic had made the challenges they already faced much more difficult, the report says. "Many survey respondents reported incurring increased debt to help pay for monthly necessities, as well as choosing to go without food in order to pay the bills," the document says. "Perhaps most staggering is that one out of two survey respondents reported that they are worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the coming months." The number of people accessing Ontario's food banks between April 1, 2019 and March 31st of this year went up more than five per cent compared with the previous year, to 537,575, according to the report. Feed Ontario says its data shows the primary drivers of continued growth in food bank use are inadequate social supports, precarious employment and a lack of affordable housing. More than 65 per cent of food bank users in the last year listed social assistance programs such as Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program as their primary source of income, the report says. Food banks continued to see a rise in the number of employed adults using their services, with an eight per cent increase in the last year and a 44 per cent increase over the last four, it says. "This continuing trend is largely the result of a rise in casual, contract, and part-time employment, which makes it difficult for wageworkers to secure sufficient income each month, changes to Ontario’s labour laws, including the removal of paid sick days, and the inadequate support and accessibility of worker support programs," the document says. The report says more than 86 per cent of food bank users in the last year were living in rental units or social housing and spent most of their income on rent. What's more, food banks have seen a 27 per cent increase in the last year in the number of users living in precarious housing such as emergency shelters or staying with friends and family, the report says. The organization does not collect data on race but acknowledged racialized communities face systemic hurdles as well. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Steeles Avenue is the border between Toronto and York Region, two communities under different COVID-19 restrictions — including non-essential, in-store shopping.
TORONTO — Tougher COVID-19 restrictions are taking effect today in five Ontario regions in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.The provincial government announced last week it would move Windsor-Essex into the red alert level of its tiered framework, the strictest level short of a lockdown.In that level, indoor dining at restaurants and bars is capped at 10 customers, while social gatherings must have fewer than five people indoors and 25 outdoors.Meanwhile, Halidimand-Norfolk is shifting to the orange level, and three other regions -- Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern -- are going into the yellow level.The province says the regions will stay in their new categories for at least 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, before a change is considered.Officials say they continue to monitor public health data weekly to see if any other regions require additional intervention.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
Kawartha Dairy announced on Sunday that it is recalling some of its ice cream products due to the possible presence of pieces of metal, a release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said.The recalled products from the Ontario dairy include the company's chocolate chip cookie dough and mint chip ice cream, flavours sold in 1.5-litre and 11.4-litre containers.People who purchased these products should throw them out or return them to where they were purchased, the CFIA release said. The company, which is based out of Bobcaygeon, Ont., triggered the recall, the agency added.The products are sold in Ontario.The CFIA also announced that it is conducting a food safety investigation into the dairy. "If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings," it said in the release. "The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace."There have been no reported injuries associated with consuming these products, the agency said.
VICTORIA — The British Columbia cabinet minister appointed to lead the province's COVID-19 pandemic recovery says he plans to mount a large team effort from inside and outside of government to spur economic success.Ravi Kahlon, a former Canadian Olympian in field hockey, said he will look to involve ministries, businesses, communities and workers in an effort to provide immediate help to struggling businesses and steer towards a post-pandemic future focused on innovation."We have to have everyone working together," he said in a recent interview."You look at how businesses have worked together with government to deliver pieces during the pandemic," said Kahlon. "That's the same mentality we're going to need when we get out. We can put critical pieces in place, incentives and supports, so that we can bounce back at a rate which most people in B.C. expect."Premier John Horgan appointed Kahlon as jobs, economic recovery and innovation minister last week, saying he piled enormous responsibilities onto the two-term New Democrat from suburban Vancouver and expected results.Horgan appointed his cabinet following last month's election where the NDP won a majority government, capturing 57 of 87 seats.Kahlon, 41, who previously served as a parliamentary secretary in the forests ministry and led the reintroduction of B.C.'s Human Rights Commission, said he will consult broadly on the recovery."My view with everything is the government doesn't have a monopoly on good ideas," he said. "There are good ideas in the community. There are good ideas in the business community, good ideas from local elected officials." Horgan issued mandate letters to the ministers and parliamentary secretaries stating the government's overall goals: people first, clean environment, Indigenous reconciliation, equity and anti-racism, health and strong economy.He also provided each of the 37 ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries with individual mandate goals. Among the goals for ministers are: free transit for children 12 years old and younger, drop the seven per cent provincial sales tax on e-bikes and consider public condominium insurance if the issue of skyrocketing rates is not resolved by 2021.Horgan asked Kahlon to "deliver initiatives that will directly support small businesses and build an inclusive economic recovery across B.C."Prof. Tom Koch, a medical geographer at the University of B.C. who specializes in mapping diseases, said Horgan's cabinet should spend more time fighting today's pandemic than looking to a recovery."The priority of looking forward to me is a little premature," he said. "It has to be done ... but the question immediately is what are we doing about hospitals and about hospital capacity and what are we doing about trying to rein in those areas where accelerators are occurring."B.C.'s most recent COVID-19 infection report saw a record daily high of 911 cases Friday, while the death toll is nearing 400 people.Koch said economic recovery should play a part in Horgan's cabinet and government direction, but at this time when cases are surging, the premier appears to be saying, "do we basically want to start planning the victory parade in the second quarter."Kahlon said he expects businesses, communities, governments and people to work together to battle the pandemic."I think the pandemic is going to push societies to a place where innovation will be critical and I think we're well-positioned in B.C. to be not only leaders in Canada but I think world leaders."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars fired general manager Dave Caldwell on Sunday after the team’s 10th consecutive loss and sending a clear message that the small-market franchise is headed in a new direction.It was a move many thought owner Shad Khan should have made at the end of last season. But Khan gave Caldwell another chance to make Jacksonville a playoff contender for just the second time in his eight-year tenure.Caldwell came up well short of the owner’s winning expectations, making Khan’s decision an easy and somewhat expected one.Khan will keep coach Doug Marrone and his staff in place to finish out the season and likely let the next general manager decide his fate. It would be stunning to see Marrone return in 2021.“I’ve met with Dave Caldwell to express my appreciation for his service to the Jacksonville Jaguars as our general manager," Khan said in a statement that followed the team's 27-25 loss to Cleveland. "Dave was exceptionally committed and determined to bring a winner to Jacksonville, but unfortunately his efforts were not rewarded with the results our fans deserve and our organization expects."Our football operation needs new leadership, and we will have it with a new general manager in 2021.”The Jaguars are 39-87 since Khan gave Caldwell his first GM job in 2013, falling a few plays shy of the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 2018 and miring mostly in mediocrity since. The Jaguars (1-10) have dropped 16 of their last 19 games, including 11 by double digits.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLMark Long, The Associated Press
Kirkland Lake Gold views Timmins as an integral part of the company’s future according to its president and chief executive officer Tony Makuch. Makuch, a native of Timmins, has more than 30 years of experience as a mining engineer. He joined KL Gold in July 2016. Before that, he was the CEO of Lake Shore Gold from 2008 until 2016, when it was acquired by Tahoe Resources. This past week, he was the guest speaker for the latest edition of The State of Mining — a series of discussions hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce over the video conferencing platform Zoom. Makuch covered many topics throughout his presentation. He said the company is “industry leading” in terms of financial strength. “We are the only gold company with no debt whatsoever on the balance sheet. Very clean company. Three very strong, profitable mines that we’re investing strongly in.” KL Gold’s three operating mines are the Macassa Mine near Kirkland Lake, Detour Lake Mine near Cochrane, and the Fosterville Mine in southeastern Australia. Makuch said there is much excitement about the company right now, and that they are continuing strong work in development and exploration. “We’ve had a lot of success at Fosterville since 2016 to 2020; a lot of success at Macassa from 2016 to 2020. I think over the next few years, we’re really going to see how we can take Detour from something that nobody wanted to buy, nobody thought was any good and turn it into something that is really a cornerstone asset.” Makuch referenced some “negative views” by some in the mining world on KL Gold’s acquisition of Detour Lake, which was completed in January, but stated he and his team are very confident in the future of that project. Regarding how these projects could benefit Timmins, Makuch was asked by a Chamber member about KL Gold’s investment in the city, in particular a regional office. “We want to take a lot of the jobs that were done in Toronto and move them closer to site,” said Makuch. “Certainly there are a lot of jobs that were happening at the site that we see we don’t always need them at site. They’d actually be better, more comfortable, management and such, at a central location. “Timmins fits for us for a number of reasons. It is the regional centre. You have a lot of services, especially air services in Timmins, so the logistics of bringing people in and out helps. We’re looking at it from that perspective.” Makuch talked about running Detour Lake differently, and that they genuinely want to grow the local and regional economy as much as possible. “We’re trying to recruit from Northeastern Ontario, from the region, as much as possible, as opposed to across Canada.” Another exciting development mentioned by Makuch was the goal of building an airstrip near the Detour Lake site. “We want to start flying people in and out to the mine site, as opposed to busing. Combined travel time to the workplace currently sits around 3½ hours. By the time people show up at the Cochrane bus terminal and get bused up to site, it’s a significant amount of time. We’re trying to improve the logistics on that. Trying to be more centralized,” he said. “People come to work at Detour; they’re already going to be 14 days away from home. Then I’m asking you to take a half a day, or a day, to get to work, and then a half a day, or a day, to get home. I think that’s not really proper.” Makuch made an interesting point about the overall picture for the average worker, as it relates to home and family life. “Work is a necessary evil that we have to do, to do what we really want to do.” He then elaborated on the plans for the regional office in Timmins. “The concept is, there’s a lot of our G&A; staff (general and administrative), payroll, human resources, benefits, management, engineering, technical services, even our exploration group, are sort of working in a variety of different areas.” The idea is for the company to consolidate those jobs into one area, and felt Timmins would be the right fit. “We had satellite offices in a few areas in the region, we had some people in Kirkland Lake travelling back and forth from Timmins, or flying in from Toronto, we had people up at Detour and in Cochrane,” he said. “Our goal is to build a regional office in Timmins. We need that continuity in management.” In the meantime, they have been renting several smaller office spaces throughout the city and region, including one on Birch Street South. Residents shouldn’t expect to see a shiny downtown office building, however. “We’ve purchased a piece of land we want to build on at the corner of Highway 655 and Laforest Road. It’s very central for us. Logistically, it’s not far from the airport, and it’s on direct road access through to Cochrane. That’s the goal.” When and if that office does come to fruition, it will be a big boost for the city, he said. “We can see somewhere between 120 to 175 people working over there,” said Makuch. “We want to build the region, and we want to grow here and encourage people to come.” Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
Officials in southern Ontario fined businesses, charged anti-maskers and busted at least one massive party over the weekend as the province recorded another 1,708 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The enforcement in York, Hamilton and Peel came after a week that saw record-setting viral case counts and the introduction of more stringent public health measures in some regions. In Mississauga, Ont., a part of Peel Region which is currently under lockdown, police said authorities had broken up a party with 60 attendees at a short-term rental unit. "It's a tough time for everyone," Deputy Chief Marc Andrews of the Peel Regional Police tweeted. "These antics help no one." He said bylaw officers issued 27 fines of $880, and three Part 3 summons to the hosts, who he said could face at least $10,000 in fines if convicted. In York Region, officials continued an enforcement blitz at businesses to make sure they were following public health protocols for the province's "red" zones. The rules limit indoor dining to 10 customers at a time with physical distancing in place. Gyms, meanwhile, can only have 10 patrons inside at once, while 25 people can attend outdoor classes. Officers inspected 256 businesses on Sunday and issued charges at 16, a news release said. An L.A. Fitness location in East Gwillimbury, Ont., and the Trio Sportsplex in Vaughan, Ont., are among those facing charges. Authorities have inspected 867 businesses since Friday, laid 32 charges and completed 1,151 "compliance education activities," the release said. Farther west, Hamilton Police announced they had charged three men -- aged 26, 48 and 72 -- at a "Hugs over Masks" protest in the city's downtown area on Sunday. Police said 35 people attended the event, exceeding the maximum number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings. "Prior to the event, Hamilton Police identified the organizer and informed him that the planned gathering would breach offences under the Reopening Ontario Act and leave him open to charges, police said in a written statement. "The organizer went ahead with the event." All three men -- one of whom police said was the organizer -- were charged under the Act, and would face a fine of at least $10,000 if convicted. The charges came as the province logged 24 new deaths linked to COVID-19 on Sunday. Of the new cases reported on Sunday, 503 came from Peel Region and 463 were identified in Toronto, Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet. Those are the only two regions under the "lockdown" phase of the province's tiered, colour-coded pandemic response framework. She said another 185 were in York Region, which is at the red alert level, the next most stringent under the provincial system. The province said nearly 54,000 tests were completed since the last daily update, and 1,443 cases are newly considered resolved. The numbers came a day before more stringent COVID-19 measures were set to take effect in five Ontario regions. Windsor-Essex will be moved to the red level, Haldimand-Norfolk to orange, and three others -- Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern -- to yellow. Provincial data released on Thursday suggested case counts were flattening somewhat, but Ontario recorded its highest number of daily infections the next day, at 1,855. Officials have said it could take up to two weeks after new restrictions are imposed to see any improvements. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole accused the Liberal government Sunday of putting too much emphasis on partnering with a Chinese company for a COVID-19 vaccine in what turned out to be a failed deal.O'Toole said the Trudeau government only turned its attention to pre-ordering tens of millions of vaccine doses from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in August when its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine-maker CanSino finally collapsed after months of delays.The Council had issued CanSino a licence to use a Canadian biological product as part of a COVID-19 vaccine. CanSino was supposed to provide samples of the vaccine for clinical trials at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University, but the Chinese government blocked the shipments."I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China," O'Toole said at a morning news conference."If you look at the timeline, that's when Canada started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options," he added, saying he was concerned that "the Trudeau government was willing to almost double down on partnering with China" earlier in the pandemic.The government announced its major vaccine purchases in August after it confirmed the CanSino partnership had fallen through. At the time, it said its decision had come after careful consultations with its vaccine task force of health experts.The CanSino partnership with Dalhousie predated the deep freeze in Canada-China relations that occurred after the People's Republic imprisoned two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in apparent retaliation for the RCMP's arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou nearly two years ago on an American extradition warrant.This past week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.As questions grew about the CanSino deal, Trudeau continued to defend his government's vaccine procurement policy, which he says has secured multiple options for the country. Trudeau also appointed a Canadian Forces general to lead the logistics of an eventual vaccine rollout with the Public Health Agency of Canada. The chairman of American vaccine maker Moderna told the CBC on Sunday that Canada is near the front of the line to receive 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it pre-ordered.Noubar Afeyan was asked on CBC's Rosemary Barton Live whether the fact that Canada committed to pre-purchase its doses before other jurisdictions means it will get its supply first. Afeyan confirmed that was the case."The people who are willing to move early on with even less proof of the efficacy have assured the amount of supply they were willing to sign up to," he said.O'Toole said with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland poised to deliver the government's long-awaited fiscal update on Monday, the Liberals need to do two things to spur economic recovery: offer a better plan on how it will rollout vaccines for Canadians and step up the distribution of rapid tests."There can't be a full economy, a growing economy, people working, people being productive without the tools to keep that happening in a pandemic. Those two tools are rapid tests, and a vaccine."Freeland's fall economic statement is expected to give a full accounting of the government’s record spending on programs to combat the pandemic. In July, the deficit was forecast to be at a record $343.2 billion but some estimates say it could easily top $400 billion.The government could announce new spending such as taking steps towards a national child-care system, and relief for battered industries such as travel and restaurants that will face an uphill struggle to recover from the pandemic.NDP finance critic Peter Julien sent Freeland a three-page letter urging her to take action on a variety of fronts to help struggling Canadian families during the pandemic.They included taking concrete action on establishing a national pharmacare plan to help Canadians pay for soaring prescription drug costs, and establish a national day-care strategy to help women who have been disproportionately hindered by the pandemic. Julien also urged Freeland to help Indigenous communities and abandon the government's plans to pay for the Trans-Mountain Pipeline and ramp up its fight against climate change.Green party Leader Annamie Paul called on Freeland to deliver "a positive vision for a green recovery" to accelerate Canada's transition to a carbon-neutral economy."We are optimistic that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available next year and so we must be prepared for what comes next," Paul said in a statement.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — She's fended off protesters who made a run at her husband. She's moved him farther from reporters during the coronavirus pandemic. She's supported his presidential ambitions again and again — except in 2004, when she deployed a novel messaging technique to keep Joe Biden from running.“No,” Jill Biden, then clad in a bikini, wrote in Sharpie across her stomach and then marched through a strategy session in which advisers were trying to talk her husband into challenging Republican President George W. Bush.Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden's many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband's career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama's vice-president. She's a wife, mother, grandmother and educator with a doctoral degree — as well as a noted prankster.Now, with her husband on the brink of becoming the 46th president, Jill Biden is about to become first lady and put her own stamp on a position that traditionally is viewed as a model of American womanhood — whether that means hewing to old ways or finding new, activist ones, in the manner of Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, for example.She intends to keep working as a college professor, which would make her the only first lady to keep her day job outside the home. And if four decades in the public eye are any indication, she'll continue being Biden's chief protector.The role isn't completely unfamiliar territory for Jill Biden. She's been a political wife the entire time she's been married to Joe Biden. Plus, she had a bird's-eye view of what a first lady does during Obama's two terms.But the scrutiny level will change. And all eyes are on the incoming Biden administration to deliver what both Joe and Jill have promised — getting the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country under control.Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and the author of several books about first ladies, recalled Barbara Bush telling her: “You know, when I was second lady, I could say anything I wanted, and no one really paid much attention. But the minute I became first lady, everything became newsworthy.”Still, Jill Biden won’t have the learning curve most other new first ladies faced. “She’s been in the public eye for a long time," Gutin said. “She’s going in eyes wide open.”The coronavirus has killed more than 260,000 Americans and upended much of daily life. The Bidens offered themselves as agents of comfort at a time of loss and grief, experiences they know well particularly after their son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.From the start, she brought comfort to the Biden family.Joe Biden's first wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972. Jill Biden helped raise his surviving young sons, Beau and Hunter, before giving birth to their daughter, Ashley, in 1981. She refers to all of them as her children.As Joe Biden commuted from Delaware to Washington while serving as a senator, Jill Biden built a career as a teacher, ultimately earning two master’s degrees and then a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007.Throughout, Jill Biden's protective streak was notable. There she stood at his side, when Joe Biden withdrew from his first presidential bid under accusations of plagiarism. She says she emulated her mother's stoic style. Jill Biden's mother, she said, didn't even cry when her own parents died. She saw that as strength. “I decided early that I would never let my emotions rule me,” she wrote in her memoir, ”Where the Light Enters.”“As a political spouse, I’ve found that my stoicism often serves me well,” Jill Biden wrote. “In 1988, when Joe’s first presidential campaign started to look bleak, people were constantly looking for cracks in our team. We all felt scrutinized, but I refused to show weakness.”It showed early in the 2020 race when several women accused Biden of inappropriate touching. The candidate denied acting inappropriately but acknowledged that social norms had changed. He pledged that he would change, too.Jill Biden defended him.“I think what you don’t realize is how many people approach Joe — men and women, looking for comfort or empathy,” she told ABC’s ”Good Morning America." “But going forward, I think he’s gonna have to judge — be a better judge — of when people approach him, how he’s going to react. That he maybe shouldn’t approach them.”She recalled a time in her life when she had been treated inappropriately and didn't speak up.“I can remember specifically — it was in a job interview," Jill Biden said. "If that same thing happened today, I’d turn around and say, ‘What do you think you’re doin’?”She's quick to rally to her husband's side, sometimes physically.In New Hampshire in February, a man tried to cross into the roped-off area near Joe Biden. In a flash, Jill Biden crossed behind her husband and put her arms around the man, turned him around and helped push him away.A month later in Los Angeles, she similarly blocked one protester, then a second one, who had stormed the stage while Joe Biden was delivering his Super Tuesday victory speech.When the first one approached waving an anti-dairy sign and yelling, Jill Biden stepped between the protester and her husband. She did the same with the second one, this time putting her arms up to block the intrusion.Both were removed without coming in contact with the candidate. After the 27-second confrontation, Jill turned around saying, “We're okay,” and encouraged Joe to keep the event going. The Bidens then said it might be time for Secret Service protection, and they got it soon after.“I worry about Jill,” Joe Biden said.She's been protective during the pandemic.On Oct. 5 at New Castle Airport in Delaware, she moved her husband back from members of the media as he spoke outside his campaign plane before a trip to Miami.Like many American families, the Bidens spent Thanksgiving differently this year. They stayed at their house in Rehoboth, Delaware, rather than their usual “Nana-tucket,” as her grandchildren have called the Massachusetts island where the Bidens started going early in their marriage to establish a new holiday tradition.In 2020, instead of the usual sprawling family tableau, their daughter and her husband were the only Biden visitors to the house in Delaware. A Zoom call with the larger group was on the evening's agenda.Look, too, for Jill Biden to try to keep things light.“She's not your average grandmother,” granddaughter Naomi said on a video shown at the Democratic National Convention, recalling that Jill Biden once woke her up at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning to go “soul cycling.”“She’s a prankster, she’s very mischievous,” Naomi added with a grin. “When she goes on a run, sometimes she'll find, like, a dead snake and she’ll pick it up and put it in a bag and use it to scare someone.”—-Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellmanLaurie Kellman, The Associated Press
A slew of travel restrictions and rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be extended into January, the federal government said Sunday, as case counts continued to rise steadily across the country. In a statement, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the measures would be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021 for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States. The rules were first imposed near the start of the global outbreak. "We have introduced a number of policies to keep Canadians safe but must remain flexible and adapt to the evolving COVID-19 situation," Blair said in a statement. The ministers said restrictions for visitors crossing the border from the U.S. are currently in place until Dec. 21, but may be extended. Among the new rules is a requirement for anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days. But the ministers also said they're looking to make it possible for "high-performance, amateur sporting organizations" to hold major international events on Canadian soil. They said the successful applicants would need to present a public health plan as well as show they've secured the support of provincial and territorial governments and health authorities. The Department of Canadian Heritage will issue authorizations in consultation with the Health Agency of Canada, the ministers said. The announcement comes as COVID-19 case counts continued to mount, though at levels slightly below the record-setting daily tallies seen in several regions in recent weeks. Public health officials in Quebec reported 1,395 new cases on Sunday, while Ontario recorded 1,708 new infections -- pushing the provincial totals since the pandemic began to 141,038 and 114,746, respectively. Cases also have gone up steadily in Atlantic Canada, with New Brunswick reporting 14 new diagnoses on Sunday and Newfoundland and Labrador recording four additional infections. Public health officials in Nova Scotia logged 10 new cases, all in the province's central zone, which includes Halifax. Manitoba reported 365 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 11 new deaths -- almost all of which were linked to outbreaks in care homes. Health officials said nine of the 11 deaths were people in their 80s and 90s, one was a man in his 60s and one was a man in his 70s. The case count in Nunavut also rose by 13, while Saskatchewan reported 351 new infections. Alberta reported its second highest number of new COVID-19 cases, logging 1,608, with nine more deaths. Canada's top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the highest rate of infection is among people aged 80 and over, while more outbreaks are happening in long-term care homes. "Cases are increasing among older adults," Tam said in a statement. Both Quebec and Manitoba reported new, significant outbreaks at such facilities. A Montreal public health agency on Sunday transferred 20 residents of a long-term care home to two local hospitals after a COVID-19 outbreak drew widespread concern this week. Officials said 30 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 at Maimonides Geriatric Centre. Ten residents there have died during the pandemic’s second wave, according to the latest Quebec Health Department data. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Tessa Virtue doesn't feel the same sense of exhilaration or rush of adrenaline as she did standing at centre-ice after a gold-medal performance.At least not on that scale or of that magnitude. And that's okay. "There are so many things that are making me really content and joyful that were just impossible to experience as an athlete in training," Virtue said. "So, there's sort of something offsetting that where I might not be getting that adrenaline rush, there's so much that I feel passionate about and new goals that I'm striving for - which is both scary and exhilarating."Virtue and Scott Moir were among the 114 athletes, artists, scholars and community leaders named to the Order of Canada on Friday. They're the most decorated ice dancers in history, capturing five Olympic medals, including a pair of ice dance gold in 2010 and 2018.Virtue is swamped with school work these days as part of Queens University's Executive MBA program - one of the new pursuits that's pushed her out of her comfort zone.She's typed out frantic text messages to retired Paralympic swimmer Ben Huot - who graduated from Queens' EMBA program - saying, "Have I made a mistake? What am I doing?" she laughed. "(Huot) been so wonderfully supportive. "But I am so happy I did it. And it's an extraordinary cohort, everyone is so impressive and has accomplished such wonderful things and in such diverse spheres, and so the conversations are so exhilarating, and especially right now, I'm so grateful to have the chance to sort of expand my mind."Virtue spent the first few months of the pandemic living in North Vancouver with boyfriend and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly. The power couple joined Arkells frontman on an Instagram live stream back in March. They appeared virtually on the Great Kitchen Party: Home Edition a month later.The couple is back living in Toronto now, and recently purchased a puppy they named Zoe.Virtue and Moir's captivating free dance to music from "Moulin Rouge" in Pyeongchang will endure as one of the greatest Olympic figure skating performances ever. Just one of the numerous YouTube streams has over 1.3 million views.But Virtue has barely watched it."I've seen parts of it here and there. And I love the feeling that it evokes in me," she said. "I'm still so proud of that moment of course. But I can't decide if it feels like it was yesterday or honestly if I feel just a few lifetimes away from it. So, it's like that disconnect, right, where I kind of hold onto the feeling that we had when the program ended. "And when we reflect together, so much of our sporting life just seems so fresh that I'm sure there hasn't been enough time for perspective, right?"Virtue and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., competed for two decades. Earning Order of Canada honours, she said, was an honour that had her reflecting on their early days."This is not something we would have ever known to even dream for. We weren't seven and nine (years old) cruising around the ice together talking about this, it seemed unfathomable," she said. "And yet, we watched so many of our friends and peers along the way receive this incredible honour. I just feel humbled, and just so, so honoured."Virtue talked by telephone Sunday before appearing virtually on Hayley Wickenheiser's "WickFest: Female Hockey Festival," calling a few minutes early to ensure she wouldn't have to duck out too soon. Olympic athletes, both active and retired, have been front and centre in the battle against the global pandemic. Wickenheiser, of course, teamed up with actor Ryan Reynolds and others for "Conquer COVID-19," an initiative that delivered much-needed personal protective equipment to hospitals. Numerous other athletes have hosted virtual practices, information sessions, etc. for Canadian kids."It can be underestimated, I guess, what that kind of mentorship or connection with an athlete does," Virtue said. "I think about those kids watching the next Olympics and how invested they'll be and it's pretty neat to share that."The international figure skating schedule has been a bust since last March when COVID-19 forced cancellation of the world championships in Montreal.Keegan Messing is the only Canadian to have competed so far this season (Skate America). Skate Canada International was scrapped, and if Stockholm, Sweden does manage to host the world championships in March - organizers want to host it in a "bubble" - there's no guarantee Canada will even go because of lack of preparation, quarantine restrictions, etc."I think there's a caveat to everything in that it offers great perspective. You realize just how seemingly insignificant ice dance can be or skating," Virtue said. "But at the same time, in their relative spheres, and as far as their goals and pursuits go, it's huge to miss out on one competition, let alone a season. "I think just changing that benchmark of knowing when to prepare for something, how a peak, how to maximize your time, the unknown, the uncertainty, like so many people are facing, must be really challenging. And my heart goes out to (the skaters)."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
STEINBACH, Man. — Mounties have ramped up enforcement at a Manitoba church that was slapped with a fine for holding a service last weekend that allegedly violated provincial COVID-19 health orders. The Church of God Restoration in Steinbach posted videos on its Facebook page that appear to show the church's empty, snow-covered parking lot, with RCMP officers positioned at its entrances and a long line of vehicles parked along the roadway. In one video, Pastor Tobias Tissen addressed the people in the vehicles via a radio transmitter from a pulpit outside the church, and claimed the officers blocking the entrance were "blocking God." No one with the church could be reached for comment. RCMP say that their officers were stationed at parking lot entrances to remind would-be churchgoers of public health rules, and warn them that attending a service would result in a fine. They say most people heeded the warning, save for one man who continued on to the church property and was fined $1,296. The province ordered churches to close earlier this month to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases that has clogged the hospital system, saying people could only attend services virtually. The church previously confirmed it was ticketed and fined $5,000 for breaking a provincial public health order last Sunday, and RCMP said there were well over 100 people inside the church at the time. "What you all see this morning is not people recognizing the supremacy of God. Come on, if other stores can be essential and church is not essential, you're saying that God is not supreme," Tissen said from the pulpit in the Facebook video on Sunday. RCMP reminded people Friday that participating in any type of large gathering is now a contravention of the public health orders, and it specifically mentioned worship services in the Steinbach area. “Our goal is certainly not to hand out a bunch of tickets,” Steinbach Detachment Commander Harold Laninga said in the release. It said Sunday the investigation is continuing and that more tickets are possible. The Manitoba government said Sunday that officers would have been aware of the service, as well as reports of a drive-in church service on the weekend in Winnipeg, but that an update on enforcement action would not be available until Tuesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
A group of Quebec artists are coming together to perform a benefit in honour of Joyce Echequan — an Atikamekw woman who shared a live video of abuse she faced from Joliette hospital staff hours before her death.The concert, called Waskapitan, was pre-recorded in Joliette last week and will be made available online as of Thursday Dec. 3.The lineup includes Elisapie, Ariane Moffatt, Florent Vollant, Patrick Watson, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Richard Séguin, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Richard Desjardins, Boucar Diouf and Patrice Robitaille.While the event is being released on demand for free, all funds raised through donations will go to the Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre."Waskapitan in Atikamekw means 'let's come together' and I think we need that more than ever," said Elisapie, who is co-organizing the event.She said this is an opportunity to raise money for expanded services at the Friendship Centre, showcase Indigenous culture and, most of all, pay respect to Echequan's memory."It really shook everybody, it really shook me as a mother, as a human being, as a woman," she told CBC.Jennifer Brazeau, director of the Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre, said that artists have a unique power to reach out and bring people together."We believe this is one of the vectors of change that we can implant after the tragedy to look toward how we can rebuild our communities," she said.She's also hoping the message will reach beyond her local community."We didn't want the issue to be solely the responsibility of Joliette. The events happened here in Joliette [but] this is an issue across the country."The concert will feature both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists including some collaborations, added Elisapie."There will be times when there will be a real musical sharing of cultures. That's what we really wanted to highlight. We have to learn to be closer, to be curious, to be there for each other," she said.The show will be available online from December 3 to January 3.
Police are investigating after thieves drove a truck through the front of a Lethbridge, Alta., pub, making off with the ATM.Honkers Pub manager Chelsea Meyering said she got an alarm notification at 6 a.m. Sunday, and after checking the cameras, saw the damage. The truck had driven through the front entrance of the business, located at 2808 Fifth Avenue North, and surveillance video shows the truck's two occupants stealing the pub's ATM and then driving away."The front window was completely taken out," Meyering said. "You feel violated for sure. This is not just a workplace for us, this is our other home."When police arrived, the floor was also scattered with cans of soup — the business had been collecting non-perishable donations for the food bank. * Watch | Surveillance video captures the moment robbers drove through the front of a Lethbridge pubPub owner Vicky Vanden Hoek said the damages are estimated to be more than $20,000.Nobody was injured, something Vanden Hoek said she's very thankful for.A hard time for small businessVanden Hoek said the robbery comes at the end of a tough week, as new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on local businesses like hers.The pub also has a conference room cafe, and had 19 events for 15-person groups scheduled in the coming weeks that were cancelled."The new rulings have almost taken our business to a halt, even though we're doing everything possible to distance, sanitize, wear masks," she said. Vanden Hoek said another blow came on Friday, when Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis turned off their four VLT machines even though large casinos in the city were allowed to keep operating."We just thought that's just not fair, us local pubs are trying to survive … and with the break-in, it's like strike three, it can't get worse, it's got to get better." Vanden Hoek said. She said she was told by AGLC the machines will be turned back on in time for the pub to reopen on Tuesday.Vanden Hoek said she understands everyone is struggling, but she's sad the thieves chose to hurt a small business in their desperation."We just want people to go get help. We would be the first people if they needed a free people come in, we'd cook them something … just don't sabotage our business."Vanden Hoek said the community has been extremely supportive, even starting an online fundraiser to support the business which has been a fixture in the area for 23 years. Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact Lethbridge police at 403-328-4444, or to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously.
Several Canadian universities are preparing to test wastewater from long-term care homes in Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton to get early warnings of COVID-19 outbreaks.Researchers in municipalities in six provinces are already testing wastewater for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease. Many of those infected shed the virus through their feces, even if they don't have symptoms, according to researchers. But that kind of testing uses samples from wastewater facilities and shows the results for an entire community. Researchers currently aren't able to pinpoint the exact locations where outbreaks are flaring up."We all go to the toilet, whether you have COVID or not, whether you're symptomatic or not," said Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital involved in the program."It's a way of doing a survey or census on everyone, every day. Instead of testing thousands of people, we can just test the sewer system once a day at the treatment plant." The federal government's COVID-19 Immunity Task Force is supporting efforts by several labs to use that technology to detect outbreaks occurring where the most vulnerable Canadians live.The University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University are working together on the project and their work is being supported by that task force, said Bernadette Conant, CEO of the Canadian Water Network. A team at the University of Alberta also plans to start testing at long-term care homes with federal support, she said.Conant's non-profit organization started a wastewater coalition in Canada to help coordinate the work of researchers across the country, and to provide technical guidance to scientists, laboratories, wastewater utilities and public health authorities."You want to know the neighbourhoods where testing might need to increase, or where there are hot spots," said Conant. Health officials in the U.S. say such sampling may have helped them head off an outbreak at the University of Arizona. When tests of wastewater at the dorms came back positive for COVID-19, two asymptotic students were identified and quickly quarantined.'It could catch an early signal'Robert Delatolla is an engineering professor and researcher co-leading the University of Ottawa's program. His work monitoring the capital's wastewater daily and posting the results online has caught the attention of the chief science advisors to the prime minister and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Delatolla's group plans to test samples from individual sewers connected to long-term care buildings in Ottawa and the Greater Toronto Area. "It could catch an early signal," he said. "It could be like a smoke detector signaling that things are starting to come online, outbreaks are happening."By being able to monitor a facility that is doing well and doesn't have an outbreak, the wastewater is a potential tool to actually catch when that outbreak first happens."Delatolla points to tests his team conducted on July 17 which detected COVID-19 levels suddenly increasing 400 per cent in Ottawa's water treatment plant. That surge was discovered in the wastewater two days before Ottawa Public Health reported an increase in the number of people testing positive, he said.Testing could detect when an outbreak has stoppedDr. Alex MacKenzie is a senior scientist at the CHEO Research Institute, which is co-leading the team in Ottawa. He said the wastewater testing has been acting as the "belt and suspenders" supporting the data epidemiologists are obtaining through swab testing sites — data he said is "flawed" because not everyone is getting tested. "It's hard to get a clear lens on exactly how many are infected in the community," said MacKenzie. "We have the advantage here in Ottawa of actually having a different window."Researchers said that more than 910,000 Ottawa residents are now providing them with testing samples through the wastewater system — more than 90 per cent of the city's population.MacKenzie said applying wastewater testing to long-term care homes could be a way to ease the strain on front line workers."It will be a way of monitoring the outbreak within a facility and knowing when it actually has stopped," he said. "So it will offload some of those individual testing resources that we do, ideally."'You would be able to intervene faster'Currently, long-term care homes are conducting surveillance testing on residents every week or two weeks. Residents are sometimes missed in that timeframe, said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's chief medical officer of health. Wastewater testing could help monitor for COVID-19 between those testing periods."You would pick up the signal potentially earlier," she said. "So you would be able to intervene faster."Dr. Etches said that's important because "there can be a lot of exposures and a lot of spread" when people are asymptomatic, or in the days before patients start exhibiting symptoms."Eighty-eight per cent of people who have died from COVID so far have been residents of long-term care homes," she said. "So this would be an opportunity to try to limit that outcome."But there are still challenges with the testing. Delatolla said rainwater can dilute the samples and chemicals in wastewater can alter them, causing variance in the samples. Public health officials also don't know yet how quickly the virus shows up in wastewater once someone contracts COVID-19, said Dr. Etches.She said she is using both COVID-swab results and wastewater testing to get a better picture of outbreaks, because the science isn't advanced enough to depend on wastewater tests alone.The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force said funding agreements for its most recent set of studies aren't finalized yet, so it can't publicly comment right now.
At the start of the school year, Cornell University implemented a strategy of regular testing and robust contact tracing on campus. The plan was expensive, but it’s prevented any major COVID-19 outbreaks at the New York institution.