U.S. president-elect Joe Biden says he got the shot to demonstrate that people should take the vaccine themselves when it is available. "There's nothing to worry about," he said.
U.S. president-elect Joe Biden says he got the shot to demonstrate that people should take the vaccine themselves when it is available. "There's nothing to worry about," he said.
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
BEIJING — The Chinese government said Wednesday that actions like its warplanes flying near Taiwan last weekend are a warning against both foreign interference in Taiwan and any independence moves by the island. Asked about the flights, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said China's military drills are to show the nation's resolution to protect its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. "They are a stern warning against external interference and provocation from separatist forces advocating for Taiwan independence,” she said at a regular briefing, giving the Chinese government's first official comment on the recent flights. China sent eight bombers and four fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Saturday, according to Taiwan's Defence Ministry. Taiwan scrambled fighters to monitor the activity. The U.S. State Department later issued a statement urging China “to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan” following China's sizeable show of force. China then sent 16 military aircraft into the same area on Sunday, Taiwan said. Taiwan is a self-governing island about 160 kilometres (100 miles) off China's east coast. The Chinese government regards it as a renegade province that should be united with mainland China. Zhu said that China would not renounce the use of force to guard against separatist moves and foreign interference. “We ... reserve the option to use all necessary measures,” she said. "Our position has been consistent and will not change.” The Associated Press
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
Regina– Three more weeks. That’s the length of the most recent extension of public health orders in Saskatchewan meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. Premier Scott Moe made the announcement from the Legislature in Regina on Jan. 26 with chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. The announcement came on a day when Saskatchewan posted yet another record for COVID-19 related deaths, 14, but has seen a slow drop in new case counts. There are now 2,665 cases are considered active, and on that day, 607 recoveries were reported. Moe said. “The number of new cases in Saskatchewan continues to gradually decline. Today we are reporting 232 new cases, and our seven-day average for new cases is now 254. This is down about 20 per cent from its peak of 321 on Jan. 12. Our active cases are now down to 2,665, the lowest level since Nov. 21, and down over 40 per cent from a peak of 4,763 on Dec. 7. “This gradual decline means that our current public health orders and restrictions are working, but we need to leave them in place a little longer. Therefore, all the current public health orders are being extended for three weeks until Feb. 19.” “These measures are working, when we follow them, as the vast majority of Saskatchewan people and businesses are doing. There have been a small number of mainly bars and restaurants who may not have been following those putting their staff putting their customers and essentially putting their communities at risk. So, I have asked that we increase enforcement on those who choose to break the rules, and in recent days there has been three significant tickets.” Moe also said that two bars in Saskatoon and one in Regina had been issued $14,000 fines. He held out the hope that three weeks from now, Saskatchewan may be able to look at reducing the number of restrictions in place. He pointed out that the province has made a lot of progress in vaccinations. To date, 34,080 doses have been delivered, and those administering it are quite literally getting the most out of every bottle, getting 104 per cent of expected dosages. Moe said, “But we continue to be limited by the slow pace of vaccine deliveries, from to and from the federal government. Saskatchewan now has the highest percentage of vaccines administered, and we have the second-highest per capita rate of vaccinations completed among any of the provinces. “Unfortunately, today we are virtually out of vaccines. And with no new shipments coming this week, our vaccination program will be stalled for the next number of days.” Next week, the province is expecting 12,000 additional doses, of which 5,850 will be Pfizer doses heading to Saskatoon, Regina, North Battleford, Yorkton and Swift Current to allow continued vaccination of long-term care residents and staff, as well as those over 70. A further 6,500 Moderna doses will be going to the far northeast, far northwest, and northeast regions of the province for a second doses. In the central-west region, first shots will be administered, Moe said. The province will continue to push the federal government for more vaccines, and to also look at approving additional types of vaccines for use. He referenced the vaccines that AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have been working on. Shahab said, “I think it's really important that we are seeing a steady decline in our case numbers; all the indicators are moving in the right direction is slow and steady.” Daily case numbers have come down from 24 per 100,000 population to 20 per 100,000. Test positivity is down under 10 per cent, and is doing so throughout the province. When vaccination starts picking up in March and April, “then we hope to see significant impact on hospitalization and deaths,” he said. Until then, we really have to stay the course. “The other thing is that, with our public health measures, some people say it's too little, some people say it's too much. But, you know, they try to strike a fine balance between minimizing cases, as long as the guidelines are followed, and letting people work, (and) enjoy other amenities as much as possible.” He added, “But the downward trend does show, that if all of us abide by public health principles, it has a significant impact on our case numbers.” On the same day, Manitoba implemented 14-day quarantines for nearly all travellers to that province. Asked about doing something similar for Saskatchewan, Shahab said it have been looked at, but found to be impractical, given our long borders, and people in border communities who work and shop across the border. But he did recommend minimizing travel. Regarding variants of the COVID-19 virus, Shahab said sampling is done with relation to travel, and some sampling with age groups and geography as well. “I would not be surprised if we saw a variant in Saskatchewan, but again, what we’re doing, is exactly the same. We really have to follow all these public health measures.” Asked about adverse reactions to the vaccines in Saskatchewan, Shahab said there have been around 10 to 15 allergic reactions, some tingling on the face, and one anaphylaxis that was managed safely. They were well-described in the product monograph and have been managed, he said. “Most of them have presented in individuals who may have had a history of allergies, and they have managed well, so at this point the signal is not of any concern, compared to what is known about these vaccines what we were expecting, with what’s know about other vaccines.” He noted the importance of watching those vaccinated for 15 minutes after the shot, and if you have any allergies, make it known and you will be monitored some more. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Rapid growth of the greenhouse industry in Kingsville and Leamington has caused the Union Water Supply System to prioritize plans to increase water capacity sooner than expected. Greenhouses use about half the amount of water supplied by Union Water in Essex County. The rapid development of that agriculture sector in the area means Union Water is working to get a planned five million gallon reservoir project up and running in about two years, rather than the anticipated five years. It's a race to complete the project sooner because if water supply doesn't increase, the municipalities may have to decide between housing developments or new greenhouses. "The area is kind of booming and I mean, a lot of people are moving in from other areas, from Toronto, it's a retirement area, there's a lot of housing going up," said Union Water manager Rodney Bouchard. "So that's that's a positive thing. And that's great. And we want to make sure we can treat enough water to provide that to our municipal partners so they can provide it to the residents as well." The water system, according to Bouchard, will make some upgrades to its current plant that will add anther one to two million gallons of water per year by 2022. But if it ends up taking five years to get the new reservoir built, the regions might not be able to sustain a growing housing market and thriving greenhouse industry. "So it could mean not as robust growth for large water users, it could mean a concentration of dedicated connections to commercial to residential growth, which we've seen in each community, " said Kingsville mayor Nelson Santos, who is also the chair of the Union Water System. But, some members in the town of Essex, which owns six per cent of Union Water, are concerned. Essex councillor Chris Vander Doelen says the area is only being given about a 10th of the water supply he believes it should be entitled to and that this is insufficient. "That would allow us to build about 800 homes or less than we've got approved on the books and that would mean we could never accept a new industrial plant or our own greenhouse under construction because we just don't have the capacity," said Vander Doelen, who is also a Union Water board member. He said that a sharing agreement still needs to be negotiated. But Santos says Essex only issues about 100 building permits per year so the water supply should be enough. Manager of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Joe Sbrocchi said he also believes the capacity will be there when needed and notes that the industry is always working on being more efficient. "We're fixated as being as efficient as possible at all times," he said. "I think our members ... understand what is needed and seem to be able to get it done and we're surrounded by a community that understands we're an important economic driver." Union Water said another possibility is to hook up with Windsor's water supply to offset any potential issues.
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. DHS also noted violent riots in “recent days,” an apparent reference to events in Portland, Oregon, linked to anarchist groups. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
China's ByteDance is cutting the size of its 2,000-plus India team and is unsure when it will make a comeback, the company told employees in an internal memo on Wednesday, months after its popular TikTok video app was banned. The move came after India this month decided to retain its ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps following responses from the companies on issues such as compliance and privacy.
Two people are in hospital following a shooting in Chatham-Kent on Tuesday evening, according to police. Officers were called to a home on Harvey Street around 6 p.m. due to a disturbance, police said in a news release. After arriving, police say two residents were found with gunshot wounds and they were sent to Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. No further details were provided on the extent of the victims' injuries. According to police, the suspects left the scene in a white compact car. There is no threat to public safety at this time, as police said they believe the incident was targeted. The scene is being held for further investigation by members of the Major Crime Unit. Police ask that anyone with information contact Constable Cole Abbott at email@example.com or 519-380-6024 or anonymously reach out to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Google is reviving plans to launch its own news website in Australia within weeks, according to a local media outlet contracted to provide articles for the venture, as the search giant fights world-first proposed laws on content payments. The launch of the News Showcase product as early as next month is Google's latest tactic in a high-profile campaign against the Australian government's planned legislation to make the company pay local news providers for content that appears in its search engine. Google had announced plans to launch News Showcase in Australia last June, signing deals with seven small local outlets, including The Conversation, for content.
Out of 99 new positive cases discovered in the Simcoe Muskoka Region, health officials say 97 are linked to a long-term care home in Barrie and all of those people are likely affected by the fast-spreading U.K. variant. There are concerns the highly contagious strain of the virus is more widespread than initially thought. Miranda Anthistle has the details.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador first felt the onset of COVID-19 on Sunday and was tested after returning to the capital on a commercial flight from an event in central Mexico, his spokesman said on Tuesday. Spokesman Jesus Ramirez said that passengers on the flight were being contacted, and that journalists traveling with the president were recommended to isolate. Lopez Obrador had a fever on Sunday and was still experiencing some mild symptoms by Tuesday, including a minor headache, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said in an evening news conference.
Regina– New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili says we are now dealing with the results of not implementing a COVID-19 “circuit breaker” in November, and that the province has not taken full advantage of federal relief funds. Also, at the tail end of a seniors vaccination blitz that, as a doctor, he took part in delivering, Meili received his first dose of one of the vaccines. That blitz led him to suggest the province improve its delivery mechanisms and logistics. Speaking to reporters in the Legislature on Jan. 26, Meili said, “We saw another 14 people lose their lives in the last 24 hours 46 in the last week, is it a lot of people, a lot of families who are mourning, and it's really frustrating that to note that this was avoidable. If we had gone through the circuit breaker back in the fall, had taken action early, we could have avoided these deaths. And yet here we are today, still leading the country in the rate of active cases, over 10 per cent positivity test rate, low testing compared to what we should be doing, and outbreaks and long term care.” Regarding the extension of public health restrictions, Meili repeated his assertion that Saskatchewan should have done a “circuit breaker” in November, when cases were spiking in Manitoba and North Dakota. “This is what we said would happen; that if we didn't do that, we would be seeing months and months of restrictions. It's much more costly to the economy, and over 250 people have died. So, we missed that window. But now, what can we do? We need to make sure that the health measures are the right measures. We've seen no action to protect against long-term care outbreaks, to reduce the density of residents in four-bed rooms in long-term care. And we've still got people going to bars. That's not the case anywhere else in Western Canada. But here, people are still going to bars, despite knowing that those are common sources of super-spreader events. It's happened in Saskatchewan, and it's happened around the world.” Pointing to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report, Meili said Premier Scott Moe had left $150 million in federal money “on the table.” Meili said, “That was for childcare, so important in recovering our economy; for wage top-ups for essential frontline health care workers. And over $30 million that was dedicated to preventing the kind of outbreaks we're seeing in long term care today. “Now is not the time to be cheap with Saskatchewan people. And unfortunately, that's what Scott Moe is doing. Now is the time for us to invest. And that's why I'm calling on the premier, today, to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem. Things are not going well, when it comes to COVID-19. We're at great risk that the upcoming COVID-19 variant, of things getting worse before the vaccine arrives. We are in a race, between the vaccine and the virus. Only public health measures will help us win that race; and to come clean about where every single federal dollar has gone, and commit to making sure that all of those dollars go out to protect and support Saskatchewan people in this difficult time.” He added, “This government is using this to backfill their own financial mismanagement, their own fiscal failures. They're using this dollar these dollars to try to cover up the fact that they've allowed budget deficits to grow instead of doing what they should do, which is investing in Saskatchewan people at a time when we really need.” On the same day, Manitoba ordered most interprovincial travellers to quarantine for 14 days. Meili said interprovincial travel restrictions should be looked at in Saskatchewan. He said, “Especially as we're thinking about a new deadly or more contagious variant, we have to think about what's happening in our borders.” Meili, as a physician, has been taking part in providing the vaccine blitz at a seniors home a little over a week ago. Asked about that, and the shortage of additional doses this week, Meili said, “I do know that it has been chaotic in terms of the communication and the delivery of the vaccine so far. It's very disappointing we don't have more vaccine to deliver right now. “I hope the government will take this time to better prepare the delivery mechanisms and logistics and give a clearer message, so that we don't have so many people out there saying, ‘I'm a health care worker, but I don't see where I am on the list.’ ‘I'm a senior, I don't see where I am on the list.’ So people really know when they're going to be getting that vaccine.” He added, “Lots of vaccine got out, which was great to see. I was really delightful to be able to be part of that experience, to give the hope to the seniors who are coming and to hear their stories. And it reminded me how important the lives of seniors are. We often hear people saying, ‘Oh, it's only the elderly that die from this.’ “Well, so what? Those elderly people are really important. Seniors are really important. And they have important stories to tell, and their lives matter. So that was really exciting to be a part of. In that particular vaccine blitz, we had excess doses, and they were going to be thrown away. So, while I had earlier refused a request, or an offer to be vaccinated, those staff members, including myself, who were unvaccinated did get the vaccine that day.” He concluded, “My big message is, if you get a chance, if you get a call from the (Saskatchewan Health Authority), go get the vaccine. It's really important. And we're part of a phenomenal moment in human history. Many downsides, but what an incredible thing, to see a new disease and now have a vaccine for it only a year later.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Hockey Alberta has set a deadline to decide whether or not to continue planning league play for the 2020-21 minor hockey season.Hockey Alberta, in conjunction with its sanctioned minor leagues for male and female hockey, said in a statement Tuesday it is currently reviewing the sustainability of league play for the remainder of the season, and that if there is no new information from the Government of Alberta by Feb. 1, a decision will have to be made about its league play based on the current information available.Hockey Alberta says any decision regarding league play doesn't mean the end of hockey activity for the 2020-21 season, and that other potential ideas such as skill development programming and/or exhibition or mini-league games could be viable options with the required safety protocols in place.Hockey Alberta says it has met with Alberta Health and Government of Alberta representatives on several occasions, as recently as last week with discussions "focused on how hockey can be relaunched in a way that ensures the safety of all participants."Minor hockey across the country was put on hiatus in March due to COVID-19.Minor hockey associations came up with different solutions for a return-to-play program this season, blending guidelines from Hockey Canada and local public health authorities, in an effort to get back on the ice. But Alberta had to suspend all minor hockey activities in December after the Government of Alberta announced the temporary closure of all indoor recreation facilities, including arenas.This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologised on Wednesday after lawmakers from his ruling coalition visited night clubs despite his government's call for people to avoid unnecessary outings to curb the spread of COVID-19. The news is another headache for Suga whose approval rating has tumbled because of dissatisfaction with his handling of the pandemic, which critics have called too slow and inconsistent. "I'm terribly sorry that this happened when we are asking people not to eat out after 8 p.m. and to avoid non-essential, non-urgent outings," Suga told parliament.
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin held their first conversation as counterparts Tuesday in a phone call that underscored troubled relations and the delicate balance between the former Cold War foes. According to the White House, Biden raised concerns about the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, Russia’s alleged involvement in a massive cyber espionage campaign and reports of Russian bounties on American troops in Afghanistan. The Kremlin, meanwhile, focused on Putin’s response to Biden’s proposal to extend the last remaining U.S.-Russia arms control treaty. While the readouts from the two capitals emphasized different elements, they both suggested that U.S-Russia relations will be guided, at least at the beginning of the Biden administration, by a desire to do no harm but also no urgency to repair existing damage. The two presidents agreed to have their teams work urgently to complete a five-year extension of the New START nuclear weapons treaty that expires next month. Former President Donald Trump's administration had withdrawn from two arms control treaties with Russia and had been prepared to let New START lapse. Unlike his immediate predecessors — including Trump, who was enamoured of Putin and frequently undercut his own administration's tough stance on Russia — Biden has not held out hope for a “reset” in relations. Instead he has indicated he wants to manage differences without necessarily resolving them or improving ties. And with a heavy domestic agenda and looming decisions needed on Iran and China, a direct confrontation with Russia is not likely something Biden seeks. Although the leaders agreed to work together to extend New START before it expires Feb. 5 and to look at other areas of potential strategic co-operation, the White House said Biden was firm on U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, while Russia is supporting separatists in the country's east. Biden also raised the SolarWinds cyberhack, which has been attributed to Russia, reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 U.S. election, the poisoning of Navalny and the weekend crackdown on Navalny's supporters. “President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defence of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies,” the White House said. Biden told Putin in the phone call, first reported by The Associated Press, that the U.S. would defend itself and take action, which could include further sanctions, to ensure Moscow does not act with impunity, officials said. Moscow had reached out last week to request the call, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Biden agreed, but he wanted first to prepare with his staff and speak with European allies, including the leaders of Britain, France and Germany, which he did. Before he spoke to Putin, Biden also called NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg to pledge U.S. commitment to the decades-old alliance founded as a bulwark against Russian aggression. The Kremlin's readout of the call did not address the most contentious issues between the countries, though it said the leaders also discussed other “acute issues on the bilateral and international agenda.” It described the talk as “frank and businesslike” — often a diplomatic way of referring to tense discussions. It also said Putin congratulated Biden on becoming president and “noted that normalization of ties between Russia and the United States would serve the interests of both countries." Among the issues the Kremlin said were discussed were the coronavirus pandemic, the Iran nuclear agreement, Ukraine and issues related to trade and the economy. The call came as Putin considers the aftermath of pro-Navalny protests that took place in more than 100 Russian cities over the weekend. Biden’s team has already reacted strongly to the crackdown on the protests, in which more than 3,700 people were arrested across Russia, including more than 1,400 in Moscow. More protests are planned for the coming weekend. Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and Putin’s best-known critic, was arrested Jan. 17 as he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had spent nearly five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Biden has previously condemned the use of chemical weapons. Russian authorities deny the accusations. Just from the public accounts, Biden's discussion with Putin appeared diametrically opposed to Trump's relationship with the Russian president. Trump had seemed to seek Putin's approval, frequently casting doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, including when he stood next to Putin at their 2018 summit in Helsinki. He also downplayed Russia’s involvement in the hack of federal government agencies last year and the allegations that Russia offered the Taliban bounties. Still, despite that conciliatory approach, Trump's administration toed a tough line against Moscow, imposing sanctions on the country, Russian companies and business leaders for issues including Ukraine, energy supplies and attacks on dissidents. Biden, in his call with Putin, broke sharply with Trump by declaring that he knew that Russia attempted to interfere with both the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections. ___ Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Matthew Lee And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
Canadians are "Angry Birds" when it comes to climate change, shows a survey the United Nations calls the largest ever taken on the issue. The mammoth survey, which drew respondents through the use of popular online games, ranked Canada seventh out of 50 countries in its perception of how important the problem is — and tops in the gap between men and women on the issue. "Canada was at the top end of the group of countries we surveyed in terms of the recognition of the climate emergency," said Steve Fisher, an Oxford University sociologist who helped run the survey on behalf of the United Nations Development Program. The novel survey found respondents through games such as Angry Birds and Dragon City. As people played the games, a questionnaire would pop up instead of an ad. Project director Cassie Flynn, who is with the UN program, said the idea came to her while riding the subway in New York. "Every single person was on their phone," she said. "I started looking over people's shoulders and the huge majority was playing games. I thought, 'How do we tap into that?'" Two years, 1.2 million responses (in 17 languages) and a great deal of innovative statistical thinking later came the People's Climate Vote. It is an attempt, said Flynn, to gauge the public's sense of urgency on climate change and how people feel about different policies. "The decisions (on climate) are going to affect every single person on the planet. What we wanted to do is to bring public opinion into that policy-making." As the federal Liberal government advances on its ambitious climate program, it seems Canadians are more concerned about the issue than most. Three-quarters of those surveyed agreed that climate change is an emergency compared with the global average of 64 per cent. That belief topped out at 83 per cent for respondents under 18. But, at 72 per cent, it wasn't much weaker among those over 60. The survey also found that Canadians who believed climate change is an emergency believed it strongly. Three-quarters said action should be urgent and on many fronts. They really liked solutions based in conservation. Support for nature-based climate policies was higher in Canada at 79 per cent than in any other countries with high carbon emissions from land use. They also wanted polluters to pay. Some 69 per cent favoured policies that regulate company behaviour. Only the United Kingdom, at 72 per cent, registered stronger among high-income countries. And, at 81 and 80 per cent respectively, respondents in the U.K. and Canada were virtually tied at the top in support of ocean and waterway protection. Canada also had the largest gap between men and women in their assessment of the importance of climate change. Canadian women and girls surveyed were 12 per cent more likely to rate it an emergency than men and boys. Globally, there wasn't much difference. Fisher, who researches political attitudes and behaviour, said climate change is a more partisan issue in Canada, the United States and Australia than elsewhere on the globe. "It is related to partisanship in those countries," he said. "Women are much more likely to vote for the more climate-conscious left parties." Fisher said the use of cellphone games gave researchers access to groups that are hard for pollsters to reach, such as young people. "It was kind of new to do the fieldwork in this way," he said. "It reached an awful lot of people." Each respondent was asked to complete the survey only once. The team used 4,000 different games, some popular with children, some with older people. Still, the sample skewed young. The statisticians had to adjust the sample to ensure all groups were given appropriate weight. The survey is considered accurate to within two percentage points, 19 times out of 20. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
NEW ORLEANS — You just can’t keep a good city down, especially when Mardi Gras is coming. All around New Orleans, thousands of houses are being decorated as floats because the coronavirus outbreak cancelled the elaborate parades mobbed by crowds during the Carnival season leading to Fat Tuesday. Some smaller groups announced no-parade plans before the city did. Pandemic replacements include scavenger hunts for signature trinkets that normally would be thrown from floats or handed out from a streetcar, as well as outdoor art and drive-thru or virtual parades. The prominent Krewe of Bacchus has an app where people can catch and trade virtual trinkets during Carnival and watch a virtual parade Feb. 14, when the parade had been scheduled. But the “house float” movement started almost as soon as a New Orleans spokesman announced Nov. 17 that parades were off. That morning, Megan Joy Boudreaux posted what she later called a silly Twitter joke: “We’re doing this. Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbours walking by.” But the more she thought about it, the more she liked it. She started a Facebook group, the Krewe of House Floats, expecting a few friends and neighbours to join. The numbers rose. Thirty-nine subgroups evolved to discuss neighbourhood plans. By Carnival season’s official start Jan. 6, the group had more than 9,000 members, including out-of-state “expats." About 3,000, including a few as far afield as England and Australia, will have their houses on an official online map, said Charlotte “Charlie” Jallans-Daly, one of two mapmakers. Houses are to be decorated at least two weeks before Fat Tuesday, which is Feb. 16 this year. With widespread addresses and two weeks to gawk, the hope is that people will spread out widely in time and space. “I didn’t think I was starting a Mardi Gras krewe. Here I am,” Boudreaux said. “I’ve got myself a second full-time job.” Discussions in the Facebook groups include how-tos, ads for props and neighbourhood themes. Artists have given livestreamed outdoor lessons. Katie Bankens posted that her block’s theme was Shark Week staycation paradise. When a resident worried that she was not “crafty” enough, administrator Carley Sercovich replied that if they could play music and throw trinkets to neighbours, “you are perfect for this Krewe!” Boudreaux also suggested that people could hire or buy from out-of-work Carnival artists and suppliers hit by the parade cancellation. A spreadsheet of artists and vendors followed. One of them, artist Dominic “Dom” Graves, booked more than 20 five-person classes in professional papier mache techniques, at $100 a person. Devin DeWulf, who already had started two pandemic charities as head of the Krewe of Red Beans walking club, kicked the house float idea up a few notches at the suggestion of Caroline Thomas, a professional float designer. Their “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” crowdfunded lotteries collected enough money to put crews to work decorating 11 houses, plus commissioned work at two more houses and seven businesses. “We’ve put about 40 people to work, which is nice,” DeWulf said. With Mardi Gras approaching, he said a 12th lottery would be the last. One commissioned house is rented by a pair of nuns. Sisters Mary Ann Specha and Julie Walsh, who run a shelter for homeless women with children, had to get permission for their own crowdfunding from the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. “They loved it,” Specha said. The crowdfunded decorations may be auctioned after Mardi Gras to raise more money, DeWulf said. Several mansions along a short stretch of St. Charles Avenue had elaborate displays with signs noting their creation by one of the city’s biggest float-making studios. Tom Fox, whose wife, Madeline, painted a Spongebob Squarepants scene and made jellyfish from dollar store bowls, said he thinks a new tradition may have begun. “Even when Mardi Gras comes back, I think people are going to keep doing this,” he said. Janet McConnaughey, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and three assists as the Winnipeg Jets battled back from an early 3-1 deficit to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 6-4 on Tuesday.Andrew Copp added two goals, including one into an empty net, and two assists, while Adam Lowry scored and set up two others for Winnipeg (5-2-0). Paul Stastny, with a goal and an assist, and Mathieu Perreault provided the rest of the offence for the Jets, who got 22 saves from Connor Hellebuyck after falling 4-3 to the Oilers in dramatic fashion Sunday.Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, with a goal and an assist each, Leon Draisaitl and Adam Larsson replied for Edmonton (3-5-0). Mikko Koskinen made 27 saves, while Darnell Nurse added three assists.Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice was behind the bench for the 1,607th regular-season game of his NHL career, tying him with Al Arbour for fourth on the all-time list.Down 3-2 through 40 minutes, the Jets tied things at 3:19 of the third period when Stastny weaved into the offensive zone and slid a pass to Ehlers for him to bury his fifth of the season — and a career-high fifth in as many games.Stastny then gave Winnipeg its first lead at 5:26 when he fished a loose puck out of a crowd in front and flicked his second beyond Koskinen.The Jets continued the onslaught just 1:20 later when Lowry redirected his fourth off a pass from Derek Forbort to make it 5-3.McDavid got one back the visitors with 1:50 left on the clock and Koskinen on the bench for an extra attacker, but Copp iced it into an empty net with under a minute to go.Edmonton, which won Sunday's opener of the two-game set when Draisaitl scored with less than a second remaining in regulation, and Winnipeg will go head-to-head seven more times this season in the all-Canadian North Division, with the next meetings scheduled for Feb 15 and 17 in Alberta's capital.Playing the finale of a four-game road trip through Toronto and Winnipeg, the Oilers opened the scoring on a power play at 1:48 of the first when Draisaitl snapped his fourth of the campaign — and fourth in as many games — off the rush on a shot that beat Hellebuyck through the pads and just dribbled over the line.Winnipeg, which suited up for its sixth game in nine nights, responded on a man advantage of its own at 5:14 when Copp banged home his third after Koskinen made a couple of good stops.Edmonton nudged back in front 2-1 at 9:13 when Patrick Russell found Larsson at the point, and he beat Hellebuyck on a shot the Jets goalie will want back.The Oilers, who came in with the NHL's 25th-ranked power play after finishing first in 2019-20, connected on their second straight man advantage to go up by two just 2:03 later when Nugent-Hopkins took a pass from McDavid and wired his fourth upstairs.But the Jets countered once again three seconds after an Edmonton penalty expired when Perreault fired his first past Koskinen, who has played every minute of his team's season with fellow netminder Mike Smith out injured, off a Lowry feed at 14:37 as the Oilers took a 3-2 advantage to the locker room.Mark Scheifele hit the post for Winnipeg early in the second on a 2-on-1 chance as the teams played with a lot more tempo following that penalty-filled first.Edmonton's Zack Kassian had three great chances to put his team back up by two, including a breakaway moments before the intermission, but was unable to find the range.Notes: Edmonton hosts the Maple Leafs for two games beginning Thursday after the teams split a pair of contests last week in Toronto. ... Winnipeg now has three days off before resuming its seven-game homestand Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021.___Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter The Canadian Press
The province of Saskatchewan set another new record for deaths related to COVID-19 Tuesday with 14. There were two additional deaths reported in the North Central zone , one in the 40-49 age group and one in the 80 and over age group. The Saskatoon zone reported two deaths in the 60 to 69-year-old age group, two deaths in the 80-years-old and over age group and one in the 70 to 79-year-old age group and 50 to 59-year-old age group. Regina reported deaths in the 70 to 79-year-old age group, 50 to 59 year-old age group and 80-years-old and over age group The Far North West and South East also reported one death in the 80-years-old and over age group. The South East also reported a death in the 70 to 79-year-old age group. The number of deaths in the province has grown to 268. There were 232 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 31 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 139 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 55 active cases and North Central 3 has 98 active cases. There was one case with pending information added to the North Central zone. There are currently 208 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 175 reported as receiving in patient care there are 28 in North Central. Of the 33 people reported as being in intensive care there are two in North Central. The current seven-day average is 254, or 20.7 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 22,646 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 2,665 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 19,219 after 839 more recoveries were reported. Tuesday. There were 362 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan, bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 34,080. As of Jan. 25, 104 per cent of the doses received have been administered. This overage is due to efficiencies in drawing extra doses from vials of vaccine received. There were no doses administered in North Central on Monday. However 23 doses were administered in the adjacent North East zone, which includes Melfort, Nipawin and Tisdale. There were 2,160 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Jan 25. As of today there have been 495,292 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
NEW DELHI — India has vaccinated 2 million health workers in less than two weeks and recorded 12,689 new coronavirus positive cases in the past 24 hours, a sharp decline from a peak level of nearly 100,000 in mid-September. The health Ministry said the daily new cases had fallen below 10,000 on Tuesday with 9,102 cases. The daily new positive cases were 9,304 on June 4 last year. India’s fatalities dropped to 137 in the past 24 hours from a peak level of 1,089 daily deaths in September. India’s total positive cases since the start of the epidemic have reached 10.6 million, the second highest after the United States with 25.43 million cases. India started inoculating health workers on Jan. 16 in what is likely the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign. India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers. Authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people. The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — Vaccine appointments cancelled in U.S. amid confusion over supply. — U.K. is first country in Europe to pass 100K deaths. — EU demands vaccine makers honour their commitments. — Virus variant brings new dimension to Europe’s pandemic fight. — Some hospitals near capacity in hard-hit areas as Indonesia hits 1 million virus cases. — Taiwan quarantines 5,000 people while looking for source of hospital cluster. — Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported new 559 cases of the coronavirus, its highest daily increase in 10 days, as health workers scrambled to slow transmissions at religious facilities, which have been a major source of infections throughout the pandemic. The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday brought the national caseload to 76,429, including 1,378 deaths. The agency said 112 of the new cases came from the southwestern city of Gwangju where more than 100 infections have so far been linked to a missionary training school. An affiliated facility in the central city of Daejeon has been linked to more 170 infections. Nearly 300 of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where infections have been tied to various places, including churches, restaurants, schools and offices. The country throughout the pandemic has repeatedly seen huge infection clusters emerge from religious groups, including more than 5,000 infections tied to the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus that drove a major outbreak in the southeastern region in spring last year. —- JUNEAU, Alaska -- Alaska has detected the state’s first known case of the coronavirus variant identified last year in the United Kingdom, officials said Tuesday. The infected person is an Anchorage resident who had travelled to a state where the variant had already been detected, the Alaska health department said. The person first experienced symptoms on Dec. 17, was tested three days later and received a positive result on Dec. 22. The resident lived with another person in Anchorage, who also became ill. Both isolated and have since recovered, officials said. It was not yet clear if the second person also was infected with the variant. Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist, said in a news release that the discovery of the variant is not surprising because viruses “constantly change through mutation.” He said this is one of several “variants that has been carefully tracked because it appears to spread more easily and quickly than other strains of the virus.” Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said it is likely the variant will be detected again soon. ___ BOSTON — In his annual State of the Commonwealth address, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker defended his vaccine distribution plan, which some have criticized for being confusing and too narrowly focused at first. Baker said the state is prepared to distribute and administer all the vaccine shots delivered by the federal government and is rapidly expanding the number of vaccination sites. “Vaccinating 4 million adults in Massachusetts as the doses are allocated by the federal government is not going to be easy. But be assured that we will make every effort to get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said. “We can only move as fast as the federal government delivers the vaccines.” ___ SEATTLE - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday touted big improvements in distributing the COVID-19 vaccines, but he also urged residents to remain vigilant as new, more contagious variants of the disease spread in the state. Inslee said more than 36,000 doses were administered in Washington on Sunday and 39,000 on Monday — a big jump from about 16,000 a week earlier, and on the way toward the state’s goal of 45,000 per day. The number of vaccines actually administered could be even higher, given lags in reporting, but as of Monday more than 500,000 doses had been administered statewide, with four mass vaccination sites due to open this week. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday the federal government is boosting vaccine supplies to the states by 16% over the next three weeks, giving states more certainty about upcoming deliveries than the one-week notice the Trump administration had been providing. ___ ALABAMA — Alabama will receive an additional 10,000 first doses in its upcoming delivery, State Health Officer Scott Harris said, but supply remains the chief obstacle to getting more people vaccinating. The state which had been receiving about 60,000 first doses each week, but will see that jump to 70,000 in the coming week. Harris said he was happy to have the increase, although the state had been expecting 112,000 weekly doses based on initial conversations with federal officials last year. “Yes, it is less than the original 112,000 amount we had expected, but we are glad to see any increase at all,” Harris wrote in a message to The Associated Press. Harris said Friday that the state has approved nearly 900 pharmacies, doctors’ office and other locations to distribute vaccine, but 500 sites have not distributed any vaccinations because the state doesn’t have doses to give. “Every state had the idea that they were going to get much more vaccine than they ultimately got,” Harris told reporters during a Friday briefing. ___ RALEIGH, N.C. --- Health providers who have seen their coronavirus vaccine supplies substantially cut or temporarily halted because of the state’s abrupt shift favouring mass vaccination clinics will soon receive more doses, North Carolina’s top public health official said Tuesday. “This week is going to feel particularly tight, with many providers getting small or no allocations,” Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said at a news conference. “But we know that our providers need as much stability as we can give them in what is a very unstable environment.” As part of the department’s plan, the state will guarantee 84,000 new first doses of vaccines to counties each week based on population for the next three weeks. The remaining 36,000 weekly doses will be used to balance out distributions to counties and improve access for racial and ethnic minorities. Cohen and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper have pinned the recent vaccine instability on the federal government. Local officials, in turn, have criticized the state for creating a distribution system it believes is ever-changing, poorly communicated and inequitable. President Joe Biden’s administration will raise the minimum weekly supply to states over the next three weeks from 8.6 million to 10 million, or by 16%. Cohen said on Tuesday afternoon that it’s not yet clear what North Carolina’s new supply count will be. But with nearly all supplies exhausted and more mass vaccination events forthcoming, thousands of North Carolinians with postponed appointments could see further delays. ___ TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it would be very worrying if the European Union blocked Canada from getting COVID-19 doses from Europe. The EU has threatened to impose export controls on vaccines produced within its borders, and warned pharmaceutical companies that have developed coronavirus vaccines with EU aid that it must get its shots on schedule. All of Canada’s vaccines come from Europe. Trudeau says he spoke to the chief executive of Moderna and he says it was “very clear” that the Canadian contract will be respected. Canada isn’t getting any deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine made in Europe this week, shipments are set to resume next week. Trudeau says he will work with European allies to ensure there are not any disruptions to the Canadian supply chain. ___ WASHINGTON — U.S. health regulators announced new steps Tuesday to block imports of Mexican-made hand sanitizers after repeatedly warning that many brands contain dangerous contaminants. The Food and Drug Administration said U.S. inspectors will now be able to stop any shipment of the products at ports of entry, under a nationwide import alert intended to protect U.S. consumers. Importers will be able to present documentation to show that the products meet U.S. standards The FDA said nearly 85% of alcohol-based sanitizers from Mexico sampled by agency scientists did not meet U.S. requirements for quality and safety. The FDA said Tuesday there have been reports of hospitalizations and death linked to the sanitizers reported to U.S. poison control centres and state health departments. ___ WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is announcing that the U.S. is purchasing an additional 100 million doses each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines for delivery this summer, with the government expecting to be able to deliver enough of the two-dose regimens to states this summer to vaccinate 300 million people. The additional purchases from drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna come as the Biden administration is trying to ramp up vaccine production and states’ capacities to inject them into arms. Biden is also announcing that vaccine deliveries to states and territories will be boosted to at least 10 million doses per week over the next three weeks. Seeking to address concerns from state and local leaders that supplies have been inconsistent, prompting last-minute cancellations of booked appointments, the White House is also pledging to provide states with firm vaccine allocations three weeks in advance of delivery to allow for accurate planning for injections. ___ LOS ANGELES — California is revamping its vaccine delivery system mid-stride, centralizing what has been a hodgepodge of county systems and streamlining appointment sign-up, notification and eligibility for its 40 million residents. The state’s health agency on Tuesday said third-party administrators would take over ordering and distributing vaccine doses with a new state secretary in charge of logistics. The move comes after California faced criticism for a slow rollout as coronavirus cases soared and hospital beds filled up with patients in much of the state. Residents have been baffled by the varying systems as some counties will vaccinate people 65 and older while others are limited to the more restrictive 75 and up. ___ WASHINGTON — “Several hundred” White House staffers have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as the Biden administration looks to create a safe workspace for the new president. Spokesman Kevin Munoz said the White House has provided the first of the two-shot vaccination to those who work on-site and is working toward vaccinating all staffers in the coming weeks. President Joe Biden completed the two-dose regimen a week before his swearing-in, and Vice-President Kamala Harris was given her second shot Tuesday at the National Institutes of Health. Both she and President Joe Biden got the vaccine live on television to help alleviate public resistance to the vaccine and reassure Americans of its safety. ___ RALEIGH, N.C. — An increasing number of COVID-19 vaccination sites around the U.S. are cancelling appointments because of vaccine shortages. States are expected to find out their latest weekly allocation of vaccines on Tuesday. The White House plans to hold a call with governors to discuss the vaccine supply. Governors and top health officials have been concerned about inadequate supplies and the need for more reliable estimates of how much is on the way so that they can plan accordingly. On Tuesday, the CDC reported just over half of the 41 million doses distributed to states have been put in people’s arms. Some vaccination sites have cancelled appointments for first-dose shots. Many are likely holding large quantities of vaccine in reserve to make sure people who have already gotten their first shot receive the required second shot on schedule, three to four weeks later. ___ SAN DIEGO — Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park appear to be recovering weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus, including a silverback who received antibody treatment. The park’s executive director Lisa Peterson says the eight western lowland gorillas are eating, drinking and active after being exposed by a zookeeper who tested positive for coronavirus in early January. Peterson says fecal samples from the gorillas are no longer testing positive for the virus. She says some of the gorillas will get the COVID-19 vaccine from a supply made specifically for animals. ___ NEW YORK — Health officials say evidence continues to mount that it’s generally safe to have in-person schooling if U.S. schools require mask-wearing and other precautions. The latest study looks at schools in rural Wisconsin and found cases linked to in-school transmission were very low even while infections were common in the same communities. The Wisconsin study was published online Tuesday by a CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It focused on 17 schools in Wood County in central Wisconsin and found cases were diagnosed at rate 37% lower than reported in the county overall. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Margaret Honein of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other CDC scientists say it’s reassuring that the kind of spread seen in nursing homes and other places hasn’t been noted in schools with prevention measures. However, they say some extracurricular school-related activities, such as sports, have triggered coronavirus spread in some places. ___ ATLANTA — A member of the Georgia state House has been removed from the chamber for not abiding by the legislature’s coronavirus testing policy. Rep. David Clark, a Republican from Buford, was asked to leave the House floor Tuesday morning. Clark refused to leave on his own and had to be escorted out by police. Members of the legislature undergo testing twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays. Clark told reporters he is abstaining from twice-a-week testing until it is available to everyone in Georgia, particularly teachers and first responders. A spokesman for House Speaker David Ralston issued a statement that didn’t name Clark. It said he had been “advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested at any point during this session.” ___ LONDON — More than 100,000 people have died in the United Kingdom after contracting the coronavirus. The health department said 100,162 people have died after testing positive, including 1,631 new deaths reported Tuesday. Britain is the fifth country in the world to pass that mark, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, and by far the smallest. The U.S. has recorded more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world’s highest total, but its population of about 330 million is about five times Britain’s. The U.K. toll is 30,000 more than the total number of British civilians killed during the six years of World War II. The Associated Press