Masks dangerous for some and uncertain future for Italy's eateries; In The News for May 21

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 21 ...

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COVID-19 in Canada ...

The federal government will provide today more financial support to help off-reserve Indigenous People weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

The additional funding comes amid criticism that the Trudeau government has largely ignored the plight of thousands of Indigenous people who live off-reserve and in urban centres.

Many of them were already among Canada's most vulnerable before the pandemic hit in mid-March — struggling with poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and mental health and addiction issues.

The Congress of Aboriginal People, which represents some 90,000 off-reserve and non-status Indigenous people, has gone to court over what it says is the "inadequate and discriminatory" funding it has received compared to that given to organizations representing First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities.

In mid-March, the federal government created the $305-million Indigenous Community Support Fund, the vast majority of which went to organizations representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to help them prepare for and cope with the pandemic.

Only $15 million of that was allotted for off-reserve organizations, even though they serve more than half of Canada's Indigenous population. Of that, CAP, which is seeking $16 million in funding, received just $250,000.

"The amount CAP has received for our constituents across Canada is a slap in the face," the group's national chief, Robert Bertrand, told a Commons committee last week.

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Also this ...

Face masks are dangerous to the health of some Canadians and problematic for some others.

In recommending people wear masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, national chief public health officer Theresa Tam has also warned against judging those who can't wear them.

"Be very aware of those with different types of cognitive, intellectual disabilities, those who are hearing impaired and others," Dr. Tam said.

"Don't assume that someone who isn't wearing a mask or is wearing something different doesn't have an actual reason for it."

Asthma Canada president and CEO Vanessa Foran said simply wearing a mask could create risk of an asthma attack.

She said if a mask inhibits the ability of someone to breathe in any way, they recommend not wearing one.

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COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

Republican political operatives are recruiting “extremely pro-Trump” doctors to go on television to prescribe reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible, without waiting to meet safety benchmarks proposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The plan was discussed in a May 11 conference call with a senior staffer for the Trump reelection campaign organized by CNP Action, an affiliate of the GOP-aligned Council for National Policy. A leaked recording of the hourlong call was provided to The Associated Press by the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive watchdog group.

CNP Action is part of the Save Our Country Coalition, an alliance of conservative think tanks and political committees formed in late April to end state lockdowns implemented in response to the pandemic. Other members of the coalition include the FreedomWorks Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council and Tea Party Patriots.

A resurgent economy is seen as critical to boosting President Donald Trump’s reelection hopes and has become a growing focus of the White House coronavirus task force led by Vice-President Mike Pence.

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director, confirmed to AP that an effort to recruit doctors to publicly support the president is underway, but declined to say when the initiative would be rolled out.

“Anybody who joins one of our coalitions is vetted,” Murtaugh said Monday. “And so quite obviously, all of our coalitions espouse policies and say things that are, of course, exactly simpatico with what the president believes. ... The president has been outspoken about the fact that he wants to get the country back open as soon as possible.”

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COVID-19 around the world ...

Italy's restaurants and pizzerias, for foodies the world over a key reason to visit, are facing an existential threat. Those that didn't fold after 10 weeks of a strict coronavirus lockdown are emerging to find that new social distancing requirements might yet drive them out of business.

While Italians reveled this week in being able to sit down to a plate of spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) at their local trattoria for the first time since March, a slew of studies suggest that as many as a third of Italy's bars and restaurants risked closing. The reasons? Financial losses already incurred by the lockdown, a projected tourism downturn, reduced table capacity and Italians' own fears about eating out.

Venice's famed Harry's Bar — the birthplace of the Bellini cocktail of white peach juice and prosecco — has closed until further notice.

“We can't think about opening with just five or six people" allowed inside at a time, owner Arrigo Cipriani said.

Milan chef Matteo Fronduti, who won the first Italian edition of “Top Chef," announced that his Manna restaurant wouldn't reopen for now, given lingering questions about the continued risk of contagion and the Italian government's confusing regulations for restaurants.

Only when those questions were answered, Fronduti said, would he consider reopening Manna, which features unusual, wildly named dishes like "Against the wear and tear of modern life," (artichokes, raw jumbo shrimp and lemon) and “All talk" (spaghetti, broccoli rabe, herring and horseradish).

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COVID-19 in entertainment ...

The Wu-Tang Clan is raising money to help three Ottawa charities "Triumph" over COVID-19.

The New York City-based rap collective announced its official partnership with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the Ottawa Food Bank and the Ottawa Mission shelter this morning.

The group is selling T-shirts, hand sanitizer, and meals through their online 36 Chambers store, with proceeds from all three items going to the charities.

The Wu-Tang Clan began supporting the Ottawa Food Bank on April 2, after they were tagged in a tweet by Adam Miron, a local businessman.

The group replied to Miron's tweet saying they had contributed to the Food Bank and encouraging others to join them.

The rap group says that led to an additional $280,000 being donated within the next 48 hours.

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COVID-19 in sports ...

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the earliest the CFL can start the 2020 season is September.

Ambrosie also says a cancelled 2020 season remains a possibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Please note that we are not announcing or promising a return this fall," he said. "We are just letting our fans know this remains one of the remaining possible scenarios for 2020.

"A cancelled season is also possible. Again, it's too soon to make a sure call at this point."

The CFL is also changing its '20 Grey Cup plans.

Regina was scheduled to host this year's game, but instead has been awarded the 2022 contest.

If there's an abbreviated 2020 season, the Grey Cup finalist with the best regular-season record will host the CFL championship game.  

"It has become increasingly clear we will not be able to host a traditional Grey Cup and Grey Cup Festival, certainly not with the size and scope that has become customary," Ambrosie says.

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ICYMI (in case you missed it) ...

It took only minutes for runners and T-shirts marking the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope to sell out.

Adidas Canada had promoted the sale of Orion sneakers similar to the classic, three-stripe runner worn by Fox throughout his marathon journey.

A few minutes after the online-only sale of the $130 shoes and $40 T-shirts started Wednesday, Adidas posted an advisory asking customers to "stay tuned for a restock."

Adidas Canada says on its site that all net proceeds from the sale will go to The Terry Fox Foundation.

Fox began his run on April 12, 1980 in St. John's, N.L., and was forced to end it 143 days later in Northern Ontario after cancer spread to his lungs.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2020

The Canadian Press