Matt Harmon examines the wholesome, the ugly, and the weird fantasy football trophies people actually won this season.
Matt Harmon examines the wholesome, the ugly, and the weird fantasy football trophies people actually won this season.
Hospital cleaning worker Manish Kumar became the first person in India to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Saturday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched one of the world's largest immunisation campaigns to bring the pandemic under control. Kumar received his shot at Delhi's premier All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), one of 3,006 vaccination centres established around the country. "The vaccine will give me strength and motivation to serve my hospital which has been at the forefront of taking care of coronavirus patients," Kumar said.
Under the tentative deal, which is yet to be ratified by the union workers, GM has agreed to begin large-scale commercial production of EV600, an electric van, at its CAMI plant, Unifor said in a statement. The Detroit automaker said in a separate statement that work would begin immediately at the plant.
SAO PAULO — Doctors in the Amazon rainforest’s biggest city are having to choose which COVID-19 patients can breathe amid dwindling oxygen stocks and an effort to airlift some of the infected to other states. Some hope for Manaus, an isolated city of 2.2 million people, landed in a Brazilian air force plane on Friday with 6,000 litres of oxygen that was distributed to hospitals. But as the pandemic hits hard, locals wonder how long the supply will last. In a city considered to be the capital of the Amazon, every oxygen tank counts. On Thursday, as heavy rain poured down in Manaus, Rafael Pereira carried a small tank containing five cubic meters of oxygen for his mother-in-law at the 28 de Agosto hospital. He didn’t want to be interviewed because of his stress, but he looked relieved when the tank — which he said would aid her breathing for an additional two hours — was taken inside. Despairing patients in overloaded hospitals waited as oxygen arrived to save some, but came too late for others. At least one of the cemeteries of Manaus had mourners lining up to enter and bury their dead. Brazilian artists, soccer clubs and politicians used their platforms to cry for help. The local government’s oxygen provider, multinational White Martins, said in a statement that it was considering diverting some of its supply from neighbouring Venezuela. It wasn't immediately clear whether this would be sufficient to address the spiraling crisis. “Yes, there is a collapse in the health care system in Manaus. The line for beds is growing by a lot — we have 480 people waiting now,” Brazil’s health minister Eduardo Pazuello said in a Thursday night broadcast on social media. “We are starting to remove patients with less serious (conditions) to reduce the impact.” Hospitals in Manaus have admitted few new COVID-19 patients, suggesting many will suffer from the disease at home, and some may die. “My grandmother died today because of lack of oxygen," Mayline da Mata, 30, told the AP outside one Manaus hospital. "My grandmother, 84 years old, couldn’t survive. She needed 15 litres per minute, and there wasn't enough.” Developing nations' medical facilities often lack the reliable supply of oxygen that's found in wealthy Europe and North America, where hospitals treat oxygen as a fundamental need and it is delivered in liquid form by tanker truck and piped directly to the beds of coronavirus patients. But even i n Los Angeles this month, a surge of coronavirus cases overwhelmed medical staff, created a shortage of oxygen and led to a directive to ambulance crews to stop transporting patients they can’t revive in the field. The strain in Manaus prompted Amazonas state's government to say it would transport 235 patients who depend on oxygen but aren't in intensive care units to five other states and the federal capital, Brasilia. Governors and mayors throughout the country offered help amid a flood of social media videos in which distraught relatives of COVID-19 patients in Manaus begged for people to buy them oxygen. Federal prosecutors in the city, however, asked a local judge to pressure President Bolsonaro's administration to step up its support. The prosecutors said later in the day that the main air force plane in the region for oxygen supply transportation “needs repair, which brought a halt to the emergency influx.” Friday morning, many of Bolsonaro's critics alleged that his administration had failed in its responsibility to foresee and prepare for the shortage and called for protest. At a prearranged time in the evening, many leaned from their windows to bang pots. “We are always doing what we have to do,” Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential residence on Friday. “The problem in Manaus is terrible. But we did our part, (with) resources, means." The air force began transporting patients out of Manaus along with medical teams on Friday. The U.S Embassy in Brasilia also confirmed it had received a request from the federal government to support the initiative, without providing details. Amazonas state's health secretariat said in an emailed statement late Friday that it had suspended a previously announced plans to evacuate newborn babies to other states, following supply of oxygen to maternity wards. Transport of the babies hasn't been ruled out, if necessary, the statement said. Local authorities recently called on the federal government to reinforce Manaus' stock of oxygen. The city’s 14-day death toll is approaching the peak of last year’s first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official data. In that first peak, Manaus consumed a maximum 30,000 cubic meters (about 1 million cubic feet) of oxygen per day, and now the need has more than doubled to nearly 70,000 cubic meters, according to White Martins. “Due to the strong impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumption of oxygen in the city increased exponentially over the last few days in comparison with a volume that was already extremely high," White Martins said in an emailed statement to AP. "Demand is much higher than anything predictable and ... continues to grow significantly.” The company added that Manaus’ remote location presents challenging logistics, requiring additional stocks to be transported by boat and by plane.. The governor also decreed more health restrictions, including the suspension of public transportation and establishing a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The new measures challenged protesters who on Thursday carried Brazilian flags through the streets. Lima, once seen as an ally of Bolsonaro, has faced criticism from supporters of the conservative president for imposing new restrictions aimed at stemming the virus' recent surge. Bolsonaro has downplayed risks of the disease, saying the economic fallout of the pandemic will kill more than the virus. His son Eduardo, a lawmaker who chairs the international relations committee in Brazil's lower house, was one of the many conservatives who in December egged on their supporters to disobey local restrictions on activity. ___ Biller reported from Rio de Janeiro. AP photographer Edmar Barros and AP videojournalist Fernando Crispim contributed to this report from Manaus. Mauricio Savarese And David Biller, The Associated Press
Forty-seven players have been forced into two weeks of hotel quarantine in Melbourne after three coronavirus infections were reported on two chartered flights carrying them to the year's first grand slam, the tournament organisers said on Saturday. Two dozen players who arrived from Los Angeles entered strict hotel quarantine after an aircrew member and Australian Open participant who is not a player tested positive for the new coronavirus. Later, another non-player passenger on a flight from Abu Dhabi tested positive, prompting the organisers to usher 23 players into hotel quarantine.
AUSTIN, Texas — The National Rifle Association announced Friday it has filed for bankruptcy protection and will seek to incorporate the nation’s most politically influential gun-rights group in Texas instead of New York, where a state lawsuit is trying to put the organization out of business. The announcement came months after New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the NRA, seeking its dissolution over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures. The coronavirus pandemic has also upended the NRA, which last year laid off dozens of employees. The group cancelled its national convention and scuttled fundraising. The NRA's bankruptcy filing listed between $100 million and $500 million in assets and between $100 million and $500 million in liabilities. Still, the NRA claimed in announcing the move that the organization was “in its strongest financial condition in years.” The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Dallas and said it planned to incorporate in Texas, where records show it formed a limited liability corporation, Sea Girt LLC, in November 2020. Sea Girt LLC made a separate bankruptcy filing Friday, listing few assets and fewer than $100,000 in liabilities. In its filing, the NRA said its longtime leader, Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre, made the decision to file for bankruptcy protection in consultation with a committee of three NRA officials formed in September to oversee its legal strategies. The NRA board voted Jan. 7 to clarify LaPierre's employment agreement, giving him the power to “reorganize or restructure the affairs” of the organization. “The move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA’s continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York,” the NRA said in a statement. In an interview, NRA board member Charles Cotton made clear that the bankruptcy filing was motivated by litigation and regulatory scrutiny in what he called “corrupt New York” — not financial concerns. “We’ve got to get in a state where we can operate without that kind of undue weaponizing of governmental agencies, and frankly to get all the litigation in a place where we’ve got an even shake,” Cotton told The Associated Press. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, quickly welcomed the news, tweeting: “Welcome to Texas — a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment.” The NRA said it has more than 400,000 members in Texas and plans to hold its annual convention in Houston later this year. Shortly after the announcement, James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight. The Democrat's lawsuit last year highlighted misspending and self-dealing claims that have roiled the NRA and LaPierre in recent years — from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself. “The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt," James said. Adam Skaggs, chief counsel at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, called the bankruptcy filing “a transparent attempt to evade (James’) campaign to hold the NRA and its corrupt leaders accountable.” Cotton said the allegations in James' lawsuit will be proven false. He said he expects LaPierre to remain at the helm of the reconstituted NRA, praising his popularity with members and proficiency at raising money for the organization. “Wayne leaving would be a bigger blow to the organization than was the illness and death of Charlton Heston,” Cotton said. The gun-rights group boasts about 5 million members. Though headquartered in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a non-profit in New York in 1871 and is incorporated in the state. Going forward, the NRA said a committee will study opportunities to relocate segments of its operations to Texas and elsewhere. Cotton declined to comment when asked if Sea Girt, which shares the name of a New Jersey firing range where the NRA began holding annual competitions in 1892, was formed as a part of a plan to facilitate the bankruptcy filing in Texas. In recent years, the NRA's relationship with New York has increasingly soured. In 2018, the organization sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo, claiming a “political vendetta” was behind a state financial watchdog's probe of whether it broke state laws by marketing an insurance program to gun owners. In November, the NRA agreed to pay $2.5 million and accept a five-year ban on marketing insurance in the state. In response to James' lawsuit, the NRA countersued with claims her actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including comments she made while running for attorney general in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.” The NRA's largest creditor, owed $1.2 million, is the organization's former advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen. The NRA sued the company in 2019, alleging overbilling, and said in Friday's bankruptcy filing that the debt owed is disputed. The lawsuit is pending. In the New York lawsuit, Ackerman McQueen was accused of aiding lavish spending by LaPierre and other NRA executives by picking up the tab and then sending a lump sum bill to the organization for “out-of-pocket expenses." “No financial filing can ever shroud the moral bankruptcy of Wayne LaPierre and his wife and their lap dogs on the NRA board,” said Bill Powers, an Ackerman McQueen spokesperson and former public affairs director for the NRA. Court records also show more than $960,000 owed to Membership Marketing Partners LLC, a firm that lists its headquarters at the same address as the NRA. Another $200,000 is owed to Speedway Motorsports, the North Carolina-based company that owns and operates NASCAR tracks, according to the records. ___ Sisak reported from New York. Associated Press reporter Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed to this report. Paul J. Weber And Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is likely to start after Joe Biden's inauguration, and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is telling senators their decision on whether to convict the outgoing president over the Capitol riot will be a “vote of conscience.” The timing for the trial, the first of a president no longer in office, has not yet been set. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear Friday that Democrats intend to move swiftly on President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID aid and economic recovery package to speed up vaccinations and send Americans relief. Biden is set to take the oath of office Wednesday. Pelosi called the recovery package a “matter of complete urgency." The uncertainty of the scheduling, despite the House’s swift impeachment of Trump just a week after the deadly Jan. 6 siege, reflects the fact that Democrats do not want the Senate trial proceedings to dominate the opening days of the Biden administration. With security on alert over the threat of more potential violence heading into the inauguration, the Senate is also moving quickly to prepare for confirming Biden's nominee for National Intelligence Director, Avril Haines. A committee hearing is set for the day before the inauguration, signalling a confirmation vote to install her in the position could come swiftly once the new president is in office. Many Democrats have pushed for an immediate impeachment trial to hold Trump accountable and prevent him from holding future office, and the proceedings could still begin by Inauguration Day. But others have urged a slower pace as the Senate considers Biden’s Cabinet nominees and the newly Democratic-led Congress considers priorities like the coronavirus plan. Biden's incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki said Friday the Senate can do both. “The Senate can do its constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the people," she said. Psaki noted that during Trump's first impeachment trial last year, the Senate continued to hold hearings each day. “There is some precedent,” she said. Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure. He was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 to acquit. When his second trial does begin, House impeachment managers say they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the bloody attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but rather part of an escalating campaign to overturn the November election. It culminated, they will argue, in the Republican president’s rally cry to “fight like hell” as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm he’d lost to Biden. For Republican senators, the trial will be a perhaps final test of their loyalty to the defeated president and his legions of supporters in their states back home, and their own experiences sheltering at the Capitol as a pro-Trump mob ransacked the building and attempted to overturn Biden's election. It will force a further re-evaluation of their relationship with the defeated president, who lost not only the White House but majority control of the Senate. “These men weren’t drunks who got rowdy — they were terrorists attacking this country’s constitutionally-mandated transfer of power,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement Friday. “They failed, but they came dangerously close to starting a bloody constitutional crisis. They must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” McConnell, who has spent the past days talking to senators and donors, is telling them the decision on whether or not to convict Trump is theirs alone — meaning the leadership team will not work to hold senators in line one way or the other. Last week's assault angered lawmakers, stunned the nation and flashed unsettling imagery around the globe, the most serious breach of the Capitol since the War of 1812, and the worst by home-grown intruders. Pelosi told reporters on Friday that the nine House impeachment managers, who act as the prosecutors for the House, are working on taking the case to trial. “The only path to any reunification of this broken and divided country is by shining a light on the truth,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., who will serve as an impeachment manager. Trump was impeached Wednesday by the House on the single charge, incitement of insurrection, in lightning-quick proceedings just a week after after the siege. Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in the 232-197 vote to impeach, the most bipartisan modern presidential impeachment. McConnell is open to considering impeachment, having told associates he is done with Trump, but he has not signalled how he would vote. McConnell continues to hold great sway in his party, even though convening the trial next week could be among his last acts as majority leader as Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate with the seating of two new Democratic senators from Georgia. No president has ever been convicted in the Senate, and it would take a two-thirds vote against Trump, an extremely high hurdle. But conviction of Trump is not out of the realm of possibility, especially as corporations and wealthy political donors distance themselves from his brand of politics and the Republicans who stood by his attempt to overturn the election. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Thursday, “Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence.” She said in a statement that the House responded “appropriately” with impeachment and she will consider the trial arguments. At least four Republican senators have publicly expressed concerns about Trump’s actions, but others have signalled their preference to move on. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., issued a statement saying he opposes impeachment against a president who has left office. Trump ally Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is building support for launching a commission to investigate the siege as an alternative to conviction. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory as lawmakers fled for shelter and police, guns drawn, barricaded the doors to the House chamber. A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the attack, and police shot and killed a woman. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. ___ Associated Press writers Will Weissert, Kevin Freking, Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Michael White's long-anticipated trip to Iran was already a disappointment. The love interest he'd gone to visit had stopped seeing him and he'd idled away hours in his hotel room by himself. Then it got much worse. On his final day, the car he and his tour guide were in was abruptly cut off by another vehicle with a passenger frantically waving his hands at them. He recalls three men getting out, one with a video camera, forcing him into their car and driving him to an office for questioning. From there, it was on to jail, where orange-tinted water spewed from the sink and shower and prison-issued dirty sandals proved useful in shoving sewer roaches in the bathroom into the toilet. A handwritten journal he wrote behind bars — a copy of which was provided exclusively to The Associated Press — offers new details about his ordeal in Iran, which ended last June when the State Department secured the Navy veteran's release. In it, he catalogues physical abuse from his jailers and taunts from fellow inmates while held on dubious allegations. He writes tenderly of the woman he visited even while likening himself to a mouse lured into a trap. And he brands himself a “political hostage,” held on pretextual charges to secure concessions from the U.S. Seven months after his release, White is trying to reassemble his life in Mexico, unsure what comes next but eager to share his story. “I don’t want the government of Iran to think that, 'Oh, Mike White's out of here, he's going away, he's going to be quiet,'" he said in a recent interview. “That's not going to happen. Believe me, if only you understood the fear and anger inside of me as a result of what they did.” The peculiar saga began in July 2018 when White flew to Iran to visit a woman he'd met years earlier in a Yahoo chat room and with whom he hoped to rekindle an on-off relationship that included two prior visits to the country. But the bond turned sour on the most recent trip when the woman stopped seeing him and encouraged him to return home earlier than he'd planned. His 156-page manuscript is told from his own perspective with details that are vivid though sometimes difficult to corroborate. Iran's mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment. But according to the document, the men who arrested him pulled him into their car and drove him, blindfolded and handcuffed, to a building for questioning. His interrogator asked about his relationship with the woman, seeming to know details of her family, and telling White, vaguely, that some in Iran were concerned about his intentions there. He was taken to what he calls the “intel jail,” where he says he was given no food for days, nor blanket or pillow even as the vent blew frigid air. The conditions were compounded, he says, by his cancer diagnosis that had resulted in chemotherapy treatment and hospital stays in the months before he left for Iran. He was repeatedly interrogated over several months about why he'd come to Iran, as officials suspicious that he may be a spy handed him questionnaires focused on his military background and any intelligence service connections. At one point, he writes, he fabricated a tale about being tasked to gather intelligence by an acquaintance he said was with the National Security Agency, figuring that interrogators wanted to hear something like that before setting him free. “I was just saying something out of desperation, doing whatever to hopefully get them to just cut me loose," he said in the interview. ”It turned out it wasn’t really helpful at all." The truth was more mundane, he says, albeit more difficult to comprehend: He was a “dumb American” pursuing love. White's decisions were undoubtedly risky: His Iran visits came despite that country's hostile relationship with the U.S. He says he and his girlfriend got together in 2014 in Iran's Kish Island, even though retired FBI agent Robert Levinson vanished from there years earlier. But White, 48, who grew up in Southern California and was honourably discharged from the Navy, says he's long been drawn to Iran's culture and people and had felt safe there, connecting through social media to a network of acquaintances. He'd once thought of law school or entering politics, but at the time of a 2018 trip he hoped would recharge his life, he was working as a Job Corps resident adviser. He struggles to reconcile his affection for the woman he perceived as his girlfriend — “Her voice melts me with its softness and tenderness. My heart flutters when I see her,” he writes — with the suspicion that he was somehow set up during his visit. His Instagram page reflects that ambivalence, with photos posted this year of them together. “Yet, sadly, I was lured into a trap, like a mouse trap. I was the mouse,” he writes. "I followed my heart instead of my head and missed signs.” In jail, he writes, he was once awakened by a guard dumping a bucket of cold water on him. Another time, an interrogator snapped a whip on his toes as he completed a questionnaire. After White tossed water on a surveillance camera to get the guards’ attention, they pummeled him in the ribs and threw him to the floor, he writes. He was relocated to another prison where some inmates tauntingly referred to him as “The Great Satan.” One placed a cockroach inside his pants pocket as a prank. At the suggestion of a prisoner he befriended, he began a handwritten manuscript, writing it under the cover of playing Sudoku to hide it from the guards. He gave the pages to the prisoner who he says was able to smuggle it out through a cousin. White ultimately faced various charges, including posting private images, collaborating with the U.S. against Iran and disrespecting Iran's supreme leader. He was sentenced to 10 years but calls the charges a pretext to “extort” concessions. He insists he's not a spy and never posted any inappropriate photos of his girlfriend. He writes in his manuscript that he has indeed made social media posts about Iran but denies having disparaged Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. An unexpected development came last spring as the coronavirus ravaged Iran. White, who was himself infected, was among thousands of prisoners released on medical furlough, permitted to live freely in Tehran in the Swiss Embassy's custody while required to remain in Iran. The State Department, which has maintained that White was wrongfully detained, arranged for his release in June, flying him back to the U.S. as part of a deal that spared additional prison time for an American-Iranian doctor convicted in the U.S. of sanctions violations. In August, he visited the White House with other freed hostages and detainees to record a Republican National Convention segment praising the Trump administration. He sat beside President Donald Trump in a three-piece suit in an experience he says made him feel like a celebrity, though he recalls Trump not shaking his hand. “He was like, well, you know, if the media sees that, they're going to be flipping out of because of the corona(virus) thing,” White said. White isn't sure what comes next. He had contemplated opening a Persian restaurant, but isn't sure he'll do that now. He likens his life to the aftermath of a city-flattening hurricane. "I’m just picking up the pieces, regrouping and trying to figure out how I’m going to move forward and stuff." ____ Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 48,195 new vaccinations administered for a total of 507,687 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,339.569 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 66.67 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 4,880 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 11,369 new vaccinations administered for a total of 127,073 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.851 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.36 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 15,609 new vaccinations administered for a total of 174,630 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.888 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 63.03 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,130 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,032 new vaccinations administered for a total of 14,017 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.887 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 57.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,157 new vaccinations administered for a total of 74,110 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.835 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,168 new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 499 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 462 new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published January 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
Washington increases security to prepare for potential violence leading up to Joe Biden's inauguration, while more ugly details emerge about the white nationalist mobs that rampaged Capitol Hill last week.
Friday's Games NHL Washington 2 Buffalo 1 Tampa Bay 5 Chicago 2 Philadelphia 5 Pittsburgh 2 Ottawa 5 Toronto 3 Colorado 8 St. Louis 0 Dallas at Florida — postponed --- NBA Boston 124 Orlando 97 Cleveland 106 New York 103 Milwaukee 112 Dallas 109 Oklahoma City 127 Chicago 125 (OT) Utah 116 Atlanta 92 L.A. Clippers 138 Sacramento 100 L.A. Lakers 112 New Orleans 95 Washington at Detroit — postponed Memphis at Minnesota — postponed Golden State at Phoenix — postponed --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
Many of the province’s co-visitation shelters at personal care homes began operating this week, while some still await permits. Most, however, have permits in place, Shared Health chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said Thursday. Of the 125 care homes in the province, 43 are in the Prairie Mountain Health region. Some, such as those in Hamiota, Dauphin and Souris, have been outfitted with internal visitation shelters. Others, such as those in Deloraine, Neepawa and Brandon, have been outfitted with external visitation shelters. “The (personal care home) numbers continue to improve, so they want to encourage visitation as much as possible,” Siragusa said. The external, all-season shelters have been carefully developed and constructed with every COVID-19 precaution to allow residents to safely and comfortably participate in social visits with family members and loved ones, a provincial spokesperson stated by email. External and internal shelters have dedicated ventilation systems designed to ensure the required level of air changes, filtration and directional airflow to support the safety of both residents and families, the spokesperson added. Interior surfaces were selected to complement and facilitate ongoing cleaning and disinfection occurring between visits. As well, the shelters are designed so that visitors enter from outside of the building and are not required to travel through the care home, limiting exposure to residents and staff. The designated interior spaces were developed with similar precautions in place. While the province continues under critical level red restrictions, the shelters can accommodate a maximum of one general visitor at a time visiting with one personal care home resident. Visitor screening for symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19 remains in place, and masks must be worn by visitors and residents. Physical distancing must also be maintained for the duration of the visit. Visits are by appointment only, with more details available from individual personal care homes in the coming days, according to the spokesperson. Exact information on how many shelters are in operation will be available next week. A video about the shelters can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/2XGPK49, while the rules regarding visitation can be found at https://bit.ly/35GOja8. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Nick Mantas won a narrow victory Friday night to replace former Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis in Ward 22. Mantas, who was the former chief of staff to Karygiannis, was considered one of the more high-profile candidates among the 28 running in the byelection for Scarborough-Agincourt. According to the city's unofficial results, Mantas had a total of 3,261 votes with all 41 polls reporting. He won by a margin of just 223 votes over his nearest rival, Manna Wong, who garnered 3,038 votes. The results are deemed unofficial until the city clerk can declare a winner, according to a tweet from Toronto Elections. Karygiannis was removed as city councillor in September 2020 due to a campaign spending violation in the 2018 municipal election. In an email on Thursday, Mayor John Tory urged people to go to the polls and cast their ballots, even though they're living under a provincial stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I want to reassure residents that health and safety has been a top priority for this election and that city staff have been working with Toronto Public Health to make sure all safety protocols are in place," Tory told CBC Toronto. The city said in a news release this week that the byelection can proceed as planned. "Government services, including elections, are essential for the continuity of government," the city said in the release. "Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt has been without representation since September 24, 2020, and it is important that the electors are able to exercise their democratic right to vote." The release said the city clerk, with the help of Toronto Public Health, reviewed the provincial stay-at-home order that took effect in Ontario on Thursday and determined that the vote can and will proceed.
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. Question: It seems that positivity numbers are falling, though they still remain two-to-three times the three per cent rate that Dr. Roussin described previously as “concerning.” But, the number of tests being done has also fallen. If more tests were being done, would we be finding more cases, and thus be getting ahead of the curve instead of just trailing after it? Dr. Brent Roussin: It depends. Asymptomatic testing, we’ve shown time and time again, has limited benefits on the grand scale. There’s certain times where it can be very targeted and (a) benefit. But, we see the asymptomatic testing is less likely to find positive cases. We see our test positivity rates here in the second wave remain fairly high, although dropping. It’s dropping with their stable number of tests. So, it is telling us what the trajectory is. What we see in the in the second wave … we’re just not seeing many other respiratory viruses. This time of year, we see RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), we see influenza, and we’re just not seeing any viruses circulate. So, right now, if somebody’s going to have respiratory symptoms, it’s very likely to be COVID. That’s why our test positivity rate remains high because there’s just not many other things out there making people ill. So, we are going to follow that over time. There are times for asymptomatic testing. But, we do have to ensure we’re using our resources effectively. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The Town of Gananoque is poised to approve a 2021 budget calling for a property tax increase of 1.6 per cent. Town council completed its budget deliberations in December, and on Tuesday it gave the operating and capital budgets first and second readings. This year's property tax increase is capped at 1.6 per cent. "The Town of Gananoque staff and all department heads have been working diligently since the fall to mitigate any revenue shortfalls so that the residents of Gananoque do not have a significant increase in their property taxes in 2021 especially after going through a difficult and challenging year in 2020," said Mayor Ted Lojko. That means that residents will see an additional $41.08 per year on the average house valued at $196,408. As a single-tier municipality, Gananoque is in the enviable position of not having to worry about the counties levy increases and delays associated with the county passing its budget. "We pay a levy to the counties for joint services, and no, they have not finalized their budgets, so we included a 1.25-per-cent increase, which will almost cover the proposed 2021 share," said town treasurer Melanie Kirkby. The town’s total operating budget stands at $19,199,341. The tax increase will give the town a net tax levy of $8,250,130, and staff is projecting $10,541,666 in revenues between the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, the federal gas tax, casino revenues, reserves ($408,000), grants ($490,000) and town user fees. The total capital budget is $4,987,650 and includes Phase Two of the Pine Street reconstruction. This second phase will complete Pine Street from Charles Street to William Street South and will include new sewers, watermain and street lighting. The multi-use sports courts are in there, as are hydro upgrades at the marina along with a number of smaller items. The full details are posted on the town's website under the council agenda package for Jan. 12. The only unknown at this time is the education portion of property taxes, but that's the smallest portion of the bill and in past years has either stayed the same or occasionally gone down. "Third reading is February 2 and the only change made by council was to add $80,000 to the capital budget for an environment action plan; $40,000 to be funded through a grant and $40,000 to be funded from capital reserves," said Kirkby. Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
OTTAWA — Brady Tkachuk had a goal and two assists, Matt Murray made 20 saves in his Ottawa debut, and the Senators defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 on Friday in their first game in more than 10 months. Thomas Chabot, Austin Watson, Derek Stepan and Chris Tierney also scored for Ottawa. Josh Norris, with his first NHL points, Drake Batherson and Nikita Zaitsev added two assists each in the first of nine meetings between the Ontario rivals in the pandemic-shortened season. John Tavares, with a goal and an assist, Zach Hyman and Alexander Kerfoot replied for the Leafs. Frederik Andersen stopped 19 shots for Toronto, which will look to rebound when the teams play the rematch Saturday back inside an empty Canadian Tire Centre because of COVID-19 restrictions. Friday's tilt marked the Senators' first game in 310 days after they unknowingly took part in the final contest of the 2019-20 regular season March 11 in Los Angeles against the Kings. The league suspended its schedule the following day because of the widening coronavirus pandemic, and 30th-ranked Ottawa was among the seven clubs not included in the 24-team summer restart. Playing their first home game since March 5 — a stretch of 316 days — the rebuilding Senators unveiled an off-season roster remake that includes No. 3 overall pick Tim Stutzle, who celebrated both his NHL debut and 19th birthday, Murray in goal, defencemen Erik Gudbranson, Josh Brown and Braydon Coburn, as well as Stepan, Watson, Evgenii Dadonov and Cedric Paquette up front. The Leafs, Senators and Canada's other five NHL franchises have been grouped together in the one-time-only North Division for the abbreviated 56-game 2020-21 campaign to avoid cross-border travel into the U.S. Tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, the Leafs went ahead at 9:15 of the second when Kerfoot fired a shot through traffic past Murray, who was playing his first game with Ottawa after an off-season trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But the Senators got back even 1:13 later when Tkachuk outmuscled T.J. Brodie in front of Andersen to tip Zaitsev's shot home. Watson then got in on the action at 12:32, taking a drop pass from Braydon Coburn after some nice work by Nick Paul, and ripping a shot in off the crossbar to give Ottawa its first lead. Tierney then made it 4-2 at 15:03 when he swatted at a loose puck that deflected in off Brodie as the Leafs, who beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in overtime on Wednesday in their season opener, were once again soft in coverage in front of Andersen. Brodie's miserable night continued when he gave the puck away behind the Toronto net to Stepan. Batherson's stick broke on his shot attempt, but the puck dribbled to Stepan, who swept Ottawa's 5-2 goal past Andersen at 6:15 of the third. The Leafs got a power play not long after that, and Tavares snapped his second of the season in off the post just 52 seconds later for Toronto's second power-play goal of the night and fourth already in 2021. Andersen kept his team within two with a great stop on a pinching Gudbranson with about eight minutes to go and then also robbed Paquette from in tight a couple shifts later, but the Leafs were unable to get any closer. Toronto opened the scoring at 9:59 of the first when Hyman batted a puck out of midair on a power play after Murray, who was playing in the 200th regular-season game of his career, made the initial save. The sequence went to video review for a possible high stick, but the call on the ice stood. Wearing rebranded black jerseys featuring a return to the two-dimensional centurion logo used by the franchise from 1992 through 2007, the Senators equalized on a 5-on-3 man advantage when Batherson found Chabot for a one-timer with 43.5 seconds left in the period. Notes: There was a pre-game moment of silence in honour of former "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek and former Senators general manager John Muckler. Trebek, who died Nov. 8 at age 80, was a graduate of the University of Ottawa and announced the pick when the Senators selected Stutzle third overall at October's NHL draft. Muckler, who died Jan. 4 at age 86, served as Ottawa's general manager from 2001 to 2007... Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the morning skate backup goalie Jack Campbell will start Saturday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter The Canadian Press
INGERSOLL, Ont. — GM Canada says it has reached a tentative deal with Unifor that if ratified will see it invest $1 billion to transform its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., to make commercial electric vehicles. Unifor National President Jerry Dias says along with the significant investment the agreement will mean new products, new jobs and job security for workers. Dias says in a statement that more details of the tentative deal will be presented to Unifor Local 88 members at an online ratification meeting scheduled for Sunday. He says the results of the ratification vote are scheduled to be released on Monday. Details of the agreement were not released Friday night. A GM spokeswoman says in a statement that the plan is to build BrightDrop EV 600s -- an all-new GM business announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show that will offer a cleaner way for delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021 The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. There are 695,707 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 695,707 confirmed cases (76,068 active, 601,910 resolved, 17,729 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,812 new cases Friday from 133,443 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 202.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 51,358 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 7,337. There were 147 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 976 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 139. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.17 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,396,962 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 395 confirmed cases (eight active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Friday from 194 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.52 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,022 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday from 436 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 85,412 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,550 confirmed cases (32 active, 1,453 resolved, 65 deaths). There were two new cases Friday from 1,168 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 193,733 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 884 confirmed cases (257 active, 615 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 25 new cases Friday from 1,008 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 33.08 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 149 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 21. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 126,091 tests completed. _ Quebec: 238,745 confirmed cases (21,873 active, 207,934 resolved, 8,938 deaths). There were 1,918 new cases Friday from 8,471 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. The rate of active cases is 257.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 15,639 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,234. There were 62 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 332 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 47. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.56 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 105.34 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,637,674 tests completed. _ Ontario: 231,308 confirmed cases (28,825 active, 197,194 resolved, 5,289 deaths). There were 2,998 new cases Friday from 74,248 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 197.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,914 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,273. There were 54 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 361 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 52. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,504,186 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,145 confirmed cases (2,907 active, 23,478 resolved, 760 deaths). There were 191 new cases Friday from 1,913 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. The rate of active cases is 212.27 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,182 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169. There were five new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 34 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 55.5 per 100,000 people. There have been 436,236 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 19,715 confirmed cases (4,010 active, 15,495 resolved, 210 deaths). There were 382 new cases Friday from 1,466 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 26 per cent. The rate of active cases is 341.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,240 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 320. There were four new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 26 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.32 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 17.88 per 100,000 people. There have been 319,186 tests completed. _ Alberta: 115,370 confirmed cases (12,189 active, 101,779 resolved, 1,402 deaths). There were 785 new cases Friday from 39,788 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 278.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,718 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 817. There were 13 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 161 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 23. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.53 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.07 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 60,117 confirmed cases (5,955 active, 53,115 resolved, 1,047 deaths). There were 509 new cases Friday from 4,493 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 117.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,485 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 498. There were nine new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 59 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is eight. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,017,546 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday from 115 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,256 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 25 confirmed cases (one active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Friday from 62 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.23 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been one new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday from 81 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,558 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
An aftershock jolted Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Saturday as rescue workers combed the rubble of collapsed buildings for survivors after an earthquake killed at least 46 people on Friday and sent thousands of residents fleeing in panic. The country's disaster mitigation agency said no damage or casualties were reported from Saturday's magnitude-5.0 tremor in the West Sulawesi districts of Mamuju and Majene, which shook the area a day after the magnitude-6.2 quake. Agency head Doni Monardo told local TV the search continued for people who could still be trapped alive under rubble, and a spokesman told reporters emergency measures had been put in place in the province to help rescue efforts.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to boost supplies of coronavirus vaccine and set up new vaccination sites to meet his goal of 100 million shots in 100 days. It's part of a broader COVID strategy that also seeks to straighten out snags in testing and ensure minority communities are not left out. “Some wonder if we are reaching too far,” Biden said Friday. “Let me be clear, I'm convinced we can get it done.” The real payoff, Biden said, will come from uniting the nation in a new effort grounded in science. Biden spoke a day after unveiling a $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” to confront the virus and provide temporary support for a shaky economy. About $400 billion of the plan is focused on measures aimed at controlling the virus. Those range from mass vaccination centres to more sophisticated scientific analysis of new strains and squads of local health workers to trace the contacts of infected people. “You have my word: We will manage the hell out of this operation,” Biden declared. He underscored a need for Congress to approve more money and for people to keep following basic precautions, such as wearing masks, avoiding gatherings and frequently washing their hands. Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments. A key challenge for Biden and the nation: Vaccines are in too-short supply. Biden said he would use the Defence Production Act, a Cold War-era law, to boost vaccine supplies and work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up 100 vaccination centres around the country by the end of his first month in office. “Almost a year later, we’re still far from back to normal. The honest truth is this: Things will get worse before they get better," he said Friday, as U.S. deaths climbed closer to 400,000. The global toll has now reached 2 million. Biden seconded the Trump administration's call earlier this week for states to start vaccinating more seniors, reaching those 65 and older as well as younger people with certain health problems. Until now states have been focused on inoculating health care workers, and some are starting to vaccinate people 75 and older. Relatively few are providing shots to people between 65 and 75. Another carryover from the Trump administration plan: Biden said he intends to mobilize local pharmacies to administer vaccines. “Is it achievable?" he asked. "It’s a legitimate question to ask. Let me be clear. I’m convinced we can get it done.” In fact, Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician, said the president-elect should aim higher. “At this point, mass vaccination is our last and best chance to restoring normalcy,” she said. “There should be no expenses spared in the vaccine rollout. A hundred million in 100 days needs to be seen as only a start." Two medical groups, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Group, said Friday evening they “strongly support” the Biden plan. The strategy “will be vital to ending the impacts of COVID-19” in the U.S., the groups said. As Biden spoke, some governors blasted the Trump administration for what at least one said was “deception” in suggesting earlier this week that a reserve of vaccine doses was ready to ship, augmenting supplies. An administration official said states have still not ordered all of the doses allocated to them, and called it a problem with states' expectations. Biden committed to better communication with the states, to avoid such surprises. His plan calls for the federal government to fully reimburse states that mobilize their National Guards to help distribute vaccines. Biden's proposal comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. “We remain in a very dark winter,” he said. The political outlook for the legislation remains unclear, although a powerful business lobbying group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, welcomed its focus on controlling the pandemic. “This is not a political issue,” Biden said. “This is about saving lives. I know it’s become a partisan issue, but what a stupid, stupid thing to happen.” Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably tied to control of the coronavirus. Under Biden's multipronged strategy, about $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centres and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas. On Friday, he announced former FDA chief David Kessler as his chief science officer for the vaccine drive. Kessler has been advising Biden as a co-chair of his advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic. A pediatrician and attorney, he has emphasized a need to ease public concerns about the safety of the vaccines. With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 12.3 million doses administered out of more than 31 million delivered, or 39%. About 10.6 million individuals have received first or second doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the American Hospital Association estimates that 246 million must be vaccinated to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer. Vaccines currently available require two shots to be fully effective. Biden has called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure so far." “We need to be getting to more than 3 million vaccinations a day, rapidly,” said Wen. Biden's plan also would provide $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration's first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion. The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus. The Biden administration also plans to launch a public education campaign to overcome doubts about vaccination. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
NEW DELHI — India started inoculating health workers Saturday in what is likely the world's largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already well underway. The country is home to the world's largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs. But there is no playbook for the enormity of the challenge. Indian authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people, roughly the population of the U.S and several times more than its existing program that targets 26 million infants. The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers to be followed by 270 million others, who are either aged over 50 or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to COVID-19. Health officials haven't specified what percentage of the nearly 1.4 billion people will be targeted by the campaign. But experts say it will almost certainly be the largest such drive globally. The sheer scale has its obstacles. For instance, India plans to rely heavily on a digital platform to track the shipment and delivery of vaccines. But public health experts point out that the internet remains patchy in large parts of the country, and some remote villages are entirely unconnected. Aniruddha Ghosal, The Associated Press