Wisconsin's top elections official says no more than 400 National Guard troops will be needed at the polls next week as coronavirus cases surge. Meagan Wolfe said Thursday that she expects there will be few gaps to fill on Election Day. (Oct. 29)
Wisconsin's top elections official says no more than 400 National Guard troops will be needed at the polls next week as coronavirus cases surge. Meagan Wolfe said Thursday that she expects there will be few gaps to fill on Election Day. (Oct. 29)
WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Organizations representing doctors and nurses in Quebec say they're increasingly worried as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb heading into what is normally one of the busiest times of the year for the province's hospitals.“In a normal year, there's a surge of activity at the beginning of January,” Dr. Hoang Duong, the president of Quebec's association of internal medicine specialists, said in a phone interview.“The first wave, it’s left its scars,” he added. “Our staff, nurses especially, are very tired.”Many nurses are on sick leave, Duong said, leaving the health-care system short-staffed. “We have to divert staff to take care of COVID patients, which makes even less staff available,” he said.The deteriorating situation in the province's hospitals was cited Tuesday by Premier Francois Legault as a factor that could force him to cancel a plan to allow multi-household gatherings over Christmas. On Wednesday, as the province reported more than 1,500 daily COVID-19 infections for the first time since the pandemic began, deputy premier Genevieve Guilbault announced measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.As of Friday, stores will have to adhere to new limits on the number of people allowed inside or risk fines of up to $6,000. The province says enforcement, including ensuring proper distancing and the wearing of masks, will fall to mall owners and store owners.Guilbault cited images of packed shops and malls as the reason behind the decision to regulate capacity as the busy holiday shopping season begins. She said the measures were necessary as the province reported a record 1,514 new COVID-19 cases and 43 additional deaths linked to the virus.The number of people in Quebec hospitals with COVID-19 rose by 21 Wednesday for a total of 740, including 99 in intensive care.Nathalie Levesque, the vice-president of Quebec’s largest nurses union, said Quebec already faced a shortage of nurses. With the pandemic, thousands of nurses are currently on medical leave or can’t work for preventive reasons. Levesque said she’s “very, very concerned” about the coming weeks, a period when hospital emergency rooms often see higher numbers of patients with colds, flu and stomach infections. Hospital emergency rooms in Quebec were already frequently over capacity, she said.Last week, she said, nurses in the Montreal area were asked to volunteer to work in other parts of the province that have been particularly affected by the pandemic. In some regions, private seniors residences have asked public health authorities to provide them with nurses to assist with COVID-19 outbreaks.Levesque said she’s worried this will leave some health-care facilities without enough staff, adding that she hopes administrators are being careful when they agree to transfer staff. Duong, who works at a hospital diabetes clinic, said nurses he works with have transferred to a new department dedicated to COVID-19. “I understand that, because we do have to take care of COVID patients," he said. "But that also means that diabetic patients, are not going to get, at least for now, the care that they usually do."Quebec hospitals still haven't recovered from the almost total cancellation of non-emergency surgeries and medical imaging during the first wave of the pandemic, the province's Health Department confirmed Wednesday."All hospitals in Quebec have been forced to delay surgeries," Robert Maranda, a department spokesman wrote in an email, adding that the waiting list is continuing to diminish.Dr. Matthew Oughton, who specializes in infectious diseases at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, said there's "little resilience" in Quebec's health-care system. As the number of hospitalizations in a region rise, it reduces flexibility and the ability to provide services, putting more pressure on other hospitals.Duong said he was relieved to hear Quebec Premier Francois Legault say Tuesday that the province is rethinking its plan to allow gatherings of up to 10 people for four days around Christmas. As a doctor, he said, he wants every precaution taken to prevent the spread of the virus, though he understands that people want to get together this time of year."It's a hard choice to make," he said, adding that he believes public health authorities will make the right decision.Meanwhile, the Retail Council of Canada said it welcomed the province's new measures on store capacity, noting they were largely in line with its own recommendations to retailers.“We understand that the government must give itself the tools to intervene with certain less collaborative retailers," the council's Quebec representative Marc Fortin said in a statement. "The health and safety of employees and consumers remain the priority of our retailers."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.Jacob Serebrin and Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
The Town of Deer Lake is set to begin gradually reopening some of its municipal buildings on Saturday, after taking its own initiative in closing them down due to a small cluster of COVID-19 cases.Those cases — including one in an elementary school — sprang up in the community over the last two weeks, prompting town officials to turn out the lights at several public facilities. The Hodder Memorial Recreation Centre will reopen to the public on Saturday. The town is reminding groups to review the safety measures previously established for arenas, outlined on the provincial government's COVID-19 website.The Deer Lake town office will resume operations on Monday.Businesses in Deer Lake that were asked to cease regular operations can now begin to reopen, based on their own unique protocols, according to a town media release."The cooperation and dedication of Deer Lake residents in controlling the spread of this virus in our community is truly remarkable," said Mayor Dean Ball in the media release."This virus has changed our daily lives significantly, [and] this surely hasn't been an easy time for anyone. I am confident that our united commitment and community spirit will carry us forward as we deal with the COVID-19 virus."On Wednesday Fitzgerald said public health is still keeping an eye on small clusters of COVID-19 cases located throughout the province — including Deer Lake. "Some people in Grand Bank have gotten through their isolation periods, but not everyone has. So we're still following up, and same for Deer Lake — we're only about half way through that," said Fitzgerald in Wednesday's live COVID-19 briefing."We're watching things closely. Anyone who was a close contact may go on to develop symptoms, so that's certainly something we're watching out for. But, by and large, we know what's happening there and we feel comfortable with where we are now."Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
COVID-19. En prévision de la période achalandée du magasinage des Fêtes, un resserrement des mesures entrera en vigueur dans les commerces à compter du 4 décembre, afin de limiter les risques de transmission du virus et d'assurer le bon déroulement des activités dans le respect des consignes sanitaires. Les commerçants devront, entre autres, réduire le nombre maximal de clients pouvant se trouver dans leur établissement. «L'achalandage du temps des Fêtes est bien commencé dans nos commerces. Nous magasinons pour nos êtres chers, et c'est tout à fait normal. Cependant, vu la croissance du nombre d'hospitalisations et la courbe des cas qui ne fléchit pas, nous avons décidé de resserrer les mesures préventives en place afin de limiter autant que possible les risques d'éclosion. Nos forces policières seront également plus présentes. J'invite nos citoyens à favoriser l'achat local et à investir dans nos entreprises d'ici, qui ont travaillé très fort au cours des derniers mois dans un contexte difficile. Il ne reste que quelques semaines avant Noël, alors si chacun y met du sien, nous pourrons peut-être passer des moments précieux avec nos proches», souligne Geneviève Guilbault, vice-première ministre et ministre de la Sécurité publique en précisant que la capacité d'accueil, calculée en fonction de la superficie de plancher accessible aux clients, devra être affichée bien à la vue. Également, en fonction de la superficie de plancher utilisable par les clients, les exploitants devront limiter l'accès aux lieux, contrôler le nombre de personnes à l'intérieur et prévoir des mesures de gestion de l'achalandage (p. ex. : marquage au sol, corridor de circulation à sens unique, gestion des files d'attente). Ils devront continuer de s'assurer du respect des consignes sanitaires par les clients et le personnel, notamment la distanciation de 2 mètres entre les personnes et le port du couvre-visage. Afin d'assurer la sécurité de tous, la présence d'employés de la Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, de la santé publique et des corps policiers sera intensifiée dès ce vendredi. Enfin, des mesures limitant les rassemblements continueront de s'appliquer pour la période du jour de l'An. Dans ce contexte, les policiers assureront une plus grande présence sur le terrain et continueront d'être vigilants et d'intervenir au besoin, particulièrement les 31 décembre 2020 et 1er janvier 2021. Ils disposeront des pouvoirs nécessaires pour faire cesser les infractions à la Loi sur la santé publique. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The N.W.T. Housing Corporation on Wednesday said it was providing a total of more than $300,000 to projects in Nahanni Butte and Colville Lake. The corporation's Community Housing Support program will give $50,000 to the Nahɂą Dehé Dene Band in Nahanni Butte to fund emergency repairs to homes in the community. A 2019 GNWT housing report identified Nahanni Butte, one of the smallest N.W.T. communities, as having among the highest proportion of houses requiring major repairs. The Behdzi Ahda First Nation in Colville Lake will receive $264,000 to help construct four log homes providing affordable housing. Materials are scheduled to arrive in April 2021. The First Nation will provide the labour to complete the project. "Log homes are an important part of Colville Lake’s history and the look and feel of our town,” Chief Wilbert Kochon of Behdzi Adha First Nation is quoted as saying. “This project will also provide the community much-needed economic development, jobs and training.” The same 2019 housing report said Colville Lake, another of the territory's smallest communities, had the N.W.T.'s highest proportion of dwellings with housing issues. Ninety per cent of Colville Lake's homes had problems at the time of the report. Some community members said last year they were planning to make their own homes to address the community’s dire need for adequate and suitable housing.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
The organizers of an anti-mask rally in Calgary on the weekend have been charged for breaching public health orders. One of them is a downtown street preacher who was fined earlier in the pandemic for similar alleged behaviour.Hundreds marched through downtown Calgary on Saturday to protest against mandated masks and other public health measures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.The charges fall under the Public Health Act.Street preacher Art Pawlowski faces tickets for failing to wear a face covering and failing to have an event permit.David Pawlowski and Ryan Audette each face a charge of failing to wear a face covering where required.Police are looking for three others who are also facing charges.A first-time breach of the Public Health Act is a $1,200 fine, police say. Mask bylaw violations are $50 fines.In April, Art Pawlowski, who leads a street church, was fined $1,200 for allegedly holding a gathering of more than 15 people at Olympic Plaza.Police said tickets were not issued right away Saturday because officers who attended the rally were concerned for their safety."It is not always prudent to issue a ticket at the time of an alleged offence," said the Calgary Police Service in a written statement. "For example, during a protest or event where emotions are high."Speaking on the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday, Ryan Pleckaitis, the city's chief bylaw officer, said police and bylaw officers worked together over the weekend to gather evidence against organizers. "Moving forward, I anticipate if some of these rallies continue, and if there's not adherence to the public health order, we will continue to do the same. And hopefully, through enforcement, we can start to curb some of those behaviours."The protests have taken place weekly in the city and across the country for months, but Saturday's was the first since Alberta's 10-person limit on outdoor gatherings was announced five days earlier.
Purolator has teamed up with emerging Canadian artists to help spread a little holiday cheer this year. The shipping company has selected 13 artists from across the country – one from each province and territory – to design a unique and festive shipping box that will be made available at Purolator shipping centres and Michaels craft stores for anyone looking to send a little extra cheer along with their gifts to their friends and families this holiday season. With the country boasting a population of more than 37 million people, choosing one artist from each province and territory in Canada could have proved to be quite daunting, but Patrick Hunter, a Two Spirit Ojibwe artist, said he thinks the online community he has already amassed helped to secure him the spot as Ontario's representative. “I have a pretty nice following of people on Instagram, and I think that's how they reached out when they were trying to find diverse artists to be a part of this project,” Hunter explained. “It was a quick turnaround to get the project off the ground, I think we started in November or the end of October, but with really cool emails like that, 'Purolator wants to work with you on such-and-such,' it's a pretty quick response. I think it took me all of ten seconds to say 'yes, I'm in.'” While he is currently working out of Toronto, Hunter is originally from Red Lake. His art in the Woodland style takes inspiration from his hometown and the work of famed Woodland artist Norval Morrisseau, and he brought the same sensibilities he brings to his painting to the art he was inspired to create for Purolator's box, along with his own wishes for the holiday season. “It's all digital artwork, so you have to know how to use some graphic design-y programs,” Hunter explained. “We were given a template to work within the edges and back and top sides. Why I chose the imagery I chose, which is Ojibwe florals, is because it's a holiday season, it's one of my favourite gifts to give, and one of the best gifts First Nations folks give their friends are beaded moccasins or gloves, so my hope for these boxes is when someone gets a box that they have that feeling of 'oh my god, beautiful box' but then 'what's inside?'” Being chosen by Purolator to be the representative for Ontario also carries added heft for Hunter. Knowing the boxes have the potential to wind up almost anywhere in the world, Hunter said that it was like a personal responsibility to answer Purolator's call for his art. “I'm a First Nations gay man from Red Lake, Ontario,” he explained. “When things like this come along you have an obligation to the people that are coming behind you to try and illuminate the path. So my goal with this is to show other First Nations kids and gay artists can have opportunities like this too and not be afraid of them. As well, to bring some visibility. I don't think First Nations culture is always put in the forefront in a mainstream way and Purolator has done a good job of asking not just me but other diverse people in Canada to come up with box designs.” Laurie Weston is the director of retail for Purolator who was on the team searching for artists to take part in the campaign. She noted that part of trying to find emerging artists to design a box was ensuring they were a good fit for both where they came from and the peoples and cultures they represented. “What's really interesting about this is we actually went grassroots and we scoured social media,” Weston explained. “We went through social media and we narrowed it down to the ones that we felt their artwork represented not only the province but their culture. I think with Patrick, we were so incredibly lucky he wanted to do this with us because I think his floral motif and his indigenous background and what it represents for Ontario is pretty special. So it resonated with us. So that's why we picked him.” In a year when the shipping company expects far more packages to be delivered over the holiday season – Weston said their busy season began in August this year, when it usually starts to pick up in November – the drive to showcase original Canadian art on special holiday boxes was to help spread that sense of community and Christmas spirit that might otherwise be hard to come by in 2020. “People are not able to travel, and what's happened with us is the increase in shopping online, but people are coming in and shipping packages to loved ones,” Weston explained. “They're not able to travel and see their loved ones this holiday season so we really wanted to share some of the Christmas spirit from a Canadian lens. Purolator does support small businesses and entrepreneurs, but this is a different evolution of that. We just really wanted to showcase these new artists.” As part of Purolator's partnership with Michaels craft stores, the companies are also holding a Design-A-Box Sweepstakes. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Michaels website in order to download a box template they can then design, photograph and submit for the chance to win a $1,000 Michaels gift card and free shipping with Purolator for a year. Hunter has been doing his work professionally for the past six years, and in the near future he's also looking at moving out of Toronto to be a little bit closer to home, and begin producing more items in his line of houseware products. He noted the opportunity to be a part of Purolator's holiday campaign helped to confirm in his mind that pursuing the career path he did was a good choice and hopefully help to spread awareness of Indigenous artists even further abroad. “It makes me feel like I'm on the right path and I did choose a good career in graphic design,” he said. “To have [the art] put on these boxes in such a public way, it means a lot and I'm so thrilled just to be a part of the project, but then to have this kind of message of like 'hey, we're Indigenous people, we haven't gone anywhere, we're still here' I think it's great to illuminate the path for people to ask questions.” For more information on Purolator's holiday boxes visit their website and to take part in the Design-A-Box sweepstakes, visit the Michael's website. For more information on Patrick Hunter and his artwork, visit his website at patrickhunter.ca or follow him on Instagram @patrickhunter_artKen Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
As an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves comes to an end, the head of the United Nations challenged world leaders to make 2021 the year that humanity ends its “war on nature” and commits to a future free of planet-warming carbon pollution.With new reports highlighting 2020’s record-breaking weather and growing fossil fuels extraction that triggers global warming, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered yet another urgent appeal to curb climate change. It was tinged with optimism but delivered dire warnings, as the UN gears up for a Dec. 12 virtual climate summit in France on the 5th anniversary of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.“The state of the planet is broken,” Guterres said in a speech at Columbia University. “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal.”“Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are increasingly the new normal,” he said.In a report, the World Meteorological Organization said this year is set to end about 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the last half of the 1800s, which scientists use as a baseline for warming caused by heat-trapping gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Most trapped heat goes into the world’s seas, and ocean temperatures now are at record levels. It also means 2020 will go down as one of the three hottest years on record.“There is at least a one-in-five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2024,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said. The Paris climate accord set a goal of not exceeding 1.5-degree (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming since pre-industrial times.A new analysis by Climate Action Tracker scientists who monitor carbon pollution and pledges to cut them said public commitments to emission cuts, if kept, would limit warming to about 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and possibly as low as 2.1 degrees Celsius.Guterres saw hope in promises by more than 100 countries that by mid-century they will not be adding more heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere than trees and technology can remove, along with shorter term pollution cuts. China and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden have pledged net zero carbon emissions.“I firmly believe that 2021 can be a new kind of leap year — the year of a quantum leap towards carbon neutrality,” Guterres said.But he said the two U.N. reports Wednesday “spell out how close we are to climate catastrophe.”When countries spend trillions of dollars to recover from the pandemic-triggered economic slowdown, Guterres said they must to do so in a way that emphasizes clean energy.Nations should stop funding and subsidizing fossil fuels, he said. And countries need to fulfil their Paris promise to spend $100 billion annually to help poorer countries develop cleaner energy.Guterres said there’s no way the world can curb the climate change “without U.S. leadership” and urged students and other Americans to do “everything you can” to get their governments to curb emissions more quickly.One of the new reports found countries would need to cut production of oil, coal and natural gas by 6% each year by 2030 to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Instead, a review of eight major fossil-fuel producing nations showed they plan to increase production by 2% annually. That means twice the amount of carbon-based fuel would come onto the market than feasible to keep the Paris goal within reach.Governments in the Group of 20 major and emerging economies have so far committed more money to prop up fossil fuel sectors than to boost the rollout of renewable energy, the report found.Co-author Ivetta Gerasimchuk of the International Institute for Sustainable Development said investing in oil, coal and gas no longer makes economic sense because renewable energy is becoming cheaper than fossil fuels. But, she said, “We see that instead of governments letting these fossil fuel projects die they resurrect them from the dead.”The WMO’s report found global warming is worsening in all seven key climate indicators, but the problem is increasing human suffering in an already bad year.“In 2020, over 50 million people have been doubly hit: by climate-related disasters (floods, droughts and storms) and the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ the report said. ”Countries in Central America are suffering from the triple-impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota, COVID-19 and pre-existing humanitarian crises.”Among the dozens of extremes the report highlighted:\-- A record 30 Atlantic named tropical storms and hurricanes.\--Death Valley, California, hit 129.9 degrees (54.4 degrees Celsius), the hottest the world has seen in 80 years.\--Record wildfires struck California and Colorado in the western United States, following a major fire season and record heat in Australia.\--The Arctic had record wildfires and a prolonged heat wave culminating in a 100-degree mark (38 degrees Celsius) in Siberia in June.\--Record low Arctic sea ice was reported for April and August and the yearly minimum, in September, was the second lowest on record.\--More than 2,000 people died in record summer rains and flooding in Pakistan and surrounding nations.While these events can’t solely be blamed on climate change, “these are the types of events scientists fear will increase due to climate change,” said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, who wasn’t part of the report.“Human activities are at the root of our descent towards chaos,” Guterres said. “But that means human action can solve it.”___Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://www.apnews.com/Climate___Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . Follow Frank Jordans on Twitter at @wirereporter .___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Seth Borenstein And Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario's hospitals are warning that the rising number of COVID-19 patients in their wards are making it increasingly tough to continue other procedures. The Ontario Hospital Association urged residents Wednesday to follow public health measures in an effort to help address capacity issues, particularly in intensive care units across the province. That came as the province reported 656 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 183 in intensive care, and 106 people on ventilators. Health experts have previously said having more than 150 patients in intensive care could lead to cancelled surgeries. "Ontario hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain access to vital surgeries and procedures with COVID-19 cases rising," the hospital association said in a statement posted on social media. "Hospitals are doing everything they can, but they need your support. Help stop the spread by making better practical choices every day."The OHA has been warning of capacity issues for months as hospitals are pressed to fulfill all of their regular duties while also caring for COVID patients, running testing centres, and assisting some long-term care homes.Hospital capacity has been an issue in COVID-19 hot spots, such as Peel Region, for weeks, but those pressures have also spread to other areas. The Grand River Hospital in Waterloo Region paused elective surgeries this week after its intensive care unit reached capacity.In Windsor-Essex, the Windsor Regional Hospital said high patient numbers were challenging the entire regional health-care system and had made it necessary to impose strict visitor restrictions in an effort to reduce transmission of the virus. NDP Legislator Catherine Fife, who represents a Waterloo riding, pressed the government Wednesday for further resources to bolster hospitals."What is the premier going to do to ensure that our hospitals have the support they need to get through this crisis? Do it now, we're at the tipping point," she said. Health Minister Christine Elliott insisted that hospitals are not in crisis because the province has allocated money for new beds. She said while Ontario's numbers are nothing to brag about, the province is flattening the curve."Ontario is not in crisis right now," Elliott said. "You want to speak about who is in crisis ... we're taking a look at Alberta where they're doubling up patients in intensive care units. We're not doing that in Ontario."Liberal House Leader John Fraser slammed Elliott for the remark, and said the province should be focused on its response at home."What's she going to do next, compare us with South Dakota?" he said.Meanwhile, the province sent two dozen contact tracers to Windsor-Essex as the region grapples with numerous outbreaks of COVID-19. Earlier in the week, the region's top doctor warned that Windsor-Essex was "at risk of going into a lockdown.""Given the increasing case counts ... we will be on the verge of collapsing the public health capacity and also the acute care system capacity now that we have two outbreaks in the hospital system," said Dr. Wajid Ahmed.Elliott acknowledged the situation on Wednesday and said the province was working with the region. "We are aware that there is a considerable concern regarding public health resources in Windsor-Essex," she said. "There is some more significant community transmission there, which is why we've been putting further restrictions in that area."The region entered the red level of the province's tiered, colour-coded pandemic response framework on Monday -- just two weeks after advancing from the green level to yellow, and then to orange. The red level is one short of a lockdown.As of Wednesday, there were 17 active outbreaks in the region, Ahmed said, noting that the public health unit was sending regular updates to the province.Of particular concern, he noted, is the impact on schools, with two elementary schools currently closed due to outbreaks.At one school, 29 students and nine staff tested positive for the virus. "When you have more background cases in the community, it does pose risk inside the school system," Ahmed said, adding that more schools could be forced to close. The Windsor-Essex Public Health unit recorded 41 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, along with two new deaths. The province as a whole, meanwhile, reported 1,723 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and 35 new deaths due to the virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Shawn Jeffords and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Homelessness in Hythe and the possibility of establishing a shelter in the village have become hot topics in the wake of this year’s economic downturn. The Village of Hythe is requesting feedback ahead of proposed virtual town hall to discuss the issue. “This is the first time to my knowledge that we’ve really experienced the issue, so we’re looking at options for how to deal with it,” said mayor Brian Peterson. No date has yet been set for a virtual meeting, said Leona Hanson, village chief administrative officer. Peterson said he doesn’t believe homelessness is widespread in Hythe, but it poses a great problem to those directly affected. “It’s a small-scale problem, but with large impacts to individuals,” he said. Peterson said he doesn’t believe the number of homeless residents exceeds a half dozen. There is a combination of causes of local housing instability; COVID, falling oil prices and their impact on the economy, he said. The former 7 Lakes Motel near Tags had provided long-term housing for many people and its closure earlier this year has contributed to the issue. Some of the former residents have found other accommodations, but others haven’t, Peterson said. Though rumours have been circulating on social media that the former motel will be re-purposed as a homeless shelter, nothing concrete has been received by the village, said Peterson. A number of concerned citizens have begun discussing how to address homelessness in Hythe, and the idea of re-purposing the motel has been suggested, he said. The group isn’t yet well-established and it hasn’t yet proposed a plan, Peterson said. If the former motel were to be converted into a shelter the village would need to approve that re-purposing through a development permit process, he said. Village CAO Hanson is working on a potential virtual town hall before a plan is advanced, Peterson said, adding the village isn’t considering funding a facility because it lacks the resources. Peterson said there’ve been no applications for a development permit yet, but the process has typically taken months. Homelessness is an urgent issue, but he said the process needs to ensure a good plan for a shelter is in place. “You need to do it right, and ask, ‘Is it the right place?’” Peterson said. “The shelter is a basic concept, but I need a lot more information than that.” He said he’s heard concerns from residents about having a shelter in the community, including whether the village can handle issues often associated with homelessness, mental health and addictions. “Those are valid concerns, and how do you deal with that and what resources are available?” Peterson said. “We certainly don’t have those resources available here today.” That said, some Hythe residents are already struggling with housing instability and mental health or addictions and Peterson said he’s not aware of anyone moving to Hythe to use the shelter. Other residents have expressed concerns about the rising crime they perceive would come with a shelter. Peterson said RCMP response times in Hythe are already an issue. “Adding extra stress to the system is not a good thing,” he said. Before the town hall, feedback is being accepted at 780-356-3888 or firstname.lastname@example.org and residents can also express interest in attending the meeting by using that email address.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls on the federal government to ensure vaccines and critical medicines for Canadians can be manufactured within the country. He says the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Canadians shouldn’t be forced to rely on importing vaccines from other countries.
CALGARY — Police in Calgary have ticketed three organizers of an anti-mask rally held over the weekend. The province has banned outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19. Media have reported that hundreds attended the rally in the city's downtown. Artur Pawlowski has been charged under the Public Health Act with contravening a public health order, failing to wear a face covering where required and failing to have a permit for an event. David Pawlowski and Ryan Audette are also charged with contravening a public health order and failing to wear a face covering. A Calgary police spokeswoman says the public health order charges each come with a $1,200 fine and there is a $50 fine under Calgary's mask bylaw. The charge for failing to have a permit does not have a set fine but is to go to court on March 16.Investigators are seeking three additional people who face charges. The Calgary Police Service says in a statement that it's not always safe for officers to issue a ticket at the time of an alleged offence, like during a protest where "emotions are high.""In many instances, tickets are issued in the hours or days after an infraction based on evidence obtained at the time of the event," police said. "We know everyone is struggling right now and our intent is not to punish, but to protect the safety of Calgarians as we work together through this pandemic."This report by The Canadian Press was first published December 2, 2020. The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story; a previous version had incorrect charges and fines.
BRUSSELS — The European Union is grasping the imminent arrival of the Biden administration as a key moment to reset relations with the United States after four years of trans-Atlantic acrimony. With a series of initiatives, the 27 nation bloc is seeking to rekindle the spirit of co-operation that has long defined global diplomacy. But the EU but also acknowledges that future relations will have to adapt to a multi-polar world where China is an ever bigger player. EU partners are seeking a change from Trump’s go-it-alone credo and back a multilateral approach to better deal with global crises. The EU has already invited President-elect Joe Biden to visit Brussels at the earliest opportunity next year.Raf Casert, The Associated Press
Leave the snow boots, parkas and glove warmers in the closet, the 2021 Sundance Film Festival is coming down from the mountain and straight to your living room.Organizers on Wednesday said that this year they will premiere over 70 films on a custom online platform during the seven day event. There will also be some socially distanced screening opportunities around the country. The festival, which is normally held in Park City, Utah, has been preparing for various scenarios for months as the pandemic has raged on.Festival director Tabitha Jackson said that this model, “Gives us the opportunity to reach new audiences, safely, where they are.”Over the course of the festival, feature films will premiere throughout the day at a dedicated time followed by a live Q&A. Ticketholders will have a three-hour window to watch. Second screenings will be available for 24 hours two days later. The rollout, organizers said, is designed to “preserve the energy of a Festival.”There will also be limited screenings at venues across the county, including Birmingham, Alabama’s Sidewalk Drive-In, Pasadena, California’s Rose Bowl, Denver's Sie Film Center and Columbus, Ohio’s Gateway Film Center.“At the heart of all this is a belief in the power of coming together, and the desire to preserve what makes a festival unique -- a collaborative spirit, a collective energy, and a celebration of the art, artists, and ideas that leave us changed,” Jackson said.The 2021 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 28 through February 3, and tickets will be available for purchase for the general public beginning Jan. 7. The 2021 slate will be revealed in the coming weeks.Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Amanda Sully had tried to get pregnant for six years, but she's grateful that her "miracle" son arrived six days after Ontario became the only province to start a newborn screening test that revealed he had a progressive and irreversible disease.In January, Aidan Deschamps became the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as part of a new test added to Ontario's newborn screening program.Sully said she and her husband, Adam Deschamps, were surprised to get a call from Newborn Screening Ontario advising them that their son, who was 10 days old at the time, had tested positive for the genetic neuromuscular condition, which is the most common cause of death in childhood due to an inherited condition."If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different," Sully said Wednesday on a Zoom call from the family's home in Ottawa as Aidan squeezed out of his mom's arms before his dad took over and tried to keep up with the energetic child."As terrible as the news was we were so fortunate to find out early because delaying treatment would have meant long-term irreversible consequences for him," Sully said.Sully said she was initially worried that her baby may not be able to roll over if he had the illness, but at 10 months, Aidan is healthy and quite the dancer who loves to throw and chase balls after starting early treatment.The couple had never heard of spinal muscular atrophy but the morning after the call they were in the office of Dr. Hugh McMillan, a neurologist at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, a pediatric health and research centre based in Ottawa.Adam Deschamps said he and his wife held their breath a few days later as their little boy was given an injection of the drug Spinraza just below his spinal cord. The first medication to treat children with spinal muscular atrophy administered through repeated spinal taps was approved by Health Canada in 2017.McMillan said the drug, which is paid for to varying degrees in different provinces, increases the amount of an essential protein in order to keep motor neurons and motor nerves alive and without it the progression of the disease is irreversible.He also applied for and was granted use of a gene replacement therapy on compassionate grounds for Aidan when the boy was five weeks. The one-time intravenous treatment worth millions of dollars is one of two medications that Health Canada is considering for approval, with an announcement expected in the coming weeks, said McMillan, who is also a clinical investigator at the CHEO Research Institute.It's too early to tell what the little boy's future holds but he is meeting all of his developmental milestones, McMillan said.Dr. Pranesh Chakraborty, chief medical officer of Newborn Screening Ontario, said the province started the program, which tests for 28 conditions, in 1965 and includes all babies born in Ontario and most of Nunavut.Chakraborty said each province decides on its own whether to screen for certain conditions but the cost for the test that helped Aidan was low because Ontario already had the technology to add it to its existing program."I can say from speaking with my colleagues across the country that every province is looking at this and we're hoping that they'll be making decisions soon," he said.The severity of spinal muscular atrophy depends on when symptoms appear and some children may start showing signs early on when they cannot roll over. British Columbia's newborn screening program tests for 24 disorders, a spokeswoman at the Provincial Health Authority said.The provincial Health Ministry did not respond to requests on whether it would include testing for spinal muscular atrophy as part of its newborn screening program.Susi Vander Wyk, executive director of Cure SMA Canada, said the organization is working to get all provinces to test for the condition and that Aidan's story based on Ontario's lead should compel all jurisdictions to act.-- By Camille Bains in VancouverThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press
Families across the County of Grande Prairie can benefit from a diaper drive running now until Dec. 10, courtesy of county Regional Enforcement Services. During the campaign the county will collect disposable diapers and cash donations to assist residents in need during the Christmas season. The campaign marks the first diaper drive held by Regional Enforcement Services, but it will hopefully become an annual effort, said peace officer Lindsey Hennigar. “Being a mom of three, I know first-hand diapers are not cheap,” Hennigar said. “It touches every parent’s heart to think how worrisome it would for another parent to wonder, ‘Do I have enough diapers to change my child this day?’” Hennigar said she came up with the idea after considering how food banks have food drives and other organizations collect hygiene necessities and toys. She thought Regional Enforcement Services could fill a gap with a diaper drive, she said. “We’re a family-oriented department and we thought this would be a great way to help residents in need of diapers,” she said. “It’s our way of giving back to the community.” Disposable diapers, related products like wipes and diaper cream and cash donations can be made at numerous locations. These are the Beaverlodge, Wembley, Valhalla, Sexsmith, La Glace and Elmworth libraries, Clairmont’s Wellington Resource Centre, Hythe’s village office and Bezanson’s Knelsen Centre. Monetary donations can also be made online at www.countygp.ab.ca/diaperdrive. The diapers will then be distributed by the Sexsmith and Area Food Bank. While the Sexsmith Food Bank is distributing the donations, Hennigar said families in the west county can also benefit from the program. The drive began last Thursday and she said so far there’s been a lot of interest. During COVID people may not be able to easily access stores to purchase diapers to donate, but Hennigar said Regional Enforcement Services staff will buy some with the cash donations.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Great Enlightenment Buddist Institute Monks at the campus in Heatherdale received more requests for food box donations this month than ever before. “They really pulled through,” said Venerable Dan about the group of monks who spearheaded the project. Enough funds were raised to offer 332 food boxes compared to the usual 200. Venerable Dan said the monks were unsure if they would be able to roll out so many boxes, each filled with 10 of their signature puffy rolls, an assortment of dried goods and organic vegetables. To raise funds they got creative. On top of fresh baked buns, they sold homemade apple sauce and eloquently decorated pen holders to support the initiative. In the end the group was able to bake about 1,000 extra fresh rolls and provide a full box to each Islander who requested one. Venerable Dan noticed more people seemed to reach out this year because they were impacted by the pandemic. He also saw more young people and single families requesting food boxes. The monks have been donating and delivering food boxes for about two years now. They try to offer food boxes every one or two months through the winter as Islanders seem to struggle a bit more this time of year. Venerable Dan said the group is looking to offer more food boxes this December. Anyone looking to request a box should fill out an application which will be posted on the Facebook page ‘About Monks’ in December. Venerable Dan said, after delivering so many this month, some additional funds or donations will be needed to support the December deliveries. The monks were unsure if they would be able to go ahead with the project at all this year as they have, for the most part, been in a form of lockdown following strict policies to mitigate possible spread of COVID-19 within their residences. Thanks to about 40 local volunteers they were able to organize the initiative without breaking their contact and isolation policies. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
As the death toll from illicit drug overdoses continues to mount unabated in B.C., advocates want more specialized services and harm reduction measures to help protect young people. Another 162 fatalities occurred in October due to toxic drug supply, for a total of 1,386 deaths in 2020, according to the BC Coroners Service's most recent figures. Of those killed this year by the overdose crisis, 19 per cent, or 269 deaths, were young people aged 29 years old or younger, with 14 of the dead under the age of 19, the coroners service figures show. Kali Sedgemore, a youth outreach worker and peer harm reduction advocate in Vancouver, said the ongoing public health emergency is in its fifth year, and COVID-19 is only exacerbating the harms. “We don’t even have time to grieve because we know we will hear about another (death) the next day,” Sedgemore said. The dangers of the toxic illicit drug supply are being compounded as people following pandemic protocols use illicit drugs alone and as harm reduction services have been reduced, or wait times have increased at overdose prevention sites (OPS) during the pandemic, Sedgemore added. Youth do not make up the largest number of fatalities, but all overdose deaths are largely unnecessary and preventable, Sedgemore said. In 2020, 70 per cent of those who have died from the toxic drug supply fall between the ages of 30 and 59, and males account for 80 per cent of the deaths to date. Most overdose fatalities involved people dying alone indoors. One immediate way to reduce the harms from toxic illicit drugs to youth is to provide harm reduction and OPS services dedicated strictly to their demographic, Sedgemore said. “Youth are vulnerable to manipulation by adults,” Sedgemore said, adding young people are at risk of being exploited sexually or for money or other reasons. Specialized harm reduction services are already hard to come by in urban areas such as Vancouver but are even more scarce in smaller communities and rural areas, Sedgemore said, noting they originally came from a small community from the northern part of Vancouver Island. Plus, young people — especially those under the age of 18 — are often deterred from using harm reduction services or supplies by providers due to their age, or can come under increased scrutiny from staff at these locations, they said. Both of these situations make youth uncomfortable, Sedgemore said. It’s also critical that medical professionals, social workers or other service providers don’t push youth into treatment before they are ready, Sedgemore stressed. Doing so only puts youth at increased risk, forcing them to be more secretive about any illicit drug use and increasing the unwillingness to use harm reduction services or call emergency services in case of an overdose. Research shows abstinence education, or the "just say no to drugs" approach, is not as effective as talking openly about illicit drugs, the associated risks and, if youth should choose to use them, how to do it safely, Sedgemore said. However, there is also the need for more youth treatment beds and shorter wait-lists for youth seeking help, Sedgemore said, especially closer to their own communities. “I don’t think it’s great sending a youth away from their own hometown and the people youth are used to seeing every day.” The B.C. government plans to double the number of treatment beds for youth aged 12 to 24 who are struggling with substance use. A total of 60 young people under the age of 24 lost their lives to fentanyl poisoning from toxic street drugs from January to June 2020, according to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The province committed $36 million to create another 123 treatment beds for young people, in addition to 20 beds recently established at a new youth facility in the Fraser Valley. Prior to the recent announcements, B.C. had 103 treatment beds for youth. The new beds are part of a broader continuum of care the B.C. government is planning for young people that will include culturally safe, youth-specific services in both rural and smaller city centres, the ministry stated. Building on its network of youth-specific mental health and substance use services, the province will develop eight new Foundry centres, for a total of 19 youth hubs. Foundry centres provide primary care, youth and family peer supports, walk-in counselling, mental health and substance use services and social services all under one roof. Steve Ayers, program manager for the Foundry located in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, agreed that youth benefit from specialized services and being in charge of any decisions about their drug or alcohol use. “If a counsellor is going to really be impactful, they have to let the client drive the process of making changes around substance use,” Ayers said. “The objective of substance use counselling is to help youth have a better life, and what are some concrete ways that might happen, depending on their choices of course,” he said. Many youth use substances to deal with trauma or anxiety, so alternate tools or strategies need to be developed to help young people deal with that suffering, he added. It’s dangerous to assume youth overdoses due to illicit drugs are only a big-city problem, Ayers said. “It’s absolutely a misconception,” he said, adding the issues that fuel youth substance use exist in every community across Canada. However, youth generally don’t tend to be as entrenched with illicit hard drugs as some other age demographics, especially in rural areas where supply might be limited, Ayers said. “If there’s no supply (of illicit drugs) kids will find other things to do to cope with what they are struggling with,” he said. However, kids and families in rural or remote communities such as the Discovery Islands or small communities across North Vancouver Island can face additional challenges or gaps in accessing supports, Ayers said. Many Foundry services are now available online to try to mitigate the challenges for youth living in more isolated communities who need support, especially with travel limitations due to the pandemic, he said. The youth hub also works with schools to meet with students during class time for those who have to bus in and out of Campbell River. Young people and their families just need to reach out and the Foundry will try to find a fix for any stumbling blocks to service, Ayers said. “We always seem to be able to find them and reach them with help,” he said. “Unless they're just not reaching out at all. And honestly, those are the people that we’re scared for most.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Daniel Joseph is making quite the first impression at North Carolina State University.The six-foot-three, 265-pound defensive lineman from Brampton, Ont., has a team-high 6.5 sacks (tied for third in ACC) in his first season with the Wolfpack (6-3) and is also tied for the team lead in tackles for a loss (9.5). That far exceeds what Johnson accomplished playing three seasons at Penn State (2.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for a loss over 32 games).That's certainly impressive for someone who left Canada to attend high school in the U.S. to pursue a NCAA basketball scholarship. And although Joseph's older brother, Faith Ekakitie, and cousin, Ese Mrabure-Ajufo, have both been CFL defensive linemen, Joseph said basketball remains the No. 1 sport in his family."All three of my brothers, I'm pretty sure we all had hoop dreams at one point," Joseph said during a videoconference with Canadian reporters. "We played with a lot of notable guys like Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Ennis, Jamaal Murray . . . the list goes on and on of guys that we were fortunate to be around and play with."Being exposed to that consistently growing up and competing and knowing you have to perform in a group of guys like that has always been beneficial for me. It has allowed me to constantly keep working and keep pushing no matter what the scenario is."Joseph said while he respects the Toronto Raptors for winning the 2019 NBA championship, he's always been a diehard Chicago Bulls fan."My man D-Rose (guard Derrick Rose) is one of the most electric players I've ever got to see play," Joseph said. "I got the opportunity to see him play in Chicago and ever since then, the United Center and the Bulls have been my pick."The Toronto Raptors, I definitely respect them . . . I'm grateful because they brought the trophy home to my city but I ain't a fan."Both Mrabure-Ajufo and Ekakitie were first-round CFL picks by B.C. (No. 5 in 2015) and Winnipeg (first overall in 2017) respectively. But Joseph said he didn't begin playing football until after his junior year at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois."I know for my brother it (transition to football) was more evident because he was a lot bigger and just built like a football player," Joseph said. "For me, it definitely was a less evident transition."Before (playing football) I had high hopes to still pursue and excel in basketball."North Carolina State was among the schools to recruit Joseph out of high school before he ultimately committed to Penn State. But after last season, Joseph had figured he'd done all he could with the Nittany Lions and transferred to the Wolfpack in February as a graduate student.In 2018, North Carolina State had a school-record seven players taken in the NFL draft, including defensive linemen Bradley Chubb (first round, Denver), B.J. Hill (third round, New York Giants), Justin Jones (third round, L.A. Chargers) and Kentavius Street (fourth round, San Francisco)."I just thought my time at Penn State was done," Joseph said. "I thought I'd accomplished some of the things I wanted to accomplish but there were other areas in which I knew I'd not accomplished my goals and dreams."I just knew N.C. State was already a place that had a good history in terms of defensive linemen. I wasn't totally unaware of who NC State was, they also recruited me out of high school and so I was familiar with them."Joseph said his 2020 production is based more upon getting an opportunity to perform rather than anything North Carolina State is doing differently than Penn State."Honestly, I don't think anything has really clicked," he said. "I've always believed in my ability to play the game, I think now I actually get an opportunity to really play and be able to put it on film for the world to see."But increased production hasn't been the only difference this year for Joseph. So has winning as North Carolina State will chase its seventh win Saturday against Georgia Tech (3-5) while Penn State (1-5) faces Rutgers (2-4) having snapped its five-game losing streak."I check in on (Nittany Lions) here and there because I still have guys who play there that I'm close with," Joseph said. "But I don't really keep up with them, I just worry about my own season here. "There's only so much other football you can watch outside of game preparation."While the 2020 season remains first and foremost on Joseph's radar, he will have to address his football future this off-season. He'd like to secure an opportunity in the NFL but he'd also be eligible to return to North Carolina State next year due to the COVID'-19 pandemic.Joseph said he hasn't spoken much with Ekakitie regarding the pro ranks."I don't want to get ahead of myself," he said. "I want to stay in the moment and stay where I am presently and make sure I capitalize on and maximize everything that I can do to get to that point."If I get too carried away thinking about the end goal, people tend to forget the steps needed in order to get to the end goal. I don't want to get too carried away with that."It (Georgia Tech game) is a crucial game in my opinion. It will be our last (regular-season) game and it's an opportunity again to show the world what we're able to do . . . it's another opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press
April McCormack was always passionate about health, urging people to get vaccines and never missing a chance to belly dance, disco or waltz at the care centre where she spent her final year.When the vegan senior was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, she fought it hard. So, her family held out hope she'd beat COVID-19.But the 74-year-old died on Nov. 26, just eight days after first feeling fatigued, two weeks into an outbreak at the Belvedere Care Centre where she lived."We had some glimmer of hope because my mother was a fighter," said McCormack's eldest daughter, September Stokes.She's sharing her mother's story so people realize that COVID-19 is real and refusing to wear a mask or take precautions can have a devastating effect on others."She loved to zoom around with her walker to Bruno Mar's 'Uptown Funk.' It was her favourite," said Stokes.When she first heard that her mother had tested positive for COVID-19 she said she was "terrified."She says her mother never left the centre where she lived in Coquitlam for the past year-and-a-half."COVID was in there. She knew it. It spread through there really fast," said Stokes.McCormack was diabetic and had an autoimmune disease but you'd never know it, her family said. She ate a plant-based diet for 15 years and loved exercise.After testing postive for COVID Nov. 20, Stokes said her mother went from "happy and smiling" to unable to breathe in days."It hit really fast," said Stokes."[COVID-19] is real and it's not something you can just say I'm young I'll get over it. You don't know what impact you are going to have."Stokes said her step father Rob McCormack had cared for her mother at their 20-year home in Port Moody after the diagnosis of Parkinson's 11 years ago.But the Parkinson's symptoms became unmanageable, so she moved to a care home."When COVID first started we were like, we need to get her out of there. Care homes are being hit the worst."More than half of the COVID-19 deaths in B.C. have been linked to long-term care homes. As of Sept. 10, 2020, there have been 156 deaths related to B.C. care facilities, according to public health data collected by the Canadian Medical Association Journal.Stokes praises the centre where her mother lived for its efforts to prevent the virus spreading. She said her family trusted that her mother was safe and could not provide the intense 24-hour care she needed, as her Parkinson's progressed.Her family says she seemed to thrive there, sending them videos of herself dancing or in her favourite hat.Family only saw McCormack through a window or via video chat. Caregivers wore full protective gear. But she became ill, first feeling fatigue on Nov. 18. By Nov. 22, family were trying to help get her to eat, and she was admitted to hospital on the 23rd. Three days later, she was gone."After everything she fought through — it's shocking how fast it happened," said Stokes.She said her mother had four children and three grandchildren who dubbed her "Gaga.""She was fiercely independent, tough as nails, sweet as honey, and she loved our family more than anything," reads her obituary, where her husband described their 34 years of marriage as an "adventure."