Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips says a budget will be delivered on Nov. 5 and will focus on pandemic-response measures. Phillips says the budget will be a three-year action plan that lays out three scenarios in its financial outlook.
Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips says a budget will be delivered on Nov. 5 and will focus on pandemic-response measures. Phillips says the budget will be a three-year action plan that lays out three scenarios in its financial outlook.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Trump administration plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran during its final months in power, the top U.S. envoy on Iran said on Wednesday, as he urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic. U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams, praising Biden's National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as "terrific people", cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama's mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
The outbreak at Fairview Personal Care Home in Brandon is proving more complex than originally reported yesterday in The Brandon Sun. As of late yesterday afternoon, Fairview had 21 COVID-19-positive residents and eight COVID-19-positive staff, all on the fourth floor, with the exception of one, according to Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) region’s chief executive officer, Penny Gilson. But while it seemed the rapid response system deployed meant the outbreak was contained and the horrors reported from other personal care homes in Manitoba and beyond would not be repeated, two unions representing health-care workers are sounding the alarm. The essential issues are about personal protective equipment (PPE) and lack of cohorts in the facility. "People are terrified, just terrified, in there," said Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU), which represents health-care workers at Fairview. "I had a health-care aide on Saturday night, call me. I’d been back and forth with someone else, because, of course, this doesn’t stop at 11 o’clock at night. This goes through the night when people are working." The health-care aide called Gawronsky on their break at Fairview. They told Gawronsky all they had as PPE was a procedure mask, a set of goggles and gloves. They said they weren’t protected like the paramedics who were deployed to the facility. "And (they) said, ‘Michelle, I can’t go home. I’m not protected enough. I’m not protecting my family.’ And (they) just burst into tears. I said, ‘Where are you going to go?’" The aide told her they didn’t know. What they knew was they couldn’t go home to their family. I can’t take the risk, they said. "What do I tell these people?" asked Gawronsky. "It’s unbelievable to me. Unbelievable. It just floors me that we’ve got staff going into COVID-positive wards — whether they’re housekeeping, whether they’re health-care aides — they are going in beside a paramedic from the Rapid Response Unit, who is there showing up in fully suited PPE, N95 face masks, face shields, gowns, medical gloves, booties … And they’re walking in beside a health-care aide and a housekeeper that has eye goggles and a procedure mask." The MGEU is calling on the government to provide health-care workers, especially those working at personal care homes, with the same access to the same important PPE. "They should be treated no different than anyone else," said Gawronsky. When she received the call from the health worker Saturday night, Gawronsky said she laid awake the rest of the night trying to figure out what to do for them. "I tried to get a hold of (them) a couple of times. I understand (they) ended up getting a hotel room for the day and went to sleep, to stay away from (their) family. I have no proof of that, though. It’s just hearsay, at this point," said Gawronsky. Bob Moroz is the president of the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals —the union that represents roughly 800 rural paramedics in the province, including those who have been redeployed from their regular duties to Fairview and Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home to help out. Moroz said he’s hearing from the paramedics that there is a general lack of planning, no orientation as they come in, no sense of their actual duties, and no idea where the required supplies are in the facility. "They’re reporting back to us that there continues to be a lack of clear guidelines for the health and safety of both the staff and the residents. That is very alarming for our paramedics. They are experts in emergency care and assessments. When you hear a story from a paramedic that the situation in terms of safety in personal protective equipment is such that they’re concerned that they would even want to eat or drink anything for risk of having to use a restroom facility in a place like that is horrifying," said Moroz. "I’ve heard that more than once." Paramedics do have the PPE they need. That was planned early on, that paramedics would have the highest possible level of PPE. But not everybody in the facility has that same protection. "It’s gotten to the point where every situation a paramedic enters is going to be COVID-positive, or COVID-suspect," said Moroz. "When they arrive at a PCH (personal care home) and they see the level of personal protective equipment for the staff, whether it’s the health-care aides or anybody else or the nursing staff, which there’s just clearly not enough, otherwise our members wouldn’t be there … There is a definite discrepancy." He said that introduces a different set of risks to paramedics. "Not to belittle the risks to the workers who normally are at the PCH — that’s horrifying. And all unions have been pushing for improved safety protocols, improved access to PPE," said Moroz. But PMH’s Gilson told the Sun via email that there is sufficient PPE at the site to meet current provincial infection prevention and control guidelines. "In addition, staff are being fit tested for N95 masks which can be provided upon request following a point of care risk assessment," she said. Another issue is the failure to create cohorts within the facility. A worker called Gawronsky Monday night. They told her they’ve been working double shifts, trying to help out. They said "cohorting" of staff wasn’t happening. "(They) said, ‘I’m working on a COVID floor, right now. I’m being moved. I’m not going home, I’m not changing, there’s no difference. The night shift that they’re going to put me on to when I’m volunteering is on a non-COVID ward.’ (They) said they should not be doing that. (They) said the workers that are caring for COVID-positive residents should be staying on that ward," Gawronsky said. "But no, they’ve got them working in the COVID-positive wards with the residents and then walking onto a ward and assisting residents of another ward that has no COVID. That’s not going to help contain the virus inside the walls." Both Gawronsky and Moroz are beyond themselves that the provincial government dropped the ball over the summer. While Manitoba had an easy go of it during the first wave of the pandemic, other jurisdictions did not. They see it as an absolute failure on the part of Premier Brian Pallister and Cameron Friesen, the province’s health minister, that, months later, those same horrifying scenarios are playing out in Manitoba. Both say that everybody saw it coming. "When paramedics reach out for help, because they’re really worried about their own safety, that shows me that something’s really wrong," said Moroz. Gilson said: "There has been lots of education with staff in preparation for an unfortunate situation such as this one, but we recognize that when it does happen staff need additional supports. PMH has mobilized additional educational, mental health and general staffing support, including support from paramedics with the City of Brandon, which we are grateful for." Gilson also said regular communication about the situation at the site is happening with all families, and PMH is committed to ongoing communication with the unions and staff to address any ongoing issues.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
« Passez le temps des Fêtes avec vos proches sur la Côte-Nord », a recommandé le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de la Côte-Nord lors du point de presse du 20 novembre. « C’est pour protéger nos proches, notre système de santé et pour maintenir les activités sociales de la région », a fait valoir le médecin-conseil en santé publique du CISSS, Richard Fachehoun. « Pour ce faire, partageons la joie familiale et les cadeaux, pas le virus. » Ainsi, selon le modèle du gouvernement provincial, le Dr Fachehoun conseille aux familles qui recevront des proches lors des Fêtes d’exiger que ces derniers respectent un confinement volontaire de sept jours avant leur arrivée. Les rassemblements privés, autorisés par le gouvernement Legault entre les 24 et 27 décembre, doivent être limités à dix personnes, et « on doit respecter les deux mètres en tout temps et faire attention à nos personnes vulnérables ». Les individus vulnérables tels qu’identifiés par la santé publique sont ceux âgés de 70 ans et plus, ou qui vivent avec des maladies chroniques ou une immunosuppression. Dans le cas où on doit se déplacer dans une autre région, « notez tous les lieux que vous avez fréquentés » pour faciliter les possibles enquêtes épidémiologiques. « Demandez à la famille [qui vous accueille] de respecter un confinement volontaire de sept jours », suggère le Dr Fachehoun en rappelant qu’un isolement d’une semaine doit être respecté après le retour à la maison. « Il faut vraiment se limiter aux rassemblements essentiels, exhorte-t-il. Ces sacrifices sont nécessaires pour limiter le nombre de cas de COVID-19 sur la Côte-Nord au début du mois de janvier. » Hausse du nombre de personnes infectées Vendredi, la Côte-Nord a recensé son plus gros bond depuis le début de la deuxième vague avec sept nouveaux cas de COVID-19, c’est-à-dire six dans la MRC de Manicouagan et un autre dans la MRC de Sept-Rivières. « Nous sommes très préoccupés par la hausse du nombre de cas et par les impacts que cela pourrait avoir sur le réseau santé et sur le nombre de dépistages réduit », a déclaré le président-directeur général par intérim du CISSS de la région, Claude Lévesque. La Basse-Côte-Nord a par ailleurs enregistré son premier cas d’infection au coronavirus. Un résident de Blanc-Sablon a reçu un test positif après un dépistage effectué dans le cadre du programme de gestion des entrées en territoires isolés. Le CISSS a déterminé que le risque de transmission dans la communauté était faible et qu’aucun contact n’avait été relié aux transports aériens. Malgré l’augmentation du nombre de cas dans la région, la direction du CISSS ne proposera pas l’instauration de contrôles routiers plus coercitifs à l’entrée de la Côte-Nord ou entre les MRC, même si l’option est sur la table à dessin de Québec. Les points de contrôle préventifs à la traverse Baie-Sainte-Catherine/Tadoussac seront maintenus jusqu’à nouvel ordre. Toutefois, le CISSS maintiendra son protocole de gestion des entrées en territoires isolés ou vulnérables, tels que la Basse-Côte-Nord et Schefferville, et n’a pas fermé la porte à possible durcissement. Pour l’instant, il est recommandé à toute personne provenant d’une zone orange ou rouge de respecter un isolement préventif de sept jours et de faire un dépistage à l’arrivée, puis un second après la période de confinement. Certaines entreprises ont choisi de mettre en place des protocoles plus sévères pour ses travailleurs. Hydro-Québec, par exemple, exige que ses employés et ses sous-contractants soient systématiquement dépistés et aient reçu un résultat négatif avant qu’ils ne se rendent sur les chantiers. Rappel des mesures sanitaires « Nous devons agir maintenant pour éviter de passer au palier orange ou rouge avec les restrictions que cela imposerait », a imploré le Dr Richard Fachehoun en rappelant comme à chaque conférence de presse l’importance du respect des mesures sanitaires de base. « S’il-vous-plaît, portez le masque. Il faut le mettre pour qu’il couvre votre bouche et votre nez. Il ne faut pas le masque se retrouve en-dessous du nez ou du menton », a-t-il répété. Selon lui, la dernière semaine du présent mois déterminera si la région restera au palier jaune. En date du 24 novembre, la Côte-Nord a atteint le seul de 200 cas confirmés sur son territoire depuis le début de la pandémie, dont 17 cas actifs et 181 guéris. Trois hospitalisations sont en cours. La Minganie, quant à elle, a ajouté une personne infectée à son bilan, portant le total à 13.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
When it filed for bankruptcy last year, Purdue Pharma agreed to an innovative plan: It would make $200 million available immediately to help those those harmed by its signature painkiller, OxyContin, and ease the effects of the opioid crisis.More than a year later, with the crisis worsening, not a penny has been spent.“The money is just sitting in Purdue’s bank account collecting dust,” said Ed Neiger, a lawyer representing opioid victims. “It’s a travesty of epic proportions.”It's not Purdue that is holding up the money. Instead, it's lawyers representing the wide range of entities suing the company who cannot agree how best to use it. The main disagreement is between nearly 3,000 local governments and advocates for those hurt by opioids.Advocates want the money funneled mostly to local nonprofits that provide emergency services to people with addictions. State attorneys general say doing so would dilute the money so much it would not be effective. Because Purdue is undergoing the long process of distributing its assets, the states also see the prospect of distributing billions of dollars over time as more important than the $200 million.“You see the state AGs come in and block the money, and you’re not understanding why,” said Jill Cichowicz, who lost her twin brother to an overdose and sits on a committee advocating for victims in Purdue’s bankruptcy case. “We’re all baffled.”Purdue filed for bankruptcy last year as part of an effort to settle thousands of lawsuits seeking to hold the company accountable for the crisis that has been linked to 470,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000. In a separate case, it pleaded guilty Tuesday as part of a broader settlement with the Department of Justice.The proposal being considered in bankruptcy court calls for members of the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, to pay at least $3 billion and give up ownership of the company. Purdue would then become a public benefit corporation, with its profits going to ease the overdose crisis, including by increasing treatment capacity and providing other addiction services.The company says the total value of the deal over time could be more than $10 billion.State attorneys general, all of whom have sued Purdue, disagree over whether that’s the right approach.They are not the only ones who will need to be persuaded. A committee of creditors that includes people in recovery or who have lost loved ones to overdoses must also agree. It was that group that proposed the $200 million relief fund after Purdue filed for bankruptcy in September 2019.The fund was inspired by one adopted last year in the case of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the giant California utility that landed in bankruptcy because of lawsuits blaming it for California wildfires.Neiger, who represents a committee of victims in the complicated legal battle, says the relief fund idea is so novel that it’s not even recognized by bankruptcy law but was accepted by federal bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain.The plan called for distributing money to groups trying to help people with addictions by providing shelter, connecting them to services and supplying overdose antidote drugs. It was left to parties in the case to work out the details.With disagreements on where the money should go and who should control it, that has not happened.In a statement read during a hearing in April, a group of lawyers said they were pausing talks on how to use the relief money while they focus on broader mediation about how Purdue’s assets will be used.The statement asserted that “despite the best intentions on all sides,” the players in the case had a “deeply held, fundamental difference in view" about the best use of the money. They said talking about it was straining efforts to figure out what to do with the billions that could ultimately flow from Purdue. They planned to revisit the issue later.Since then, the broader question of where settlement money would go was resolved through mediation. State and local governments agreed to put their full shares toward programs to alleviate the crisis. That's a significant development, but it does not bring the quick help called for with the $200 million fund. And there are no indications when the relief fund discussions will resume.Advocates for people with substance abuse disorders say local nonprofits could have used the money to assist more people immediately.“If you gave them a million dollars, they would be able to do so much more than if you just gave it to a state agency,” said Cichowicz, whose twin brother, Scott Zebrowski, fatally overdosed in 2017 on a counterfeit OxyContin pill containing fentanyl. The former gym manager was 38.Cichowicz, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, said her brother became addicted after being prescribed OxyContin for back pain in 2014.While the case plays out, the addiction problem only deepens. The U.S. had a record 71,000 overdose deaths last year, most of them from opioids. Preliminary data shows an even higher death toll is likely this year. Experts say that could be in part because of the loss of in-person counselling during the coronavirus pandemic.Brandon George, director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition, said the pandemic has taken almost all the energy of county health departments and left local recovery organizations to distribute naloxone, an overdose antidote. He expects mental health services to be cut as state and local tax revenue decreases.George said he never expected the Purdue relief fund to get money to groups quickly, but it might have made a difference.“That money certainly could have been put to good use,” he said. “Right now, our health care systems are very strained.”___Mulvihill reported from Davenport, Iowa. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill.Geoff Mulvihill, The Associated Press
The Catfish Creek Conservation Authority board members agreed to give staff two additional paid days off around Christmas, instead of forcing them to use their vacation time. Further, a maximum of 10 vacation days are permitted to be carried over into next year, and the CCCA waived the requirement to use the carried over time by March 31, 2021. The CCCA office is closed from December 24 at 12 p.m. and reopens January 4, 2021 (the Monday after New Year’s Day), as is standard practice for the organization every year. Staff will get Tuesday, Dec. 29 and Wednesday, Dec. 30 as paid days off. CCCA general manager Chris Wilkinson presented a series of options to board members at their Nov. 12 meeting, including allowing all staff to work from home during that time. “One of the ideas that came up is just to keep it simple is to give staff an additional two days paid off over that Christmas holiday to limit that need to work over the vacation period this year,” said Mr. Wilkinson. “That’s just an option, we can work from home or force staff to take vacation days.” Board member Sally Martyn asked if the holidays were ever taken off an employee’s vacation time in the past. Mr. Wilkinson referred to this as “forced vacation,” and this was done in 2018. “The staff have done an extraordinary job through these trying times,” said CCCA board chair Rick Cerna. “I think to give them two paid vacation days is minimal to the fact of what they’ve achieved throughout the year. It’s like a little added bonus.” Board member Arthur Oslach was in agreement, called two paid days off “reasonable.” Water Management Technician Peter Dragunas said that while the office may be closed, he was always watching for potential flooding each year, and responds as required. “If there’s any threat, I’m on it,” he said. “I have been out there actually on New Year’s Eve day. It doesn’t shut down that way.” Conservation Areas Supervisor Dusty Underhill agreed with Mr. Dragunas, and said he consistently keeps an eye on the office, even during the holidays. According to Mr. Wilkinson’s report, many vacations were cancelled and staff often worked instead of taking time off this year due to COVID-19.Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
WASHINGTON — Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.A vaccine can only go so far, Murray warned, without a distribution plan. "A vaccine can sit on a shelf. A vaccination is what we’re talking about,” she said.As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.Biden said Tuesday on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt” that his team has started meeting with COVID-19 officials at the White House on how to “get from a vaccine being distributed to a person being able to get vaccinated.”Democrats have been sounding the alarm that the Trump administration’s delay in granting Biden’s team access to transition materials was wasting precious time.States submitted draft vaccination planning documents last month, but not all of them have made full plans public. Private Capitol Hill briefings by officials from Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, left some lawmakers fuming last week over what they called a lack of co-ordination with Biden’s camp.Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department “immediately” started working with Biden’s staff after the General Services Administration formally acknowledged the election results.Azar said he wanted to ensure Biden’s transition would be “in the spirit of looking out for the health and well-being of the American people and, in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic.”From the start, the pandemic has challenged and reflected the two parties’ approaches to the public health crisis, with the Trump administration largely outsourcing many decisions to the states and Democrats pressing for a more nationalized approach.In Congress, Republicans largely rejected the $2 trillion-plus House bill from Democrats as excessive. They prefer their own $500 billion Senate effort, saying states and cities can tap funding from previous relief legislation. Senate Democrats blocked that bill twice as insufficient.Biden's campaign called for $25 billion for vaccines to “guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.” That's similar to the amount included in both the House and the Senate bills, through different strategies, and Congress previously mandated that vaccines be free. With fresh legislation stalled, it’s uncertain if states will have the resources needed once the FDA approves the vaccines.During a conference call this week with governors, Azar and other health officials fielded a range of questions. Governors were seeking guidance on which populations they should prioritize for the vaccine and whether there was a list of pharmacies available to administer the two-dose regimens, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.Blaire Bryant, who oversees health care policy at the National Association of Counties, said a national strategy for communicating vaccine information to the public and the funding to make vaccinations equitable are vital.“We’re in uncharted territory,” she said. “The more information, the more guidance we can get from the federal level, the better.”She said states do have access to previously approved funding, but cash-strapped local governments have been reluctant to draw down the remaining dollars for vaccines. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, she said.As Congress debates funding, at least two Republican senators are participating in vaccine trials as a way to build confidence among Americans skeptical of the federal effort.Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement that he hoped his participation “will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.”Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who is participating in the Pfizer trials, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday to consider the “unique challenges” of distributing the vaccine to remote and rural communities like those in his state.Daines said in a letter to the CDC that it will also be “critical” to ensure access for frontline health care and essential workers, as well as older adults and people with medical conditions.Other lawmakers, though, have brushed off concerns. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he expects vaccine distribution will be “well underway” by the time Biden takes office Jan. 20.Murray, as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, grew concerned this summer as she said the Trump administration outsourced much of the vaccine distribution planning to the states.She drafted a 19-page paper calling for $25 billion to stand up a vaccination program with supply chains, hired personnel, drive-in clinics and other ways to provide no-cost vaccines. She warned of the Trump administration's “lack of centralized leadership” and “chaotic communication” with the states.Biden and Murray have since talked about her approach, which draws on input from health professionals on Biden’s team. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force, briefed Senate Democrats the week after the election.Murray compared the vaccine effort to sending a man to the moon or fighting a world war. She said it will take all Americans joining to say, “This is a pandemic, and I'm going to do my part to get the country out of it.”___Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most since April. The province has imposed new restrictions on the Halifax area, including closing gyms and libraries and banning indoor dining.
In order to welcome the jolly old elf to Aylmer, while keeping everyone safe, spectators and floats will swap roles for a “reverse” Santa Claus Parade this year. Aylmer Kinsmen Club’s 76th annual Santa Claus Parade will take place at night and have spectators drive past light displays, characters, floats, and Santa himself, while remaining in their own vehicles. “We’re going to do our best to make it enjoyable – it’s important that Santa comes to town,” said Andy Beck, the club’s parade marshal for the last eight years. The Santa Claus parade normally attracts thousands of people each year, he added. East Elgin Community Complex will host the “drive-through parade” on Saturday, Nov. 28 starting at 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Instead of moving through town, floats would be fixed in place and include plenty of lights along with some Christmas music. Spectators would be driving past them along a planned route circling the complex parking lot. (See ad on Page 3 for parade details and route.) No pedestrians are permitted. Visitors must stay in their cars, except for emergencies. No open vehicles, such as motorcycles or convertibles, are allowed. There will be no candy or other handouts this year, and the Kinsmen are asking anyone who is feeling ill to stay home. Kinsmen and EECC volunteers be outside directing traffic flow. Vehicles will enter from the east, and exit from the west. Drivers can use Rogers Road to return to town. All volunteers will wear face coverings at the event and practice physical distancing. Some Kinsmen will wear red jackets, while others may be dressed as clowns or Santa’s elves. The Aylmer Fire Department will also make an appearance at the event. The Kinsmen are inviting spectators to donate canned food and monetary donations for the Aylmer Corner Cupboard. Monetary donations will be placed in a collection bucket, while food donations should be delivered using a bag with a handle. The Kinsmen will have extra bags if needed. The Kinsmen will use a hockey stick with a bucket to collect from a distance. Letters to Santa are also encouraged. Donations will be quarantined for 72 hours before being distributed to the Aylmer Corner Cupboard or Canada Post. There is no washroom availability or access to the EECC. “The Santa Claus parade is the main event for the Kinsmen all year. We’re always talking about it, it’s always in process,” said Mr. Beck. “We’re hoping people come to visit and see Santa Claus.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Près d’une cinquantaine de jeunes de Boucherville ont participé, au début de novembre, au concours de dessins, à l’invitation du comité jeunesse de Boucherville. Les jeunes étaient invités à exprimer leur souhait post-pandémie. Le 20 novembre dernier, dans le cadre de la Journée internationale des droits de l’enfant, les lauréats ont été dévoilés. Dans la catégorie « préscolaire », la gagnante est Rachelle Do : 4 ans. Ce qu’elle rêve de faire après la pandémie : Elle aimerait faire la grande roue avec sa famille et ses amis dans le Vieux-Port de Montréal, reprendre l’avion pour aller en voyage et aller visiter son grand-papa et sa grand-maman à nouveau à Trois-Pistoles. Dans la catégorie « primaire » le lauréat es Lambert B. Bisson : 11 ans, 6e année, École Antoine-Girouard. Son rêve : Il aimerait beaucoup aller à Tokyo à cause de la façon de penser des gens là-bas, de leurs traditions et de leurs restaurants. Il aimerait bien pouvoir se promener dans les rues de Tokyo pour y rencontrer les gens. Il a même commencé à apprendre le Japonais! Dans la catégorie secondaire la gagnante est Marie-Anne Legault : 16 ans, secondaire 4, École secondaire De Mortagne. Son rêve est de passer du temps avec ses amis.es. Beaucoup sont dans des classes et horaires différents ou encore, loin d’elle. Elle a hâte de pouvoir donner des câlins à tout le monde. Son dessin représente son besoin d’acceptation, mais aussi de diversité. Elle veut inclure tout le monde avec elle. Chacun des gagnants recevra une carte-cadeau d’une valeur de 100 $ échangeable dans un commerce de Boucherville de leur choix. Rappelons que le 20 novembre 1989, 190 pays signaient un accord pour protéger les droits des enfants dans le monde et améliorer leurs conditions de vie. Cette date a donc été choisie comme Journée internationale des droits de l’enfant et la Ville de Boucherville, accréditée Municipalité amie des enfants depuis 2009, a tenu à souligner cette journée d’importance par différents moyens dont un concours de dessins. Les jeunes Bouchervillois étaient en effet invités à participer à un concours de dessin mettant de l’avant le droit des enfants de rêver, de garder espoir et de pouvoir exprimer librement leur opinion.François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
The MPP for Simcoe North says she believes Indigenous people in her riding and elsewhere in Ontario have taken COVID-19 seriously, and she is pleased to see that. Jill Dunlop said that during the first wave of the pandemic, 119 of the 133 Indigenous territories in Ontario reported no on-reserve cases of the coronavirus. That bucks a trend, particularly in Saskatchewan and Alberta, where the rate of COVID infection is substantially higher among Indigenous people than it is among non-Indigenous people. Dunlop credits the First Nations leaders in Ontario for taking preventive steps. “Some First Nations communities have taken additional measures to stop the spread during the pandemic. Some had established curfews. Some were only allowing residents of that community to come into the community, using a checkpoint,” Dunlop said. “They are also following public health regulations to make sure they are not bringing COVID back into their communities as well.” Dunlop said that the respect that Elders have in their communities is a likely part of the reason COVID numbers have been lower in First Nation communities. “If this was something that was affecting young people, we would see our (Elders) do everything they could to protect our young people,” she said. “We need to do the same to protect our seniors from the virus in this case.” Dunlop’s riding includes two First Nation Territories: the Chippewas of Rama First Nation near Orillia and the Beausoleil First Nation located on Christian, Beckwith and Hope islands on Georgian Bay, not far from Penetanguishene. As of last week, only four COVID cases had been diagnosed on the Rama territory since the global pandemic began. All were detected in October and all four patients have since recovered. There have been no cases reported on the Beausoleil First Nation Territory. Meanwhile, Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said he, too, is extremely pleased with the way Indigenous people on the territories the unit serves have handled the pandemic. “People need to be aware how (the virus) is transmitted. Ideally, you are sticking to your household for intimate contact and that you are otherwise maintaining a two-metre distance from other people, even if they are family and they are not in the household,” the doctor said. Dr. Gardner said he is very aware that it is only natural for Indigenous people to want to get together with extended family and friends. But, he added, that comes with risks and natural tendencies have to be overcome and precautions are needed at this time. The doctor added that currently they don’t publicly report COVID cases from the four First Nations territories that the health unit serves in Muskoka and Simcoe Region. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Reporter with The Parry Sound North Star, MuskokaRegion.com and Simcoe.com. LJI is funded by the Government of CanadaJohn McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Jan Morris leaves behind an incredible legacy, says her son Mark Morris, who has been teaching at the University of Alberta since 2000. The prolific Welsh writer died Friday at 94. "A bit of history has gone with her," Mark Morris said in an interview. Jan Morris was the only reporter allowed on the historic climb of Mount Everest in 1953, when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit. Before her death, she was the last member from that mission still alive. It's a story Mark Morris heard a lot while growing up. "In fact, I can remember her building a model of Everest in the snow for us instead of a snowman. And she showed us how it all worked and where the routes were," he said. Mark Morris has been in Canada since the late 80s. He's a full lecturer in the English and Film Studies Department at the U of A. Morris is also a librettist and has written 13 operas and is currently the music critic for the Edmonton Journal. Hear Mark talk about this father on CBC Radio's Radio Active: Despite Jan Morris' impressive body of work in a variety of styles, her son said she'll be remembered "for her staggeringly good writing." "She's one of the great stylists of writing and I see that in The Guardian newspaper in Britain today, six other travel writers have done tributes today to say how her writing influenced them," Mark said. Morris, a transgender woman, very publicly documented her transition in the book Conundrum, which was published in 1974. Mark said this is also an important piece of her legacy. He said he knew of many people to whom her example was so important. Edmonton: A six day week In 1990, Jan wrote a book of essays chronicling different cities across Canada. According to her essay on Edmonton, called A six day week, there was something about the city that didn't quite agree with her. Despite the fact that Jan couldn't last a week here in winter, Mark said he loves the essay. "How could the Edmontonians stand it, I wondered, for a whole winter —or a whole lifetime? Was it only to strangers that the city seemed so bewilderingly unresolved, or did its citizens too feel their navigations vague? So flat, so far away, so bitter half the year — what profits or pleasures could compensate for the disadvantages of Edmonton?" one section in the essay reads. Mark teaches the essay to writing students in his classes at the U of A, and said there's always a big divide in how students feel about the piece. "It strikes me that Edmonton is one of those places that half of us love all the time while the other half hate it. And then we all switch positions," he said. "I think my father got that perfectly in this article." She was, after all, "a poet of places," according to Mark.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 42 new cases for the region Wednesday. Based on some current data, including the case rate and how quickly the virus is reproducing, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Windsor-Essex technically qualifies for the province's 'control' red category. But Ahmed said that by Friday, when the province typically announces changes, these numbers can shift and there is other data the province looks at before moving a region into another category."Based on the numbers, I think it's pretty evident that we are [in the red category], but as I said the qualitative data would also be taken into consideration and we'll see what the province decides," said Ahmed. Currently, Windsor-Essex is in the 'restrict' orange category. Of Wednesday's 42 new cases, 19 are close contacts of a confirmed case, five are agri-farm workers, one is a local health care worker, two are travel related to Michigan, two are community acquired and 14 are under investigation. There are 341 active cases in the region. Eighteen people are in hospital, including five in the ICU. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) announced one new community outbreak Wednesday, at Victoria Manor Supportive Living in Windsor. A community outbreak at Riverplace Residence in Windsor was declared Tuesday.There are three workplaces with outbreaks, two in Leamington's agriculture sector and another at a place of worship in Leamington. Two schools — Frank W. Begley Public School and W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School — remain in outbreak.Begley now has 43 cases, 35 are students and eight are staff members. W. J. Langlois now has five cases. The outbreak at Begley is still under investigation and public health officials say they are not yet sure how many community cases, in student family members, have resulted from the outbreak. There are five long-term care and retirement homes in outbreak. Riverside Place in Windsor reported a spike in new cases Tuesday with 17 residents and two staff members testing positive. Other homes in outbreak include: * Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with one staff case. * Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor with two staff cases. * Lifetimes on Riverside in Windsor with five resident cases and four staff cases. * Iler Lodge in Essex with 18 resident cases and three staff cases. WECHU also issued potential exposure notices for two additional places this week: * RIA Financial at 54 1/2 Erie St. S. in Leamington on Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 7: 30 p.m., Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. * Deer Run Church at 1408 Deer Run Rd. in Leamington on Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.The potential exposures are considered by the health unit to be low risk, however anybody who visited these locations on the days and times listed are advised to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days.Several charges issued this monthThis month, WECHU said it will be cracking down on those who don't comply with COVID-19 rules and will start issuing charges. On Wednesday, chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette said since Nov. 1 the health unit has issued seven charges, most of which are related to non-compliance with masking or physical distancing. University launches COVID-19 web pageThe University of Windsor launched a COVID-19 web page Monday that lists the number of active cases on campus. The school has had a total of eight cases to date, six of which are resolved. All of the cases occurred in November.
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers increased their spending by a sluggish 0.5% last month, the weakest rise since April, when the pandemic first erupted, and a sign that Americans remain wary with the virus resurging across the country and threatening the economy. The October gain reported Wednesday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 1.2% increase in September. It suggested that consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy, is being restrained by a weakened economy and by the failure of Congress to provide another stimulus package to struggling individuals and businesses. The government's report also showed that income, which provides the fuel for spending, fell 0.7% in October. With new viral cases accelerating across the country, many states are adopting or considering new restrictions on businesses. Sales at restaurants and bars fell in October for the first time in six months. Restaurant traffic declined further this month, according to the reservations provider OpenTable. Hotel occupancy is down from a month ago. Consumer spending on credit cards dropped in the first week of November from a month earlier, according to data compiled by Opportunity Insights. Economists warn that consumer spending could falter further in the current October-December quarter given that many of the major government support programs have expired and Congress has yet to renew the assistance. “With coronavirus infection rates soaring, states re-imposing restrictions and the ... data on in-person dining and jobless claims beginning to show signs of weakness, we are increasingly worried that the monthly gains in consumption will be weaker," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note. The report showed that while the wages-and-salaries component of consumer income rose 0.7% in October, government transfers — the category that includes unemployment aid and other benefits — fell 6.2%. Inflation, as measured by a gauge tied to consumer spending, was unchanged in October. Measured year over year, it's up just 1.2%. That is far below the 2% annual target set by the Federal Reserve, and it gives the Fed further leeway to supply support to the economy beyond the ultra-low interest rates it is already providing. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
A team of friends and business partners from India are looking to spice things up in Dartmouth — but in moderation, so everyone is satisfied. On Nov. 5, Dinu Mathew, Tinu Matthews, Tony Abraham and Jinu Samuel opened the doors to Spice Hub Indian Kitchen, located at 1015 Main St. The restaurant serves up homestyle Indian dishes prepared by Mathew, who has been cooking for 11 years. “I’ve been cooking for a long time,” said Mathew, who first moved to Ontario in 2010 to do a two-year culinary management course at Fanshawe College and moved to Halifax in 2012. “It was my dream to open up my restaurant for a long time, and I’ve been waiting. I didn’t have enough money to do it myself, so I got three other partners.” The restaurant’s dishes come at a mild-to-medium heat level “so everyone can eat our food,” Mathew said, adding “there is still flavour and everything in it.” For those who want the extra heat, which Mathew said a lot of customers have requested so far, they can have chili added to their meals. When he moved to the Halifax region, Mathew said, he noticed a lack of Indian restaurants in Dartmouth. That’s why he wanted to be among the first to open one up. Originally from southern India, Mathew and his partners also noticed a lack of southern Indian food available in the area. They’re offering a mix of dishes from around India. “It’s mostly north Indian restaurants (here), so we want to introduce some of our stuff from south India, too,” said Mathew. Their offerings include porotta, which is a layered flatbread, as well as dosa, a rice pancake filled with rice and beef. Their northern Indian food offerings include tandoori chicken and butter chicken with naan bread. Spice Hub Indian Kitchen also sells Indian food staples like samosas and an Indian-Canadian dish that’s become a fan favourite — butter chicken poutine. Mathew said everything at the restaurant is reasonably priced but still comes in adequate portions. Appetizers cost less than $10 and entrees are priced between $10 and $15, he said. To reel in Nova Scotians who may be unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, Spice Hub Indian Kitchen is also sharing educational posts on social media about dishes, drinks and desserts. On Facebook, they’ve shared some background on how butter chicken, masala tea and rasmalai are made, for example. “We want to give (people) a little bit of an idea of what’s going on,” Mathew explained. The co-owners initially planned to open the restaurant last year, but then COVID-19 hit and altered their business plans. Luckily, Mathew said, their landlord gave them a break and told them they could start paying rent whenever they opened. With COVID-19 case numbers rising in Nova Scotia, the restaurant is making some adjustments, according to Spice Hub Indian Kitchen’s marketing manager, Binil Kurian. This week, he said, the restaurant is looking to close down dining and focus solely on offering takeout food until the second wave slows in the province. Spice Hub Indian Kitchen is also slated to join Uber Eats this week, begin offering curbside pickup and introduce placemats with barcodes that customers can scan to see a menu, contact-free. “We don’t want an exposure here or we don’t want our customers (to get sick). We really value their time, we really value their (support), so we don’t want anything from our side,” said Kurian. If all goes well with the business, Mathew said, the goal is to open more Spice Hub Indian Kitchen restaurant locations in the region. For now, he said, he and his team have one wish: “We want (customers) to come back.” Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
Sports competition is suspended and gatherings at restaurants are being further limited under new COVID-19 restrictions announced by Saskatchewan on Wednesday. Limits on private gatherings like weddings and funerals, along with places of worship, will also be introduced. Premier Scott Moe said he does not believe a full lockdown is "imminent" because he thinks the restrictions will make a difference. "Our goal is to not shut down businesses, services and activities that ultimately put people out of work and at times threaten their mental health," Moe said at a news conference on Wednesday. "Our goal is to find ways for those things to operate and to do so safely so that people can continue to participate in athletics and continue working."Starting 12:01 a.m. on Friday, no more than four people will be allowed to sit together at a table at a restaurant, and tables will need to be separated by three metres unless there are "impermeable barriers" between them, in which case they can be placed two metres apart. Restaurants will also need to keep information about guests or patrons.All team sports and group activities are suspended, but athletes and dancers 18 years old and under may keep practising in groups of eight or fewer if they use masks and practise physical distancing. Fitness activities in groups of eight or less are still allowed, with conditions.All places of worship must reduce capacity to 30 people, and no food or drink can be served. Mandatory non-medical masking is being extended to apply to all students, employees and visitors at schools. All employees and visitors in common areas in businesses and workplaces, even where the public does not have access, also have to wear a mask.All residents, employees and visitors in all common areas in provincial and municipal correctional facilities will also have to wear a mask.Capacity will be restricted to 30 people at casinos, bingo halls, arenas, live theatres, movie theatres, performing arts venues and other facilities that currently have a capacity of 150 people.Indoor gatherings such as banquets, weddings, funerals, conferences will also have a limit of 30 people, and food and beverage service will be prohibited. The limit for private indoor gatherings will remain at five but the province said "gatherings of any size beyond your immediate household are strongly discouraged at this time."The government announcement was initially scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, but was postponed for a day.Saskatchewan COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb, with nearly 3,000 known active cases across the province as of Tuesday. More than 100 people are in hospital, including 20 in intensive care units.A food bank, a safe consumpion site and other services for Saskatoon's vulnerable population have been shuttered after positive cases. Many schools are operating on reduced schedules or have closed. The virus is spreading rapidly through urban and rural care homes, northern villages, First Nations and elsewhere.Premier Scott Moe is self-isolating after a potential recent exposure in a Prince Albert restaurant. Fred Sasakamoose, a member of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation and one of the first Indigenous hockey players to make it to the NHL, died this week after contracting COVID.Last weekend, Moe said he was against a full lockdown of the province, stating it would be disastrous for the economy.Last week, the province made masks mandatory in indoor public spaces across the province and restricted indoor private gatherings in people's homes to five people.Visits to long-term and personal care homes were also suspended in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus to vulnerable people.On Tuesday, Alberta announced its latest plans to limit the spread of the virus. Premier Jason Kenney said all indoor gatherings would no longer be allowed and Grade 7 to 12 students would switch to online learning from Nov. 30 to the end of their winter break.Only 10 people will be allowed to be present at weddings and funerals in Alberta. Banquet halls, auditoriums and children's play spaces will be closed.Moe said Saskatchewan residents need to "slow down a little bit" but a return to the tighter restrictions on businesses like those introduced earlier in the pandemic is not needed. "The overwhelming majority of Saskatchewan businesses and their employees in this province are operating safely day to day so it would be terribly unfair and it would have a huge negative impact close down all of those businesses and put thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work," said Moe. The premier said the province is considering compensation for industries affected by the pandemic, calling it an "active conversation." He would not say which sectors the province is currently in discussions with. "I don't have a date on when we will be moving forward or if we will be moving forward with a compensation package, but we are working with those sectors to understand how today's recommendations … are going to impact them," said Moe. "And how to ensure that our local small business, our restaurant sector for example, and others, are there when we come out the backside of this pandemic."Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab and Moe said more restrictions could be needed if case numbers do not fall. What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Aylmer Mayor Mary French announced that she is not the sole decision-maker for town COVID-19-related actions, in response to the brief avalanche of messages received as a result of the state of emergency declaration, and closure of the East Elgin Community Complex, ahead of the Nov. 7 “freedom” rally. The Emergency Control Group (ECG), comprised of the mayor, administrator, staff, emergency and community services repesentatives, works together to make decisions regarding the pandemic. “In this group, my role is the same as it is at council in that I am one of many voices at the table,” said Mayor French, near the conclusion of the Nov. 16 virtual council meeting. “More specifically, actions of the town in response to COVID-19 are never undertaken specifically at my request, but instead are the result of collaborative decision-making processes.” Anyone with questions about the ECG decision-making process can contact Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Reynaert or Emergency Services Director Sam Taylor, she said. Mayor French also thanked the community, council and staff for the “ongoing support that has been received in relation to recent events.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, is urging New Brunswickers to "have a plan ready" for self-isolation.More than 1,000 New Brunswickers are currently in self-isolation, Russell said at Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing, the third this week. "I am sure that very few of these people expected that this would happen to them, and even fewer made a plan for this eventuality. But everyone needs to be ready," she said.Russell advised residents in all zones to "make a plan today.""Have a plan for self-isolation, how you'll arrange work, supports and other activities on short notice. Until a vaccine becomes available the risk of outbreaks will remain high."Russell also announced three new cases on Wednesday.These include two cases in the Saint John region (Zone 2): one person in their 50s and another person in their 70s.Both are self-isolating and their cases are under investigation.The third case is someone 30 to 39 in the Bathurst region (Zone 6). This case is travel-related and the individual is self-isolating.There are 94 active cases in the province, and one person is in hospital.As of Wednesday, 118,648 tests have been conducted, 1,060 since Tuesday at this time.Health minister addresses testing delays, backlogHealth Minister Dorothy Shephard also spoke at Wednesday's briefing and opened by acknowledging "frustration" with testing access and an increase in requests for testing.On Tuesday alone, Shephard said, 1,384 requests for a test were submitted online.Of those, 503 came from the Saint John region and 333 from the Fredericton region. Compounding this week's increase in demand was a "technical glitch" that was preventing test requests from getting through to schedulers, Shephard said.The glitch has been resolved, and with the addition of a new testing centre at James the Less Church, located at 1760 Rothesay Rd. in Rothesay, the delays are expected to ease. "As we go through the next day or two you're going to see that we will be able to clear those backlogs up," Shephard said. Dr. Jennifer Russell had earlier noted that the backlog did not affect priority testing such as pre-operation testing or results for people who are self-isolating.Shephard also urged New Brunswickers to take care of their mental health as they head into the holiday season, taking care to exercise regularly, avoid alcohol, get plenty of sleep, maintain a regular routine and take care of one another."COVID-19 fatigue is real. The longer this pandemic goes on the bigger the impact COVID-19 fatigue has on our mental health," she said. "We are all in this together. It is important to know you are not alone."Another positive case at Shannex in Saint JohnThere are now five positive cases of COVID-19 at the Shannex Parkland facility in Saint John.Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Wednesday that a new case has been confirmed, after one employee and three residents tested positive earlier this week."There was one new [case] this morning and we have just done another round of testing, so we will know by tomorrow morning how they all turn out," Shephard said. She did not say whether the new case was a resident or an employee.Earlier this week, Public Health said the Shannex outbreak was at Tucker Hall, a 90-bed licensed long-term care home on the Parkland Saint John campus. COVID-alert app in use in N.B., but little data availableThe COVID-alert app is being used by New Brunswickers, but the province does not yet know how many people have downloaded it."We are not able to get data from the federal government on how many people in each province have it," Dr. Jennifer Russell said Wednesday when asked if there has been uptake on the app here in New Brunswick."But obviously, the more people who have it, the better, because it would decrease the timeframe between notifying someone that they are positive and making sure they take all the steps to protect themselves and others."Russell said they do have data on "one-time key entries" that show the app is being used here, and further data should be coming.Changes to single-household bubble rules The province has adjusted its single-household rule for residents in orange or red zones.The single-household bubble can now now be extended to include a caregiver or an immediate family member who needs mental, social and/or emotional support, the province said in a release Wednesday. The caregiver can be a close friend or neighbour.Members of this extended bubble can go to restaurants and other venues, such as church, together.Public Health wants to be sole provider of exposure warningsWhen businesses and other organizations release their own statements about possible COVID-19- exposure, it can create confusion and anxiety with the public, says New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health."They feel like they're doing their due diligence and it's well-intentioned," said Dr. Jennifer Russell. "But it can be very confusing for the public."Earlier this week, Public Health announced possible COVID-19 exposures at the Stan Cassidy Rehabilitation Centre and Montgomery Street School in Fredericton.At the same time, the YMCA of Fredericton and GoodLife Fitness on Prospect Street in Fredericton released statements about possible COVID-19 exposures on their properties. Russell said such announcements cause people to question why a business or organization is issuing an advisory and not Public Health. "When Public Health is involved and Public Health has made the risk assessment, then you can feel confident the information shared is accurate," she said. To minimize confusion, Russell said it would be better if businesses and organizations refrained from releasing their own statements.CBC News spoke recently with a Fredericton business owner frustrated by the poor flow of information from Public Health about what he should do after a visitor to his store tested positive for COVID-19. But Russell said Public Health follows a standard process to decide if the public is at risk and whether a notice of exposure is necessary.The process includes a detailed questionnaire, and how the questions are answered determines the risk of COVID-19 exposure to the public. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, Public Health will contact those who have been within two metres of that person for 15 minutes or longer — or have had brief exposures that were repetitive in a span of 24 hours that added up to 15 minutes or more. Public Health also decides when that person was contagious and the contact tracing is based on that period of time. Russell said there's no need to issue a public advisory if close contacts are notified and there's no risk of public exposure.But if they can't track down or reach all the close contacts, that's when Public Health officials will notify citizens about potential exposure out of "an abundance of caution." Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, will be speaking at a news briefing in Fredericton at 2:30 p.m.Businesses don't know what the rules are The president and CEO of WorkSafeNB says the pandemic has been a difficult time for many New Brunswick businesses — especially when it comes to following the rules. Doug Jones said the main concern he's hearing from business owners is they aren't sure what rules are.He said WorkSafeNB spent time this week clarifying those guidelines."Essentially, we want people to wear a mask almost all the time, unless you're in your own cubicle or in your own office space, in the work environment," he said."Just wear a mask all the time. That's the biggest message."The biggest gap inspectors are also seeing is that many businesses don't have a written operational plan .He said businesses typically get a warning first. But if problems continue or pose a serious risk a business could be fined or shut down.Public Health expects surge in testingDr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, said Public Health expects to see surges in COVID-19 testing when more outbreaks happen.That's when Public Health will ramp up testing capacity. They do this by adding more hours and testing centres, which they've done in Saint John. There's also a priority system in place to minimize risks of outbreaks, which includes first-responders and people living in long-term care facilities.Russell said testing typically takes between 24 and 72 hours. Meanwhile, contact tracing is between 24 and 48 hours.But there can be delays"It is unfortunate but we keep track of that," she said.As of Tuesday, 117,588 tests have been conducted.Hockey league postpones 7 gamesThe Quebec Major Junior Hockey League postponed seven games scheduled in the Maritimes Division this week. The games were scheduled in Charlottetown, Cape Breton, Moncton, Saint John and Bathurst. According to its website, the decision was made after the announcement of new restrictions by Public Health officials in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.Last week, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has postponed at least five games involving the Saint John Sea Dogs and the Cape Breton Eagles after a positive COVID-19 test.The positive test was within the Saint John Sea Dogs organization.All fitness and recreational facilities, libraries, museums and casinos in the region must close for the next two weeks, as well.P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison is advising people to travel off the Island only for essential purposes.Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — the fifth highest single-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic.As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, all restaurants and bars in the Halifax region must close to in-person dining, except for takeout and delivery orders, for the next two weeks. Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health is advising residents to avoid non-essential travel to Halifax, which reported 16 new cases on Thursday.If New Brunswickers are travelling from there, they should behave as though they've just come from an orange zone. She is advising people to avoid gatherings and vulnerable people. They should also wear a mask inside and out."This is a rapidly changing situation and we're assessing it every day," Russell said.And if risks are getting too high, New Brunswick will be cut off from Nova Scotia.Potential public exposure warnings for Fredericton, Saint John, MonctonNew Brunswick Public Health has warned of the following possible exposures to COVID-19 in Moncton and Saint John, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.Anyone who visited these places during the identified times should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.Anyone who develops any COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online to schedule a test.Fredericton area * The Snooty Fox on Nov. 18 and 19, 66 Regent St., between 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on Nov. 19 while on these flights: * Air Canada Flight 178 – from Edmonton to Toronto arrived at 5:58 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 404– from Toronto to Montreal arrived at 10:16 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton arrived at 4:17 p.m.Saint John area * Vito's Restaurant on Nov. 16, 111 Hampton Rd., Rothesay, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. * Rothesay Route 1 Big Stop Restaurant on Nov. 14 between 12:45 p.m. and 2 p.m. (2870 Route 1, Rothesay). * Pub Down Under on Nov. 14, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (400 Main St., Saint John) * Fish & Brew on Nov. 14 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (800 Fairville Blvd., Saint John) * Cora Breakfast and Lunch on Nov. 16 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (39 King St., Saint John). * Goodlife Fitness McAllister Place on Nov. 16 between noon and 1 p.m. and on Nov. 18 between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John). * NBCC Grandview campus on Nov. 16, 17, and 18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (950 Grandview Ave., Saint John). * Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (47 Clark Rd., Rothesay) * Let's Hummus at 44 Water St. between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. * Eighty-Three Bar Arcade at 43 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * Callie's Pub at 2 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * O'Leary's Pub at 46 Princess St. on Nov. 14 between midnight and 2 a.m. * Five and Dime Bar at 34 Grannan St. on Nov. 14, between 12:30 to 2:30 a.m * Freddie's Pizza at 27 Charlotte St. on Nov. 14, between 2:30 to 3 a.m. * Big Tide Brewing Company at 47 Princess St. on Nov. 16, between 12:30 to 2 p.m. * Java Moose at 84 Prince William St. Nov. 16, between 2 to 2:30 p.m. * Rocky's Sports Bar at 7 Market Square on Nov. 13, between 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 14 between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.Moncton * RD Maclean Co. Ltd. on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 200 St. George St., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. * GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. * Fit 4 Less at 165 Main St. on Nov. 6-12, at various times between 5 p.m. and midnight. Full list on Public Health website. * GoodLife Fitness at Moncton Junction Village Gym on Nov. 6, between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Potential public exposure was also reported on Nov. 9, between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. * Aldo Shoes at Moncton Champlain Mall on Nov. 6-10 at various times between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. * CEPS Louis-J. Robichaud fitness room at 40 Antonine-Maillet Ave. on Nov. 6, 9, 10 and 12 at various times in the evening from 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. * Tandoori Zaika Cuisine and Bar at 196 Robinson St. on Nov. 8, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. * Keg Steakhouse and Bar at 576 Main St. on Nov. 17, between 7:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. * Flights into Moncton: * Air Canada Flight 8954 on Nov. 15 from Winnipeg to Toronto, arrived at 8:16 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 15 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 0992 on Nov. 7 from Mexico City to Toronto, arrived at 7:20 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 on Nov. 7 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:43 p.m.What to do if you have a symptomPeople concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: * A fever above 38 C. * A new cough or worsening chronic cough. * Sore throat. * Runny nose. * Headache. * New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. * Difficulty breathing.In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.People with one of those symptoms should: * Stay at home. * Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. * Describe symptoms and travel history. * Follow instructions.
The Town of Aylmer is in the midst of revising its flag policy after a request to fly a Christian flag at town hall from resident Susan Mutch on July 29. Ms. Mutch sent in her request the week after the town flew a rainbow-striped pride flag to show support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. With that request so far unanswered, the Aylmer Express has found some some history of the flag, including its U.S.A. Methodist founding and unofficial status in Canada. Forrest Pass, flag historian and curator at Library and Archives Canada, said of the Christian flag, “It’s a very American emblem. In the United States, it has some official sanction from an ecumenical body that represents a number of denominations - it has that significance there. “In Canada - the Canadian Council of Churches or any of those organizations have not adopted it.” Mr. Pass said flying a Christian flag at governmental buildings throughout Canada is not unheard of, pointing to a similar case in Newfoundland about four years ago. “The organization that requested this may be in fact taking their inspiration from that case,” noted Mr. Pass. A group of Christians of all denominations raised a Christian flag at the Confederation Building in St. John’s, Newfoundland in March 2016. Almost immediately, the move drew criticism from the general public and some members of the House of Assembly, who felt the symbol had homophobic connotations and represented a “divisive” approach to Christianity. The flag was taken down less than 24 hours later. “Flags can be hugely emotional. These are emblems that are designed to provoke emotion and they do provoke emotion,” noted Mr. Pass. The Christian flag itself has a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton. The red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed on the Calvary, blue represents the waters of baptism and faithfulness of Jesus, and white represents Jesus’ purity. The idea for the flag originated at Brighton Chapel in Brooklyn, New York in 1897. After a scheduled speaker failed to arrive for an event, the superintendent, Charles Overton, of the Sunday school gave an impromptu lecture. He asked students what a flag representing Christianity would look like. The design of the flag was based on the text from this lecture. In 1907, Mr. Overton and and Ralph Diffendorfer, secretary of the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, designed and began promoting the flag. “It’s an interesting case where the design emerges before the physical artifact,” said Mr. Pass. The flag does have some history in Canada, he said, used as early as the 1920s. It’s been used fairly regularly by Sunday school groups, Canadian Girls in Training, and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). “I’m not sure how frequently it would be used by provincial governments or by municipal governments, but I wouldn’t say it’s unprecedented,” noted Mr. Pass. The flag mainly represents a wide swath of Protestant Christianity and is largely an evangelical symbol, he said. It is not a symbol that has any particular resonance for Roman Catholics. “It’s really up to the user of the flag what it represents – that’s one of the interesting things about these symbols is that their meaning changes constantly.”Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Trump administration is preparing to auction oil drilling rights inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the degree to which the industry will participate is uncertain.Leases on the land in northeast Alaska could be go on the block days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday.Supporters, including Alaska’s congressional delegation, have celebrated the prospect of a lease sale as a way to create jobs and revenue. Opponents express concerns about impacts on ecosystems, Indigenous people and the climate.Kara Moriarty, CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said oil and gas companies are unsurprisingly remaining quiet about their intentions.“Participation in lease sales is one of the most competitive and secretive things between companies,” Moriarty said.The public likely will not learn about the industry's level of interest until the federal government unseals the bids on the sale date, which has not yet been announced.There is a possibility that the sale could be held shortly before Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.Some industry analysts believe there is a measure of uncertainty and risk that could lead to limited interest in a lease sale within the next two months.The coronavirus pandemic and an oil price war have hit the oil industry hard. Oil prices remain low and there are high costs and difficulties involved in Arctic exploration, said Mark Myers, a geologist and former Alaska natural resources commissioner.“The prices have fallen down to a level that leaves very little capital for exploration in these companies,” Myers said.Rowena Gunn, an analyst for energy research firm Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said public criticism of drilling in environmentally sensitive areas could weigh heavily on publicly traded companies.Colorado-based energy economist Philip Verleger said he would not expect a deluge of bids because of the uncertainty over future demand for oil and natural gas.A lease sale in the refuge would have been “terrifically successful” 15 years ago, but the time to develop the coastal plain has passed, Verleger said.“The cost of going there and developing and putting the resources in is too high, particularly since the production would last a long time, and we don’t know if demand would last," he said.as long.”The Associated Press