Most birds would probably freak out if they took a ride on the subway, but not these macaws! Look at how calm and composed they are. Incredible! @mikey_themacaw
Most birds would probably freak out if they took a ride on the subway, but not these macaws! Look at how calm and composed they are. Incredible! @mikey_themacaw
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
There were two deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Wednesday. Both deaths were in the 80 plus age group and were located in Regina and Saskatoon. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is now 389. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. This was among 121 new cases reported in Saskatchewan. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 19 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 30 active cases and North Central 3 has 15 active cases. There are currently 153 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 133 reported as receiving in patient care there are 14 in North Central. Of the 20 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 154, or 12.5 cases per 100,000 population. The high was 312 reported on Jan. 12. Of the 29,059reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,431 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,239after 180 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,059 of those 7,437 cases are from the North area (3,024 North West, 3,259 North Central and 1,154 North East). There were 1,358doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 81,597. There were 232 doses administered in the North Central zone yesterday. The other zones where vaccines were administered were in the North West, Far North Central, Central East, Far North Central, Far North East, Saskatoon and Regina. According to the province as of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority healthcare workers received a first dose. This percentage includes healthcare workers from long term care and personal care home facilities. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by end of day March 3. There were 2,588 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 28. As of today there have been 582,829 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The Town of Kensington is reminding snowmobilers in the area that sidewalks and roads are off-limits. The Kensington police chief and the mayor have both noticed snowmobiles that aren't keeping to their designated paths within the community, and they want to raise awareness about what's allowed. "I suspect that it could be just a matter of not being ... informed as well as they need to be and not recognizing that there's a safe corridor to travel off the streets in Kensington," said Mayor Rowan Caseley. The mayor believes having snowmobiles travelling on the sidewalks is dangerous. "You could be hitting somebody that's walking," he said. "It also packs down the snow on the sidewalks and makes it slippery for the other people." Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley stands by the sign that tells snowmobilers where they can safely travel in the town. (Laura Meader/CBC) Casely stressed that the town and its businesses do appreciate having snowmobiles around. "We do have a corridor marked off between the train station and the downtown … where operators can travel and get to the downtown core to get their gas and coffee, etc.," he said. "Travelling on streets is certainly frowned upon — and I think it's actually probably illegal." New snowmobilers less familiar? The president of the Kensington Area Snowmobile Association said the snowmobilers who are cutting away from the designated corridor could be unaware of where they're allowed to go. "We're seeing a lot of new snowmobiling this year, a lot of people that haven't snowmobiled in years or haven't snowmobiled at all," said Russell Jollimore. "These people need to be made aware of the dos and don'ts." Jollimore said that as soon as the Kensington police chief spoke to him about the issue, he posted a reminder on the group's Facebook page. He noted that the town has set aside parking for machines near the gas station and the train station. "People can walk, you know, a few hundred feet to get to their restaurant or down for their coffee or or whatever. They don't need to be going up and down the side of the road. That's just not acceptable." More from CBC P.E.I.
WASHINGTON — The White House warned that the U.S. may consider a military response to the rocket attack that hit an air base in western Iraq where American and coalition troops are housed. A U.S. contractor died after at least 10 rockets slammed into the base early Wednesday. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, the first since the U.S. struck Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week. “We are following that through right now," President Joe Biden told reporters. “Thank God, no one was killed by the rocket, but one individual, a contractor, died of a heart attack. But we’re identifying who’s responsible and we’ll make judgments” about a response. White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that the “calculated” U.S. airstrikes last week could be a model for a military response. Those strikes were in response to an attack on American forces in northern Iraq earlier in February. “If we assess further response is warranted, we will take action again in a manner and time of our choosing,” Psaki said. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. contractor “suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering” from the attack and died shortly afterward. He said there were no service members injured and all are accounted for. British and Danish troops also are among those stationed at the base. The U.S. airstrikes last week, which killed one member of the Iran-aligned militia, had stoked fears of another cycle of tit-for-tat attacks as happened more than a year ago. Those attacks included the U.S. drone strike in January 2020 that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani in Baghdad and set off months of increased troops levels in the region. Wednesday's death of the contractor heightens worries that the U.S. could be drawn into another period of escalating attacks, complicating the Biden administration's desire to open talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal. The latest attack also comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq despite concerns about security and the coronavirus pandemic. The much-anticipated trip will include stops in Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Irbil. The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province early in the morning, U.S.-led coalition spokesperson Col. Wayne Marotto said. Kirby said the rockets were fired from east of the base, and that counter-rocket defensive systems were used to defend forces at the base. Kirby said the U.S. can't attribute responsibility for the attack yet, and that the extent of the damage was still being assessed. It's the same base that Iran struck with a barrage of missiles in January of last year in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani. Dozens of U.S. service members suffered concussions in that strike. The Iraqi military released a statement saying that Wednesday's attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the rockets — a truck. Video of the site shows a burning truck in a desert area. British Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey condemned the attack, saying it undermined the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group. “Coalition forces are in Iraq to fight Daesh at the invitation of the Iraqi government,” he tweeted, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “These terrorist attacks undermine the fight against Daesh and destabilize Iraq.” Denmark said coalition forces at the base were helping to bring stability and security to the country. “Despicable attacks against Ain al-Asad base in #Iraq are completely unacceptable," Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted. The Danish armed forces said two Danes who were at the base at the time of the attack are unharmed. Last week's U.S. strike along the border was in response to a spate of rocket attacks that targeted the American presence, including one that killed a coalition contractor from the Philippines outside the Irbil airport. After that attack, the Pentagon said the strike was a “proportionate military response.” Marotto, the coalition spokesperson, said the Iraqi security forces were leading an investigation into the attack. Frequent rocket attacks in Baghdad targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy, during Donald Trump’s presidency frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closure and escalatory strikes. Those attacks have increased again in recent weeks, since President Joe Biden took office, following a lull during the transition period. U.S. troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country last year and withdrew from several Iraqi bases to consolidate chiefly in Ain al-Asad, Baghdad and Irbil. ___ Kullab reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report. Samya Kullab And Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
After Mateo Perusse-Shortte, experienced racism while playing his sport, he and his mom decided to plan a hockey diversity group in Quebec.
Canadian librarians and educators are reassessing several Dr. Seuss titles that are being pulled from publication because of racist and insensitive imagery.The business that preserves the legacy of Dr. Seuss says it's ceasing sales of six titles — including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” — that portray people in ways that are hurtful.In response to the decision, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board in southern Ontario says it's removing these "harmful" books from its libraries. A Toronto Public Library spokeswoman says a group of librarians are reviewing the titles, and if they identify racial or cultural representation concerns may recommend to pull the books from the stacks or move them out of the children's section.A spokesman for Vancouver Public Library says it's also launching a review of the materials to determine if further action is needed.Books by Dr. Seuss, who was born Theodor Geisel in 1904 and died in 1991, have faced mounting criticism in recent years over the way Blacks, Asians and others are depicted.— With files from The Associated PressThis report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today. They involve two people in their 20s in the Fredericton region and both cases are travel-related, as well as a person in their 50s in the Miramichi region which is under investigation. Officials have identified a list of locations in Miramichi where there may have been public exposure, and a mass testing clinic will be held to determine if there has been any further spread in the area. The clinics will be held tomorrow and Friday at the gymnasium of the Dr. Losier Middle School. There are now 37 active cases in the province and three people are hospitalized, including two in intensive care. There have been 28 COVID-19-related deaths in the province since the onset of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Legislators in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public high schools. Yet in almost every case, sponsors cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems. The Associated Press reached out to two dozen state lawmakers sponsoring such measures around the country as well as the conservative groups supporting them and found only a few times it’s been an issue among the hundreds of thousands of American teenagers who play high school sports. In South Carolina, for example, Rep. Ashley Trantham said she knew of no transgender athletes competing in the state and was proposing a ban to prevent possible problems in the future. Otherwise, she said during a recent hearing, “the next generation of female athletes in South Carolina may not have a chance to excel." In Tennessee, House Speaker Cameron Sexton conceded there may not actually be transgender students now participating in middle and high school sports; he said a bill was necessary so the state could be “proactive.” Some lawmakers didn't respond to AP's queries. Others in places like Mississippi and Montana largely brushed aside the question or pointed to a pair of runners in Connecticut. Between 2017 and 2019, transgender sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood combined to win 15 championship races, prompting a lawsuit. Supporters of transgender rights say the Connecticut case gets so much attention from conservatives because it’s the only example of its kind. “It’s their Exhibit A, and there’s no Exhibit B -- absolutely none,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a prominent trans-rights attorney. The multiple sports bills, he says, address a threat that doesn’t exist. There’s no authoritative count of how many trans athletes have competed recently in high school or college sports. Neither the NCAA nor most state high school athletic associations collect that data; in the states that do collect it, the numbers are minimal: No more than five students currently in Kansas, nine in Ohio over five years. Transgender adults make up a small portion of the U.S. population, about 1.3 million as of 2016, according to the Williams Institute, a think-tank at the UCLA School of Law that specializes in research on LGBTQ issues. The two dozen bills making their way through state legislatures this year could be devastating for transgender teens who usually get little attention as they compete. In Utah, a 12-year-old transgender girl cried when she heard about the proposal, which would separate her from her friends. She’s far from the tallest girl on her club team, and has worked hard to improve her times but is not a dominant swimmer in her age group, her coach said. “Other than body parts I’ve been a girl my whole life,” she said. The girl and her family spoke with The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to avoid outing her publicly. Those who object to the growing visibility and rights for transgender people, though, argue new laws are needed to keep the playing field fair for cisgender girls. “When the law does not recognize differences between men and women, we’ve seen that women lose,” said Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the Connecticut lawsuit on behalf of four cisgender girls. One of those girls, Chelsea Mitchell, defeated Terry Miller -- the faster of the two trans sprinters -- in their final two races in February 2020 The ADF and others like it are the behind-the-scenes backers of the campaign, offering model legislation and a playbook to promote the bills most of them with common features and even titles, like the Save Women’s Sports Act. When asked for other examples of complaints about middle or high school transgender athletes, ADF and the Family Policy Alliance, cited two: One involved a Hawaii woman who coaches track and filed a complaint last year over a trans girl competing in girls’ volleyball and track. The other involved a cisgender girl in Alaska who defeated a trans sprinter in 2016, then appeared in a Family Policy Alliance video saying the trans girl’s third-place finish was unfair to runners who were further behind. Only one state, Idaho, has enacted a law curtailing trans students’ sports participation, and that 2020 measure is blocked by a court ruling. Chase Strangio, a transgender-rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, notes that in several states with proposed sports bans, lawmakers also are seeking to ban certain gender affirming health care for transgender young people “This is not about sports,” he said. ”It’s a way to attack trans people.” Some states' school athletic organizations already have rules about trans participation in sports: 19 states allow full inclusion of trans athletes; 16 have no clear-cut statewide policy; seven emulate the NCAA's rule by requiring hormone therapy for trans girls; and eight effectively ban trans girls from girls’ teams, according to attorney Asaf Orr of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Texas is among those with a ban, limiting transgender athletes to teams conforming with the gender on their birth certificate. That policy came under criticism in 2017 and 2018, when trans male Mack Beggs won state titles in girls’ wrestling competitions after he was told he could not compete as a boy. While Beggs, Miller and Yearwood were the focus of news coverage and controversy, trans athletes more commonly compete without any furor -- and with broad acceptance from teammates and competitors. In New Jersey’s Sussex County, trans 14-year-old Rebekah Bruesehoff competes on her middle school field hockey team and hopes to keep playing in high school. "It’s all been positive,” she said. “The coaches have been really helpful.” While New Jersey has a trans-inclusive sports policy, Rebekah is distressed by the proposed bans elsewhere – notably measures that might require girls to verify their gender. “I know what it’s like to have my gender questioned,” Rebekah said. “It’s invasive, embarrassing. I don’t want others to go through that.” The possibility that any athlete could have to undergo tests or examinations to prove their gender was among the reasons that Truman Hamburger, a 17-year-old high school student in North Dakota, showed up at the statehouse to protest a proposed ban. “Once you open up that door on gender policing, that’s not a door you can easily shut,” he said. Sarah Huckman, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, ran track and cross country for three years at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, after coming out as trans in 7th grade. Huckman showed great talent in the sprints and hurdles, but was not dominant on a statewide level. In her senior year, she won several events in small and mid-size meets, and had 6th place and 10th place finishes in the Division II indoor state championships. The proposed bans appall her. “It’s so demeaning toward my group of people,” she said. “We’re all human beings. We do sports for the love of it.” ___ Associated Press reporters covering statehouses across the U.S. contributed to this report. David Crary And Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
WHITEHORSE — Yukon's premier says COVID-19 vaccine uptake has been "fantastic" as just over half the territory's residents have received their first dose, but he's concerned about rising numbers of variants elsewhere in Canada. Sandy Silver says the territory is focusing on meeting its goal of vaccinating 75 per cent of the population to reach herd immunity before lifting current restrictions despite zero cases in Yukon. He says a clinic for everyone aged 18 and over opened in Whitehorse this week and mobile clinics are returning to smaller communities to provide second shots to people over 60. Silver says as of Monday, 11,503 Yukon residents had received their first shot while second shots were administered to about half that number. He joined chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley in saying numbers on vaccine uptake would not be provided for specific areas to prevent pitting communities against each other. Hanley is urging residents to continue taking all precautions as clinics go "full tilt" in the territory. "If cases, and particularly variants, lead to increased COVID our risk of importing variants will go up day by day," he says. Seventy-one Yukoners have recovered from the illness and one person has died since the pandemic began. Hanley says 850 people were immunized in the mass clinic on Tuesday, and he would be among those lining up for a shot in the arm on Wednesday. Yukon and other territories have received a higher allocation of vaccine doses because remote areas have limited access to specialized care. "While we recognize that immunizing the territories is the right thing to do for Canada this incredible opportunity should provide us with extra motivation to step up and get a vaccine," Hanley says. However, he says "vaccine hesitancy is a reality" and it will be important to address people's questions so they're comfortable being immunized in order to protect everyone. Hanley says despite four weeks without any active cases, the restrictions will remain because the territory is in a "nebulous" time and on guard against variants. "This is a huge consideration for us because regardless of whether we have zero or 10 cases right now we are always managing risk of importation," he says. "Vaccine uptake is so critical to getting to a place where we can be much more confident about being able to propose a solid framework for opening up." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Acho Dene Koe First Nation (ADKFN) in Fort Liard has released its shortlist of nominees for its chief and council election set to take place on April 26. The First Nation posted the final list on Facebook on Tuesday night after nominations closed. There are a total of three eligible candidates running for the chief position, including current chief Eugene Hope. There are six council positions available, with 13 candidates running for a spot. Two candidates – previous ADKFN chief Floyd Bertrand, who was running for the position again, as well as Marlene Timbre, who was running for councillor – were both deemed ineligible according to the chief electoral officer's notice. The election has been postponed twice due to the pandemic. Federally introduced legislation allowed six-month extensions for First Nations elections to ensure leadership stability during the crisis. The election was further delayed by a cluster of COVID-19 cases that saw Fort Liard shut down all non-essential businesses in January, including ADKFN’s office. In order to provide time for those interested in running to pick up nomination forms, pay off outstanding dues, and ask questions at the First Nation office, the election date was duly changed from April 14 to April 26. Appeals regarding nominations must be made no later than March 9. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Saskatchewan reported 121 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths on Wednesday. Both deaths were people in the 80-plus age group, with one each from the Regina and Saskatoon zones. There were also 180 recoveries reported Wednesday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 27,239. There are 1,431 known active cases in the province. So far there have been 389 COVID-related deaths. The new cases Wednesday are in the following provincial zones: Far northwest (two). Far northeast (40). Northwest (six). North central (six) Northeast (three). Saskatoon (17). Central west (two). Central east (seven). Regina (35). Southwest (one). There are 153 people receiving care in hospital, with 20 of them in intensive care. The Regina zone has the most known active cases in the province with 431. Saskatoon zone active cases have dropped to 264. The province processed 2,588 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday. Saskatchewan's per capita rate is 489,658 tests performed per million population. The national rate is 647,827 tests performed per million population. The seven-day average of daily new cases in Saskatchewan is 12.5 new cases per 100,000. Vaccinations The province administered 1,358 more COVID-19 vaccine doses over the past day in the following zones: far north central (21), far northeast (11), northwest (six), north central (452), central east (351) Saskatoon (391) and Regina (126). The total number of vaccine doses administered in the province stands at 81,597. As of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority health-care workers had received a first dose, the province said. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by the end of Wednesday. (CBC News Graphics) CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
A North Vancouver registered massage therapist has been suspended, pending a full investigation, for failing to mask up while massaging clients and offering services outside the scope of a masseuse. A decision published online by the College of Massage Therapists details the incident and consequential suspension against Connor Son who worked at Edgemont Massage Therapy. On Dec. 12, 2020, a patient filed a complaint about Son, alleging that he did not wear a mask while treating her and “engaged in unprofessional communications of a sexualized nature.” The college sent two undercover investigators to book appointments with Son. They reported that he did not wear a mask for some of all of their appointments, did not pre-screen them for COVID-19 symptoms and “performed out of scope services without consent on one of the undercover investigators.” The RMT is also accused by two patients of making “inappropriate communication” during appointments. There are four previous open files to do with complaints filed against Son, documents show. One of the other open files about Son was a previous complaint about alleged “unprofessional communication” and out of scope treatment. There were also repeated concerns about his advertising material that promoted services outside of the scope for RMTs in B.C., and issues with his record keeping. An inquiry committee panel determined there was sufficient risk to the public if Son were to keep practicing, and decided to suspend Son while the investigation is ongoing or pending a hearing of the discipline committee. Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin said he needed to be "100 per cent sure" he was ready to make the decision to fire longtime goaltending coach Stephane Waite. It turns out the reached that point during the second period of the Canadiens' 3-1 win over visiting Ottawa on Thursday night. The Canadiens announced shortly after the game that Waite, who had been with the club since 2013 and helped Carey Price reach elite goaltender status, would be replaced by Montreal scout and former NHL goalie Sean Burke. Bergevin, who said the move was made while the game was in progress, said the decision to fire Waite was the result of a years-long pattern in his goaltenders' play that he found troubling. "There was not one incident that happened," Bergevin said Wednesday in a video conference. "I thought about it thoroughly and 98 per cent is not good enough for me. I had to be 100 per cent sure it was the right decision for me and I came to that decision yesterday." The abrupt dismissal of Waite was another example of how quickly Bergevin is ready to make a move in a shortened NHL season with little room for error. Waite was fired a week after Bergevin replaced head coach Claude Julien with Dominique Ducharme following a string of disappointing results. The last straw was a pair of road losses to the last-place Senators. After an impressive start to the season that saw the Canadiens briefly lead the North Division standings, Montreal has produced just three wins over its last 11 games to slide to fourth place. Part of the issue has been the play of Price, who has posted a pedestrian 6-4-3 record with a .296 goals-against average and an ugly .893 save percentage so far this season. "I've seen ups and downs. You guys saw it," Bergevin said. "Again, everybody goes through it, but it was a gut feeling I had and sometimes you have to trust your instincts. My instincts told me a change was needed." Bergevin said Price was not consulted on the change. The goaltender said Wednesday that he found the move "surprising." "I'm grateful for the time I spent with Steph," Price said. "He's been a hard-working, dedicated goalie coach, and I really appreciate all that hard work he's done with us. "Right now it's a quick turnaround. We don't have a lot of time to dwell on things, so it's about regrouping, getting the work done and start bonding quickly." Price added he expects to start getting to know Burke quickly, despite Burke having to finish a 14-day quarantine period due to COVID-19 protocols before joining the team. Bergevin said Burke will work with Montreal's goaltenders through videoconferencing while in quarantine. Tuesday's decision ends a largely productive relationship between Price and Waite that reached its zenith in 2014-15, when Price posted a 44-16-6 record with nine shutouts, a 1.96 GAA and a ,933 save percentage. He cleaned up at the 2015 NHL awards, winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender among other honours. While Price has had some excellent runs since then, his play has been mercurial over the past few seasons. He also struggled during the 2019-20 season before returning to top form when the league resumed after a months-long break due to COVID-19. Bergevin said he didn't notice any problems with the chemistry between Price and Waite. "There was no fight or argument, none of that," he said. "I think they had a good relationship. I make decisions for the organization, for the team, for the players. That's my job. And I take for responsibility for making that change." Despite Price's struggles, backup Jake Allen has found early success in his first season with Montreal with a 4-2-2 record, 2.12 GAA and .929 save percentage. Asked why Allen has played well and Price poorly under the same goaltending coach this season, Bergevin declined to get into specifics. "I go back to a pattern I saw occurring the past few years, so I felt it was necessary for me to make that change," he said. The Canadiens return to action Thursday with the first of two home games against the Winnipeg Jets. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Curtis Withers, The Canadian Press
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 729 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 289 670 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 271 908 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 19 nouveaux décès, le nombre total de décès s'élève à 10 426. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a diminué de 10 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 618. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a diminué de 1, pour un total actuel de 120. Les prélèvements réalisés le 1er mars s'élèvent à 28 941. Finalement, 16 117 doses de vaccin ont été administrées dans la journée d'hier, pour un total de 472 710. Jusqu'à maintenant, 638 445 doses ont été reçues. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — The United States is at a COVID-19 crossroads — and public health officials are worried about which path the country will choose. After a year of more than 513,000 deaths, a devastating economic crisis and restrictions on their personal freedoms, Americans have been basking in a recent torrent of seemingly good news. Daily caseloads are well off their January peaks, President Joe Biden is promising enough vaccine for every U.S. adult by the end of May and state after state is throwing off the shackles of the pandemic. Not so fast, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control warned Wednesday. "We are at a critical nexus in the pandemic," Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a briefing by the White House COVID-19 response team, her second straight day of waving a red flag. The seven-day average rate of new cases in the U.S. is currently about 66,000, she said — a 3.5 per cent increase over the previous seven-day period, which itself was up 2.2 per cent. And "hyper-transmissible" variants of the virus, including the one known as B.1.1.7, are looming large, "ready to hijack our successes to date." Americans are in a weakened and vulnerable state after having waged war against COVID-19 for the last 12 months, she acknowledged. "Stamina has worn thin, fatigue is winning and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored," Walensky said. "How this plays out is up to us." As caseloads have come down over the course of the last two months, states and municipalities have gradually eased restrictions. Virginia, Massachusetts and South Carolina are among those that pushed back curfews and lifted limits on indoor dining and large gatherings in recent days. Texas and Mississippi went even further, promising Tuesday to lift all restrictions and mask-wearing mandates by next Wednesday, if not sooner. "It is time!" tweeted Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, as he announced an immediate end to all statewide restrictions. "We need to recognize that none of these orders, in any state, are anything short of unprecedented. They have to end at the earliest possible moment. This is that moment for Mississippi." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his order, which takes effect March 10, is the result of an accelerating rate of vaccinations — 229,000 alone on Wednesday, he said — that is resulting in fewer people in hospital. "We are able to contain COVID and safely allow Texas to open 100 per cent." Biden dismissed those attitudes Wednesday as "Neanderthal thinking." "It's critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science," he said. "I wish to heck some of our elected officials knew it." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all but ignored questions Wednesday about the shifting perspectives south of the border, focusing on his government's own vaccination timetable. All Canadians who want the vaccine will be able to get it by the end of September, he vowed — maybe sooner if the stars align. But he wasn't about to allow any mixed messages to pull focus away from Canada's vaccination efforts. "Obviously, the pandemic has had a very different course in the United States, with far greater death tolls and case counts, and that has had its own impact on the American economy that Canadians haven't quite felt the same way," he said. "We're going to continue to work to get as many Canadians vaccinated as quickly as possible by following the science and following the best recommendations of our experts." That's what the president is doing, and what people in states where restrictions are being lifted should be doing as well, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. "This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic," Psaki said. She acknowledged the hard-won gains of a difficult year, and how Americans have good reason to start feeling optimistic, whether it's news about vaccines or fully stocked grocery store shelves. "But there's still more work that needs to be done," she said. "We need to remain vigilant." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
ATHENS, Greece — Fearful of returning to their homes, thousands of people in central Greece were spending the night outdoors late Wednesday after a powerful earthquake, felt across the region, damaged homes and public buildings. The shallow, magnitude-6.0 quake struck near the central city of Larissa. One man was hurt by falling debris but no serious injuries were reported. Officials reported structural damage, mainly to old houses and buildings that saw walls collapse or crack. One of them was a primary school, stone-built in 1938, in the quake-hit village of Damasi where 63 students were attending classes. “The teachers kept their cool and the pupils stuck to the emergency drill, and everyone got out okay,” headmaster Grigoris Letsios said while on a video call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “The building will be condemned now...We’ll need a new school.” The army set up tents and meal counters at a nearby soccer field as local officials urged people to remain outside their homes until they could be inspected. A series of powerful aftershocks of up to 5.2 magnitude kept many residents on edge. “Have you seen how trees move when the wind blows? That’s how the houses moved,” Damasi resident Vangelis Mouseris said. “I stood still like a statue. I wondered whose house would fall? The neighbour’s house? My house? I’ve never felt something like this before.” The quake struck at 12:16 p.m. (1015 GMT), according to the Athens Geodynamic Institute, and was also felt in neighbouring Albania and North Macedonia, and as far north as Kosovo and Montenegro. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu phoned his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, to convey solidarity and offer assistance if needed, according to officials from the two neighbouring countries — which are longtime regional rivals. The foreign minister of Albania, Olta Xhacka, also called Dendias to express support. In Athens, seismologist Vassilis Karastathis told reporters that the quake originated in a fault line in the area that has historically not produced temblors of much larger magnitude than Wednesday's. He said the post-quake activity appeared normal so far but experts were monitoring the situation. “The earthquake had an estimated depth of just 8 kilometres (5 miles) and that was one of the reasons why it was felt so strongly in the region,” said Karastathis, who is the deputy director of the Athens Geodynamic Institute. The head of Greece's armed forces was in the quake-hit area to assist emergency service, and Fire Service helicopters were used before nightfall to assess building damage around the central Greek towns of Tyrnavos, Elasona, and elsewhere near the epicenter. The fire department said it had received multiple calls Wednesday to deal with medical emergencies, helping patients with various chronic conditions get hospital access, already affected by the pandemic. Greece lies in a highly seismically active region. The vast majority of earthquakes cause no damage or injuries, many occurring under the sea. Last October, an earthquake that struck the eastern Greek Aegean island of Samos and the nearby Turkish coast killed two high school students on Samos and at least 75 people in Turkey. In 1999, an earthquake near Athens killed 143 people. ___ Elena Becatoros and Theodora Tongas in Athens, Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed. ___ Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos and Kantouris at https://twitter.com/CostasKantouris Derek Gatopoulos And Costas Kantouris, The Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — A state vaccine task force on Wednesday vastly expanded eligibility for people to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Alaska, adding those 55 to 64 and people 16 and older who meet certain criteria. That criteria includes being considered an essential worker, living in a multigenerational household, being at or at possible high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or living in communities lacking in water and sewer systems, the state health department said in a release. Gov. Mike Dunleavy called expanding eligibility significant in efforts to protect Alaska residents and to help restore the state's economy. State health officials previously emphasized vaccinating those 65 and older. Individuals who have previously been eligible remain so. More than 100,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected for the state and Indian Health Service allocations this month, the department said. Also, 8,900 doses of the one-shot Johnson and Johnson Janssen vaccine are expected to arrive within the next two weeks, the department said. The number of vaccines do not include military allocations or those for programs involving pharmacies and federally qualified health centres. The state's chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said the vaccine supply is not yet sufficient to make it widely available to everyone who wants it. She said it is being offered to groups “who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, who are at risk for severe illness or death or who work in essential jobs." She added: "Some Alaskans may be more vulnerable to this disease than others due to their unique health or life circumstances. Offering vaccine is one step we can take now to help address these inequities.” The Associated Press
BENTONIA, Miss. — With callused hands, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes plucks an old acoustic guitar at the juke joint his parents started more than 70 years ago. He checks the cafe’s inventory: jars of pickled eggs, beef jerky, pork hocks. He tends to the wood-burning stove, made from an oil-field pipe. And every morning, he eventually settles in on a stool behind the counter, waiting — hoping — that someone who wants to hear him play will drop in. Holmes, 73, is the last Bentonia bluesman, the carrier of a dying musical and oral storytelling tradition born in this Mississippi town of less than 500 people. And now, he's a Grammy-nominated artist, with a recent nod in the Best Traditional Blues Album category for Cypress Grove, a record he hopes will help preserve the Bentonia blues long after he’s gone. The world has changed around Holmes and his Blue Front Café, the country's oldest surviving juke joint. Across the South, the venues — historically owned and frequented by African Americans — have shuttered as owners pass away. Blues experts believe Holmes is the only American running a juke joint owned by his parents. It's quiet outside the Blue Front, a small building with cinder block walls off a dusty rural Mississippi road. Across the street are the railroad tracks that run through Bentonia; next door sits an old cotton gin. It's here, at the Blue Front, that Holmes will watch the March 14 ceremony and learn whether he won the Grammy. He can't go in person because of the coronavirus pandemic, and that suits him just fine. He'll be surrounded by musicians from across Mississippi who want to play with him. “I’ll be here in this hole in the wall every day, for as long as I can, so that people don’t forget,” Holmes said. “We’re trying to make sure it doesn’t die.” ___ When the Blue Front opened in 1948, it was the first African American-owned retail business in Bentonia, then a majority-Black farming community. Holmes was just a baby. His parents, Carey and Mary, were sharecroppers. Mary ran the Blue Front during the day while Holmes worked with his father in the fields. By age 9, Holmes was operating a tractor by himself. The Holmeses' business was a community gathering place. People came to have their laundry pressed, get a haircut, or pick up salt, pepper and other nonperishables. And they came for the blues. Musicians lined up outside to play the Blue Front, with guitars strapped to their backs and harmonicas in their pockets. During cotton-picking season, the Blue Front was open 24 hours a day to accommodate farmworkers, who came in for a hot plate of Mary’s famous buffalo fish. On weekends, people stayed all night drinking moonshine, dancing and playing music. The town was never home to more than 600 residents, but its location on the Illinois Central Railway drew visitors. Later, the only roadway from Memphis to Jackson passed directly through Bentonia, furthering its popularity. Historians travelling through Mississippi to document blues musicians discovered Bentonia's style. It's described as haunting and eerie; its minor tonality isn't found in the better-known blues styles of Delta and hill country. Growing up, Holmes learned from his neighbour, "the father of the Bentonia blues." Henry Stuckey, an aging World War I veteran, played to entertain Holmes and his 13 siblings on their porch. The style is passed from one musician to the next — it can't be learned using sheet music. "The old-timers I learned from couldn't read, and they couldn't read sheet music," Holmes said — he doesn't read music, either. “They didn’t know what a count was, didn’t know about minors or sharps or open or closed tuning. They was just playing. They had no idea there was a musical language to what they were doing.” Dan Auerbach, producer of Cypress Grove and a member of the band the Black Keys, said the beauty of Holmes' music is the improvisation. Holmes never plays the same song twice. Each performance is a snapshot in time. “Those songs, they're like a living organism, almost. They're changing daily," he said. “You can feel the realness and the immediacy of the music. It’s very idiosyncratic, and that’s what makes it so special. “Now, in this day and age, it’s like everything’s homogenized and we’re all on the same server. Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes lives in a world that time forgot — it hasn’t changed.” —— Today, a four-lane highway diverts traffic away from Bentonia. Businesses of Holmes' youth have shuttered; buildings are torn down. More than a quarter of residents live under the poverty line. The train passes through town daily but doesn't stop. “People my age was tired of going to the cotton fields,” Holmes said. “As soon as they got a chance, they got away from Bentonia, to Chicago, California, New York. There wasn’t nothing here." Holmes never imagined leaving. He lives on the same farm where he was raised, about a mile from the Blue Front. His presence has become Bentonia's biggest draw. Visitors come from all over the world and the music industry to see him, to hear the music, and to learn the tradition. Before the pandemic, Mississippi musicians performed at the Blue Front every other Friday, sometimes more, playing different blues styles. In 1972, Holmes started an annual blues festival, now the longest-running in Mississippi. He holds Bentonia Blues workshops. And every day that he sits behind the counter at the Blue Front, he's willing to teach anyone who walks in. Some fans are surprised he's so accessible, said Robert Connely Farr, a Mississippi native who's been visiting Holmes for years for guitar tips, all the way from Vancouver. But for those who know Holmes, it makes perfect sense. “His whole goal in life is to give that sound away, is to perpetuate or further the Bentonia sound," Farr said. “I think it’s important to Jimmy, that his place is open and that it constantly has music. He wants there to be life in that building.” Holmes has performed in Europe, South America and across the U.S. He opened for the Black Keys in the nation's capital in 2019. But he always comes back home. “I would hate if someone took time out of their day to come see me, and I wasn't here,” he said. “I appreciate it, that people want to travel from Asia and Europe because they want to know about the blues. I like to be here when they come.” Two large portraits at his juke joint pay homage to his mentors, Stuckey and Jack Owens. Owens continued to teach Holmes after Stuckey died in 1966. “It was a blessed gift they gave to us,” Holmes said. “And they were so generous with it. What they gave us changed the world.” Holmes laments that no young people in Bentonia want to learn. They say it's too complicated. People don't appreciate how the blues influenced popular music today, how every genre has roots dating back to it, Holmes said. But he keeps spare guitars around the Blue Front, just in case someone wants to play. “It will survive somehow," Holmes said one gray morning in his empty juke joint. "I learned enough that I was able to carry it on, and probably once I’m gone, somebody will be sitting around here playing, someone who picked up the things that I was doing. I have to hope. I have to hope.” ___ Leah Willingham is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Leah Willingham, The Associated Press
Parents accessing child-care services are now eligible to receive a one-time $561 per child under the new working parents benefit, unveiled by Alberta Children’s Services last week. The benefit is meant to help parents cover the costs of childcare, including licenced and unlicenced daycares, day homes and pre-schools, used between April and December 2020. “I think there will be quite a few (local families) who will benefit from this program,” said Alysha Martin, Beaverlodge Daycare executive director. Martin said Beaverlodge Daycare currently has 55 to 60 children enrolled but is uncertain as to how many families will benefit from the program, because it depends on their income. The $561 may be a small help, but better than nothing, she said. Families with annual household incomes of $100,000 or less and have receipts for three months of childcare between last April 1 and Dec. 31 will be eligible, according to the Alberta government. If local families have thrown out their receipts, they may still be able to benefit. “They can always get a receipt from us upon request,” Martin said. Families can apply for the benefit with a MyAlberta Digital ID at alberta.ca/Working- ParentsBenefit now, with applications closing March 31, according to Alberta Children’s Services. Families of up to 192,000 children across the province may be able to benefit from the program, according to the Alberta government. According to Alberta Children’s Services, the benefit has a $108 million budget and is an expansion on the critical worker benefit, which provides $1,200 payments to front-line and essential workers. As of Feb. 12, 2,739 daycare programs across the province remain open while 102 are closed. Childcare operators across the province have also received more than $100 million in relief to go toward meeting health, cleaning and safety guidelines, according to the Alberta government. Martin said Beaverlodge Daycare has received some financial support via grants during the pandemic. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
OTTAWA — Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that he informed Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan of allegations of misconduct against Gen. Jonathan Vance during a “hostile” closed-door meeting three years ago. Walbourne’s remarks appear to contradict Sajjan’s own testimony to the same committee Feb. 19, when he said he was as surprised as anyone when Global News first reported Vance’s alleged misconduct in early February. At that time, Sajjan repeatedly refused to confirm media reports that Walbourne raised allegations against Vance when the minister and ombudsman met in March 2018. Sajjan cited confidentiality and also said any allegations brought to him were taken seriously and referred to the appropriate authorities. Walbourne, whose testimony is protected by parliamentary privilege, used his opening statement to the House of Commons' defence committee to publicly confirm the conversation for the first time. “Yes, I did meet with Minister Sajjan on March 1, 2018,” he said. “Yes, I did directly tell him about an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour made against the chief of defence.” Global News has reported that Vance allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a woman he significantly outranked. He is also accused of having made a sexual comment to a second, much younger, soldier in 2012, before he became commander of the Armed Forces. Vance, who turned over command of the military in January after more than five years in the job, has not responded to requests for comment by The Canadian Press and the allegations against him have not been independently verified. Global says Vance, who as defence chief oversaw the military’s efforts to root sexual misconduct from the ranks, has denied any wrongdoing. Military police are now investigating the allegations against Vance. They have also launched an investigation of Vance’s successor as defence chief, Admiral Art McDonald, who temporarily stepped aside last week in response to unspecified allegations of misconduct. Walbourne did not spell out the specifics of the allegation that he presented to Sajjan, and confirmed earlier reports that no formal complaint was filed. However, he said he came to possess “irrefutable, concrete evidence” about Vance, which is what led him to raise the matter with the minister. Walbourne told the committee Sajjan refused to look at the evidence and later cut off all contact until the former ombudsman’s resignation on Oct. 31, 2018. Walbourne also said he asked Sajjan to keep the matter in confidence until they could figure out how to handle the allegation, but that the minister instead told the Privy Council Office, which asked the ombudsman for information about the complainant. Walbourne, who initially declined an invitation to appear before the committee before being formally summoned to testify, said he refused to provide that information because the complainant had not given permission to do so. The former ombudsman, who has repeatedly decried a lack of independence for the office, went on to draw a link between his meeting with Sajjan three years ago and the Department of National Defence cutting off his financial and staffing authorities. The ombudsman’s office was being investigated at that time following a whistleblower’s complaint. Walbourne was adamant the complaint had no merit, and instead alleged that it was used as an excuse to put pressure on him and his team. Asked if there was any attempt by the government to cover up for Vance, Walbourne said: “I don’t know if it was an attempt at a coverup, but I know it was a full-court press to get rid of me.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press