Paulina Porizkova says she had a “total nervous breakdown” amid a travel disaster. The model recently said she had “never cried as much as I have in the last year,” and the tears flowed again during a trip gone wrong to Costa Rica.
Paulina Porizkova says she had a “total nervous breakdown” amid a travel disaster. The model recently said she had “never cried as much as I have in the last year,” and the tears flowed again during a trip gone wrong to Costa Rica.
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
A canvas by Montreal-born artist James Wilson Morrice exceeded expectations with a more than million-dollar sale at the Heffel Fine Art Auction House's virtual live auction Wednesday night.Morrice's impressionist canvas "La plage" sold for more than $1.1 million — more than doubling its highest pre-sale estimate of $500,000.Heffel says Morrice painted the piece around 1898 to 1899, and the work's whereabouts were unknown for more than a century before it hit the Canadian market.Other big-ticket items at the fall sale included seven works by late Quebec artist Jean Paul Riopelle.Riopelle's 1953 canvas "Sans titre'' sold for more than $1.4 million, near the middle of its estimated range of $1.2 million and $1.8 million."La ligne d'eau,'' a large-scale work from Riopelle's "Iceberg'' series, sold for slightly more than its $1.2 million pre-sale price tag.Canadian painter Alex Colville's 1987 "Woman with Revolver'' commanded more than $840,000.Two 1950s paintings by Nanaimo, B.C., artist E.J. Hughes outperformed pre-sale estimates. "Steamer Arriving at Nanaimo" sold for more than $840,000, while "Three Tugboats, Nanaimo Harbour" fetched roughly $600,000.Among the lots that saw the strongest bidding were works by Canada's famed Group of Seven, which marked a century since the collective's founding this year.Lawren Harris' "Sand Lake, Algoma" sold for more than $630,000, while A.Y. Jackson's "Ontario Mining Town, Cobalt" garnered nearly $350,000.A few high-profile lots went unsold, including Frederick Varley's portrait of his muse, "Green and Gold, Portrait of Vera," which was expected to fetch $500,000 and $700,000.Canadian artist Jack Bush's "Blue Stant,'' which was valued between $500,000 and $650,000, also flopped on the auction block.In total, Heffel says Wednesday's auction raked in $15 million. All sums include auction house fees on top of the hammer price.Collectors placed their offers through telephone, absentee and online bidding.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press
Do “self-cleaning” elevator buttons really work?Without rigorous independent studies, experts say it’s hard to verify claims of “self-cleaning” or “antiviral" surfaces that have popped up during the pandemic.But they also say you shouldn’t worry too much about how well such features really work.COVID-19 is an airborne disease. Research suggests it would be difficult to catch the virus from surfaces like an elevator button.“You get it through what you breathe, not through what you touch,” said Emanuel Goldman, who studies viruses at Rutgers University.Studies showing the virus can survive several hours on plastic or metal surfaces do not mimic real-life conditions, said Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford Health Care.Companies are selling antibacterial and antiviral elevator button or door handle covers. But building or office managers looking to protect employees or tenants would be better off buying hand-sanitizing stations instead, Winslow said.And anyone wanting to avoid the virus should continue taking regular public health precautions: mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding indoor events, bars, dining and gyms.Routine hand washing is also recommended, whether there's a pandemic or not, Goldman said.___The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org.Read previous Viral Questions:Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic?Do masks with antiviral coating offer more protection?Will social distancing weaken my immune system?The Associated Press
Regina– When the COVID-19 vaccine comes, Saskatchewan will be ready. That’s according to Minister of Health Paul Merriman, who started the Dec. 2 COVID-19 update talking about upcoming vaccines, the first of which, made by Pfizer, received emergency approval in the United Kingdom on that very day. “Near the start of this pandemic, I remember Premier Moe saying, ‘This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon,’” Merriman said. “That is still true today. And we still have a long way to go in this marathon. Even marathons have a finish line. And now we know where that finish line is. “The finish line is when we have delivered a safe, effective vaccine to a significant number of Saskatchewan residents. That's where life can truly start getting back to normal. “Saskatchewan Health and the SHA (Saskatchewan Health Authority) have already done a lot of work, getting ready to deliver this vaccine. They will have a more detailed presentation on that plan sometime next week. For now, I want everybody to know: We in Saskatchewan are ready to go. “As soon as the federal government is able to start delivering the vaccine to us, we will be ready to deliver that to Saskatchewan people quickly and safely. “This is a huge undertaking involving thousands of healthcare workers, and other support staff, transportation, storage, and many other logistical issues. But let me assure you, we will be ready. Healthcare workers, elderly first Merriman continued, “Premier Moe and I have directed all necessary resources be directed to this effort. Based on the advice of public health officials, we will be prioritizing who will receive it first. There'll be more detail on this presentation next week. But it's no surprise that we expect healthcare workers, and the residents in our long-term care and personal care homes to receive the first vaccines. “We do not yet have an exact timeline on when we will be receiving these vaccines. The federal government is now saying the first deliveries will be early in the new year. Saskatchewan’s per capita share that we should be receiving in the first quarter of 2021 is about 180,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 90,000 people. This is just based on the deliveries from Pfizer and Moderna, who have applied for their vaccine approvals. In the last few days two more companies, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have also applied to have their vaccines approved. This could result in more vaccines being delivered, even quicker. When that occurs, we will be ready to start receiving the shipments. And we will also be ready to go. “This is how we get back to normal in Saskatchewan. This is how our health system will get back to normal. This is how our economy will get back to normal. This is how our lives will get back to normal. It is quite literally the shot in the arm that Saskatchewan needs. And be ready to deliver that shot in the arm, as soon as the federal government starts getting us that vaccine. Until then, we all have to keep following the public orders and guidelines to protect ourselves and others. Keep physical distancing. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Limit your close contacts and stay home, if you're not feeling well. And follow the other good practices that we know to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It's how we keep ourselves, and those around us safe,” Merriman said. New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili told reporters, “I was concerned that the minister didn't understand his responsibility yesterday. This government should be talking about vaccine readiness and encouraging people to learn about the vaccine and get ready to take it, ready to protect each other. “They failed when it came to masks, getting people ready and promoting that early. They helped create this anti-mask pushback that we see in the in the province, with their mixed messages. They need to be ready and be promoting the COVID-19 vaccine, because it is essential, if we're going to get past this. And we're going to need more than the vaccine. It's not enough to wait to the vaccine and have a terrible December and January, and who knows when we actually get it. We need to act now. But we also need to act now, to get people ready for when the vaccine is here.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Two Rohingya told Reuters their names appeared on lists compiled by government-appointed local leaders without their consent, while aid workers said officials used threats and enticements to pressure people into going. Mohammad Shamsud Douza, the deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said the relocation was voluntary. Police escorted the first group of 1,000 refugees in buses from Ukhiya in Cox's Bazar for the journey to Chittagong port and then on to Bhasan Char – a flood-prone Bay of Bengal island that emerged from the sea 20 years ago.
WASHINGTON — After four years of President Donald Trump serving as his own chief spokesperson and frequently peddling false information and conspiracy theories in the process, successor Joe Biden is pledging to return to a more traditional approach to communicating with Americans. Much of that work will fall to Jen Psaki, Biden's pick for White House press secretary. She's a veteran communications staffer who has worked on many top Democratic campaigns and held leading roles under President Barack Obama, including deputy press secretary and White House communications director, as well as spokesperson for the State Department. She'll assume the role at a critical time, facing a public that's skeptical of messages from institutions and a press corps whose relationship with the White House has been highly strained during the Trump era. Psaki, who turned 42 on Tuesday, is well-known in Washington, but she's not a household name. Yet. “This job becomes one of the most recognizable people representing both the administration and the government writ large,” said Robert Gibbs, a former Obama press secretary. “She’ll be recognized when she travels overseas. She’ll be recognized when she goes to the grocery store.” Trump went through four press secretaries and often preferred to engage directly with the electorate, tweeting at all hours or holding his own press briefings — especially at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Both the president and his media team were frequently at odds with White House reporters while routinely spreading falsehoods. One of Trump's press secretaries, Stephanie Grisham, never held a single briefing during her tenure. His most recent choice, Kayleigh McEnany, has used her sporadic briefings to scold reporters on their choice of questions, lecture them about the content of their stories, and reinforce baseless claims by the president. Biden has promised to restore daily press briefings, and Psaki says she views the core of her new job as seeking to rebuild trust in government, especially during the pandemic. “It’s difficult to imagine now how different this is going to be in a couple of months,” said Stuart Stevens, chief strategist for Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign when Psaki was press secretary for Obama’s reelection campaign. Stevens, a fierce Trump critic, said that after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, White House communications staffers won’t be “graded upon their willingness to lie for the president.” Former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough remembered Psaki once coming into his office and “pushing back quite strongly” on a policy point, seeking to get “answers that she knew she would be asked about.” He said the exchange simultaneously annoyed and impressed him. “She was not a passive participant who was just taking messaging to pass along,” McDonough said. Still, simply returning to the way things were during the Obama administration is not something all journalists are looking forward to. While its relationship with the press was not as combative as the current administration's, the Obama White House tightly controlled access to information, was obstructionist on many Freedom of Information Act requests and offered aggressive spin on key events. It also used the 1917 Espionage Act in unprecedented ways, prosecuting more people for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous presidents combined. Harold Holzer, a onetime congressional press secretary and author of the book “The Presidents and the Press," said many White House journalists “were horrified by their treatment in the Obama administration.” “They were being told to consult the White House website for answers to their questions, Obama never showed up ... unless it was to go give a cupcake on someone’s birthday, he didn’t answer FOIA requests,” Holzer said. Psaki has already led calls with reporters to discuss the progress of Biden's transition to the White House, though those haven't come daily. Biden, meanwhile, has held only two formal press conferences since Election Day. Trump went weeks after his victory in 2016 without convening a press conference, but his team did provide daily updates by phone to reporters. Holzer noted that Biden “is friendly, but he’s guarded and he'll be more protective.” Presidential press corps combativeness long predates Trump and Obama. John Adams signed a sedition law prohibiting “malicious writing” about the president and executive branch. Abraham Lincoln imprisoned editors during the Civil War, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt admonished a journalist to go to the corner and wear a dunce cap. Early in Bill Clinton’s term, the corridor between the briefing room and the press secretary’s office was closed to journalists — causing an uproar among their ranks and a reversal of the policy. “It’s happened before. It’s just that it wasn’t on social media,” Holzer said. A native of Stamford, Connecticut, and a graduate of William & Mary, Psaki is part of an all-female senior communications team for the Biden White House. She declined an interview request through a Biden transition team spokesperson. McDonough recalled recruiting Psaki back to the White House from the State Department on the president’s behalf in 2015 — and her saying that she was having a family and that nothing would keep her from achieving that goal. “I’ll never forget having that conversation with her and how insistent she was,” McDonough said. Psaki and her husband, Gregory Mecher, have two children, ages 2 and 5. Gibbs worked closely with Psaki in the Obama press office and said she has a good relationship with Biden and with reporters, excels at message planning and can be "calm inside a building that, even on the best day of the administration, is a bit chaotic.” “You get calls at 2 in the morning from the Situation Room, you’re up early reading news,” Gibbs said of the post Psaki is taking on. “You have to be ready to react to what you know is going to happen and what you have no idea’s going to happen. And that really doesn’t turn off from the moment you start the job until the moment you finish it.” Current and former colleagues say Psaki is careful to take care of those around her, even people she far outranks. A 2008 Obama communications intern recalled Psaki providing an air mattress to use for the summer after a housing mix-up. Biden aides say that the president-elect decided on Psaki because she ran point for the Obama press office on the economy, especially stimulus spending — an issue that then-Vice-President Biden, and the man he's tapped as his administration's first chief of staff, Ron Klain, were leading voices on. That’s important since Biden has promised to spend billions creating green jobs and making infrastructure improvements to better combat climate change and to reduce economic inequality while reviving the post-pandemic economy. Psaki also has extensive foreign policy experience from her time at the State Department. That, combined with her White House years, makes her among the most practically experienced people to take on the role of press secretary while giving her deep knowledge of key issues, aides say. Psaki is also remembered for some tense exchanges with journalists during State Department press briefings. Videos of some of those have now begun to resurface in Russia. State media there is often critical of U.S. political figures but in the past singled out Psaki, turning her last name into a verb, “Psaking,” meant to denote making mistakes while speaking publicly. Still, Stevens, the Romney 2012 top strategist, said any media dust-ups will be grounded in a public and political reality that evaporated during the Trump era. “I’m sure she’s going to have a lot of fights with reporters, and reporters are going to have frustrations. And that’s how it should be,” he said. “But they will be people living in the same universe. They’re not going to be debating about whether gravity’s a reasonable phenomenon.” Will Weissert, The Associated Press
HONG KONG — Outspoken Hong Kong pro-democracy advocate and media tycoon Jimmy Lai was refused bail on Thursday on a fraud charge amid a growing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous city.Jimmy Lai of Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper, was among 10 people arrested Aug. 10 on what police said was suspicion of violating a national security law and collusion with a foreign country.Lai, 73, was later released on bail but police raided his company’s offices in October and took away documents.On Wednesday, Lai and two Next Digital executives were charged with fraud over accusations that they violated lease terms for Next Digital office space.Lai appeared in court Thursday and was denied bail. His case has been adjourned till April 16.Hong Kong police said in a statement Wednesday that it had arrested three men on charges of fraud, without naming them. It also said that one of them had been suspected of violating the national security law, and that it was still under investigation.Beijing imposed the national security law in response to protests in Hong Kong that began in June 2019 over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy in the former British colony.The sweeping legislation prompted more public protests and led to complaints that Beijing is violating the autonomy promised to Hong Kong when it returned to China and damaging its status as a business centre.Apple Daily criticized the law on its front page on July 1, calling it the “final nail in the coffin” of the territory’s autonomy.The British government had slammed Lai’s August arrest and said the security law was being used to crush dissent.The law is “being implemented in a way that undermines freedom of speech,” the British government said in a report this month on the status of the 1984 agreement for Hong Kong’s return to China.“It is imperative that this freedom is fully respected,” the report said.Lai was earlier arrested in February and April on charges of taking part in unauthorized protests. He also faces charges of joining an unauthorized vigil marking the anniversary of the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.Zen Soo, The Associated Press
Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the president of France from 1974 to 1981 who became a champion of European integration, died on Wednesday. View on euronews
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Thursday Dec. 3, 2020.There are 389,775 confirmed cases in Canada.Canada: 389,775 confirmed cases (67,564 active, 309,886 resolved, 12,325 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,307 new cases Wednesday from 79,492 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 42,309 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,044.There were 114 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 615 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 88. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.79 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,652,814 tests completed.Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (30 active, 306 resolved, four deaths).There was one new case Wednesday from 319 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,163 tests completed.Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Wednesday from 354 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,037 tests completed.Nova Scotia: 1,332 confirmed cases (127 active, 1,140 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 17 new cases Wednesday from 2,340 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.73 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 89 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 149,259 tests completed.New Brunswick: 514 confirmed cases (119 active, 388 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Wednesday from 1,062 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.56 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 61 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is nine.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 102,612 tests completed.Quebec: 145,062 confirmed cases (12,740 active, 125,197 resolved, 7,125 deaths).There were 1,514 new cases Wednesday from 9,764 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,632 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,376.There were 41 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 210 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.97 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,204,216 tests completed.Ontario: 119,922 confirmed cases (14,526 active, 101,698 resolved, 3,698 deaths).There were 1,723 new cases Wednesday from 42,779 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,039 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,720.There were 35 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 144 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.39 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,146,013 tests completed.Manitoba: 17,384 confirmed cases (8,970 active, 8,072 resolved, 342 deaths).There were 277 new cases Wednesday from 2,336 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,477 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 354.There were 14 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 86 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 24.97 per 100,000 people. There have been 351,645 tests completed.Saskatchewan: 8,982 confirmed cases (3,970 active, 4,959 resolved, 53 deaths).There were 237 new cases Wednesday from 1,342 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,935 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 276.There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 16 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.51 per 100,000 people. There have been 263,604 tests completed.Alberta: 61,169 confirmed cases (17,144 active, 43,464 resolved, 561 deaths).There were 1,685 new cases Wednesday from 13,989 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,368 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,481.There were 10 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 61 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.83 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,487,573 tests completed.British Columbia: 34,728 confirmed cases (9,835 active, 24,424 resolved, 469 deaths).There were 834 new cases Wednesday from 5,062 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,642 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 806.There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 98 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.28 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.25 per 100,000 people. There have been 807,438 tests completed.Yukon: 49 confirmed cases (19 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There were two new cases Wednesday from 63 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.2 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,399 tests completed.Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Wednesday from 37 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,434 tests completed.Nunavut: 193 confirmed cases (80 active, 113 resolved, zero deaths).There were 11 new cases Wednesday from 45 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 38 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,345 tests completed.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
This holiday season is going to look different for everyone, but as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, seniors across the Durham Region are especially at risk of significant challenges associated with isolation. In years past, Home Instead has lifted the spirits of seniors, making them feel remembered and cherished, with its Be a Santa to a Senior program, in which the community can purchase gifts for seniors. Community members would grab an ornament from Christmas trees located in retailers, purchase a gift and return it to be wrapped and gifted to a senior. However, due to the pandemic, Cathy Dow, owner of Home Instead for Oshawa and the surrounding area, says they had to pivot the program and offer the program in a virtual capacity by partnering with Amazon Business. “Recognizing the program’s importance, and particularly this year, and with the need to keep everyone safe, Home Instead partnered with Amazon for the first time,” she says. “We have still developed great relationships with local non-profits and organizations to facilitate the purchasing and distribution of gifts on the wish list – which is all done virtually.” She says this year’s focus is on older adults who are living in long term care, as most are with restrictions and accessibility is very limited. “It spreads holiday cheer and brightens the lives of our older adults who are alone or financially challenged during this season,” Dow adds, noting through this global pandemic, the feelings of isolation are amplified. “Providing gifts and sense of community… that has always been there and so I think this year particularly will be very comforting to many.” To help a senior this season, members of the community can visit the BeASantatoaSenior.com website and enter their postal code to view wish lists for local seniors on Amazon. A personalized greeting can be included with the gift which will be shipped directly to the senior. Since the program began in 2003, Be a Santa to a Senior has provided approximately 2.1 million gifts and brightened the holiday season for more than 750,000 seniors nationwide. “We need the community’s help more than ever to make sure seniors feel connected this year,” Dow says. “This year we knew we had to find a way to spread holiday cheer to seniors, and we are grateful for the community’s participation.”Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
C’est un choc thermique qui accueille Mapi Mobawo lors de son premier contact avec la mine de fer de Fermont. Après un vol entre Atlanta et Fermont, en passant par Montréal, M. Mobwano débarque en novembre dans la taïga québécoise habillé d’un simple veston. « J’avais complètement sous-estimé la température. Tout le monde me regardait comme un touriste perdu », avoue-t-il, candide. Maintenant à la tête de 2400 employés à Fermont et Port-Cartier sur la Côte-Nord, Mapi Mobwano raconte avoir commencé au bas de l’échelle. Né en République démocratique du Congo, exilé et formé en génie des mines en Afrique du Sud, il y conduit des camions et opère des pelles « pendant un bon bout de temps ». [En Afrique du Sud], « j’étais dans les mines souterraines et mon premier travail, c’était de transporter les barres de support pour les travailleurs. C’est ce que j’ai fait pendant 6 mois, transporter des barres de support pour supporter les mines souterraines. Au début, je me disais que je n’ai pas besoin d’un diplôme d’université pour faire ça. Avec le temps, bien sûr, quand tu commences à progresser, tu comprends pourquoi tu dois faire le parcours. » Son parcours l’amène ensuite à diriger les opérations de la plus grande mine à ciel ouvert d’Afrique du Sud. Puis, des chercheurs de tête le recrutent pour superviser les opérations de la mine à ciel ouvert de Fermont. Installé en juin 2019 au Québec, Mapi Mobwano obtient rapidement son premier mandat en tant que PDG d’ArcelorMittal Mines et Infrastructure Canada : il doit « améliorer la compétitivité » des installations vieilles de 40 ans. « Pour les travailleurs, ils vont voir sur le terrain de l’équipement plus fiable, détaille-t-il. On va investir. La disponibilité de nos équipements sera améliorée. » La possibilité de « charger deux camions en même temps » figure aussi dans ses cartons. Pour se réinventer, l’équipe de Mapi Mobwano peut tirer profit d’un marché du fer avantageux. Selon divers indices boursiers, le prix du métal se négocie en ce moment autour de 130 $US la tonne, un sommet rarement atteint. Mais dans cette industrie cyclique, « quand ça monte, ça va certainement descendre », nuance-t-il, prudent. Son objectif comme gestionnaire consiste à assurer la rentabilité des mines québécoises avec un prix entre 60 $ et 70 $ la tonne. « Nous produisons un fer de très bonne qualité. La question, c’est comment l’on pourra continuer à opérer pour les 30 prochaines années pour rester compétitif sur le marché mondial. » Mapi Mobwano espère ainsi « transformer l’organisation » pendant les quatre premières années. Ce n’est qu’ensuite qu’il prévoit mener des projets d’expansion, comme l’agrandissement de la mine de Fermont ou la création d’une seconde usine de transformation du fer à Port-Cartier. Pour y arriver, il devra notamment piloter l’arrivée de l’automatisation des engins miniers. Sans échéanciers précis, il assure que « ce n’est pas une question de si on va le faire, mais de quand on va le faire ». Par exemple, l’arrivée de camions sans conducteur ou l’automatisation de la détection des bris d’équipement pourraient faire leur entrée dans nos mines. Le gestionnaire se fait rassurant. Les travailleurs ne devraient pas craindre pour leurs emplois. « On pense que ça va créer d’autres formes d’emplois. » Il laisse entendre que les talents québécois en intelligence artificielle pourraient être mis à contribuer, sans donner de détails. « Si on doit faire une expansion, ça doit être une expansion basée sur les nouvelles technologies », se contente-t-il de dire. L’autre défi de Mapi Mobwano consiste à viser la carboneutralité pour 2050, une cible qu’Arcelor Mittal entrevoit pour toutes ses installations à travers le monde. Ainsi, pour « passer du mazout lourd au gaz naturel » dans l’usine de bouletage de Port-Cartier, le Congolais d’origine indique être en pourparlers avec l’entreprise Energir pour assurer « bientôt » une transition vers ce type de combustible moins polluant. D’ici là, il espère passer le plus de temps possible entre son bureau de Longueuil et les installations nordiques d’ArcelorMittal. Être sur le terrain dans le Nord, « ça me donne de l’énergie », dit-il, souriant.Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is facing escalating pressure from competing factions within his own party as he finalizes his choice for secretary of defence. Black leaders have encouraged the incoming president to select an African American to diversify what has so far been a largely white prospective Cabinet, while others are pushing him to appoint a woman to lead the Department of Defence for the first time. At the same time, a growing collection of progressive groups is opposing the leading female contender, Michèle Flournoy, citing concerns about her record and private-sector associations. A coalition of at least seven progressive groups warned Biden to avoid Flournoy in an open letter to Biden obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press that referenced her record of “ill-advised policy decisions” — particularly in relation to Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Afghanistan — and an “opaque history of private-sector activity.” “Ms. Flournoy’s consistent support for military interventions has contributed to devastating crises around the world, including in Yemen,” said Jehan Hakim, chairperson of the Yemeni Alliance Committee, which helped organize the letter. Other contenders are emerging, including retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin and Jeh Johnson, who served as the Pentagon’s top lawyer and then as head of the Department of Homeland Security during President Barack Obama’s second term. Both Austin and Johnson are Black. The competing pressures are intensifying less than a month into Biden's urgent push to build an administration while trying to preserve the broad coalition that fueled his victory over President Donald Trump last month. And facing massive governing challenges once he takes office on Jan. 20, Biden can perhaps least afford to lose the backing of the Democratic Party’s fiery progressive base. Nearly 100 House Democrats belong to the Progressive Caucus, which may wield significant influence over Biden's policy agenda as Democrats cling to their narrowest House majority in a century. Biden has already promised to enact a sweeping pandemic relief bill while overhauling health care, immigration and education systems and fighting for the most aggressive environmental protections in U.S. history. Progressive groups have cheered a handful of Biden's early hires — particularly Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein to his Council of Economic Advisers — but have been far from satisfied overall. Despite early disappointment, they have resisted the temptation to embrace an adversarial tone as they decide how to flex their muscles most effectively in the new political climate, especially with several major Cabinet positions and senior positions yet to be filled. Justice Democrats spokesperson Waleed Shahid called Biden's early picks “a mixed bag,” but noted that they have generally been more progressive than Obama's early picks after his 2008 election victory. “The thing that was alarming to me was when Joe Biden said, ‘We already have a significant number of progressives in our administration,’” Shahid said. “I talked to a lot of people, and they said, ‘We have no idea what he’s talking about.’” Beyond the Defence Department, progressives are gearing up for the possibility of more aggressive fights on Commerce, Labor, Education, Interior and Justice, among other unfilled Cabinet posts. They have already signalled intense opposition to the likes of Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama White House chief being considered for transportation secretary, and Mike Morell, another Obama-era figure being eyed for CIA director. Flournoy, meanwhile, had been seen as the leading candidate for defence secretary under a Democratic president since Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign. She stood out as deeply experienced, respected on Capitol Hill and well known on the international stage. But soon after Biden’s victory, her stock seemed to slip as others, including Austin and Johnson, came into consideration. A leading Black voice in Congress, South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, has openly called for Biden to choose more Black men and women for Cabinet positions. The Pentagon job, which has never been held by a woman or a Black person, is one of the last remaining opportunities for Biden to demonstrate his commitment to diversity at the senior levels of his national security team. Liberal critics have suggested Flournoy’s views are more hawkish than the president-elect’s, particularly on the Afghanistan War, and some have pointed to her position as a co-founder of consulting firm WestExec Advisors, which provides what it calls “unique geopolitical and policy expertise to help business leaders” and which has become a source of Biden selections for other national security positions. Another of WestExec’s founders, Antony Blinken, is Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, and Avril Haines, the nominee for director of national intelligence, is a former WestExec principal. There was no reference to race or gender in Wednesday's letter opposing Flournoy. The signatories include the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation; Justice Democrats, which is aligned with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Demand Progress; and Just Foreign Policy, among others. They were especially critical of reports that Flournoy had resisted calls to end the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Biden has promised to end U.S. support for the war. The letter offers support for two potential Flournoy alternatives: Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Advisers for both camps declined to comment, though neither is believed to have emerged as a leading contender. Gillibrand, in particular, is thought to have little interest in the position. “While we are by no means winning all of these fights, it is clear that a focus by progressives on personnel is making a difference that will likely pay dividends when it comes to policy determinations over years to come,” said David Segal, who leads the progressive group Demand Progress. He added, however, that “the national security space is more worrisome.” Shahid, of Justice Democrats, suggested that progressives would give Biden a relatively long leash before revolting, even if there are more disappointments to come as he builds out his administration. The true nature of Biden's presidency won't be known until he takes office in January and begins to work with Congress to enact his agenda, Shahid said. Biden has promised both to fight for big, bold policy changes and to compromise with Republicans. “In the same way Joe Biden said his campaign was a fight for the soul of America, the Cabinet is the beginning, not the end, of the fight for the soul of the Biden presidency,” Shahid said. “If he chooses the path of deal-making with Mitch McConnell, those divides within the Democratic Party will become much more apparent.” Steve Peoples And Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday on a charge of fraud related to the lease of a building that houses his Apple Daily, an anti-government tabloid. Hong Kong authorities have intensified a crackdown on key opposition figures since Beijing circumvented the territory's legislature and imposed sweeping national security legislation on the global financial centre on June 30. While Lai's fraud charge did not fall under the national security law, it marks the latest crackdown on pro-democracy figures in the former British colony, which was handed back to Beijing in 1997 with a promise of keeping its free-wheeling way of life for 50 years.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s disaster authority and the U.S. Geological Survey say a 5.0 magnitude earthquake has struck Siirt in southeastern Turkey.The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, or AFAD, said Thursday there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quake that hit at a depth of 20 kilometres (12 miles) at 8:45 a.m. (0545 GMT).Turkey is crisscrossed by fault lines and was hit by two strong tremors this year -- one that hit the western port city of Izmir last month, killing 117 people, and another in Elazig province, killing 41 people.At least 17,000 people died in a powerful earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999.The Associated Press
SAN DIEGO — A court-appointed committee has yet to find the parents of 628 children separated at the border early in the Trump administration, according to a court filing Wednesday that also said the government last week provided additional phone numbers to aid the long-running search. Parents of 333 children are believed to be in the United States, while parents of the other 295 are believed to be outside the U.S. That doesn't necessarily mean the parents and children are still separated, only that the committee has been unable to locate the parents. The committee has found other family members for 168 of the 628 children whose parents have yet to be located. The joint filing by attorneys for the Justice Department and families offers the latest snapshot of efforts to reunite families under a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings that resulted in thousands of separations when parents were criminally prosecuted. On Nov. 25, the administration provided the search committee with phone numbers and other information from a database of the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review, which manages immigration courts, the filing said. Lee Gelernt, an attorney representing parents for the American Civil Liberties Union, said he had been pressing the administration for any additional information for the last year. “We just received this new information the day before Thanksgiving and only because the global outcry over the fact that these parents had not been found,” he said in an interview. The search committee said it is too early to know how useful the additional phone numbers will be in finding more parents. More than 2,700 children were separated from their parents in June 2018 when U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered an end to the practice under the “zero-tolerance” policy. He ordered them reunited within 30 days. The 628 children whose parents are still not accounted for were separated before the judge's order, going back to July 1, 2017, and were all released from federal custody before the June 2018 order. Children from that period are difficult to find because the government had inadequate tracking systems. They include hundreds separated during a trial run of the policy in El Paso, Texas, from July to November 2017 that was not publicly disclosed at the time. President-elect Joe Biden seized on the issue during the final weeks of his campaign, promising a task force to help locate parents. The ACLU wants Biden to allow separated families to return to the United States to be given “some kind of legal status,” Gelernt said. “We think that’s only fair given what they’ve been put through," Gelernt said. "We will find the families but we cannot provide the families with the right to return to the United States and give legal status. Only the administration can do that.” Volunteers have searched for parents by phone and by going door-to-door in Central America, an effort that was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The committee established toll-free numbers in the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and mailed letters to 1,600 potential families. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
A number of projects will be moving forward next year as council has approved the capital portion of the city’s 2021 budget. Building repairs and upgrades, park redevelopments, and new vehicle acquisitions were hot button topics during the hours-long discussion of council’s first budget deliberation meeting. Repairs and upgrades to roads, sidewalks, street lights and traffic lights will also be conducted across the city. In total, the city’s capital budget comes in at $33.59 million. In terms of new vehicles and equipment, the city will be acquiring three new ice resurfacers, in which Councillor Rosemary McConkey questioned why all three needed to be replaced at once. While the life cycle of these vehicles is about 10 years, McConkey notes two of them are only eight years old, adding a staggered approach to acquiring new vehicles would be better. “Having three replaced all at once will put pressure on another council’s budget year down the road,” she says. However, according to city staff, two of the vehicles have multiple issues, which would cost more in the end to fix rather than to replace. “We go through a whole process of identifying total cost to upkeep equipment,” says city staff. “If it’s on the list, it’s costing us too much or there are safety issues related to the units.” A number of other vehicles will be added to the city’s fleet as part of a scheduled replacement program, including a couple of Chevrolet Silverado trucks, two vacuum sweepers, three front mowers, and a pumper, to name a few. A new Hazmat vehicle will be added to Fire Hall 1 to provide Oshawa Fire Services with a fully operational rapid response vehicle, as well as a new vehicle for the assistant deputy chief. Phase 3 of the city’s downtown streetscape redevelopment program is also moving forward, which includes the widening of sidewalks on the north side of King Street West from Simcoe to Prince Streets, “to enhance pedestrian amenities and increase accessibility.” Parks to see improvements this year include Raglan Park, Kingside Park, Crimson Court Park, Deer Valley Park, Conant Park, and Sunnyside Park. Some of the redevelopment in these parks include the replacement of playground equipment, playground resurfacing, the replacement of existing site furnishings, new park pathways, a parking lot and the addition of tree plantings and naturalization areas. As part of the city’s capital budget, council also endorsed a number of anchor and partnership grant requests to community organizations. The city’s Anchor and Partnership Grant programs are part of council’s commitment to work with Oshawa-based, not-for-profit volunteer community organizations that provide beneficial programs and services to the community. Organizations receiving anchor grants this year include Boys and Girls Club of Durham, Friends of Second Marsh, Motor City Car Club, Oshawa Children’s Community Fair, Oshawa Folk Arts Council, Oshawa Rotary Ribfest, Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, and Santa’s Parade of Lights. Council also approved partnership grant requests for Hearth Place, Bawaajiigewin Aboriginal Community Circle, and Durham Alliance. However, there were a number of organizations that did not receive funding grants in next year’s budget, including Canadian Automotive Museum, Feed the Need in Durham, Oshawa Art Association, Oshawa Firefit, Royal Canadian Legion Branch and the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre. Council’s next budget deliberation meeting is on Friday, Dec. 4 when council will continue with the 2021 operating budget. According to city staff, with the pandemic came several unexpected costs to the city, and as a result, council is looking at a 2.39 per cent tax levy increase for 2021. According to Commissioner of Finance Stephanie Sinnott, this means a $47.88 increase to the city portion of the property taxes for a property assessed at $356,000 – the average assessment by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. Final approval of the 2021 budget is expected on Friday, Dec. 11.Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is urging the province to take a look at the evidence-based data for COVID-19 to help save local communities from further hardship. In just a matter of days, Durham Region was moved from the Orange zone to the Red zone of the provincial framework for fighting and stopping the spread of the virus. Carter says this means there’s been a lot of significant changes in regards to public gatherings and how retail locations have operated. He’s urging the community to continue to follow the advice of the health care professionals and continue to “stay apart, mark up, lather up, and if you can work from home stay at home.” “That’s one of the ways we can stop the spread.” Carter is also calling for the community to support local. “If there’s a way that we can support local, like I always say, ‘Oshawa loves local,’ let’s find a way of supporting our local economy,” he says. Carter is also calling on the province to consider the “true data” and where the spread is coming from, when making decisions in regards to moving the different regions to different stages. “Our retailers, our service industry, our local economy has done an incredible job in investing in PPE and making sure they’ve taken all the right steps to make sure that your safety, your well-being, is their number one priority,” Carter continues. He says any decisions the province makes impacts communities locally, adding the province needs to take into consideration where the spreads are happening and take a look at the data, and make a decision based upon that. “The province must take a close look at the region’s COVID-19 active case numbers to identify the sources of transmission,” he says. “It is critical the data be used to make sector-specific restrictions and to determine if local restrictions – especially those that are having a huge impact on our restaurants and local businesses – can be reduced.” The City of Oshawa continues to post updates to its webpage. Visit www.oshawa.ca/coronavirus for the latest updates on changes to services and programs, as well as frequently asked questions and resources.Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
With two old rivals facing off in Ghana's presidential election on Dec. 7 amid familiar economic woes, many voters are paying more attention to a new element in the political mix - the first ever female vice-presidential candidate for a major party. Former education minister Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman hopes that the decision of Ghana's main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to nominate her as its candidate for vice-president will inspire other women to enter politics.
NEW YORK — Roddy Ricch is the king of Apple Music: The rapper has the music platform’s most-streamed song and album of the year. Apple announced Thursday that Ricch achieved the feat with his hit “The Box” and his debut album, “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial.” Rappers dominated the Top 5 most-streamed albums on Apple Music, with Lil Baby’s “My Turn,” Pop Smoke’s “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon” and Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake — LUV vs. The World 2” claiming spots two through four. R&B star Summer Walker’s “Over It” came in fifth. The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” was the second most-streamed song of the year, followed by Australian singer Tones and I’s “Dance Monkey,” DaBaby and Ricch’s “Rockstar” and “Life Is Good" by Future and Drake. “Dance Monkey,” originally released in 2019 but reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this year, was the most Shazamed song of the year (Apple acquired Shazam in 2018). SAINt JHN’s “Roses (Imanbek Remix),” the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” Topic & A7S’ “Breaking Me” and Regard’s “Ride It” round out the Top 5. Ranked by time spent viewing lyrics in Apple Music, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s raunchy hit “WAP” tops the list of most-read lyrics of 2020. Other songs in the Top 5 include “Dance Monkey,” YOASOBI’s “Yoru ni Kakeru,” Ricch’s “The Box” and Official HIGE DANdism “Pretender.” Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Regina– “No answer on the number of ICU beds,” New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili stated, after asking three times how many new intensive care unit (ICU) beds have been built in Saskatchewan. Three times he did not get a number from Minister of Health Paul Merriman. But he did get an explanation of the broader context – the need to pull staff from other areas to support ICU beds. “How many additional ICU beds have been built, and have staff to run them?” Meili asked initially. Merriman replied, “We do have ICU beds across our province that are ready to go in major centres, but it’s not just the physical bed that we need. We need to be able to have the resources around that bed, to be able to help that patient while they’re in that bed. “That's why we're continuously adjusting what we are doing within our healthcare system, to be able to manage what our health care providers are doing; whether we need them in surgeries, or whether we need them to be working in the COVID ward. A physical bed is one part of that, and we have looked at that. We do have capacity within our field hospitals, but it's also the people that are in and around that bed to help out that patient that are important as well.” But when it came to providing an actual number, Merriman did not do that. Meili referenced modelling released two weeks ago showing potentially hundreds of people needing beds. New modelling was released an hour later by chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab and Merriman which reflected lower numbers than what had been released on Nov. 19. Meili warned insufficient hospital beds could mean “hundreds of patients being turned away from life-saving care, right here in Saskatchewan.” Merriman said the Ministry of Health and Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) have been working together to be able to draw on resources for those beds properly. He added that 24 intensive care unit beds are being used for COVID-19 across the province. “We do have capacity to be able to move past that. We have to pull up the resources from other areas, that the member has properly identified. There are people that are out there that are waiting on medical care, but we have to continuously find that balance. And we're finding it, not just on a weekly basis, on a daily basis, on an hourly basis; what do we need to do within our system to be able to continuously adjust to the surge of patients that we are seeing that are impacting our hospitals and our health centres across the province.” In another round, Meili asked, “How, and when, did they start recruiting doctors and nurses needed for our field hospitals?” Merriman said, “Everybody across our country, and across North America, is recruiting health care people, whether it be doctors, nurses, LPNs, carry aids; all of these people are in high demand.” “We have worked with the SHA and recalling nurses and other health care professionals that have retired back into our system. We’ve also made sure that we're elevating the scope of every person within the healthcare system, to be able to maximize their scope and their abilities to be able to help out. “This is all hands on deck,” Merriman said. Speaking to reporters afterward, Meili pointed out, “The premier wouldn’t answer them, and then the Minister of Health didn’t get up either – basic, simple questions on staffing, on ICU numbers. They just simply refuse to tell us. This is information they should have.” Meili continued, “The field hospitals actually aren't ICU. Those are very different things. ICUs are where you're going to have the ventilator capacity, where you can take care of the sickest people. Right now, we have 26 patients in our ICUs. That's over a quarter of the ICU beds in the entire province, already taken up by COVID-19 patients. The minister, the previous minister promised 400 new ICU beds last summer, and they won't even tell us the numbers. Well, we know the numbers. There's less than 100 ICU beds ready to go and staffed in the province, right now. Not 400, like the minister promised, because they didn't do the work. They thought this was over. They took the summer off. And now we're all facing a situation where we're scrambling to get ready without the resources available.” Merriman told reporters, “within our hospitals, we have a very staggered system, as far as what we were looking at, where we can pull services back. And that could create an ICU bed. But we need to be able to that. Is there a specific number we have, within our field hospitals, a specific number of how many ICU beds are in there? But again, the field hospitals are a last resort, we feel that we can manage things, right now, within our healthcare system. But we built the field hospitals, just in case things got that bad. And I hope we don't have to use them. But they're there in case you do need them.” He said minor reductions of services have been done across the province, and that will be continued, depending on the numbers. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury