Alex Wong and William Lou make predictions for this most unique of NBA seasons and discuss playoff prospects for the Toronto Raptors, who have undergone siginificant transition this offseason.
Alex Wong and William Lou make predictions for this most unique of NBA seasons and discuss playoff prospects for the Toronto Raptors, who have undergone siginificant transition this offseason.
WASHINGTON — It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause. Members of the ex-presidents club pose together for pictures. They smile and pat each other on the back while milling around historic events, or sit somberly side by side at VIP funerals. They take on special projects together. They rarely criticize one another and tend to offer even fewer harsh words about their White House successors. Like so many other presidential traditions, however, this is one Trump seems likely to flout. Now that he's left office, it's hard to see him embracing the stately, exclusive club of living former presidents. “He kind of laughed at the very notion that he would be accepted in the presidents club,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who interviewed Trump in 2019 for her book “Team of Five: The Presidents’ Club in the Age of Trump." “He was like, ‘I don’t think I’ll be accepted.'” It's equally clear that the club's other members don't much want him — at least for now. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a three-minute video from Arlington National Cemetery after President Joe Biden's inauguration this week, praising peaceful presidential succession as a core of American democracy. The segment included no mention of Trump by name, but stood as a stark rebuke of his behaviour since losing November's election. “I think the fact that the three of us are standing here, talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said. Obama called inaugurations “a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us." Trump spent months making baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him through fraud and eventually helped incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor's inauguration in 152 years. Obama, Bush and Clinton recorded their video after accompanying Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider following the inauguration. They also taped a video urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Only 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has limited his public events because of the pandemic, and Trump, who had already flown to post-presidential life in Florida, weren't there. Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Trump isn't a good fit for the ex-presidents club "because he’s temperamentally different.” “People within the club historically have been respected by ensuing presidents. Even Richard Nixon was respected by Bill Clinton and by Ronald Reagan and so on, for his foreign policy," Engel said. "I’m not sure I see a whole lot of people calling up Trump for his strategic advice.” Former presidents are occasionally called upon for big tasks. George H.W. Bush and Clinton teamed up in 2005 to launch a campaign urging Americans to help the victims of the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast, Bush, father of the then-current president George W. Bush, called on Clinton to boost Katrina fundraising relief efforts. When the elder Bush died in 2018, Clinton wrote, “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life," high praise considering this was the man he ousted from the White House after a bruising 1992 campaign — making Bush the only one-term president of the last three decades except for Trump. Obama tapped Clinton and the younger President Bush to boost fundraising efforts for Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake. George W. Bush also became good friends with former first lady Michelle Obama, and cameras caught him slipping a cough drop to her as they sat together at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s funeral. Usually presidents extend the same respect to their predecessors while still in office, regardless of party. In 1971, three years before he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon went to Texas to participate in the dedication of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library. When Nixon’s library was completed in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush attended with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Trump's break with tradition began even before his presidency did. After his election win in November 2016, Obama hosted Trump at the White House promising to “do everything we can to help you succeed.” Trump responded, “I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future” — but that never happened. Instead, Trump falsely accused Obama of having wiretapped him and spent four years savaging his predecessor's record. Current and former presidents sometimes loathed each other, and criticizing their successors isn’t unheard of. Carter criticized the policies of the Republican administrations that followed his, Obama chided Trump while campaigning for Biden and also criticized George W. Bush’s policies — though Obama was usually careful not to name his predecessor. Theodore Roosevelt tried to unseat his successor, fellow Republican William Howard Taft, by founding his own “Bull Moose” party and running for president again against him. Still, presidential reverence for former presidents dates back even further. The nation’s second president, John Adams, was concerned enough about tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor that he retained George Washington’s Cabinet appointments. Trump may have time to build his relationship with his predecessors. He told Brower that he “could see himself becoming friendly with Bill Clinton again," noting that the pair used to golf together. But the odds of becoming the traditional president in retirement that he never was while in office remain long. “I think Trump has taken it too far," Brower said. "I don’t think that these former presidents will welcome him at any point.” Will Weissert And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
Nicola Mining, the company who owns the old Craigmont Mine site on Aberdeen Rd., has announced its 2021 Exploration Objectives at the New Craigmont Copper Project. Last year, the company applied for a multi-year area-based (MYAB) exploration permit that would facilitate a five-year exploration plan. The 2021 program includes five new trenches, the reactivation of six historic trenches and up to 21 drill holes. Trenching is aimed at developing three target areas where copper occurrences have been observed but have not been drill tested. The 2021 season has been divided into two phases, with the second phase contingent on results from phase one. A complete explanation of both phase one and phase two of the 2021 program is available in a report by Yahoo Finance found here. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
The NBC Sports Network, which is best known for its coverage of the NHL and English Premier League, will be going away at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the channel's shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen's latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million). The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was best known for carrying the Tour de France until it acquired the NHL in 2005. It changed its name to Versus in 2006 and then to NBC Sports Network six years later after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011. Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would be moving to USA Network this year. USA Network, which is available in 85.6 million homes, had already been airing early-round playoff games since 2012. “This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.” The news of NBCSN shutting down also comes during a time when many of NBC Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties are coming up for renewal. This is the last season of a 10-year deal with the NHL and negotiations for the EPL rights, beginning with the 2022-23 season, are ongoing. Many have predicted that the next rights deal with the NHL will include multiple networks with former broadcast partners ESPN and Fox Sports expected to be in the mix. NBC's current deal averages $200 million per season. Premier League deals are usually for three years, but NBC secured a six-year package in 2015 by paying nearly $1 billion. NASCAR, which has its races from July through November on NBC and NBCSN, has a deal through 2024. IndyCar's contract, which includes the Indianapolis 500 on NBC, expires at the end of this year. The sanctioning body said in a statement that NBC “has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift." Tag Garson, Wasserman’s senior vice-president of properties, said TNT and TBS have already proved it's possible to have a cable channel that does a good job of meshing entertainment programming with sports. “NBC has done a great job with hockey and soccer that it would be hard for anyone to walk away from that,” he said. “How many windows can your fit sports programming into at USA? That’s where the internal discussions are going to be and understanding the right balance to have between sports and entertainment.” NBC could also put additional events on its Peacock streaming service, which debuted last year. There are 175 Premier League games airing on Peacock this season. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
Dennis Oland's family home, which was linked to money problems with his slain father, is for sale. It's listed for $749,000. "Grand First Olde Rothesay, Original, traditional heritage family home," the MSN description states. "The perfect home to entertain." It is the first time the house, built in 1930, has been offered for sale. It previously belonged to Oland's grandfather, Moosehead Breweries scion Philip Oland. The 0.65-hectare property is "landscaped, fenced and private," the listing says. "A quiet and very exclusive neighborhood." The house at 58 Gondola Point Rd. was put up for sale after Dennis Oland and his estranged wife, Lisa Andrik-Oland, recently reached a settlement in a family court dispute. Last summer, Andrik-Oland launched legal action under the Marital Property Act and Family Services Act. She was seeking an interim order to prevent Oland from selling the family home — which featured prominently in the Crown's alleged motive at his murder trials in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father — to preserve her marital interest in the home and three adjacent properties, pending a final determination in the matter. Andrik-Oland was also seeking a freezing of family assets, ownership of the house and its contents, spousal support, an equal division of marital property and debt, as well as a restraining order. A hearing was scheduled for Nov. 10, but it was removed from the docket. The couple had previously reached an interim agreement. This occurred after Andrik-Oland accused Oland of domestic violence and was granted an emergency intervention order under the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Act. There is a publication ban on the evidence Andrik-Oland presented to obtain the emergency order. But Chief Justice Tracey DeWare of the Court of Queen's Bench ruled Jan. 14 that the media can publish a transcript of Andrik-Oland's allegations. Maintaining that ban would be "inappropriate and not in conformity" with the open-court principle, she said. DeWare stipulated the publication ban should only be lifted after 14 days have passed, to give Oland and Andrik-Oland's lawyers a chance to appeal the decision. None of the allegations has been proven in court. Moved out last February Oland moved out of the marital home on Feb. 17 and announced March 23 that they were separating, according to a sworn affidavit of Andrik-Oland, filed with the court last summer. He "told me that we have no money and that everything we owned will be sold," including the house, she said. The five-bedroom, three-bathroom home has been listed solely in Oland's name since before the couple married in 2009. The property, which also includes a three-car carriage house with a second-floor two-bedroom apartment, as well as several other outbuildings, is assessed at $509,900. The annual property taxes cost $6,440. "Rare find," the real estate listing says, citing the home's "unique construction and setting." "Classic English Country architectural design … Extensive detailed millwork craftsmanship and design. Quiet traditional den with built in bookshelves and fireplace." During Oland's divorce from his first wife in 2008-2009, his multimillionaire father Richard lent him more than $500,000 to ensure he didn't lose the family home. Oland bounced two interest payments of $1,666.67 to his father, including one the day before he was killed, which the Crown had alleged was part of the motive for murder. Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. He had suffered 45 sharp- and blunt-force injuries to his head, neck and hands. His son was the last known person to have seen him alive during a visit to his office the night before. No weapon was ever found. A jury found Oland guilty of second-degree murder in 2015, but he was acquitted following his murder retrial by judge alone last year.
PHOENIX -- Health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arizona are declining despite the state having the worst infection rate in the country. Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Friday that the number of patients and even the positivity test rate have dipped slightly in the last few weeks. It was the one bright spot of news as Arizona reached a grim milestone with a pandemic death toll of more than 12,000. That puts COVID-19 on track to eclipse heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the state. The Department of Health Services on Friday reported 8,099 additional known cases and 229 additional deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 708,041 cases and 12,001 deaths. One person in every 141 Arizona residents was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: Dr. Fauci says a lack of candour about the coronavirus under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives. Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics, but faces vaccine roadblocks. Germany passes 50,000 deaths from coronavirus. Lucky few get COVID-19 vaccine because of rare extra doses in U.S. New Chinese film praises Wuhan ahead of lockdown anniversary. Brazil awaits vaccine cargo from India amid supply concerns. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: BOISE, Idaho -- Limited coronavirus vaccine availability, confusion over which Idaho residents should be vaccinated first and rumours of line-jumpers are all complicating the state’s vaccine rollout. Members of Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee met Friday to help clarify exactly who should have first dibs on the state’s doses. Sarah Leeds with the Idaho Immunization Program says the demand is far higher than the doses available. So far, the federal government has distributed more than 178,000 doses to Idaho. That’s a rate of about 9,970 doses for every 100,000 residents, putting Idaho near the bottom compared to the allotment given other states. Currently, front-line health care workers, nursing home staffers, dentists, pharmacists and other medical-field staffers are eligible to be vaccinated in Idaho, as can child care workers, teachers and staffers at primary and secondary schools and correctional centre staffers. But the people who are charged with giving out the vaccine — local health departments, pharmacies and medical care providers — have different interpretations of exactly who is included in each category. ___ RALEIGH — North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that the state has seen 1,280 of its coronavirus vaccine doses get discarded. “Only 0.1% (or 1,280) of the 1.1 million doses which have entered the state thus far have become unusable for any reason and we have not received reports of significant batches being lost,” the department said in a statement to The Associated Press. In a Thursday afternoon news conference, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Mandy Cohen, estimated the waste to be “in the tens of doses.” Doses being administered at county health departments, clinics, hospitals and other places could be tossed out due to a vaccine being stored too long in a freezer or not being administered in a timely manner once it has been taken out of a freezer. There are currently 136 different vaccine providers in the state. The health department said providers are using low dead-volume syringes are designed to maximize the amount of doses it can get out one multi-dose vial. “In some cases, providers have been able to extract an extra dose out of the Pfizer supply, and we appreciate the hard work of providers to maximize the use of this supply,” the department said. North Carolina expects to continue getting about 120,000 new first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week. ___ SEATTLE -- A suburban Seattle man who advertised a supposed COVID-19 “vaccine” he said he created in his personal lab, has been arrested. KUOW reports Johnny T. Stine faces a misdemeanour charge of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Stine advertised injections of the supposed vaccine for $400 on his personal Facebook page in March 2020. At that time, there was no authorized COVID-19 vaccine on the market. It wasn’t immediately known if Stine has a lawyer to comment on his case. He could face up to one year in prison if convicted. ___ BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A state health inspector has found that some residents of a long-term care and skilled nursing facility in Burlington, Vermont, failed to get doses of required medication and proper wound care and were left to sit in their urine amid a coronavirus outbreak at the facility last month. The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did the inspection at Elderwood at Burlington on Dec. 9 and 10, the Burlington Free Press reported. The survey was done following recent anonymous complaints about the facility. A subsequent report did not find any instances of infection control failing to stop the spread of COVID-19, the newspaper reported. The facility said in a statement Friday that it is committed to working with regulatory authorities to ensure it maintains high standards of care and appropriately complies with all guidance. “Elderwood at Burlington is and always has been committed to high quality, safe resident care. Throughout the pandemic, which has stretched the resources of healthcare providers across the country, our staff have worked with diligence and dedication to care for residents,” the statement said. The report states that the facility continues to hire, train and schedule enough competent staff to meet the needs of residents and surpass state minimum staffing requirements. ___ MISSION, Kan. — Online sign-ups for the coronavirus vaccine are filling up almost as quickly as they are posted as health officials in Kansas begin moving beyond immunizing just health care workers and long-term care residents. Saline County had to shut its down within 30 minutes after residents 65 and older nabbed all 900 available slots. That’s about how long Douglas County had its signup open before its 500 slots were filled. The rush comes after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that the state was moving into the second vaccination phase, which includes about 1 million people. It includes not just those 65 and older but also people in congregate settings such as prisons and homeless shelters, and critical workers such as firefighters, police officers, teachers and meat packing plant employees. The state also will continue vaccinating people from the first phase, some of whom wanted to watch the rollout to see if there were problems before getting vaccinated themselves. The challenge is that the state doesn’t have nearly enough doses for all of them — at least not yet. So the state is leaving it up to counties to decide how to prioritize who gets vaccinated next. ___ SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is reporting a one-day record of 764 COVID-19 deaths but the rate of new infections is falling. The deaths reported Friday by the California Department of Public Health top the previous mark of 708 set on Jan. 8. In the last two days California has recorded 1,335 deaths. Hospitalizations and newly confirmed cases have been falling, however, and health officials are growing more optimistic that the worst of the latest surge is over. The 23,024 new cases reported Friday are less than half the mid-December peak of nearly 54,000. Hospitalizations have fallen below 20,000, a drop of more than 10% in two weeks. ___ PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown on Friday defended her decision to reject federal guidelines and prioritize teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine before the elderly, stating that if all of Oregon’s seniors were vaccinated first teachers would likely not be vaccinated before the school year and many students would not return to in-person learning. In addition, during a news conference, officials from the Oregon Health Authority presented a new vaccination timeline that delays the eligibility for seniors 65 to 69 years old to be vaccinated until March 7 and those 70 to 74 pushed back to Feb. 28. Last week, Oregon officials announced a change to the vaccine distribution — instead of vaccinating teachers and seniors at the same time, teachers would be vaccinated beginning Jan. 25 and people 80 or older beginning Feb. 8. ___ SAO PAULO — Sao Paulo state, which has posted the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths of any Brazilian state, has tightened its restrictions on activity until Feb. 7 with the 8 p.m. closure of non-essential businesses. The reopening of schools, previously planned for Feb. 1, was postponed by a week. Health authorities also announced local hospitals could run out of intensive-care beds in 28 days, which forced them to reassign 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients. Sao Paulo state is home to 46 million people, and has recorded almost 51,000 deaths from the virus —almost one fourth of the total in Brazil, where cases and deaths of coronavirus are surging again. Also on Friday, Brazil’s health regulator authorized the emergency use of 4.8 million CoronaVac vaccines bottled locally by Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute. Six million shots were previously made available by Butantan, and another 2 million AstraZeneca shots are expected to arrive from India later on Friday. Brazil has a population of about 210 million. ___ MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's state health officer said a low supply of vaccine is the largest hindrance to getting people vaccinated for COVID-19. Alabama health officials were expecting to get more than 112,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses a week based on conversations with federal officials when Operation Ward Speed began last year. Instead, officials said, the state is getting about 50,000 to 60,000 doses a week. Dr. Scott Harris said federal officials later said the 112,000 figure was not a promise but a figure that the state should use in its planning. Alabama has approved more than 883 pharmacies, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other providers to do vaccinations but only 364 have received any vaccine. He said only about 117 providers will get vaccine this week because of the available supply. The state of nearly 5 million people has received 502,950 vaccine doses and 223,887 of those have been administered, according to state numbers. Harris said many of the unused doses are designated for patients in upcoming appointments for their second or first dose. ___ WASHINGTON — White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about a potential pause in vaccinations in New York, where the state is reporting a shortage in vaccines available for first doses. Psaki says the White House has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “look into what is possible” to address the situation in New York. But she stressed the administration will defer to the judgment of medical experts. “Clearly we don’t want any states to run out of access to vaccines,” Psaki says, adding the Biden administration aims to avoid supply crunches going forward. ___ LONDON — AstraZeneca says it will ship fewer doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union than anticipated due to supply chain problems. The company is waiting for the European Medicines Agency to approve its vaccine, which could happen when the EU regulator meets on Jan. 29. AstraZeneca’s statement said, “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.” It adds: “We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.” Regulators in Britain and several other countries have already given the vaccine the green light. ___ BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has released some demographic details on who’s received the coronavirus vaccine. However, the data provided Friday lacks key information to determine if Louisiana’s doses are equitably distributed. Few vaccine providers are identifying race in the data submitted. That undermines Gov. John Bel Edwards’ efforts to ensure minority groups have adequate access to vaccination. The information shows at least 33% of Louisiana’s nearly 273,000 vaccine recipients are white and at least 10% are black. But another 56% of those who have received the shots were listed as “unknown” or “other.” Edwards is calling on hospitals, clinics and pharmacies vaccinating people in Louisiana to start providing more complete data. ___ WASHINGTON — New research finds full doses of blood thinners such as heparin can help moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients avoid the need for breathing machines or other organ support. The preliminary results come from three large, international studies testing various coronavirus treatments and haven’t yet been published. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sponsors released the results Friday to help doctors decide on appropriate care. Nearly all hospitalized COVID-19 patients currently get low doses of a blood thinner to try to prevent clots from forming. The new results show that “when we give higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill, there is a significant benefit in preventing them from getting sicker,” said Dr. Matthew Neal, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one study leader. However, the researchers say these drugs don’t help and may harm people who are more seriously ill. The study highlights how timing and degree of illness matter for coronavirus treatments. Steroid drugs can help severely ill patients but not ones who are only mildly ill. Some antibody drugs seem to help when given soon after or before symptoms appear but not for sicker, hospitalized patients. ___ HAVANA — A possibly more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Cuba. Dr. María Guadalupe Guzmán of the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine says the variant, originally detected in South Africa, was found in an asymptomatic traveller during a check at ports and airports. While that case was imported, she says authorities can’t rule out the possibility it is also circulating locally. But the institute’s director of epidemiology, Francisco Duran, said it’s not the reason for a recent upsurge in cases on the island. The nation of some 11 million people has recorded more than 20,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 530 on Thursday, and 188 deaths. ___ PHOENIX — Arizona’s death toll surpassed 12,000 on Friday after reporting 229 more deaths. The Department of Health Services reported 8,099 confirmed cases, increasing total cases to more than 700,000. The surge has crowded hospitals statewide. Arizona is ramping up vaccinations by opening an additional site. But like other states, Arizona has had difficulty getting enough doses to administer. ___ WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation is extending its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew and lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more coronavirus vaccinations. Tribal officials announced the measures will take effect Monday and run through at least Feb. 15. Officials say the daily curfew will run daily from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The tribe has reported a total of 26,782 cases and 940 known deaths on the reservation. ___ RABAT, Morocco — Morocco has received its first doses of vaccine against the coronavirus and plans to start injections next week. The Health Ministry sats the AstraZeneca vaccine, delivered from India, will be followed by another delivery next week of a second vaccine, from China’s Sinopharm. The vaccine rollout will start next week. Priority will be given to health workers age 40 and above, police and army officers, teachers 45 and above and those over 75. The Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The former top editor of The New York Daily News has been tapped as the next executive editor of The Providence Journal. David Ng succeeds Alan Rosenberg, who retired in December 2020 after more than four decades working at Rhode Island's largest paper. The 62-year-old said he hopes to continue the Journal's mission of serving as the “town square for its citizens” to gather to “share our stories and to exchange ideas and debate our opinions.” Lisa Strattan, a vice-president of news at Gannett, which owns the Journal, said Ng's “drive to win" and commitment to diversity and inclusion will elevate the Journal's coverage. Ng also previously served as associate managing editor at The New York Post, a former senior news editor at Newsday on Long Island and an assistant managing editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. The Providence Journal is considered the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the country and has won four Pulitzer Prizes. Ng starts Jan. 28. The Associated Press
The RM of Edenwold will go a little longer yet without a permanent chief administrative officer in place, following the retirement of Kim McIvor. A possible replacement candidate for McIvor was preparing for a move to the area in December but for family reasons was not able to make the move.For now that leaves Karen Zaharia, the RM’s assistant administrator, as acting CAO, with Jedlic also assisting with some of the CAO duties on a temporary basis. “We had initiated a search to replace (McIvor) last summer and into the fall,” Jedlic said. “We had a number of excellent candidates and ultimately one we worked with over a period of time who surely would have been an excellent candidate for the RM of Edenwold.” Due to personal circumstances, that candidate withdrew during late stages of the search process. That forced the RM of re-initiate the search process. While the CAO search continues, Reeve Mitchell Huber has also assisted with administration duties in the interim. The CAO opening has been posted by Boyden Canada, an executive search firm. Job requirements include having a Rural Class A certificate in Local Government Administration or a relevant professional degree, along with 10 years of related municipal government experience. Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
BERLIN — Marcus Thuram scored on his Bundesliga comeback from suspension to seal a 4-2 win for Borussia Mönchengladbach over Borussia Dortmund on Friday. Thuram, who missed four games after spitting at an opponent in December, scored with a header from Florian Neuhaus’ corner in the 79th minute after coming on as a substitute. Dortmund’s winless streak stretched to three games, increasing the pressure on coach Edin Terzic, who took over from the fired Lucien Favre on Dec. 13. League leader Bayern Munich can move 13 points clear of Dortmund on Sunday, while Terzic's team now faces a fight to secure the last place for Champions League qualification. Gladbach replaced Dortmund in fourth place ahead of the rest of the 18th round, when Dortmund could drop lower with Wolfsburg, Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt all still to play. It was Dortmund’s first loss to Gladbach since April 11, 2015, when Favre as Gladbach coach oversaw a 3-1 win at home over Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund team. Gladbach made a furious start and had the ball in the net inside the first minute. However, Neuhaus’ goal was ruled out through VAR for a foul by Jonas Hofmann on Jude Bellingham. The home side didn’t have to wait long before Nico Elvedi opened the scoring with a header off Hofmann’s free kick in the 11th. Erling Haaland replied in fine fashion in the 22nd. Raphaël Guerreiro won the ball from Alassane Plea and played it to Jadon Sancho, who sent a perfectly weighted pass for Haaland to chip over goalkeeper Yann Sommer inside the far post. The Norwegian got his second six minutes later, again set up by Sancho after he combined with Marco Reus to elude a host of Gladbach defenders. Haaland turned sharply and fired inside the left post. But Elvedi scored his second four minutes later, scoring on the rebound after Roman Bürki stopped Lars Stindl’s free kick. Both sides missed good chances before the break – Haaland failed to connect with the ball when he might have completed his hat trick – before Neuhaus set up Ramy Bensebaini for Gladbach’s third in the 50th. Thuram replaced Hofmann in the 65th. Breel Embolo, who generated headlines for breaking coronavirus restrictions last week, came on shortly afterward. Thuram scored on his comeback while Bürki denied Embolo a few minutes later. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - Malgré une légère baisse des cas enregistrée dans la dernière semaine, la pandémie continue d’exercer une très forte pression sur le réseau de la santé à Ahuntsic-Cartierville comme dans le reste de l’île de Montréal. En conférence de presse avec la représentante du réseau de la santé montréalais, Sonia Bélanger, la directrice régionale de la santé publique de Montréal, docteure Mylène Drouin, a fait le point vendredi sur la situation dans la métropole. Alors que le nombre de nouveaux cas est en diminution, même dans les quartiers chauds, la situation épidémiologique demeure préoccupante aux yeux de la Direction régionale de la santé publique (DRSP) de Montréal. Des indicateurs à la baisse, mais des taux encore très élevés La docteure Drouin souligne que bien que les principaux indicateurs soient en baisse avec un taux de positivité moyen qui est repassé sous la barre des 10% à Montréal et un taux de reproduction du virus qui est redescendu sous la barre du 1, les taux d’incidence demeurent trois fois plus élevés que le seuil quotidien de 10 cas par 100 000 habitants établi comme barème par le gouvernement du Québec pour atteindre le pallier d’alerte maximale à l’automne dernier. La Santé publique souhaite d’ailleurs rehausser le dépistage « assez rapidement » chez les 12-17 qui ont des taux d’incidence très élevés, mais n’envisage pas pour l’instant de faire du dépistage massif dans les écoles ni d’inviter les personnes asymptomatiques à se faire dépister dans les quartiers chauds, contrairement à ce qu’a laissé entendre le premier ministre du Québec François Legault en début de semaine. Sur les 93 décès liés à la COVID rapportés la depuis la semaine dernière, 13 sont survenus à Ahuntsic-Cartierville. De ce nombre, cinq sont survenus en CHSLD, quatre dans des Résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) et une en Ressource intermédiaire (RI), précise la DRSP au JDV. Ces décès sont attribuables à de multiples éclosions actives dans des milieux de vie et de soins pour aînés de l’arrondissement. Selon l’état de situation des cas et des décès en CHSLD et en RPA tenu par le ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), la situation semble plutôt en voie de s’améliorer à Ahuntsic-Cartierville où, bien que certaines éclosions continuent de progresser, d’autres ont été maîtrisées dans les derniers jours. Le CIUSSS, qui dit avoir complété la campagne de vaccination dans les CHSLD et poursuivre la campagne dans les RPA et RI sur son territoire, avait vacciné 2197 résidents en CHSLD et en RI en date du 20 janvier. Il note toutefois que les quelques 36 lits dans la zone chaude du CHSLD Laurendeau étaient à pleine capacité plus tôt cette semaine, signe que la situation est encore fragile. Les hôpitaux à pleine capacité Alors que plusieurs installations pour aînés demeurent en situation critique ou sous haute surveillance, la situation est aussi extrêmement tendue dans les centres hospitaliers. Sans commenter spécifiquement les importantes éclosions survenues à l’hôpital Fleury cette semaine, la représentante du réseau de la santé souligne qu’il y a des éclosions dans pratiquement tous les hôpitaux à Montréal et que la plupart sont sous contrôle. En plus de cette éclosion importante qui a touché au moins 35 membres du personnel à Fleury, il rappelle d’autres éclosions qui se sont déclarées dans plusieurs unités de l’hôpital Sacré-Cœur ainsi qu’à l’hôpital Jean-Talon. Le CIUSSS rapporte qu’en date du 20 janvier, 94 employés étaient absents en raison de la COVID. À la même date, près de 4243 employés avaient toutefois été vaccinés contre le virus. Elle souligne que près de 700 personnes sont encore hospitalisées à Montréal, dont 112 aux soins intensifs, soit une « légère baisse » par rapport à la semaine dernière. Selon un tableau des hospitalisations actives tenu par le MSSS, 96 personnes étaient hospitalisées avec la COVID dans les trois centres hospitaliers du CIUSSS du Nord, dont 12 étaient aux soins intensifs en date du 21 janvier. Il semble en effet probable que la levée du couvre-feu et l’assouplissement des mesures de confinement soient repoussées au-delà du 8 février à Montréal. Les décès s’accumulent Et c’est sans oublier les autres dommages collatéraux de la pandémie, comme les décès qui continuent de s’accumuler. Le cap des 400 décès à Ahuntsic-Cartierville a en effet été franchi cette semaine. Le STT-CIUSSS-NIM rapporte par ailleurs qu’un auxiliaire aux services de santé et sociaux de l’équipe des soins à domicile du CLSC de Saint-Laurent, qui avait obtenu un résultat de test positif au début janvier, est décédé le 15 janvier. Sans confirmer ni infirmer l’information, le CIUSSS indique qu’il n’est, à ce stade-ci, «pas possible de confirmer que la COVID-19 est la cause de son décès ». Jean-Rigaud Fontaine, âgé de 72 ans, travaillait au CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal depuis 24 ans. Le syndicat a tenu une cérémonie en son nom vendredi. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
The province’s largest vaccination effort in history is projected to vaccinate all 4.3 million eligible British Columbians by the end of September, health officials announced today. The province is prepared to deliver 8.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — both of which require two doses — to all adults who want one at a rate of up to 500,000 per week as vaccine supply increases. No vaccines have been approved for use by B.C.’s 900,000 children and youth under 18. “By the end of September, everyone who wants a vaccination will have one,” said Premier John Horgan. The province has changed early plans to continue prioritizing specific at-risk groups as is being done in other provinces. Instead, the vaccine will be administered largely based on age in B.C.’s four-phase strategy. “Our immunization plan is based on evidence and data,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “And we know the single greatest risk factor for serious illness and death from COVID-19 is increasing age.” Initially the province said frontline workers such as those in law enforcement, grocery stores and essential businesses and teachers and emergency responders could be prioritized in its plans. But research from B.C. and the rest of Canada indicates that risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19 increases “almost exponentially” with age, Henry noted. Those over 80 are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as those in their late 60s, who are five times more likely than people under 45. Even the other chronic conditions proven to increase the risk of hospitalization and death, such as serious asthma, heart disease and diabetes, are heavily correlated with age, Henry said. “Going on an age-based model captures the majority of people with underlying risk factors first,” she said. “This is going to be, and needs to be, an all-B.C. effort to make sure we can protect those most vulnerable and all of us in our communities.” Phase 1 of the strategy is already well under way, focusing on long-term care staff and residents and essential visitors, health-care workers treating COVID-19 patients and remote First Nations communities. More than 100,000 people have been vaccinated so far, and the phase will wrap up by March, Henry said. Under Phase 2, starting in March, 172 communities will see stadiums, high school gyms and public plazas turned into mass immunization centres. Mobile vaccination clinics and house-call teams will also be available for smaller communities and people who can’t make it to a vaccination centre. More than 240,000 seniors over 80 living in the community will be immunized, as well as Indigenous seniors over 65, hospital staff and community practitioners and homeless or vulnerable populations living in settings like shelters and group homes. At the same time, vaccination pre-registrations will start for the general population by phone and online, opening two to four weeks before each age group is eligible on a rolling basis. In Phase 3 starting in April, about 980,000 seniors in the community will be immunized. The plan is to start with people 75 to 79 and move through the population in five-year increments until everyone over 60 is vaccinated. B.C.’s vaccination lead Dr. Penny Ballem said immunocompromised adults and teens over 16 will get the vaccine if it’s deemed medically necessary during this phase, as well as organ transplant recipients and those with other clinical vulnerabilities. And the final phase starting in July will see about three million people aged 18 to 59 vaccinated in descending age order. Patients will also receive physical or digital vaccination records noting the date and kind of vaccination they received, and all immunization records will also be available through the provincial health gateway. The plan is based on the increasing availability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as the anticipated approval of additional vaccines on order. Vaccine shortages have already delayed vaccinations in B.C. and across Canada. The province expects more than 800,000 doses to arrive in B.C. before the end of March, 2.6 million from April to June and six million by the end of September. Planning also assumes 100-per-cent uptake in the population, which surveys indicate will not be the case. Henry hopes around 70 per cent of those eligible will be vaccinated to build community immunity. “This can be reached if the large majority of people in B.C. choose to be immunized,” she said. Officials say the timeline could shift if the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved and available in the province, or if vaccines need to be rerouted to deal with community outbreaks, clusters or high-risk workplaces. Ballem said the baseline estimates “allows us to know how to schedule human resources, supply chains for vaccines and other supplies that are necessary.” Horgan said more delays are possible if vaccine production is slower than expected. But the plan is a good starting point and can be adapted as vaccine supplies increase or acute needs emerge in communities, he said. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged people to continue washing their hands, staying home when sick and masking up in public areas. It will be a long time until any sense of normalcy can return, and this is a critical time to protect the most vulnerable before they are immunized, they said. “What’s really important for success and us getting through these next few months is continuing to take the precautions that we know work,” said Henry. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just providing testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
The Ontario government is kicking off a new social media campaign with actors, singers, athletes, and business owners who are all asking you to remain at home. Meanwhile, data tracking mobility in the city continues to show progress. Matthew Bingley reports.
WASHINGTON — It's a proven political strategy: Underpromise and overdeliver. President Joe Biden, in his first three days in office, has painted a bleak picture of the country's immediate future, warning Americans that it will take months, not weeks, to reorient a nation facing a historic convergence of crises. The dire language is meant as a call to action, but it's also a deliberate effort to temper expectations. In addition, it is an explicit rejection of President Donald Trump’s tack of talking down the coronavirus pandemic and its economic toll. Chris Lu, a longtime Obama administration official, said the grim tone is aimed at “restoring trust in government” that eroded during the Trump administration. “If you’re trying to get people to believe in this whole system of vaccinations, and if you want people to take seriously mask mandates, your leaders have to level with the American people,” he said. Biden said Thursday that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better” and offered “the brutal truth” that it will take eight months before a majority of Americans will be vaccinated. On Friday, he declared outright: “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” It's all part of Biden's pledge that his administration will "always be honest and transparent with you, about both the good news and the bad.” That approach, aides say, explains Biden’s decision to set clear and achievable goals for his new administration. The measured approach is drawing praise in some corners for being realistic -— but criticism from others for its caution. Trump often dismissed the seriousness of the virus and even acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately played down the threat to the U.S. to prop up the economy. Even as death tolls and infection rates soared, Trump insisted the country was already “rounding the turn.” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Biden’s pledge for 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office might fall short of what’s needed to turn the tide on the virus. “Maybe they’re picking a number that’s easier to achieve, rather than the number that we need to achieve. I would urge people to be bolder than that,” he said. Adalja argued that the goal they’ve set “should be the bare minimum that we accept.” But he also acknowledged that there’s a major political risk in overpromising. “You don’t want people to be discouraged or feel like the government is incompetent” if they fail to meet a goal, he said. “It’s a disappointingly low bar,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician. Biden on Friday acknowledged the criticism, saying he was hopeful for more vaccinations, but he avoided putting down a marker that could potentially fall out of reach. “I found it fascinating that yesterday the press asked the question, ‘Is 100 million enough?'" he said in the State Dining Room. "A week before, they were saying, ‘Biden, are you crazy? You can’t do 100 million in 100 days.’ Well, we’re — God willing — not only going to 100 million. We’re going to do more than that.” In fact, while there was some skepticism when Biden first announced the goal on Dec. 8, it was generally seen as optimistic but within reach. The Biden administration might be taking lessons from the earliest days of the Obama administration, when there was constant pressure to show real progress in turning around the economy during the financial crisis. One former Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about internal conversations, said there was a fevered effort during the first few months of Obama's first term to play down the focus on evaluating the president’s success within his first 100 days because aides knew the financial recovery would take far longer than that. In one notable misstep, Obama’s National Economic Council chair, Christina Romer, predicted that unemployment wouldn’t top 8% if Congress passed the administration’s stimulus package to address the financial crisis. It was signed into law a month into Obama's first term, but by the end of that year, unemployment nevertheless hit 10%. The risk in setting too rosy expectations is that an administration might become defined by its failure to meet them. President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003 — at a time when the Iraq War was far from over — became a defining blunder of his presidency. Trump provided an overreach of his own in May 2020, when he said the nation had “prevailed” over the virus. At the time, the country had seen about 80,000 deaths from the virus. This week, the U.S. death toll topped 412,000. Trump’s lax approach and lack of credibility contributed to poor adherence to public safety rules among the American public. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Trump’s handling of the virus caused so much damage to public perceptions of its severity that it’s important for Biden to set a contrasting tone. “I think it is really important to start telling the American people the truth. And that has not happened in a year, since we found the first case of coronavirus, so he’s got a lot of damage to undo,” she said. “This is a very serious, very contagious, deadly disease, and anything other than that message — delivered over and over again — is, unfortunately, adding to the willingness of lots of people to pay no attention to how to stop the spread of the disease.” Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Nova Scotia's health authority says pop-up COVID-19 testing is coming to Wolfville this weekend in response to a recent case in the area and a high number of people who want to be tested. In a release, Nova Scotia Health said drop-in testing will be available at the Acadia Festival Theatre on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. People can show up to get a test if they have no symptoms, have not been in contact with a known active case and are not self-isolating due to travel. A student at Acadia University in Wolfville recently tested positive after completing their 14-day self-isolation. They are self-isolating again, but they did attend class Jan. 18-20 and Nova Scotia Health has begun contact tracing. In a news conference earlier this week, the province's chief medical officer of health said the student sought testing as soon as they developed symptoms following their self-isolation. "In this case, he became infectious toward the very end of his quarantine period. The fact he was out and about doesn't mean he didn't comply with what he was required to do," said Dr. Robert Strang. He said as the number of students returning from outside of Nova Scotia after the holidays dwindles, the province will refocus its efforts on pop-up testing in university communities. MORE TOP STORIES
Hong Kong's government locked down an area of Kowloon peninsula on Saturday after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, saying 10,000 residents must stay home until they have been tested and the results largely determined. The government said there are 70 buildings in the restricted area, which is close to the International Commerce Centre (ICC), and it aims to finish the process within about 48 hours, so that people can start to return to work on Monday. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said 50 makeshift testing points had been set up and 3,000 civil servants were assisting.
A $60-million class action filed in the days after a January 2019 bus crash at Westboro station that killed three people and injured at least 23 others will not go ahead in its current form. The Ontario Superior Court issued a decision Thursday rejecting the certification of the proposed lawsuit, according to a memo issued late Friday afternoon by City of Ottawa solicitor David White. The lawsuit had alleged the city was liable for the crash itself, as well as the design and maintenance of the Transitway and its stations. It had been filed along with — as of last week — 17 other individual statements of claim. The city has already acknowledged its civil responsibility and has paid out more than $5 million in settlements. "The court took note of the fact that, in its handling of the individual court actions, the city has admitted liability for the losses arising out of the motor vehicle collision," White wrote in his memo to city council and the transit commission. Not in 'the interests of justice' In the superior court's dismissal, Justice Calum MacLeod wrote that the proposed lawsuit and its single plaintiff — a passenger who was on board the double-decker bus — did not provide evidence that a class-action proceeding would be "the best vehicle to deter future negligence or to enhance public safety." The Ottawa Police Service, with help from the Transportation Safety Board, investigated the crash, MacLeod wrote. An inquest and subsequent safety directives from Ontario's Ministry of Transport could also occur, he noted. "Class proceedings are not to be used to needlessly inflate tragic incidents into public spectacles," MacLeod wrote. "I am not satisfied on the evidence before me that a class proceeding is either necessary or in the interests of justice." The plaintiff now has until April 23 to either file an individual claim or amend the class-action lawsuit and resubmit it for certification. As for the City of Ottawa, it would be making submissions to recoup its legal costs, White said. The eight-week criminal trial of bus driver Aissatou Diallo is still slated to get underway March 22. She faces more than three dozen charges, including three counts of dangerous driving causing death.
Calgary's intensive care units remain under intense pressure, even as overall COVID-19 case counts, transmission rates and hospitalization numbers drop. This week, the city's four adult intensive care units are filled with more COVID patients than they've seen since the start of the pandemic. According to Alberta Health Services, that number peaked at 55 on Wednesday. As of Friday afternoon, there were 50 COVID patients in Calgary ICUs. "Every night that I've been on call, we are barely squeaking by with enough beds," said Dr. Selena Au, intensive care specialist working at the Peter Lougheed Centre, South Health Campus and Rockyview General Hospital. According to Au, they're coping by sending the most stable ICU patients to other city hospitals to make room when there are no beds left. "So even though the numbers look lower from a daily COVID case rate, I think the hospital as well as the ICUs in particular — we're still running full steam right now and just barely getting by." Patients are also routinely being double bunked in in ICU rooms that have the proper space and equipment. And those who would have previously been deemed sick enough to be admitted to intensive care are being kept on the wards longer. "Patients have to be sicker before they get an ICU bed.… So it's a lot of heavy lifting from our ward hospital doctors as well." Long stays in ICU The pressure on Calgary's ICUs is driven in part by an unusually long length of stay in the ICU for COVID-19 patients, according to Au, who says some patients require critical care for two to three weeks. "Some of the patients that we have right now are actually fairly young and without any previous medical history. And we really want to make sure that we give any possible chance for survival," she said. "Many of those patients are very sick and just hanging on. It's a long stay and journey for these patients that get admitted. And so there's many admissions and they're frequent, but there's very few discharges … to balance it out." According to Alberta Health Services, Calgary's intensive care units have been operating at between 86 and 90 per cent capacity all week, including 30 ICU beds that were added in late November and early December to address the surging COVID-19 cases. "No additional critical care spaces have been added — or required — since then, and no additional ICU surge beds are planned to open this week," an AHS spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CBC News. "Clinicians continue to monitor and evaluate the situation." When it comes to overall capacity, AHS says Calgary's hospitals are operating at between 101 per cent and 108 per cent. Dr. Daniel Niven, an intensive care specialist at Peter Lougheed Centre, says the ICU there is close to full nearly every day but care teams are managing for now. "We're pushing our limits, for sure," said Niven who notes Calgary's intensive care units were running close to capacity before the pandemic. He said extra staff continue to be on the unit to manage the extra patients. "We're still seeing a fairly steady pressure with regard to COVID admissions on a daily basis. So it remains very busy and at a … high capacity, still stretched compared to what we would normally be." What Niven is watching for now is the potential impact of the more highly transmissible coronavirus variants. Twelve cases of the variant first discovered in the U.K. and three of the variant first identified in South Africa have now been found in the province. Health officials have said all are travel-related and there is no evidence of community transmission. "If those variants were to take hold and start to transmit within the community — especially to a great degree like what we're seeing in the U.K. — then that would be very concerning, just because of how efficient they do transmit and the fact that we're already functioning at a very stretched capacity. "So it would make it additionally challenging to manage what could be a much larger patient load."
Richmond’s Connections Community Services Society has received provincial gaming grant funds to aid in an office renovation. Connections will receive $45,906 for renovations to help its office meet COVID-19 safety protocols. In all, 53 not-for-profits are receiving a total of $5 million in capital project grants this year to make upgrades to community facilities and infrastructure, and update technology and equipment to improve its program delivery. Connections’ director of development Sue Street says the society applied for the grant in August and received exactly what it applied for. Connections has been unable to have patrons inside its space since March. “We are going to be using it to ‘COVID-proof’ our space, so that we’re able to welcome folks back into our space in a safer way,” says Street. “We’ll be putting up temporary walls to create offices rather than full construction—buying plexiglass dividers, utilizing space for workshops in a safe manner. So really, the money is to help us create a healthier, safer workspace but also be able to welcome the community back in here, when they’re ready, in a way that’s safer.” This capital funding is in addition to funding provided to six different sectors for programming. The funding totals $135 million annually and supports nearly 5,000 non-for-profit organizations to deliver services to people throughout British Columbia. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Nearly 10 years after four Black teens were accosted by police on their way to a neighbourhood mentorship program in Toronto, two of the officers involved have been found guilty of misconduct. In a Toronto Police professional misconduct hearing decision released Friday, Const. Sharnil Pais and Const. Adam Lourenco were found guilty of unlawful arrest. Lourenco was also found guilty of one count of discreditable conduct. The charges stem from the arrest of three 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old on Neptune Drive in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood in November 2011. Lourenco and Pais drove up in an unmarked van, stopped the teens and asked them for identification — a practice known as "carding," which is now banned in many situations. In an interview with CBC News in 2016, one of the complainants said he asked the officers if he and his friends were under arrest. The answer was no and the teen proceeded to try to leave. "That's when Officer Lourenco decided to single me out and physically attacked me. He grabbed me. Then isolated me. He swore at me and said a lot of provocative things to try to aggravate me and I didn't respond," the complainant said. Neither he nor the others involved can be identified because they were underage at the time of the incident. Since then, one of the four teens dropped out of the proceedings, while another, Yohannes Brhanu, was killed in a 2018 homicide that remains unsolved. WATCH | Surveillance footage captures arrest of four teens on Neptune Drive Video footage from Toronto Community Housing captured the minutes that followed, showing one of the officers hitting the teen. When the teen's twin and two friends approach to stop the officer, the officer draws a gun and points it at them, the video shows. When Lourenco tried to arrest one of the young men, one yelled, "F--k you," and spat in Lourenco's face, Pais told a hearing in 2018, adding he thought the teens would "attack." The complainant denies spitting at the officer. All four of the teens were arrested and charged, and later strip-searched at a police station. The charges were eventually withdrawn. While Lourenco was found guilty of two of the charges against him, he was found not guilty of one other count of discreditable conduct. In a statement, a lawyer for the complainants, Jeff Carolin, said his clients were "disappointed" that the hearing officer "did not find any indications of racially biased actions on the part of any of the parties." "In my opinion, this is part of a broader pattern, which demonstrates that justice in cases involving systemic racism is not easily found inside courtrooms," the statement said. Nevertheless, he said, the facts of the case speak to the "trends as to how systemic anti-Black racism and unconscious bias manifest in individual encounters with police." As for his clients' reaction to the decision: "They were in general disappointed in the outcome," Carolin said, adding they strongly believe race was a factor in the case. "I think overall their reaction was ... 'this doesn't feel like vindication." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.