Small businesses located near various U.S. capitol buildings are still anxious after the violent political rallies of Jan. 6, and they’re hoping for a calmer inauguration and a return to stability under a new president.
Small businesses located near various U.S. capitol buildings are still anxious after the violent political rallies of Jan. 6, and they’re hoping for a calmer inauguration and a return to stability under a new president.
(ANNews) – The Alberta Government announced on March 4, 2020 that they will begin offering vaccination appointments to Albertans 65 to 74 years old starting on Monday, March 15 as part of Phase 2A of the provincial vaccination program. This is happening much earlier than first anticipated, as original estimates predicted that Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout would start in April. 437,000 eligible Albertans will be able to get their vaccine, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday. “By June 30, we expect to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.” When Phase 2A begins on March 15, bookings will be offered in two-year age groups. On the first day, anyone aged 73 or 74 will be able to book an appointment. On the second day, eligibility will be expanded to include anyone aged 71 to 72, and so on from there. “Staff and residents in seniors’ supportive-living facilities who are not already immunized will also be able to book appointments starting on Day 1,” Shandro said. “Appointments will be booked through both participating pharmacies, the online booking tool, as well as HealthLink 811. First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who are aged 50 and older will also receive the vaccine starting the week of March 15.” “And it’s important to remember that under our system you never lose eligibility for the vaccine,” he said. “Once you’re eligible you stay eligible. No one is left behind.” On top of this, the Alberta Government also announced their roll-out plan for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was approved by Health Canada for all adult Canadians. The first doses of the vaccine arrived in Canada on Wednesday March. However, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) announced that they are not recommending the AstraZeneca vaccine be used on people 65 or older. Keeping in line with the NACI’s recommendation, or lack-there-of, the Alberta Government will only administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to healthy adults 64 years old and younger. Beginning March 10, the province will offer 58,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to eligible Albertans aged 50-64 in Phase 2D who do not have severe chronic illness. Albertans born in 1957 can begin booking their appointments on March 10. Both Shandro and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health emphasized the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with Shandro saying, “Both Dr. Hinshaw and I recommend that all healthy Albertans get immunized as soon as they are eligible no matter what vaccine option is provided.” “AstraZeneca works. It has shown to reduce infection by 60 to 70 per cent and severe outcomes like hospitalization by 80 per cent.” “Where this vaccine seems to differ is in preventing asymptomatic infection, which means reducing the spread of COVID-19. This is why we’re not using it in any congregate living settings like seniors housing.” Dr, Hinshaw explained, “All three vaccines help protect against serious outcomes or long-term health impacts that COVID-19 can cause for many people. They dramatically reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. If those reasons don’t resonate with you, please know widespread immunization will help us all return to a more normal way of life more quickly.” “Choosing to be immunized is one of the most important actions we can take for ourselves and for our communities,” she said. As for Alberta Hospitalizations, the province fell below 250 for the first time in months on March 6. There are currently 247 Albertans in hospital due to COVID-19 including 42 in intensive care units. There has been 135,537 total infections in the province with the amount of active cases being 4,649. Meanwhile, the amount of active cases on First Nations reserves, as of March 4 and according to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is: Case numbers per region: Jacob Cardinal is an LJI reporter for Alberta Native News. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $20 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw. However, the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize went to a lottery player in British Columbia. The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Mar. 10 will be approximately $23 million. The Canadian Press
Long Island, with its steep cliffs topped with red spruce and white birches, is the centrepiece of the picture-perfect riverfront views along the Kennebecasis River. The island is a popular spot for boaters in the summer, and ATVers, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers in the winter. While Long Island is accessible via a short journey over the ice from Rothesay or the Kingston Peninsula, extreme caution is required. The ice has weak spots that can be unpredictable because of the freeze-thaw cycle, brooks and streams running off the island.(Julia Wright / CBC) The combination of isolation and accessibility are what appeal to Ted Harley, an avid outdoorsman who grew up on the river and spends time on the island every winter. "It's almost like you're 200 miles from civilization, but you're only five minutes from home," says Harley. "You don't have an island like this in most places of this world, where you can just go a short distance, summer or winter, and feel like you're in the deep forest." Many might not know the role it played in the early story of New Brunswick — or that it was once a thriving community with its own school, post office, and riverboat service. "It has a long history," says Walter Emrich with the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, which protects part of the island. "It's a magnificent island." Former farmland on Long Island is being reclaimed by the forest(Submitted by ACAP Saint John) Glooscap, graveyards As it turns out, there are a lot of "Long Islands" in New Brunswick, including in Lake Utopia, off the coast of Grand Manan, and in the St. John River. Long Island in the Kennebecasis River is linked with a Wolastoqey legend that the "rock in the river" was home to Glooscap, a godlike giant who split the rock face in two, creating a deep ravine that still has the nickname Glooscap's Gully. The steep ravine nicknamed 'Glooscap's Gully,' pictured in 1973. (Saint John Free Public Library: Barbara Mouffe, Long Island in the Kennebecasis Bay, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada) If the Loyalist settlers who arrived there in 1785 expected something similar to Long Island in New York state, they were probably dismayed to find an isolated location, with rocky soil ill-suited to farming. Of the 37 original grantees, only one stayed. Others soon arrived — from an eclectic mix of backgrounds, as Colin Rayworth, a landowner on the island, writes in his report "The development of Long Island on the Kennebecasis River." Early Black settlers on the island included Jupiter Watts, who came with his family in 1814 and stayed until at least 1861. Children of the Watts family, and of other settlers, are buried in two small graveyards on the island. Thriving farming community By the 1890s, there were 75 families farming buckwheat, oats, potatoes, turnips and other crops. Settlers eked out a living timbering, and cutting river ice, which was then shipped to Boston in the days before refrigeration. A man disembarks from a steamer at Long Island in an early 1900s photo by H.W.H. Swann.(Saint John Free Public Library: Credit Barbara Mouffe, "Long Island in the Kennebecasis Bay, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada") A school was set up in the 1840s, and post office on the easterly end of the island that was still operating in the 1930s. In the late 1800s, a government wharf was built between Long Island and adjoining Mathers Island. The channel between the two islands was dredged, allowing riverboats to pass through. They made regular stops there until 1921, when the riverboat Hampton made her last run. A photo by H.W.H. Swann shows the riverboat Hampton stopping at Long Island in the early 1900s The Hampton, the last riverboat to travel to the island, made its final run in 1921.(Saint John Free Public Library: Credit Barbara Mouffe, "Long Island in the Kennebecasis Bay, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada") In the winter, recalls longtime resident Jennie Breen Willians in her 1972 memoir History of Long Island, residents made a "road" by cutting fir or spruce trees and fitting them in holes in the ice. "There, they froze, so many yards apart in a perfect straight line to Rothesay. Now you couldn't get lost at night or in a storm, as you just followed from one tree to another." It particularly isolated In autumn, when ice started to form, and the few weeks in the spring when the ice began to break up, making boat travel impossible. The rest of the year, settlers rowed, snow-shoed, or used skates, sleighs and horses, travelling from the mainland on their own steam and ingenuity. A stereographic image from the New Brunswick Museum archives shows Long Island as it would have appeared between 1875 and 1878.(Submitted by the New Brunswick Museum - Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick. Accession #: 1956.43.28) Danger on the ice That's what people like Ted Harley, and countless others, still do today. "I've been here thousands of times," Harley says. "My history goes back over 60 years. I learned in a hurry that I had to respect the river at a very young age. But just because it's close doesn't mean it's safe. "If you don't respect the river, it'll get ya," says Harley. "There can be big waves, and big storms out there. It's a big body of water, a mile wide and over 100 feet deep. It's probably close to a kilometre to get over. Lots of people still do it." Travelling over the ice, as many people have done in the winter of 2020-2021, is particularly risky. The Bridal Veil Falls on Long island is a popular destination in the winter for ATVers and ice climbers.(Submitted by Ted Harley) With numerous accidents reported on or near the island over the years, flotation jackets, ice picks and safety gear are recommended. "You have to be prepared if you're going to come over here. We don't want to see anybody hurt," Harley says. "You can't count on anybody else. By the time people react and come out to help you, chances are that they won't be able to." The last year-round resident moved off in the 1960s. While the stone foundations and traces of the old settlements are still visible, in 2021 only seasonal cottages remain. Three generations of the Breen family — John D. Breen, Wilson (Wilt) Breen, Cunningham Breen, Lawrence McCarthy and Mortimer (Mort) Breen — pictured haying on the island circa 1910 in a photo by H.W.H. Swann. (Saint John Free Public Library: Credit Barbara Mouffe, "Long Island in the Kennebecasis Bay, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada") A piece of history Several areas of Long Island are protected by the Nature Trust of New Brunswick. It's a stop for at-risk peregrine falcons, and home to the extremely rare wall-rue fern, not previously found anywhere in New Brunswick The Nature Trust, and local volunteers, maintain a network of trails along the old Long Island Road. "We are trying to clean up the trail system," says Shaylyn Wallace, the stewardship co-ordinator with the Nature Trust. "We're thinking about extending the trail, if there's interest in it." An old Pontiac that crashed in the woods on the island is one of the many signs that still remain of earlier eras in its history. (Julia Wright / CBC) "We've had people doing surveys for birds and lichen as species change over the years, and invasive species removal." Many people, including Ted Harley, hope that "the future is the status quo." "There are certain groups of people that for some reason think they can just throw their stuff on the ground and someone else will pick it up." One of several signs on the island asking people not to litter. (Julia Wright / CBC) That's a shame, he says, considering "it's a piece of history. There's no doubt about it. "We are so lucky to have it here, and accessible, where private landowners haven't bought it all and made it unusable for the general public." "We want to make sure that anyone else who comes over here is not abusing it — to keep it clean and pristine."
By the end of this year, a small batch of registered nurses will be the first in Nova Scotia to be able to write prescriptions. A pilot training program through Dalhousie University's school of nursing began in January with three participants who are on track to complete their certification in December. Ruth Martin-Misener, the director of Dalhousie's nursing school, said the first class includes nurses from emergency and primary care settings. Although the program is designed to apply to a broad range of health-care settings, Martin-Misener said having nurses with prescribing authority in busy emergency departments and primary care clinics stands to deliver the most obvious benefit. "There are gaps in access," said Martin-Misener, referring to the ongoing shortage of primary care providers. That shortage means many Nova Scotians seek out primary care through walk-in clinics or emergency departments. The hope is that by broadening the scope of work that nurses can do in those settings, health care will become more accessible and efficient. Nurse prescribing has been adopted in a handful of other Canadian provinces in the past few years, and it's been common practice in the U.K. for more than a decade. "It makes sense, given the international evidence, that registered nurses could be helping to address those gaps," Martin-Misener said. Antibiotics, contraceptives likely candidates for nurse prescribing The medications nurses will be able to prescribe will depend on the setting in which they work and decided by their employer. Martin-Misener said in other jurisdictions, it's common for nurses to prescribe antibiotics, contraceptives and medications related to wound care. The program has started small, but Martin-Misener said she expects demand to grow. "I think that the gaps in care that RN prescribing has the potential to address will mean that there will be more of an uptake." There's a possibility that another cohort of nurses could start the program this spring. The program is designed so that nurses can continue working while they study, taking one course per semester for two semesters, followed by a clinical rotation. Any registered nurse with at least three years of clinical experience in the setting where they would be prescribing can take the course, so long as they have a letter of support from their employer. 'RNs are going to really welcome this' Nova Scotia Nurses' Union president Janet Hazelton has been calling for prescribing authority for nurses, and said she's excited to see the program taking off. Nova Scotia Nurses' Union president Janet Hazelton says she hopes eventually, training to write prescriptions will be included in the undergraduate nursing curriculum. (Robert Short/CBC) "RNs are going to really welcome this," Hazelton said in an interview. "When they're in an [emergency department], they feel the frustration of the patients that have to wait. They get it. We want to be efficient, we want to be doing a good job, and we want people to come in, get what they need and get out as quickly and as efficiently as possible." Hazelton said she hopes it will eventually be integrated into the standard undergraduate program for registered nurses. MORE TOP STORIES
As the majority of the province gets ready to scale back on public health restrictions, some restaurateurs are opting to keep their dining rooms closed for a few extra days. Starting Monday, most of the province with the exception of the Greater Montreal area, Laurentians and Lanaudière region will become orange zones. But while that means restaurants and gyms will be reopening in much of the province, some restaurant owners in Quebec City say the announcement last Wednesday came too late for them to be able to do so on time. "Most of my colleagues [and I], we really thought it would be around March 15 [that we could reopen]," said Sylvain Boudreau, owner of Le Galopin restaurant. "So I took advantage of March break to do some renovations. All of my production stopped. My entire kitchen is a construction site — I don't even have deliveries." On top of lacking supplies and space, Boudreau doesn't have enough staff to be able to reopen by next week. "While the industry was shut down, some people developed other skills. Some decided to change career fields altogether," said Boudreau. "So, when we call them back, we start to realize that we've lost some of them." Sylvain Boudreau, owner of Le Galopin restaurant in Quebec City, says he is having issues getting enough staff in time to reopen. (Steve Breton/Radio-Canada) Christopher Létourneau, owner of Le Délice in nearby Lévis, is in a similar boat. It will take a few more days for his restaurant to reopen as his suppliers are delayed. "The suppliers don't have the salad, the vegetables, fruits and meats. The beer can't be delivered. So, to think of opening on Monday with two working days to prepare, it's impossible," said Létourneau, who plans to open Wednesday instead. But for Miyano Saka, owner of Tora-Ya Ramen in Quebec City, it isn't an issue of time or staff. She decided to keep her business closed when restaurants were allowed to reopen last summer, and will be doing the same now. "We figured it was not worthwhile because, with 34 seats, it's a very small space," said Saka. "It would be Plexiglass everywhere and it's not nice." Saka said she is focusing on the restaurant's takeout option instead, which has proven to be popular over the last year. She says she will only reopen once it's safe to have clients seated close together again and when she can achieve the same intimate ambience the restaurant had before the pandemic hit. "It was nicer when it was crowded and everyone sat close to each other," said Saka.
OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted some recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and family connections. The number of permanent residents who have been in Canada for less than five years declined by four per cent to 1,019,000 by the end of 2020 from 1,060,000 the year before, according to an analysis of Statistics Canada's labour force survey that measures the number of workers between 15 and 65 years old by their immigration status. The number had grown three per cent a year, on average, in the previous 10 years. The data show that the number of permanent residents who have been in Canada for five to 10 years also dropped from 1,170,000 in 2019 to 1,146,000 in 2020. "It's actually not uncommon to have immigrants go back to their home country during the recessionary periods," said Robert Falconer, a researcher at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy. "If they've lost their job, they can go and live with their family and not pay rent. They can maybe find some social connections and work back home." He said the number of new immigrants fell by about three per cent between 2008 and 2009 during the financial crisis and the recession that followed. He said many of those who have left in the past year might not come back if the economy doesn't recover quickly. "The longer they stay at home in their home countries, the less likely they are to come back to Canada." A study by Statistics Canada released in August showed that in the early months of the pandemic, recent immigrants to Canada were more likely than Canadian-born workers to lose their jobs, mainly because they had held them for less time and, as a whole, are overrepresented in lower-wage employment. That includes in service-sector jobs. Julien Bérard-Chagnon, an analyst with Statistics Canada, said the agency doesn't keep a monthly count of immigrants who leave the country but a group of its analysts are now working on a paper to examine the issue during COVID-19 pandemic. "The literature signals that immigrants, especially recent immigrants, are more likely to emigrate than the Canadian-born population," he said. While the pandemic has also driven down immigration to Canada by about 40 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, the Liberal government announced in October that Canada is seeking to admit upwards of 1.2 million new permanent residents in the next three years, including 401,000 this year. But this number seems optimistic as travel restrictions and the sharp economic downtown remain. "I doubt they will hit their target this year," Falconer said. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the government is very confident it will meet it immigration targets in the next three years. "In January 2021, we welcomed more new permanent residents than in January 2020, when there was no pandemic," Alexander Cohen said in a statement. "We’re already ahead of schedule, welcoming new permanent residents at a rate 37 per cent higher than our projections." Falconer said the government is focusing on transitioning temporary residents in Canada to permanent status. "It's the best thing to do for people who are living here," he said. "But in terms of this population growth, it's a wash, meaning that we're not actually increasing our population." He said this policy is necessary but not sufficient to help the government meet its high immigration target this year. "Not every temporary resident wants to become a Canadian permanent resident or Canadian citizen. Some of them are here to work, to study and they are perfectly happy to go back home." He said the incentive for the government is still to try to increase immigration numbers, especially in jobs related to health care and technology because having fewer immigrants will harm these two sectors more than others. Andrew Griffith, a former director of citizenship and multiculturalism at the Immigration Department, says immigrants who arrive during an economic downturns tend to suffer economically, at least in the short term, more than those who arrive when the economy is growing. He said maintaining high levels of immigration at a time when the economy is weak and sectors such as hospitality, retail and tourism are devastated has an element of irresponsibility. Griffith said immigrants leaving Canada can reflect a failure of Canadian integration policies. He said the government needs to put more focus on immigrants who are already here as we face structural change in sectors including hospitality, travel and service industries that will affect mostly women, visible minorities and recent immigrants. "We may be in a fairly structural shift that will eliminate some jobs or dramatically reduce some jobs, and then what kind of retraining programs or other programs we need to support people as they transition." Cohen said the government has invested in settlement services during the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing funding to help boost wages by 15 per cent. It has helped buy personal protective equipment to keep staff safe, as well as cellphones and laptops to ensure services, including language training and job-search help, can be offered remotely. Falconer said the government should address problems with licensing and professional development that many newcomers face in Canada. "We make it very, very difficult for somebody who worked in a profession in their home country to come here and work in the same profession." "Immigrants come here with aspirations or hopes of being able to work and earn a much better living here in Canada than they did in their home country and they discover that they're actually going to be working in an unpaid, underemployed job." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
A far-right proposal to ban facial coverings in Switzerland won a narrow victory in a binding referendum on Sunday instigated by the same group that organised a 2009 ban on new minarets. The measure to amend the Swiss constitution passed by a 51.2-48.8% margin, provisional official results showed. The proposal under the Swiss system of direct democracy does not mention Islam directly and also aims to stop violent street protesters from wearing masks, yet local politicians, media and campaigners have dubbed it the burqa ban.
WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. It would take an oil-by-rail calamity of a scale comparable to the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster in Quebec before Americans wake up to the dangers, U.S. rail safety analysts say. "There's a bullet whizzing past our head," said Eric de Place, an energy policy expert and director at the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based think tank focused on sustainability issues in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. On average, more than a million barrels of crude oil travel through Washington state each week, most of it from North Dakota but about 13 per cent from Alberta and Saskatchewan, according to the state's Department of Ecology. The risks were punctuated late last year when seven tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire just outside Bellingham, Wash., a city of nearly 90,000 people not far from the Canada-U.S. border."The only thing I can imagine is that there will have to be a significant loss of life before we get the regulatory attention that the industry deserves, in my opinion, and that's a tragedy that's just waiting to unfold," de Place said."We're talking about 300-foot tall fireballs — this is cinematic, when accidents happen. I mean, it looks like a James Cameron movie."It's a real-life image Canadians know all too well. In July 2013, an oil-laden train derailed and exploded in the heart of Lac-Mégantic in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, killing 47 and levelling half of downtown — the deadliest non-passenger train accident in Canadian history. The tragedy put a laser-sharp focus on oil-by-rail in Canada, resulting in a number of regulatory changes, including an end to single-person train crews and the phaseout of DOT-111 or TC-111 tanker cars for crude oil. In the U.S., however, new rules that took effect in 2016 didn't explicitly prohibit the use of DOT-111s for flammable cargo, said Fred Millar, an independent rail industry analyst and safety expert in Alexandria, Va. A Bureau of Transportation report submitted to Congress in September found that while DOT-111s stopped carrying crude oil in 2018, the cars still carry some flammable liquids such as ethanol, and won't be completely gone until 2029. In 2019, the report said, 73 per cent of the tank car fleet carrying crude oil in the U.S. comprised DOT-117 cars — a heavier, "jacketed" tanker with more robust valves and reinforced shields at either end. "More than 99.99 per cent of all haz-mat moved by rail reaches its destination without a release caused by an accident," Jessica Kahanek of the Association of American Railroads said in a statement. "Railroads also long advocated for tougher tank car standards and fully endorsed rules that are now in place requiring these cars have higher grade steel, improved thermal protection, thicker shells, and enhanced valves."Developed after Lac-Mégantic, DOT-117s are only "marginally safer" than their predecessors, said Millar, noting that Congress has consistently refused to impose limits on train length or speed, or require that dangerous cargo be rerouted away from population centres. "The thing about rail car safety is there's a trade-off between the weight of the car and how much product you can carry — there's a conflict between safety and profit," he said. "If you put on more steel to protect from puncture, that means you have to put in less product." Oil and gas exports from Canada depend heavily on commodity prices; crude shipments by rail plunged last summer as the price of oil collapsed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, well off the dramatic peaks they posted at the beginning of the year. But those exports are ticking back up: Canada exported more than 190,000 barrels a day in December 2020, twice the level posted just four months earlier, according to data from the federal energy regulator. Environmentalists have long opposed pipeline projects like TC Energy's Keystone XL and Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 and Line 5 for fear of an expansion of Alberta's oilsands operations as well as further North American dependence on fossil fuels. President Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL expansion on his first day in office, while Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to shut down Line 5, which links Wisconsin and Sarnia, Ont., via the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan has vowed to defend Line 5, which he called a vital source of energy and jobs in Michigan and Ohio, as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. That energy is going to get to market by any means available, all of them less reliable "and with regard to oil by rail … far less safe" than pipelines, O'Regan told a House of Commons committee Thursday. "Just so that we all understand what's at stake … that energy, those molecules, are going to have to be transported either by rail, by truck, or by marine transportation," O'Regan said. "They will have to get sourced, because people will not be kept cold — that's for sure."Millar said the Trump administration tried to make it easier to ship energy by rail in the U.S., including authorizing the transport of liquefied natural gas throughout the country and trying to block efforts to require two-person train crews. An appeals court in Nebraska last month rejected the Trump-era decision to abandon the two-person rule, which the Obama administration introduced in 2016 in response, in part, to Lac-Mégantic. "We've passed through a very dangerous phase," Millar said. "The rail industry overall — but hazardous-materials transportation specifically — is more dangerous than it was before." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
When Joan Ortega's mother died in April 2020, he wanted to rush back to the Dominican Republic from his home in Antigonish, N.S. But the start of COVID-19 lockdowns prevented him from leaving. He waited through the summer and fall, hoping the situation would improve. "At Christmas, he was like, I can't — I have to go," says his wife, Jo Ann Ortega, a construction safety specialist in the Nova Scotia town. In January, he boarded a flight to the Dominican Republic and gathered with his family in Gaspar Hernández, a countryside community about 60 kilometres from the city of Puerto Plata, a popular tourist destination. But before he could book his flight home, Canada cancelled direct flights from the Caribbean to Canada until at least the end of April. "No flights in, no flights out. No boats in, no boats out. That was heartbreaking," his wife said. He tried to get on the last two flights out, but couldn't pull it off. Canadian rules require a negative COVID-19 test, but Puerto Plata is the nearest destination for testing. "Which doesn't seem very far, but if you don't have a car, it is pretty far. Especially if you're under restrictions that you can't travel after [2 p.m.]," Jo Ann Ortega said. "Of course it's monster stress. What's going to happen?" The only flights now go via the U.S. and as he's a permanent resident of Canada, but not a citizen, that would add complications. He'd have to book a special interview at the otherwise-closed U.S. embassy in Santo Domingo and apply for a special transit visa. Even then, he's not certain he would be able to continue on to Canada. Vaccines coming So Joan, which is pronounced Johan, Ortega remains stranded in the lush Dominican countryside, surrounded by chirping birds, buzzing motorcycles, and a longing to return to his wife and life in Canada. He's had some good news this week: his 86-year-old father got vaccinated Tuesday. Joan Ortega grew up in Gaspar Hernández, but met his future wife when she was in the Dominican Republic in 2009. They married in 2013 and he immigrated to Canada in 2016. He landed a job at the Antigonish Atlantic Superstore in 2017. They've told him his job will be waiting for him when he returns. When COVID-19 first hit and everyone was thinking about how it would change their lives, Jo Ann Ortega said her husband had a different thought. "Nobody has any money. There are no tourists, so there's no money. He decided he would start this food package. He didn't even tell me about it," she said. He sent money back to the neighbourhood and appointed a shopper to get goods and deliver them to areas most in need. His wife pitched in when she saw what he was doing. His neighbours sent a thank-you video, which she shared on social media. That led to more offers of help, and more aid packages sent to Gaspar Hernández. A cousin of Joan Ortega's delivers food supplies he sent to help his former neighbours during the pandemic. (Submitted by Jo Ann Ortega) In pre-pandemic times, he quietly organized back-to-school drives, sending money to one of the neighbourhood kids to buy and share supplies where they were needed the most. For some kids, not having a uniform or the right supplies means they're not allowed to go to school. The Ortegas hope one day to create an after-school sports club in the area. In the meantime, they're waiting for May and hope Canada will resume direct flights to the Dominican Republic. "I just wait. My hope is to wait and see what happens," he said. "It's the only thing I can do at the moment." MORE STOP STORIES
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan Roman Catholics attended Mass dressed in black on Sunday, with prayers and protests calling for justice for those killed in co-ordinated suicide bomb attacks on Easter Sunday two years ago. Church bells tolled and prayers were chanted at 8:45 a.m., the time when bombs were detonated almost simultaneously at two Roman Catholic churches and a Protestant church during Easter services on April 21, 2019. Bombs were also set off at three top hotels targeting locals and foreigners who were eating breakfast. More than 260 people, including 171 from the two Catholic churches, were killed in the attacks, which were blamed on two local Islamic extremist groups that had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. A presidential inquiry commission has handed its final report to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has shared parts of it with Catholic and Buddhist religious leaders. The report has also been sent to the attorney general for legal action. However, the archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said the report had concentrated more on the failures of the then-government in preventing the attacks despite early warnings, rather than finding out the handlers of the groups accused of carrying out the bombings. “No one who wants to promote hatred and religious strife will receive our support. We believe there should be unity and brotherhood among different ethnic and religious groups all over the world," Ranjith said Sunday. “Today Holy Father Pope Francis has visited Iraq and has had a discussion with the Shia leaders (in Iran). It shows religious leaders in the world think about unity and brotherhood, not about creating strife. Therefore I request anyone inclined to create conflict on account of religion to give up that idea,” he said. At St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a predominantly Catholic area north of Colombo where 115 people were killed in the Easter attacks, parishioners attended Mass on Sunday dressed in black and held placards outside the church in a silent “Black Sunday” protest. “The main purpose of this is to show the people and our rulers that justice has not happened for the victims of the Easter attacks," said Auxiliary Bishop the Rev. Maxwell Silva, who celebrated Mass at the church. “We believe the commission report is not genuine and it did not do any justice to those who suffered," said Manilal Ranasinghe, who attended Mass at St. Mary's Church in Dehiwala, south of Colombo. Political infighting between the then-president and prime minister resulting in a communications breakdown and lapse of security co-ordination was said to have enabled the attacks despite foreign intelligence warnings. Rajapaksa told a public gathering Saturday that the report blamed the government at the time for letting its guard down on national security, and that his government will punish those responsible. Krishan Francis, The Associated Press
Pope Francis visited Iraq's war-ravaged north to pray for victims and call for peace in the first-ever papal visit to the country.View on euronews
Austrian authorities have suspended inoculations with a batch of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution while investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after the shots, a health agency said on Sunday. "The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) has received two reports in a temporal connection with a vaccination from the same batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the district clinic of Zwettl" in Lower Austria province, it said.
KABUL — The former head of women police in a southern Afghanistan province was seriously wounded and her husband — also a police officer — was killed Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen, provincial officials said. Omer Zwak, spokesman for Helmand's provincial governor, said unidentified gunmen opened fire on the couple in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah. The attack came amid a surge in violence in the war-weary country. An officer in the Helmand police chief's office who wasn't authorized to speak with media, said the attack targeted the female officer, whom he identified only as Malala. She formerly supervised all female police in the province. Malala was seriously wounded and her husband Abdul Qayum, also a police officer at Helmand police headquarters, was killed in the attack, he said. Mohammad Zaman Hamdard, a spokesman for the Helmand police chief, said Malala served for 14 years and was working in a Helmand police section that deals with family domestic problems. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Zwak said that an investigation is going on into the attack. Afghanistan is experiencing a nationwide spike in bombings, targeted killings and other violence as peace negotiations in Qatar between the Taliban and the Afghan government continue. The Islamic State group’s local affiliate has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, but many go unclaimed, with the government putting the blame on the Taliban. The insurgents have denied responsibility for most of the attacks. Separately, in northern Balkh province, at least eight policemen were killed when their checkpoint came under an attack by Taliban fighters late Saturday, according to Adil Shah Adil, spokesman for the provincial police chief. Adil said five Taliban fighters were also killed in the battle in Dawlat Shahi district. Six policemen and seven Taliban insurgents were wounded in a gun battle that lasted for two hours, he added. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in Balkh, saying their fighters killed 12 police and he denied there were any Taliban casualties. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
It's a North American phenomenon: People across the continent stuck inside during COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are renovating their homes, and P.E.I is no different. "We're up at least 40 per cent over last year," says Ammie Jeffery, retail manager at House of Excellence in Charlottetown, which sells Benjamin Moore brand and other high-end paints and painting gear. "It's crazy. I've never seen anything like it," said Rob Lewis at the nearby Sherwood Timber Mart. He has been in hardware and building supply sales for 38 years and said he's never seen demand so high. "Right now, most of the contractors are so booked, they can't keep up," he said. Customers are telling him they're spending money on renos that they normally would have used for a vacation, and doing a lot of the work themselves. But even seasoned do-it-yourselfers can sometimes miscalculate. Add the adrenaline rush of an exciting new project fuelled by Pinterest-perfect "after" photos, and the margin of error for first-timers can grow. Here are some common mistakes to avoid if you're going to do it yourself. Do your research, and put safety first Experts agree many of the mistakes they see spring from the same sources: lack of knowledge and inadequate planning. Some flooring must be installed by a professional to be covered by warranty by the manufacturer, Lewis points out. (Bruce Tilley/CBC) Consider whether you need a municipal permit to finish that basement or attic space, Lewis said. Read the fine print. Some flooring is covered by the warranty only if installed by a certified professional. Then, discuss your project with a salesperson where you're shopping. Some are seasoned experts with years of knowledge, and likely have experience with the very task you are undertaking or product you're buying. Once customers have the supplies they need, Lewis recommends they watch manufacturer's videos on proper installation. With the skyrocketing price and scarcity of some building supplies like lumber, the old adage "measure twice and cut once" has never been more important. "This time last year, an eight-foot two-by-four would have been $3.69 — that same eight-foot two-by-four is $7.99 [now]," Lewis said. The price for some sheets of plywood has more than doubled too. Safety is an often-overlooked consideration, Lewis points out. Remember safety gear including glasses, gloves and a good first-aid kit. If you are getting help from a friend or neighbour, consider that you are responsible for their safety while they are on your property. Check first, toss or smash later One mistake Lewis has seen a lot of during the pandemic is DIYers demolishing first, then going shopping only to find there's a shortage of what they need. A few months ago, there was a long wait for toilets. Right now, Lewis said it's bathtubs. "With COVID, the supply chain is very tight ... tubs right now are 12 to 14 weeks away," he said. Twelve tubs that just arrived in his Timber Mart are all spoken for, he said, which is unusual. "If you're doing DIY, it's best to do research. Know what you need; don't tear anything apart unless you have what you need," Lewis said. Lori S. MacArthur of Charlottetown renovated her bathroom during the pandemic. Toilets were in short supply earlier in the pandemic, and now it's tubs, says Rob Lewis at Sherwood Timber Mart. (Submitted by Lori S MacArthur) "I've seen people take their toilets out, even throw them away, and then come in," he said — only to find there are none available for weeks. Another important tip: If you are demolishing a wall, you may need an expert to determine if it is a load-bearing wall needed for the building's structural integrity. Don't pick up the sledgehammer until you are sure. Surface prep is 80% of the job Over at the paint store, improper preparation of surfaces is the biggest mistake Jeffery cites. "We always say 80 per cent of your job, you're never going to see ... it's a lot of unseen preparation." Ammie Jeffery, manager at House of Excellence in Charlottetown, says too often, people do not prepare surfaces properly before painting. (Sara Fraser/CBC) Read the directions on the product, and take time to watch videos or read information the company may have online with helpful tips. Not cleaning walls and cupboards with a degreaser such as TSP and then rinsing it off is a common mistake, Jeffery said. So is not sanding furniture before applying a paint or finish. "Right now there's a big surge in DIY to paint cupboards," Jeffery noted. Customers will often remove cupboard doors and get them spray-painted professionally, then paint the cupboard boxes themselves in the same colour — except, it often doesn't match exactly, and people are unhappy with the result. If customers are getting doors painted, she recommends having them done first, then bringing one to the paint store where staff can match paint for the boxes as closely as possible. For those who want to save money by painting their own cupboard doors, Jeffery recommends first bringing one to the paint store for advice on the right products to prep the surface. The doors may need different treatments depending on whether they have been painted, stained or lacquered. What's under there? Another common DIY problem is trying to paint water-based paint over an older oil-based paint, which is not uncommon in P.E.I.'s many heritage homes. Water-based paints may bubble or flake off in this case. Many people are painting their own kitchen cabinets, but proper preparation is essential, depending on what finish is already on them: paint, stain or lacquer.(Sara Fraser/CBC) "A lot of people will get halfway through a paint job and realize they never tested the wall first," Jeffery said. You'll have to sand off the bubbling paint and start over, priming with the correct primer. There's a shortage of popular paints at House of Excellence for the first time since the pandemic began, Jeffery said. With a post-holiday surge in DIY interest and tighter restrictions on P.E.I. keeping people at home, there's been a sharp upswing in sales. "Demand right now seems to be higher than supply," she said. "This is the first time we've run into this, actually, in the whole 12 months." More from CBC P.E.I.
Iran has released British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from house arrest at the end of her five-year prison sentence, but she has been summoned to court again on another charge, her lawyer said on Sunday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would continue to do everything possible to secure her permanent release so she could return to the UK. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport in April 2016 and later convicted of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment.
SaskMusic is holding their annual International Women's Day concert Sunday night and due to the COVID-19 pandemic it will be entirely virtual. Female music artists will be featured in the pre-recorded concert event that is premiering Sunday at 7 p.m. CST on the SaskMusic's Facebook and YouTube pages. Lorena Kelly, a spokesperson for SaskMusic, said people can expect a great blend of genres during tonight's concert. Kelly said the audition process was a bit different this year, as artists submit a video of them performing a song. "We were really pleased to discover some new artists through this audition process this year and we've also got some familiar names who people may have heard on the radio or seen their performance before," Kelly said. "It's a really nice mix and I think there's going to be something for everybody." She said SaskMusic had a difficult time narrowing down submissions and even went over the time they had allowed themselves for the concert. In the end, 23 provincial artists were chosen. Heidi Munro, half of Munro & Patrick, a duo that will be performing in Sunday's concert, said an important thing to keep in mind during the special event is how difficult it was — and still is — for women to find success in the industry. "I have great male friendships in the business and colleagues but you know you just always had this sense to work harder and to prove yourself," She said. "There is so many extremely talented female artists in our province and in Canada." "I think that it's important that we celebrate each other, that we support each other and I think women in the industry are very well respected now." Valerie McLeod — known as her stage name Val Halla — is going perform in Sunday's concert. She said she has her own challenging experiences at making it in Saskatchewan's music industry. "I've even encountered stuff where now people are at least aware and trying to book more women on festivals and shows," McLeod said. "You actually get told that you're fulfilling a quota." She said she has heard from other women artists that festival organizers will contact women and say the festival is "short" on female performers. "They're not saying 'I love what you do, I love your music' and even if they do, it's the wrong way to address it," McLeod said. With the International Woman's Day concert, she said none of the performers feel as if they are simply "filling a spot." "We actually get to celebrate what we do, we get to appreciate other artists," McLeod said. McLeod said she believes tonight's show will be very unique since artists had to get out of their comfort zones to record their parts for the event. "I ended up recording in my bathroom," She said. "It just had to be that way, I tried other places to make it look really cool and it looked great but sounded awful... It's very different."
A mother of three young children in the St. John's area is struggling with the competing demands of parenting and career. 'No one really has their alone time,' she says of lockdown life. (CBC) The long days of Alert Level 5 in eastern Newfoundland are testing the limits of some parents of young children, as one mom calls her current situation similar to "survival mode," as she struggles to balance family, career, and mental health. Her house is a noisy one, with three children under the age of five, all out of daycare and at home. Her husband wakes early to get in some hours working from home as she handles child care, before they trade off and she settles into her corner of the house-turned-office. "I'm not gonna lie. Our first week in lockdown was a bit of a mess. There were some tears from everyone," said Chelsea, a pseudonym. CBC is not naming her to protect her identity as she speaks to mental health. Chelsea and her husband had already been working from home prior to the latest lockdown came into effect on Feb. 13. But the news of the contagious virus variant circulating in the metro area changed everything for them, regardless of alert levels: as an asthmatic, Chelsea is high-risk, and the couple have decided to keep their children home until she's vaccinated. Five daycares have had cases of COVID-19 during the current outbreak, according to Eastern Health. Now her days are a flurry of activity, much of it mental: Chelsea worries about how her small children are coping and their needs, her own career, as well as the stress and anxiety of the virus. "No one really has their alone time," she said. She's been trying to carve out space, in whatever small ways she can: a shower by herself, a cup of coffee while TV entertains the kids for a few minutes. But those recharging moments are small, and scattered, and as the lockdown days crept on Chelsea found herself overwhelmed. She decided to be up front and called her employer about it. "Listen: something's got to give. You know, I don't want to lose my job, I don't want to be laid off, but the No. 1 job I have is a parent. That's a job I'm not allowed to fail at," she recalled telling her manager. Chelsea is lucky; her employer is understanding and has mental health supports, and she said her conversations about work-life balance were well-received. But she loves her job, and still wants to perform, even as her ability to do so has been whittled away. "There's challenges to being seen working from home as they are, let alone when you're in the middle of a team meeting and you have to run away because your three-year-old is going to jump off the couch and break their leg," she said. "Your focus is not there — the one that you normally would use to shine, when you're looking for career advancement, is not really there." Under Alert Level 5, child-care providers on the Avalon Peninsula were initially only taking the children of essential workers who had to leave the home for work, with public health urging families to keep their children home during the outbreak of a contagious virus variant.(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) Parents on a 'sinking ship' That stress rings true to Tina, who owns a few child-care operations in the St. John's area. [Like Chelsea, CBC is shielding her identity.] She gets messages and calls daily from moms and dads, "just telling us, they're struggling. They can't manage this. And that because there's no double bubble, they can't even rely on family, grandparents, to assist with child care right now," she said. "And they're really struggling. They're on a sinking ship right now." Tina's centres have been open during lockdown, but not to everyone: for the first two weeks, she could only take children of essential workers who worked outside the home. Then, the rules opened up slightly to allow 50 per cent capacity, to existing clients only. Among all the changes, Tina worries about the children still unable to attend. She and her staff work with many young children in vulnerable situations, she said, from transient kids bouncing between foster homes, to those with parents facing huge problems themselves that have been multiplied by the pandemic. "Stress is higher in homes, and there are a lot of families who are struggling with addiction, mental health and abuse in households," Tina said. "So the daycare centres are an outlet, and a safe place. And it's also a break for those parents who are struggling, who might not be equipped or have the support system that they need to be able to take care of a child full-time." We think that if we look for help, we are not good enough. And that's not true. - Martha Traverso-Yepez Her centres give a routine and structure for such vulnerable children, giving them the sight of the same friends, early childhood educators, play spaces and meals. When the last lockdown lifted, Tina said she and her staff saw many children — from all walks of life — experience a rough return to daycare. "We see more hitting, more punching, more lashing out with younger children. And also too, we see more tears. We see them having a harder time for drop off and pick up in the evening," Tina said. With that experience raw in her mind, Tina said she had hoped in the months following the province would talk to child-care providers and parents about what to do better in case another lockdown hit. "I think the problem is that none of those conversations actually happened," she said. A nationwide problem Stories of other parents in crisis have come up across the country, and troubling statistics around the mental health of parents of young children have been trickling in since the start of the pandemic. A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Mental Health Association have been collecting waves of data, starting in May of 2020, for insights into what is happening in families' homes across the country during the pandemic. Their initial work in the spring found Canadian parents with children younger than 18 reported worse mental health in May compared to prior to the pandemic, compared to people without children living at home. Within that data, 55 per cent of parents with children younger than four years old said their mental health had deteriorated compared to 40 per cent of other parents: the top emotions parents cited were anxiety and worry. Anne Gadermann, left, and Kimberly Thomson are two of the researchers who have surveyed parents throughout the pandemic to get a sense of COVID-19's toll on their mental health.(Submitted by Anne Gadermann, Kimberly Thomson) That study, published in January, showed Canadians reactions following a similar pattern as mental health studies have shown in the United States and overseas. "Given the multiple stressors facing families, we were not surprised to see parents reporting worsened mental health and increased negative interactions with their children (harsh words, conflict)," the study's researchers, Anne Gadermann and Kimberly Thomson, told CBC News in an email. Since the May survey, researchers have conducted two more rounds of work in September and January and found those stresses haven't decreased among parents as time wears on, and some new burdens have arisen, with Gadermann and Thomson citing that parents' worries about their childrens' well-being has only increased. The importance of child care — and therapy There is a troubling lack of resources for families with young children even in non-pandemic times, said one Memorial University researcher, and the lockdown has highlighted that vulnerability. "I am very much concerned about the consequences of isolation," said Martha Traverso-Yepez, a health researcher and recently retired professor with MUN's Faculty of Medicine. "In response to that, we need to remind families that there must be supports, because we need the village, really, to support young families with children." We think that if we look for help, we are not good enough. And that's not true. - Martha Traverso-Yepez Traverso-Yepez wants to see much wider societal change, and there has been some movement, with the federal promise in September to create a universal child-care system in response to the pandemic's continued disproportionate impact upon women in the workforce. But that's a long-term goal, and particularly remote during lockdown. With in-person help remaining elusive for the most part under Alert Level 5, there are some things parents can do, Traverso-Yepez said, pointing to the province's Family Resource Centres as valuable tools that offer a variety of supports. It's also time to shed any expectations that parents can handle such extraordinary and taxing circumstances on their own, Traverso-Yepez said. "We think that if we look for help, we are not good enough. And that's not true." Getting help also helps inner resilience, she said, helping fortify parents and give them tools within themselves to better cope with stress. Chelsea supports that idea. She has recently begun therapy and said it's made a huge difference as she gets through her day-to-day. "I cannot say enough good things about therapy, and anyone who thinks they should be ashamed because they have a therapist doesn't know what they're talking about, because it's wonderful," she said. Therapy has helped her understand that while she may feel at times like she's failing, she isn't — and that what is before her, and many other parents, is an impossible task. To get through, she said, she's learned to set boundaries with her work and her relationship, and is finding ways to take care of herself so she can take care of others, until the vaccine. "You can't pour from an empty cup. Well, right now, the cup is running dry really quickly." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Travis Cains looks over to the spot where he and George Floyd watched the world go by when they were young. It was on those steps that Cains — who considers himself Floyd's older brother and stuck with him through the highs of sports stardom at school to the lows of addiction and incarceration — became convinced that Floyd was destined to make his mark on the world. Floyd is a martyr for us.
BARCELONA, Spain — Catalonia’s former regional president Carles Puigdemont says he will keep fighting extradition back to Spain if, as he expects, the European Union's parliament strips him of his immunity as a lawmaker this week. Puigdemont and two fellow Catalan separatists won seats in the European Parliament in 2019, two years after fleeing Spain because they had led a failed secession attempt for Catalonia, a move that Spain has deemed illegal. On Monday, Puigdemont, along with cohorts Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, faces a vote by the European Parliament on whether to lift their immunity as lawmakers, a move that has been recommended by the parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee. “We contemplate all scenarios, obviously even that we will lose our immunity, which is the most likely,” Puigdemont told The Associated Press via on Sunday from his residence in Waterloo, Belgium. “But we know that would not be the end of the road.” Lifting their immunity would allow Spain to once again pursue their extradition to stand trial like their fellow separatist leaders who remained in Spain and were found guilty of sedition and the misuse of public funds for the 2017 breakaway bid. So far, courts in Belgium, Germany and Britain have refused to send Puigdemont and his colleagues back on grounds of sedition as requested by Spain. Puigdemont said besides resisting in the national courts, the three will also “take our case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.” Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press
BERLIN — A lawmaker with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party said Sunday he will give up his seat in parliament and leave politics after it emerged that his company profited from deals to procure masks early in the pandemic — drawing sharp criticism in an election year. Nikolas Loebel, a backbench lawmaker with Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union, was blasted by members of his own party and opponents after it emerged Friday that a company he runs earned commissions of 250,000 euros ($298,000) from brokering contracts to buy masks. Saying that he should have been “more sensitive," Loebel admitted that he had made a mistake and gave up his seat on parliament's foreign affairs committee. That wasn't enough for critics — particularly as his home state of Baden-Wuerttemberg elects a new regional legislature on March 14. A national election in which Germans will choose a new parliament, and determine who succeeds Merkel, follows on Sept. 26. Susanne Eisenmann, the CDU candidate for governor in Baden-Wuerttemberg, told news magazine Der Spiegel that “it is unacceptable for parliamentarians to enrich themselves in this serious crisis.” On Sunday, Loebel said he will leave the Union bloc's group in parliament immediately and give up his seat at the end of August. He apologized and said he won't run in the September election, the dpa news agency reported. “I am taking responsibility for my actions,” he said. Loebel's case wasn't the first to rattle the centre-right bloc. Georg Nuesslein — a prominent lawmaker with the Christian Social Union, the CDU’s Bavaria-only sister party — faces a corruption investigation by Munich prosecutors in connection with mask procurement deals. He denies wrongdoing. On Friday, Nuesslein's lawyer said he won't run for re-election in September and is giving up his position as a deputy leader of the Union's parliamentary group. ___ Follow all AP stories on the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic. The Associated Press