Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering children nationwide the chance to bring the wonder and excitement of space exploration into the comfort and safety of their homes. (Dec. 21)
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering children nationwide the chance to bring the wonder and excitement of space exploration into the comfort and safety of their homes. (Dec. 21)
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
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.
Vaccination : pas avant février chez les Autochtones en Abitibi LAC-SIMON-Si dans le Nord-du-Québec, le processus de vaccination contre la COVID-19 est bien enclenché, dans les communautés autochtones de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, il faudra attendre au moins jusqu’en février avant de lancer la campagne dans la population. «Selon ce que nous avons entendu, nous ne sommes pas dans les priorités, indique la chef de la communauté Anishinabeg de Lac-Simon, Adrienne Jérôme. La plupart de nos communautés avaient érigé des points de contrôle à l’entrée des villages, ce qui fait qu’on n’a pratiquement pas eu de cas de COVID dans nos communautés. On n’a donc pas été considérées comme prioritaires.» Information au compte-gouttes La chef de Lac-Simon avoue qu’elle n’a pas reçu beaucoup d’information sur le programme de vaccination pour les communautés Autochtones. «On a reçu de la correspondance du ministre (Ian Lafrenière), mais c’était très général, dit Adrienne Jérôme. On a fini par savoir que c’est le vaccin Moderna qu’on va recevoir, et que ça va aller à février, sans qu’on ait de date précise. On ne sait pas non plus combien de doses on va recevoir. Est-ce que c’est 100, 200 doses? On ne le sait pas.» Adrienne Jérôme estime que dans les circonstances, sa communauté s’en tire bien, tout comme les communautés Anishinabeg environnantes. «On a été plus vites que le gouvernement, dit-elle avec un brin de fierté. On a pas attendu les consignes avant de mettre des points de contrôle, donc, ça nous a permis de mieux contrôler la propagation du virus. Dans nos communautés, selon ce que j’ai entendu, il y a quelques cas au Lac-Rapide (dans la Réserve faunique La Vérendrye), mais ailleurs, tout est pas mal sous contrôle. C’est pour ça d’ailleurs qu’on n’est pas sur la liste prioritaire pour la vaccination. Des refus Adrienne Jérôme doit elle aussi composer avec des récalcitrants. «Il y a des membres de la communauté qui ne croient pas à la vaccination, dit-elle. En cela, ce n’est pas différent de ce qui se passe ailleurs. Certains sont influencés par ce qu’ils voient sur les réseaux sociaux. D’autres, par contre, aimeraient mieux que ce soient les infirmières du Centre de santé de Lac-Simon qui administrent les vaccins. On les connaît un peu plus.» Pendant ce temps, le ministre responsable des Services aux autochtones, Marc Miller, n’a pas été en mesure de confirmer si son ministère était prêt à réserver des doses pour les Autochtones de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue comme il l’avait fait pour 925 doses destinées à une clientèle autochtone de Montréal. «SAC continuera à soutenir la priorité du vaccin COVID-19 pour les populations autochtones et à travailler avec tous les partenaires, y compris les provinces et les territoires, afin de garantir la sécurité culturelle et le respect des Premières Nations, des Inuits et des Métis lors de la planification du vaccin, et de répondre aux hésitations liées à la vaccination, a indiqué le bureau de Marc Miller, dans un échange de courriels avec la Presse Canadienne. Nous continuons à travailler en coordination avec les leaders des Premières Nations, des Inuits et des Métis et nous continuerons à le faire tout au long du processus de l’administration du vaccin.» Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Canada Post is telling customers to expect delivery delays due to a COVID-19 outbreak at a key mail facility in Mississauga, Ont., that has sickened dozens of workers. A spokesman says testing at the Dixie Road site has found 39 positive COVID-19 cases over the last three days. Canada Post says 182 workers at the site have tested positive since the start of the new year. Spokesman Phil Legault says the Mississauga facility is central to the crown corporation's entire national delivery and processing network. Legault says the plant continues to operate and process heavy incoming parcel volumes, but there will be delays. More than 4,500 people work at the Mississauga site. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Village of Morrin will pay for repair of a frozen water line, a decision made by the Official Administrator (OA) at the regular meeting of council Jan. 20. The meeting was held via teleconference to meet pandemic rules. Harold Johnsrude, OA, mentioned at the beginning of the meeting he was going through past council meeting minutes along with Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner to address unresolved agenda items and dealt with several Public Works issues as a result. Johnsrude noted that past minutes stated that in March, 2020 the village received a $504 bill for repairing a frozen water line, and added that the village has a sewer repair policy which he asked Plachner to summarize. She stated if a landowner has a water line problem they shall contact the village before hiring a contractor, and if a contractor is hired, that may release the village from financial responsibility. However, if the water line problem is on the landowner’s property, the landowner is purely responsible. Plachner clarified that in this instance she could find no record of the landowner notifying the village of the problem. However, the CAO also stated that because of lateral line problems in that neighbourhood, her recommendation was for the village to pay for the repairs. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion for the village to pay the $504 bill. 2nd Ave N. sewer lateral lines Johnsrude asked Public Works Manager Dave Benci to report on the 2nd Ave North sewer lateral lines problem. Benci responded he found problems with a camera report but also noted four residences in that area were having flow problems that require excavation. Benci stated this was deferred in 2020 and doing it in winter would be a challenge. When asked by Johnsrude if other properties in that neighbourhood were also having flow problems, Benci responded most of the homes on that line have problems as the line has “sagged.” Benci pointed out repairing the lateral lines would require digging up pavement and sidewalks. Johnsrude responded that tearing up additional pavement and sidewalks without knowing exactly what’s wrong with other homes wouldn’t be a great idea. Benci agreed. Johnsrude then moved and passed a motion for Public Works to provide a 2021 budget amount for the four residences identified by Benci to be repaired in 2021 for the February meeting. A motion was also passed for Benci to continue working on a Public Works Policy and look at making the items covered broader. Water & Sewer Excavation policy Johnsrude clarified this policy which was also an outstanding agenda item from past meetings. He pointed out the Municipal Government Act, which gives municipal councils their authority, states that councillors have a duty to develop policies and that sometimes councillors confuse general participation in developing policies with implementing polices, which is the staff’s role. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion that the village staff would investigate what other municipalities are doing with regards to water and sewer excavation policies and report back at a future meeting. Hydrant repair Benci gave a report on hydrant testing, and stated this was done on Apr. 28, 2020 with the help of local firefighters. Some issues were identified, but then Three Hills came in to help and found that only one hydrant was actually in need of repair. Benci noted an expert on hydrant repair has agreed to put on a training workshop for Morrin and other municipalities, using Morrin's hydrant as the sample. Benci noted this will reduce the hydrant repair costs which he noted can be quite expensive. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion for Public Works to proceed with the training session and also prepare a report on hydrant repair for the 2021 budget. Machinery Park approach removal The OA asked why the Machinery Park approach removal was included in past meeting minutes despite no resolution ever having been made. Benci responded he didn’t know exactly why but stated it may have been related to the demolition of the Noble house. Benci stated when a contractor demolished the Noble house, his equipment then broke down and the contractor never returned. Benci stated the approach is barricaded off and in his opinion he saw no reason to remove it. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion that removal of this approach would be at the discretion of the Public Works department. Water plant Johnsrude noted an older agenda item about the water plant had no council resolution connected. Benci stated the village reports to Alberta Environment regularly about the water plant in accordance with provincial regulations. Benci noted a provincial inspector checks out the plant on an annual basis, if his memory served. Johnsrude moved and passed a motion that no further action on the water plant was necessary. Johnsrude motioned for an expenditure up to $1,000 for a laptop computer for Public Works. Johnsrude requested the CAO discuss with MPEngineering what they see as priority for the major projects of replacing sewer/water lines on 2nd Ave. S. or Railway Ave. S. and bring it back to the February meeting. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
A Pineview resident is fighting back against the Fraser-Fort George Regional District's attempt to get him to remove more than 100 vehicles stored on his property. The FFGRD filed a notice of claim in December seeking a court order to compel him to remove the vehicles or allow the FFGRD to do it for him, saying the collection violates the regional district's zoning and unsightly premises bylaws. But in a response filed January 7 at the Prince George courthouse, a lawyer acting on behalf of the property owner maintains the collection remains within the boundaries of the law. On whether the collection makes the property unsightly, lawyer Dan Marcotte says all of the vehicles are contained within a fully enclosed compound and cannot be seen by anyone standing outside the property line or the view is so slight it makes no difference. On whether the zoning bylaw is being violated, Marcotte casts doubt on the bylaw's clarity and maintains the collection is "consistent with an incidental to the permitted uses" of the property's rural residential zone. The FFGRD claims that as recently as mid-November, there were as many as 140 vehicles on the property and that at least 23 of the vehicles had significant damage, at least 22 vehicles were without valid licence plates and that several piles of vehicle parts and other material were found on the property. It is seeking an order that he lower the count down to 10 vehicles, of which no more than two can be derelict, and to remove all of the piles of parts and rubbish. Marcotte says his client restores vintage Ford pickup trucks, rebuilds cars to race in "hit to pass" and stock car events at the Prince George Auto Racing Association Speedway and carries out minor repair work as hobbies on the property. "Many of the motor vehicles are used by the defendant, from time to time and as needed, for parts in the restoration of his vintage vehicles or in the rehabilitation of vehicles in hit to pass racing events or stock car racing events," Marcotte says. The allegations have not yet been tested in court. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
NEW YORK — A raging pandemic, tumultuous presidential election and deadly Capitol insurrection have combined to make the annual tradition of Dry January more moist than air-tight for some. Not Sarah Arvizo. She considers it her easiest yet. As much as the 32-year-old Manhattanite would love to partake in a little “vinopeutics,” she said the abstinence period she's participated in for several years has been made smoother this time around by her at-home pandemic life and the closing of bars and restaurants. “Longing for those days, for sure,” said the social drinker who lives alone. “But unless I want to freeze outside, that's largely off the table this year.” Eight-year-old Dry January, which comes at the height of resolution season after the holidays, has brought on the desired benefits for many among the millions participating around the world. They're losing quarantine weight, experiencing more clarity and sleeping easier. Others with lockdown time on their hands and round-the-clock access to TV news and the home liquor cabinet are struggling to meet the challenge. Some who have already cheated hoisted a glass on Inauguration Day, Dry January's surreal New Year's Eve. Sue Cornick, 52, in Los Angeles, wanted to experience Dry January after her consumption of alcohol rose from three or four days a week to five or six. But she knew pulling the plug wouldn't work before a celebratory Inauguration Day, so it's Dry February for her. “Full disclosure, my Dry February will be more like almost dry. I'll definitely have a cheat day here and there. Just no daily habit,” she said. Others are holding steadfast but said the horrid year that was and the chaotic events of January have made it far more difficult. The odds aren't in their favour. Studies over the years have shown that a small percentage of New Year's resolutions overall are actually achieved. Peta Grafham, a 61-year-old retired IT specialist in Tryon, North Carolina, signed on to Dry January after watching her alcohol intake creep up during the pandemic and months of political and racial turmoil. “I'm a social creature and isolating has been difficult. I found that I would open a bottle of wine and watch TV, usually CNN, and could knock back a bottle in less than two hours. Then I would move on to the Grand Marnier," said Grafham, who lives with her husband. “I announced to my friends and family that I was doing a Dry January, so my pride is what's keeping me sober.” She hasn't had a drop since Dec. 31. Her spouse didn't join, but she said he's an efficient nurser of bourbon or vodka and has supported her effort. “I seemed incapable of limiting myself to just one glass,” Grafham said. According to a recent survey from the American Psychological Association, 78% of adults report the COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant source of stress, and 65% said the amount of uncertainty in the world is causing strain. At 27, Emily Roethle in Encinitas, California, nearly broke on Jan. 6, when a riotous mob descended on the Capitol. “This is my second Dry January,” she said. “It's difficult this year. I've looked to my glass of wine to separate work from home as I work remote, but in ways it's easier as there's no happy hour or dinner invitations.” While addiction treatment experts note that a month of forced sobriety may not have a lasting impact and may lead to binge drinking in February, others believe the show of sobriety can't hurt. Dry January began after a woman training for her first half-marathon, Emily Robinson in the U.K., decided to quit drinking for the month. She later went to work for an alcohol awareness organization that launched a national campaign. The event slowly went global. Well before that, in 1942, Finland began a program called Raitis Tammikuu, meaning sober January, to assist the war effort against the Soviet Union, said Hilary Sheinbaum, who wrote a new book about Dry January, “The Dry Challenge." She said she wrote from personal experience. “On Dec. 31, 2016, moments before the ball dropped, I made a Dry January bet with a friend,” Sheinbaum said. “In the end, I ended up going the full 31 days. My friend did not. He ended up buying me a very fancy meal, but I had the opportunity to see how alcohol was affecting my day-to-day life. With Dry January, I had clearer skin. I was sleeping better. I had so much more financial savings at the end of the month. This is my fifth Dry January.” When she took on her first dry challenge, she was working regularly at booze-infused events as a red carpet reporter, and a food and beverage writer. She was also single and going on a lot of dates. Now in a two-year relationship, she and her live-in boyfriend do Dry January together. “Having someone doing it with you is definitely encouraging,” Sheinbaum said. “For many Americans, we start off the year with a number of resolutions, whether that's saving money, losing weight, just being healthier in general. Dry January checks the boxes for those goals and many more.” She and others note that the ritual isn't meant as a substitute for addiction treatment and recovery. Dr. Joseph DeSanto, an MD and addiction specialist for the recovery program BioCorRx, agreed but said Dry January may give those in trouble "something to rally around, especially if they're not in a 12-step group, and provide a sense of community.” He added: “Any kind of harm reduction is advantageous. If someone is a heavy drinker, they could benefit greatly from switching to moderate to light drinking, even if they can’t stop altogether. I’ve never met an alcoholic that felt worse from drinking less or not drinking.” MJ Gottlieb is co-founder and CEO of the 100,000-strong Loosid, a sober social network with both physical and virtual events and services around the country. He's in recovery himself and launched the company in part to show the world that sobriety doesn't mean the “end of fun.” Since the pandemic, he said Loosid has seen a spike in people posting on its app, messaging its hotlines and accessing its support groups as the pandemic brought on isolation and more drinking at home. That's where Dry January plays a role. “A lot of people who did not have problems previous to the pandemic and were drinking a glass of wine a night are now drinking a couple of bottles a night," Gottlieb said. "They're wondering what's going on. They're wondering, how did I get here?” Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
Pushing a button to cross at a crosswalk in Halifax could soon be less common, if recommendations from the city's transportation standing committee move forward. The majority of pedestrian intersections would automatically display the walk light. Cars would have to stop regardless of whether there's a person waiting to cross. "It's very good news for pedestrians," said Ahsan Habib, a transportation professor at Dalhousie University, adding it might be frustrating for drivers. A municipal staff report indicates there's no significant risk to the changes. But Habib cautions whenever new benefits are provided, there is always a potential for new issues. Because intersections are where the majority of vehicle-pedestrian collisions happen, Habib said pedestrians should remain cautious. "But automatic activation gives them the priority that we've been advocating for a long time, so I can see the benefit probably outweighs the risk," he said. The crosswalks with automatic display would only require a button to be pushed between midnight and 6 a.m. They'll stay lit for the other 18 hours of the day. Habib said he's concerned the new rules around timing could be confusing to some people, but city staff plan to install stickers at each intersection to indicate when the button needs to be pushed. The move is well-timed with the COVID-19 pandemic and an emphasis on touch-free technology, Habib said, but it's been on the city's radar long before the virus came into play. Accessibility changes Right now, accessible pedestrian signals — audible signals like beeping — are activated only after someone holds down the crosswalk button for three seconds. After engaging with people from the blind and visually impaired community, staff heard that the need to hold the button for three seconds was often a barrier to people who use a cane, guide dog, or have mobility issues. Now, the audible signal could be heard with a single press of the button. "This is probably the best decision [the city] ever made for tackling accessibility issues ... This will take us a long way to make our road space safer for mobility-restricted people," Habib said. Increased congestion, noise pollution expected Costs for the changes are expected to be "relatively minimal" and manageable within the current budget. But, according to the committee's report, there could be an increase in noise pollution in some residential areas at night because of the changes to the accessible pedestrian signals. Between midnight and 6 a.m., pressing the crosswalk button will always activate the audible signal. There's also potential for delays for all road users, and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to increased vehicle congestion. Some locations 'inappropriate' for automation A staff report was completed over the course of the last few months with input from the public. There are 274 pedestrian traffic signals in Halifax, according to the Jan. 21 agenda of the transportation standing committee that reviewed the staff report. More than 100 of those intersections already display the walk signal automatically, a large portion of them in the downtown core. After reviewing the remaining crosswalks in the municipality, the report found 93 more that should be adjusted to automatically display the walk signal. The recommendations still need to be put before the city's traffic authority. MORE TOP STORIES
RICHMOND, B.C. — RCMP say a man who allegedly cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and walked away in Richmond, B.C., has been located. A statement from police says Woon Chan was found Friday. Police issued a warning about 18 hours earlier saying they were contacted by corrections officials who reported Chan was wearing a monitoring bracelet but it had gone offline. RCMP responded to an area of north Richmond near Minoru Park and found the bracelet but no sign of the 57-year-old man. At the time, they described Chan as a risk to the public but did not say why. The police statement doesn't say where he was found or what led to his discovery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
15 Mount Allison University students have to move by Feb. 13 because their apartment building was not zoned to be used as apartments. The town of Sackville brought the matter to civil court because it claims the building owner had committed a zoning infraction and was doing work to the former mansion without the proper permit. Justice Darrell Stephenson presided over the proceedings in Moncton on Friday by phone. He said he doesn't take the matter lightly, considering that the province is in the red phase of COVID restrictions and the students have just started the winter semester. "I'm not going to let any of the students fall through the cracks on this," said Stephenson via teleconference. The matter was before the court last Friday as well, but was adjourned because Stephenson requested that a walk through be performed to determine if there were any safety issues. The lawyer representing the town of Sackville, Christopher Stewart said a number of problems were found, and "there appears to be no livable units without a safety issue." Stewart said some windows were too small to be considered a fire exit, others were too high to reach without a chair. One new window in the basement was deemed large enough, but it opened into a window well, not meeting building codes. Hearing of the problems, Justice Stephenson said the students needed to be notified that they must leave the building by mid-February with their moving expenses covered by the landlords, Barbara and Gordon Beal. At the first hearing, the Beals, including their daughter and property manager, Kathy Beal, were asked to find vacant apartments for their tenants to move into. Their lawyer, Ted Ehrhardt told the court that 13 spaces in apartments were secured, and Mount Allison University had dorm rooms available as well. He said that three students had already found new apartments. Stephenson said if the new accommodations cost more to rent, the Beal family would be responsible for covering the difference for three months. "Let's get those students out as soon as we can," said Stephenson. According to Kathy Beal, fifteen students live in the apartments on the second and third floor of the Georgian mansion at 131 Main Street. The bottom floor of the house, which sits across from the Mount Allison swan pond, was rented out as office space. She said, as many of businesses that rented space in the house started to move out in the spring because of COVID, her 86-year-old father wondered how he could generate enough income to pay the taxes. He started adding two new kitchens to make room for more students. Beal said her father comes from a different time, "he thinks he can do whatever he wants because its his property." A complaint was made, and Beal said the town became involved via the Southeast Regional Service Commission. Lori Bickford is the planning manager, her office administers building permits and enforces zoning bylaws. She said the issues at the heart of the matter is that alterations were being done to the building without a permit, and the building housed apartments even though the current zoning, residential historic commercial, doesn't allow that. "On my end, it's relatively simple, it's just not allowed under the bylaw," said Bickford. Tenants for a decade According to Beal, there have been student tenants in the building for ten years. But when she became aware of the fire safety problems, she said she replaced some windows and added fire extinguishers. She thought she'd done enough to allow the students to finish the school year in the apartments, but, "the week before Christmas I got an order from (Bickford)." "I thought, 'there's been students in there for ten years, what's another few months'," said Beal. Though she wishes the students could stay for their sake, she accepts Stephenson's decision. "There's a lot of other places that have students that are a lot worse,"said Beal. As for the future of the building, Beal isn't sure what comes next. It's listed on Canadian Register of Historic Places as the Joseph F. Allison House, built in 1841. It was most recently called the Fawcett Professional Centre. "My Dad wanted a demolition permit to knock it down," said Beal. But she said selling it is another possibility. In 2014, the Beal family requested that a section of land at the back of the lot be rezoned to make way for an apartment development. Sackville town council denied the request twice. Vacancies hard to come by Jonathan Ferguson, president of Mount Allison's student Union, said several students have reached out for help. A similar situation cropped up when a fire broke out in Sackville's downtown in the fall of 2020 and approximately the same number of students had to find new homes. "This is a very difficult time of year for students to find out that they have two weeks … notice to find new accommodations in a relatively small town that's near capacity," said Ferguson. Classes started virtually at Mount Allison on Monday and are scheduled to happen in person next week. Sackville's chief administrative officer, Jamie Burke, said "usually when people receive a notice to comply, typically the property is brought into compliance," said Burke. The town issued its first notice to the Beals in August, 2020, with the town council passing a motion to begin court proceedings in October. "This is a last resort obviously, it's not something that we like to do or want to do, but we really don't have any other choice in this case," said Burke. The Beal's lawyer, working with the town of Sackville's lawyer. is in the process of drawing up a letter that will go to the affected students by Jan. 29. They'll be offered one of the vacancies found by the university and the landlords. Justice Stephenson said he wanted them safely out of the building before he will deal with the bylaw infraction. "I want to make sure they're looked after," said Stephenson. The matter will be back before the court on Feb. 17.
Alix village council heard some residents speak out against changes to a proposed fire protection policy. The policy was then passed at the Jan. 6 regular meeting of council, held via Zoom to meet pandemic requirements. Councillors read a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White on public feedback to the proposed village fire department policy, primarily fees to be charged for certain fire department services. For example, the policy notes if the department responds to a fire call, the fee charges for a fire engine for over the first hour of work will be billed out at $500 for that first hour, while answering false alarms will be billed at no charge for the first one, $100 for the second one, $200 for the third one and $300 for any additional false alarms. The complete list of fire department fees is available on the Village of Alix website. The bylaw states, “NOTE: Fees will not be charged for call outs that are strictly Medical First Response.” She noted the village received two responses from the public from November notices placed on the village website, on the backs of village utility bills and hard copies which were available at the village office. The first response was in written form from Gary Thompson and Jodi Henry and stated, “Concerns regarding the new proposed user fees for emergency service. Will anything be deducted or refunded on the taxes I already pay for this service? “I realize the insurance companies will most likely absorb this cost if needed, however, this gives the insurance company legitimate reasons to raise rates considerably. “I feel this seems like ‘double dipping’ on the part of the county. Why am I paying for this service twice should I ever need it? “I’ve been paying for fire protection coverage for the last 16 years and never used it – Does this mean I get a rebate?” White noted the second response, which came in late and was given to councillors at the meeting, was from Sharon Fazer, who stated the fees are a slap in the face to taxpayers who already paid for everything at the fire hall and Fazer further stated if the fire department can’t afford to operate they should close their doors. White stated her recommendation was to approve the policy. There was no discussion and councillors unanimously approved the fire department policy. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is thinking about getting Canadians the COVID-19 vaccine "when I wake up in the morning, when I go to bed, and every hour in between."
WASHINGTON — Images of National Guard soldiers camped in a cold parking garage after being sent to protect Washington sparked new calls Friday for investigations of the U.S. Capitol Police, now facing allegations that the agency evicted troops sent to help after its failure to stop rioting mobs two weeks ago. Members of both parties were irate about reports that Guardsmen were forced to take rest breaks outside the Capitol building. About 25,000 Guard members from across the country deployed to help secure President Joe Biden's inauguration, which went off with only a handful of minor arrests. Biden spoke Friday morning to Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. She said the president thanked Hokanson and the Guard for their help the last few weeks and offered his assistance if Hokanson needed anything. She did not say if they discussed what happened at the Capitol on Thursday. First lady Jill Biden visited Guard troops outside the Capitol on Friday, bringing them cookies and thanking them for protecting her family. She noted that the Bidens’ late son, Beau, served in the Delaware Army National Guard. A jittery Washington requested the aid following the riot where police were badly outnumbered, locking down the nation's capital with soldiers, police and barricades and lawmakers and Biden took pains to thank security forces for their effort. All 25,000 Guard members were vetted by the FBI over concerns of an insider attack, and a dozen were removed from their posts including two who made extremist statements about the inauguration. The National Guard said it originally moved troops out of the Capitol Rotunda and other spaces to garages at the behest of the Capitol Police. The Guardsmen were allowed back inside late Thursday after reports were widely shared of the conditions in the garages, with few bathrooms and little covering from the cold. Capitol Police Interim Chief Yogananda Pittman issued a statement Friday saying her agency “did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities.” But two Capitol Police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity contradicted her statement, saying they were told department higher-ups had ordered the Guardsmen out. It was unclear why. The two officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by the department to speak. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said that “multiple members of military leadership” had told him a uniformed Capitol Police officer told them to leave the Capitol Visitor Center. “The troops didn't move on their own,” said Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He added: “This isn’t a blame game, but I want to know what happened so we can make sure it can’t happen again.” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who leads a subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police budget, said Pittman and other commanders would eventually need to testify about their decision-making. “If the Capitol Police in any way, shape, or form pushed the Guard out into a cold garage, then there’s going to be hell to pay,” Ryan said . “We’re already trying to re-establish trust with the Capitol Police and we’ve got to figure out exactly what happened.” The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to D.C. for the inaugural, just 10,600 remain on duty. The bureau said the Guard is helping states with co-ordination and the logistics so that troops can get home. Thousands of Guard troops from all across the country poured into D.C. by the planeload and busload late last week, in response to escalating security threats and fears of more rioting. Military aircraft crowded the runways at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, carrying Guard members into the region in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Guard forces were scattered around the city, helping to secure the Capitol, monuments, Metro entrances and the perimeter of central D.C., which was largely locked down for several days leading up to Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony. Some local law enforcement agencies have asked for continued assistance from the Guard, so roughly 7,000 troops are expected to stay in the region through the end of the month. The insurrection highlighted multiple failures by the Capitol Police to prepare for what became a violent mob overrunning parts of the building. Officers who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said there was little planning before the riot or guidance from department leaders once the riot began. The riot left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher. Another officer died in an apparent suicide after the attack. ___ Merchant reported from Houston. Nomaan Merchant, Lolita Baldor, And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
David Beckham bristled when asked whether Phil Neville’s was hired as Inter Miami coach because they’re buddies. “Of course, people are always going to turn around and say, oh, it’s because he’s your friend. It’s nothing to do with him being my friend,” Beckham said Friday. “Our ownership group don’t just employ our friends. We employ the best people, whether it’s on the field, off the field, in our backroom staff, the staff that we have work in our training facility, at the stadium. "We are running a serious soccer club here. And I think at the end of the day, we hire people that we feel are best suited for the job.” Beckham, a former England captain, was given ownership of a future Major League Soccer team at a discount as part of his transfer to the LA Galaxy for the 2007 season. Miami started play last year and had seven wins, 13 losses and three draws, finishing 10th among 14 teams in the Eastern Conference under coach Diego Alonso. Miami fired Alonso following a 3-0 playoff loss to Nashville. Neville played with Beckham on Manchester United from 1994-03 and England’s national team from 1996-07, and they are part owners of fourth-tier Salford City in England. Neville coached England’s women’s team from 2018 through this month — the Three Lionesses lost to the U.S. in a 2019 World Cup semifinal. “My loyalty to Phil has always been there because as a player, I relied on him to keep making those runs by the side of me,” Beckham said. “I never gave him the ball because I thought I was better crosser of the ball than he was, so he never got those balls. But I knew that he would keep on making those runs because he knew that was what was best for the team. "And he will make those decisions as a coach, not just of our club, but a coach of our academy system, a coach of our USL team, and as a leader. that’s why he’s in this position. Nothing to do with the relationship that we have, the friendship that we have, the loyalty that we have to each other.” Beckham, Miami’s director of soccer operations, spoke at a news conference with Jorge Mas, Miami’s managing owner. “Phil Neville was not handed the Inter Miami job. Phil Neville earned the job,” Mas said. “The fact that he’s David’s friend is a reality and no one runs from that. Actually, we embrace it.” Neville was hired Monday along with former U.S. midfielder Chris Henderson as chief soccer officer and sporting director. Beckham was absent from March until Christmas Day because of the novel coronavirus pandemic but has been in Florida since, attending training. Neville is aware many foreign coaches have struggled in MLS with its salary cap, artificial turf and weather extremes, with the exceptions of Gerardo Martino with Atlanta in 2018 and Gary Smith with Colorado in 2010. He recalled spending eight weeks observing Bruce Arena coach Beckham and the Galaxy. “The biggest challenge for me as a coach is to come here and and prove to people the foreign coaches can come here and be successful,” Neville said. “There will be things about the travel, etc., and the different time zones that we have to adapt to, as well. But ultimately, I think in my football career, in my short coaching career, I’ve had to adapt to different situations like travel, like heat, etc. "So I’ve got good experience with that. I came out to America for every preseason where we were in a different city every two or three days. We have to adapt to it. And we did do it. We were playing a game in the East Coast, the West Coast, every two or three days. So so I’m looking forward to the challenge.” He inherits a roster that includes striker Gonzalo Higuaín and midfielder Blaise Matuidi, both 33. “I think these players know that they’re a little bit hurt. They’re a little bit scared at this moment in time for the performances from last season,” he said. “And they want to come back this season and show everyone how good of players they are. So there’s that hunger, that determination that I’ve seen this week, that I’m sure that we can take into to the season. Add in that with a little bit more quality in terms of the players we want to bring in, I think it will make us a real strong unit.” Neville was an assistant coach at Valencia in 2015-16 during the time his brother Gary was head coach. Phil Neville was too nervous to answer questions in Spanish on Friday but plans to starting after this season’s opener. He anticipates a seamless transition from coaching women to men. “The sessions that I did at Manchester United and the sessions that I did at Valencia were no different than the sessions I did for my women’s team last yea,” he said. “It’s football played on the same pitch, with the same size balls, with a referee, with supporters in the stadium and ultimately the same goal, and that’s to win.” ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Ronald Blum, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia's oldest residents will be able to pre-register for COVID-19 vaccinations starting in March after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized under a provincial plan announced today. People who register for the age-based plan will get a reminder to book appointments when eligible, but provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says timelines for vaccination will depend on available doses. Residents in long-term care homes and health-care workers who look after them are among those who are currently being vaccinated, followed in February by more residents of Indigenous communities as well as those who are over the age of 80. Those aged 75 to 79 will be vaccinated starting in April as part of the pre-registration strategy that will also include people with underlying health conditions before those in younger age groups are immunized. Everyone who is vaccinated will get a record of their immunization and a reminder of their second dose by text, email or phone call. The aim is to administer vaccines to 4.3 million eligible residents by September using larger facilities including school gyms, arenas and mobile clinics, as well as home visits for those who are unable to attend a clinic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Le Parc régional éducatif Bois de Belle-Rivière propose maintenant la location de sept vélos de type «fatbike», munis de roues larges et conçus autant pour rouler dans la neige et dans les sentiers boueux. Les citoyens de Mirabel peuvent désormais se déplacer vers les lieux et rouler sur un de ces vélos pour une durée limitée (une ou deux heures), en procédant à la location, le jour même, via le pavillon d’accueil et durant les heures d’ouverture. Notons qu’aucune réservation par téléphone ou par courriel ne sera acceptée. Les férus de plein air sont donc conviés au parc, situé sur la route Arthur-Sauvé; ouvert tous les jours, de 9 h à 17 h. Un parc de glace! D’ailleurs, le Parc annonce que le sentier de glace en forêt fut prêt à accueillir ses visiteurs à partir de ce jeudi 21 janvier. Il est donc loisible de patiner seul ou avec les membres d’une bulle familiale, sur un chemin de 2 km, tout en respectant une distanciation de deux mètres avec les autres convives. La patinoire sera également ouverte pour une capacité maximale de 25 personnes, en patinage libre seulement. À noter que le parc de glace entier exige une capacité de 400 personnes. Le port du masque est obligatoire sous le grand chapiteau. «Nous vous demandons d’être indulgent avec notre personnel, ils sont présents afin de faire respecter les règles et d’assurer la sécurité de tous», de mentionner les responsables, via les réseaux sociaux. Pour des renseignements additionnels concernant les activités proposées et les mesures en vigueur, veuillez téléphoner au 450 258-4924, ou joindre un responsable du service client, par courriel, à firstname.lastname@example.org. Pour connaître les conditions du parc, consultez le site Web [www.boisdebelleriviere.com], dans la section «Info conditions».Nicolas Parent, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Éveil
HALIFAX — Two COVID-19 variants have been identified in Nova Scotia, the province's chief medical officer of health said Friday, adding that in both cases, the variant wasn't able to reproduce in the community. Tests conducted at Canada's national laboratory in December identified the U.K. variant in one COVID-19 sample from Nova Scotia and the South African variant in another case from the province, Dr. Robert Strang told reporters. "We know that neither case resulted in spread into the community," Strang said. He said, however, that household members of one person infected with a COVID-19 variant had tested positive, adding that those results identified viral loads that were too small to be analyzed at the national lab. Strang said those cases were likely connected to the South African variant. He said health officials weren't surprised to learn the variants had landed in the province, adding that their detection shows Nova Scotia's surveillance system works. "It reinforces why we need to maintain federal and provincial border measures and it certainly is another reason why we need to continue our cautious approach to COVID-19." Strang said the province was still awaiting results from the national lab on another 20 to 30 test samples. Health officials on Friday reported four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active reported cases in the province to 22. Strang said one case involves a student at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., who tested positive shortly after completing a 14-day quarantine. Strang also announced that most of the restrictions imposed across the province would be extended until at least Feb. 7, including 10-person gathering limits and the requirement that restaurants end service by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. "We are still in the middle of a severe second wave that is all around us including our closest neighbour in New Brunswick," he said. As of Thursday, 10,575 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, while 2,705 Nova Scotians had received their second dose. The Nova Scotia Nurses' Union launched a campaign Friday aimed at convincing as many people as possible to get vaccinated. The union uploaded a series of video testimonials to its website that offer insight and firsthand accounts from nurses who discuss their vaccinations. "We did it because we believe that our patients look up to nurses and physicians, they look up to us for direction," union president Janet Hazelton said in an interview. "We think it's important that we get the message out that the nurses' union supports the vaccine." Hazelton said while the majority of people are keen to get a shot there are still some who are "vaccine hesitant," adding that the union wants the public to know its members are confident the vaccine is safe and effective. She said annual flu vaccination rates among health Nova Scotians are usually relatively low — except this year, she said, which has seen a large uptake. People, however, need to be far more willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine than they are with the flu shot, she added. "We don't and can't have that same (lower) percentage for the COVID-19 vaccine," Hazelton said. "We need to have higher than 50-60 per cent." Front-line nurses were among the first to be vaccinated in Nova Scotia and Hazelton said so far none of her members have refused to get a shot. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Nearly a year to the day after the Chinese city of Wuhan went into lockdown to contain a virus that had already escaped, President Joe Biden began putting into effect a new war plan for fighting the outbreak in the U.S., Germany topped 50,000 deaths, and Britain closed in on 100,000. The anniversary of the lockdown Saturday comes as more contagious variants of the coronavirus spread and efforts to vaccinate people against COVID-19 have been frustrated by disarray and limited supplies in some places. The scourge has killed over 2 million people worldwide. In the U.S., which has the world's highest death toll at over 410,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci said a lack of candour about the threat under President Donald Trump probably cost lives. Fauci, who was sidelined by Trump, is now the chief medical adviser to Biden in an ambitious effort to conquer the virus. He told CNN that the Trump administration delayed getting sound scientific advice to the country. “When you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful,” he said. Biden signed a series of executive orders Thursday to mount a more centralized attack on the virus and has vowed to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days, a number some public health experts say is not ambitious enough. Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said the U.S. should aim to vaccinate 2.5 million a day and reach 100 million people in 40 days. “This was already an emergency,” Topol said, but with more contagious mutations of the virus circulating, “it became an emergency to the fourth power.” In Britain, where a more transmissible variant of the virus is raging, the death toll hit close to 96,000, the highest in Europe. And the government's chief scientific adviser warned that the mutated version might be deadlier than the original. Patrick Vallance cautioned that more research is needed but that the evidence suggests that the variant might kill 13 or 14 people out of every 1,000 infected, compared with 10 in 1,000 from the original. Germany extended its lockdown this week until Feb. 14 amid concern about the mutant viruses.. Some nations are imposing or considering new travel restrictions for the same reason. France said it will require a negative test from travellers arriving from other European Union countries starting Sunday. Canada said it may force visitors to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense upon arrival. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned the country: “No one should be taking a vacation abroad right now. If you’ve still got one planned, cancel it. And don’t book a trip for spring break,." In another apparent setback, AstraZeneca said it will ship fewer doses of its vaccine than anticipated to the 27-country EU because of supply chain problems. Amid the crisis, Japan is publicly adamant it will hold the postponed Olympics in July. Many experts believe that to pull that off, the nation will have to vaccinate all 127 million citizens, an effort that may not even begin until late February. The 76-day Wuhan lockdown began a year ago with a notice sent to people’s smartphones at 2 a.m. announcing the airport and train and bus stations would shut at 10 a.m. It eventually was expanded to most of the rest of Hubei province, affecting 56 million people. By the time of the lockdown, the virus had spread well beyond China's borders. Wuhan has largely returned to normal. The rollout of shots in the U.S. has been marked by delays, confusion and, in recent days, complaints of vaccine shortages and inadequate deliveries from the federal government as states ramp up their vaccination drives to include senior citizens as well as teachers, police and other groups. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that of nearly 40 million doses distributed to the states, just 19 million have been dispensed. Why there are reports of shortages when so many doses are apparently going unused is not entirely clear. But some vaccination sites are believed to be holding back large quantities to make sure that people who got their first shot receive the required second one on schedule a few weeks later. In Boston, nearly 2,000 doses vaccine were spoiled at a Veterans Affairs hospital after a contractor accidentally unplugged a freezer. Biden pledged to set up Federal Emergency Management Agency mass vaccination sites, but some states said they need more doses of the vaccine, not more people or locations to administer them. “We stand ready, willing and able to handle it,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “Trying to find FEMA set up sites, first of all, that would take like 30 days. It’s not necessary in Florida. I would take all that energy and I would put that toward more supply of the vaccine.” Brian Melley, The Associated Press
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expresses gratitude for U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to rejoin global efforts in the fight against COVID-19.