Highlights of this day in history: The Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in Lake Superior; Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dies; Henry Stanley finds David Livingstone in central Africa; Film composer Ennio Morricone born; 'Sesame Street' premieres. (Nov. 10)
Highlights of this day in history: The Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in Lake Superior; Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dies; Henry Stanley finds David Livingstone in central Africa; Film composer Ennio Morricone born; 'Sesame Street' premieres. (Nov. 10)
The City of Vancouver now owns the Regent and Balmoral hotels, Downtown Eastside buildings the city had been trying to expropriate after years of neglect and decay, The Tyee has learned. Land title records list the city as the current owner of 159 E. Hastings — the Balmoral — and 160 E. Hastings — the Regent. The city confirmed to The Tyee that a settlement with the owners, the Sahota family, had been reached. But the city says the terms of the agreement prevent it from revealing how much was paid to purchase the properties, which have been assessed at a value of $1 each because of their extreme disrepair. Sam Dharmapala worked in the buildings as an employee of the former owners, the Sahota family. For a decade, Dharmapala said, he worked alongside tenants and advocates to raise the alarm about the dangerous living conditions at the hotels. “This is a very good fight in the history of the Downtown Eastside,” Dharmapala said. “We want to see [the hotels] go back to the residents of the Downtown Eastside, who have lived in those buildings.” Dharmapala said the city needs to ensure all the units in the two hotels are rented at the welfare shelter rate — $375 for a single person — to provide homes for Vancouver’s poorest residents. The hotels had provided more than 300 units. The records show the transfer happened Nov. 13, one year after Vancouver city council voted unanimously to expropriate the hotels in a groundbreaking decision. Council voted to expropriate after decades of repeated building code and bylaw violations and after taking the owners, the Sahota family, to court numerous times. It was the first time the city had ever attempted to expropriate residential buildings because of extreme neglect. The city started the court action with the intention of renovating or redeveloping the properties for low-income housing. Before the expropriation vote, council heard from dozens of tenants and former tenants who described living with no heat or hot water, constant bedbug, rat and cockroach infestations and the fear of what would happen if there were a fire. Tenants had lived in squalor in the two buildings for decades. City building inspectors ordered the Balmoral to be emptied in the summer of 2017 because it was in such poor condition. One year later, the Regent was also condemned. Tenants of both buildings were moved into other buildings by the City of Vancouver and BC Housing. Karen Ward, a Downtown Eastside resident who now works for the city as a drug policy advisor, said city building inspectors initially closed just the bathrooms of the Balmoral in June 2017 because they feared bathtubs could plunge through the rotten floors. Ward worked at the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users at the time. “People were coming to me daily to say they were terrified to go into their own home,” Ward said. Ward called for the buildings to be torn down and for modular housing to be quickly built in their place. “We can build a six- to eight-story building and house 100 people by April,” Ward said. “It’s a desperate situation out here and we don’t need to do things the old way — we can use modular housing to build housing that decreases the chance of death for drug users. We can do this.” Overdose deaths have soared throughout 2020 and homelessness has increased as COVID-19 restrictions have made the drug supply more toxic and reduced the number of places people can go to find shelter. Vancouver’s mayor, Kennedy Stewart, said the city plans to work with BC Housing to turn the buildings into low-income housing. “Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of,” Stewart was quoted as saying in a press release. “Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community.” B.C.’s attorney general and minister responsible for housing, David Eby, also weighed in, saying: “For too long, people had to live in sub-standard living conditions in these buildings. The acquisition of these properties is welcome news.” The next steps will be to start community consultation sessions with the Downtown Eastside community, and city staff will report back to council on next steps and a timeline for renovating or redeveloping the properties in early 2021, according to the City of Vancouver. On Nov. 3, city communications staff told The Tyee court expropriation proceedings were paused while the city worked with “representatives of the owners of the Regent and the Balmoral to resolve the expropriation of the hotels.” The Tyee has reached out to the city for comment. In a statement emailed to The Tyee by lawyer Evan Cooke, the Sahota family confirmed they had come to an agreement with the city. “We have determined that the public sector is better equipped to respond to the acute needs of the area’s residents at this time; including their urgent need for housing, mental health and substance abuse support, and other critical programs.” The statement said the details of the transfer are confidential.Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
South Korean authorities urged vigilance on Saturday as small coronavirus clusters emerged in a third wave, centred in the Seoul area, with infections near nine-month highs. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 583 new coronavirus infections, down from the 629 reported on Friday, which was the highest since the first wave peaked in February and early March. This wave of infections is different from the first two, which were driven by large-scale transmission, said KDCA official Lim Sook-young.
Woodcliff United Church in southwest Calgary is known for its life-size, interactive advent calendar during the holiday season. Usually, it's in the form of drawers containing gifts, or doors that can be opened. This year, however, the committee had to get COVID-creative."Well, 2020 forced all of the pivoting in our church community — of course we can't meet in the sanctuary," said Sheri Bolitho, Woodcliff's faith formation minister, on the Calgary Eyeopener. "And it didn't make sense to us to have 100 or 200 people touching each drawer each day — we don't have enough sanitizing elves for that at all. "So we've had to make it a lot different. So this year, we've created a calendar that allows for social distancing."Bolitho said each of the stations or "days" is between six feet and 12 feet apart. The entire calendar is built as a labyrinth that runs across the front lawn of the property.The first few days of December have already been unveiled. The rest of the days are all laid out by climbing rope, linked together in a maze."Each day has a sign and activity, and they're individually wrapped like gifts, though we have special, wonderful elves who come out early in the morning and unwrap gifts for you," Bolitho said.Bolitho said the long-running tradition started as a way to connect with the community outside the walls of the church."We just really wanted to be able to spread the meaning of Christmas to us, which is the four elements — faith, joy, hope and love — into the community," she said."And our church loves to be outside of the building. This is the perfect opportunity to let everyone know where we are and what Christmas is all about and the season of gifting and how we connect all of the wonderful things back to those elements."The advent calendar is full of tactile elements, crafts, projects and things people can do with their hands. And it is always full of surprises.Yesterday was a Christmas star, for example. The day before that was a heart craft made out of a hanger and yarn. "We know people have a lot more time at home," Bolitho said. "They can take the activity and go home and make it as a family, and then they can maybe gift it, or they can use it as an ornament on their tree."Bolitho said there are elements of the Christmas story to be found along the way, such as the star, symbolizing the star that the shepherds followed to the stable in Bethlehem.But the calendar has many non-religious references as well."There's also a whole bunch of more secular elements, so there's the candy cane, and then there's the story of the candy cane, how it's really shaped like a shepherd's crook," Bolitho said. Charity outreachSince COVID hit, the church has been offering virtual services and online recordings of sermons.Meanwhile, the church has an outreach committee that is focused on ways to give back to the community, and the advent calendar is always a big highlight. This year, the church is collecting for both the food bank and the Calgary Drop-In Centre.The food bank collection week starts today and goes until Dec. 10, at which point the focus shifts over to the Drop-In Centre for the longest night of the year, Dec. 21. The church is collecting donations of mittens, hats, underwear and socks for the Drop-In Centre.There are some crafts that Bolitho said she's particularly looking forward to on the advent calendar."I have a couple of wonderful ones. The first one is the word 'joy.' It's a beautiful paper craft," she said. "Our wonderful elves that made all of these have taken strips of coloured paper and rolled them up into the word 'joy' and it's gorgeous. You have to come see."And then another one of my favourites is the Santa gnome — he's a little Christmas ornament covered in yarn. And he's got a beautiful felt hat. He's wonderful."Woodcliff United Church is located at 5010 Spruce Drive S.W. For more information go to Woodcliff United Church.With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
A request from a long-time Port McNicoll resident could present a winter activities opportunity to people living along 1st Avenue. Joyce Burns is asking that the sidewalk/trail along the entirety of the busy road be plowed for safe winter use. She presented her case through a letter that Coun. Sandy Talbot read to other council members at a recent council meeting. "The mental health benefits of having it plowed is that young families can still walk and run it safely as can all the people that use it,” Burns wrote. “They will be able to use it to teach them how to cross-country ski safely when the conditions are good. “The kids that catch the buses on 1st Avenue will have a safe place to walk to get back and forth and also when they're waiting for their buses,” continued the letter. “With COVID still around this winter, people will be able to get out and enjoy the sidewalk/trail, like they have in spring and summer. They will see wildlife and birds and even a decorated Christmas tree on the sidewalk trail to brighten their day.” Burns also said in her letter that she’d counted eight sidewalks in Port McNicoll that she believes are plowed. “They plow Talbot (Street) to Davidson (Street), a two block section,” she noted in her letter. “Why not all the way down 1st Avenue? I'm hoping there will be a positive outcome to this. I don't expect it to be as wide as it is now. If it is plowed like the rest of the sidewalks, that would be great." Talbot said she had no problem supporting the request considering the cost the township would incur. “I think sometimes we have to think outside the box and there will be an increase in cost if there's an increase in service level,” she said. “It's well-utilized. Other people have trails in other communities and they make skating rinks out of them so they're multi-purpose uses.” Coun. Paul Raymond supported the idea, but also brought forth concerns. “We have a growth of young families down by that area and they are increasingly using the road or the trail in summer time,” he said. "My only concern with cleaning the trail off is that in winter we have motorized vehicles ripping up and down there. What happens if we open it up and see some destruction because of these vehicles? I think we have to put some more thought into the whole thing.” Mayor Ted Walker, who also backed the request, said the snowmobile issue could be mitigated by a 'No Snowmobiles' sign as is done in other areas. “I'd be open for a one-year trial,” he added. Where Talbot had a few peers in her corner, Coun. Barry Norris was at the other of the spectrum on the issue. “Seriously?” he asked. “Why don't we clear the whole trail then? It makes no sense. I'm sorry we're not here to turn around and allow all of this? We're talking about a two-mile sidewalk to allow a couple of pedestrians to walk it. “I don't support it one iota,” continued Norris. “I think there is a policy in place as to what sidewalks we actually do and I doubt this is actually going to be covered under it.” And not to mention the costs of having to maintain it with sand, he said. “There's more to it than just clearing it off,” said Norris. “What's the rough cost on it?” Staff didn’t have an immediate answer as to how much it would cost to clear the two-kilometre pathway and were asked to bring back a report to a December meeting for a final decision. When asked for her reaction to council's decision, Burns wrote in, "I'm hopeful that council will go ahead with plowing 1st Ave., but if not, that will be alright ... I'll try again for next year."Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has appointed two close allies of President Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, to a defence advisory board, continuing a post-election purge in the final weeks of the administration.The acting secretary of defence, Christopher Miller, who was installed by Trump on Nov. 9 after he fired then-Defence Secretary Mark Esper, said in a written statement Friday that nine members of the Defence Business Board had been replaced with the appointment of 11 new members.Lewandowski and Bossie are among Trump's most vocal supporters. The nine other appointees are Henry Dreifus, Robert McMahon, Cory Mills, Bill Bruner, Christopher Shank, Joseph Schmidt, Keary Miller, Alan Weh and Earl Matthews.“These individuals have a proven record of achievement within their respective fields and have demonstrated leadership that will serve our department and our nation well,” Miller said.The Miller statement initially said the nine individuals removed from the board had been serving in ”expired positions," implying they were overdue to leave. But later the Pentagon amended the statement to say some board members had been “terminated.” It gave no reason for the firings.The board's charter says members are appointed for terms ranging from one to four years, with annual renewals.The board's charter says members must possess “a proven track record of sound judgment and business acumen in leading or governing large, complex private sector corporations or organizations and a wealth of top-level, global business experience in the areas of executive management, corporate governance, audit and finance, human resources, economics, technology, or healthcare.”The role of the Defence Business Board, which was established in 2002, is to provide the secretary of defence and deputy secretary of defence with independent advice and recommendations on overall Defence Department management, business processes and governance from a private-sector perspective.Lewandowski was Trump’s first of three campaign managers in 2016, and both he and Bossie were regulars on the campaign trail with Trump this year.Bossie was brought on as part of a 2016 campaign team shakeup to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. He briefly fell out of favour with Trump aides over his involvement with political groups that sought to fundraise off Trump’s name but did not benefit his reelection campaign. He found his way back into Trump’s orbit earlier this year thanks to his vigorous advocacy of the president.—Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Luz Lopez Dee has rarely missed paying her rent, but sometimes mishaps happen. Years ago, the 76-year-old Langley resident forgot to reply to a Service Canada letter which created a delay in her pension cheques and meant she didn't have enough money to cover the monthly rent on her apartment. That almost led to her becoming homeless."My [housing] manager said, 'If you aren't going to pay me this week or if you aren't going to pay rent, I will evict you," she said. "That was scary."Instead, Lopez Dee secured an interest-free loan through a rent bank designed to help people with lower incomes maintain housing. "My goodness, it was really a big help," she said.Rent banks have long been established in B.C., but work is now underway to expand them throughout the province.Last June, the B.C. Rent Bank was established with funding from the B.C. government. So far, it has provided money to charities in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Prince George to sustain their existing rent bank programs or open new ones. The program will expand to the Central Okanagan and Nanaimo in January.Through the initiative, people in crisis will be offered loans of up to $2,000 to help cover housing costs. They repay the loan, interest-free, over the course of six to 24 months. Crises are unexpected events that can come in many forms, says B.C. Rent Bank project lead Melissa Giles."A lot of these examples are things like a single parent … [who doesn't] have benefits at their workplace. They have to miss a few days of work because their child is sick and now their rent payment is at risk," Giles told Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South."Other examples would be people who have an expense related to their cars. They've had an accident or they've had a repair that has cost them money," she said.The non-profit Canadian Mental Health Association will operate rent bank programs for residents of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland, where housing affordability is increasingly an issue. "It's not the answer to our affordable housing issue," Giles said. "But it will be a support for people … [in] these times where they just can't make that month's rent."Giles says, on average, 65 to 70 per cent of loans are repaid to rent banks every year. Rent bank case managers tailor repayment plans to their clients and allow them to make partial payments or defer payments should another personal crisis come up.The Aboriginal Business and Community Development Centre in Prince George — which has run a rent bank program since 2002 — says it tries to make clients' lives as easy as possible."We do not chase our clients, but we do offer financial literacy courses and we do remind them of their payments," Catherine Anderson, the centre's financial literacy coordinator, told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West."I'm all for creating a sustainable future for everyone," Anderson said. Tap the link below to listen to Melissa Giles' interview on Daybreak South:
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada."We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now."As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19.Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here?It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C.Those pieces are starting to converge now.Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada.Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces."We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart.The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them.“I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options."Anand said that is not the case.She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen.By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month.Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage.Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
QUEBEC — The Quebec government says it will spend $18.6 million over the next five years to improve policing in Indigenous communities.Among the measures announced at a press conference Friday is funding to enable members of Indigenous police services to stay in their communities while taking specialized training courses around conjugal violence and sexual assault investigations.Currently those courses are only offered at the provincial police academy.Shawn Dulude, the chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service and a vice-president of the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association, said that many of Quebec's 22 Indigenous police services are small.A service with four or five officers can't afford to send one of them away for up to a month, he explained at the press conference.The government will look at ways to deliver the training in communities, and in the languages that Indigenous police officers speak, Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said.Dulude said the training will allow Indigenous police services to investigate crimes such as sexual assaults in their communities without having to call for support from the provincial police. "We want to be equal" with other police services, he said.Guilbault said the province will also fund basic police training for up to 24 members of Indigenous communities a year and take steps to encourage more people from those communities to consider a career in policing.Currently between 18 and 23 people from Indigenous communities graduate from Quebec's police academy every year — just over three per cent of graduates, Guilbault said. But Indigenous police services struggle with recruitment and retention. Many officers leave for police services in large cities or the provincial police, which offer better pay and benefits, Dulude said.The unique challenge of policing a small community where officers are often related to many residents can also contribute to burnout, he added. “You may be called for a conjugal violence at a home where it’s your cousin that’s the suspect, it could be your cousin that’s the victim," he said. "You can’t say I’m going to give the call to somebody else, because there’s nobody else. Often you’re alone with your partner working that shift." Dulude said he's optimistic about future negotiations with Quebec City and Ottawa around funding. Currently, Indigenous police services in Quebec receive 52 per cent of their funding from the federal government and 48 per cent from the province.In an additional measure, all members of the province's correctional service will receive training on the realities faced by Indigenous people, Guilbault said.The funding announced Friday comes after an inquiry overseen by retired judge Jacques Viens issued a damning report last year on the relationship between public servants in Quebec and Indigenous people. Guilbault said the announcement responds to several of the recommendations made in Viens' report.That inquiry was launched after a number of Indigenous women in Val-d'Or, Que., accused police of sexual assault and other forms of abuse.A report released in October on the provincial police watchdog's investigation into those allegations found that since the women came forward in 2015, more than 200 investigations have been opened into allegations of police misconduct toward Indigenous people. Le Devoir reported Friday that the complaints have led to charges against 17 police officers.On Friday, Ian Lafreniere, Quebec's minister responsible for Indigenous relations, said the fact that people are making formal complaints is a sign they have confidence in the system. Guilbault said that small number of charges that have resulted from investigations by the police watchdog is not necessarily a sign of how the agency is performing.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.— Written by Jacob Serebrin in Montreal———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press
Employees at the LNG Canada work site in Kitimat, B.C., complained multiple times about unsafe working conditions just months before the facility experienced a COVID-19 outbreak, according to WorkSafe BC inspection reports obtained by The Narwhal. The outbreak at LNG Canada started on Nov. 19 and there are now 54 cases. In the months leading up to the outbreak, workers raised concerns about COVID-19 cleaning procedures in common areas, rooms and work spaces, prompting inspections by WorkSafe BC on Aug. 28 and Oct. 19. The documents also reveal that a WorkSafe BC inspection of the Site C work camp’s sewage treatment facility in northeast B.C. on March 19 found the facility did not have a plan to sufficiently protect workers from pathogens, body fluids, human waste, mould and COVID-19. WorkSafe BC didn’t say if or how the issues flagged during the inspection were resolved. The first case of COVID-19 at Site C was in July and there have been 17 cases to date. On Dec. 4, BC Hydro reported five active cases and 18 people in self-isolation. The revelations come as calls grow for B.C. to shut down work camps or risk further community spread with northern hospitals already stretched thin. More than 180 frontline health workers have signed an open letter to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that started circulating on Thursday, calling on her to immediately shut down industrial work camps on Indigenous territories. “To put the interests of economy and industry ahead of Indigenous lives is not public health,” the letter says. “To put Indigenous Elders and youth at further risk in the midst of a pandemic is to say quite clearly that Indigenous lives still do not matter in B.C.” On Thursday, the Unist’ot’en Camp said Coastal GasLink confirmed five new cases at its camp 9A on Unist’ot’en territory. Sley’do Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en Camp spokesperson, said at least one Wet’suwet’en worker in a Coastal GasLink work camp recently contracted the virus and is now hospitalized in an induced coma. David Bowering, former chief medical officer for Northern Health, said the time has come for the province to shift gears and take a harder look at what it deems essential. “Is it industry first, or the health and safety of the population in the north first? They need to rethink the essential designation and say it’s not that essential, certainly not at this price.” Coastal GasLink, BC Hydro and the Ministry of Health did not respond to interview requests prior to publication. LNG Canada declined an interview request. Bowering told The Narwhal he’s surprised it took this long for an outbreak in the work camps to occur. In the early days of the pandemic, he wrote an open letter to Henry urging her to shut down the work camps, calling them “land locked cruise ships” and warning that cases related to these industrial sites were inevitable. He knows what he’s talking about — his first job as a doctor was at a mining camp. He called the safety plans prepared by LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink “deluxe” documents but says the best plans in the world don’t mean anything if people aren’t following the rules. “They have luxury-class health and safety plans and luxury-class consultants compared to what the public sector can afford,” he said. “The virus doesn’t respect paper protocols. There’s just too much human nature involved.” Wickham said she has frequently seen workers flouting the rules. “We know that they’re not following even the basic protocols like wearing masks when they’re in vehicles together or when they’re close working closely with one another,” she said. “And they’re certainly not wearing masks when they’re interacting with our people on the territory.” Bowering is concerned that capacity at Northern Health hospitals is already stretched thin. In a statement released yesterday, the health authority said it is “experiencing an increase in COVID-19 activity and hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients requiring critical care.” There 235 active cases in the region including 33 people in hospital. Patients have already been transferred to hospitals outside the region to deal with the increase. “I think we’re in for a rough ride,” Bowering said. “The worry about our local hospitals and our local staff being overwhelmed, burned out and having difficulty coping, that’s becoming a pretty clear reality. Our communities need help.” Bowering isn’t alone in his calls to shut down work camps. The open letter from frontline health workers calls for Henry to take “immediate action” and shut down work camps. “As health professionals, we have a responsibility to uphold the current and future health of these communities, which are now under threat from the continuing of Coastal GasLink (LNG) work and man camps,” the letter says. The frontline health workers’ letter is in support of concerns raised by more than 20 Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, or Ts’ako ze’, in an open letter to Henry dated Nov. 30. In that letter, the matriarchs asked the public health officer to reconsider the essential designation given to the oil and gas industry and close work camps, which have also been shown to increase violence against Indigenous women and children and bring a host of social ills. “Not only have we witnessed an increase in drugs, alcohol and gang-related violence in our communities, we are now faced with a disease that could kill any one of us,” the matriarchs wrote. “In addition to the risk man camps have on our Indigenous women and girls, we are now facing the loss of some of our most sacred elders and chiefs.” At the time of publication, the Ts’ako ze’ said they had not received a response from the public health officer. The calls to shut down work camps come in the wake of a damning independent review that found widespread racism and discrimination against Ingienous people in B.C. health care. The 224-page report released on Nov. 30 found that racism and discrimination negatively affect the treatment and health outcomes of Indigenous people, who are already at higher risk of health issues due to a number of factors realted to systemic racism, such a poverty and intergenerational trauma. “Many Indigenous people have underlying health conditions because of all of the impacts of colonization,” Wickham said. “We have higher rates of diabetes and higher rates of heart disease. Our people are at greater risk of dying.” Wickham said a particularly alarming aspect to the increase in cases in work camps is the potential impact on Indigenous communities. Most industrial operations have a mandate to hire local and Indigenous workers and those people mix with transient workers and, on their days off, with members of their own communities. Bowering said the continued presence of industrial activity is contradictory to the goals of the public health office. “I drive by First Nations [communities] and see the barriers and the closed signs — these people are trying remarkably hard to stay safe,” he said. “But at the same time, there are buses coming and going to many of them, up to the mines and back.” The BC Centre for Disease Control noted in its guidance document for industrial sites that Indigenous people are at higher risk of COVID-19 and recommended that employers limit its workers’ interactions in surrounding towns. But Bowering and Wickham said the presence of out of town workers in the region is both common and on the rise. “We have been concerned about not just the man camps, but the fact that a lot of the workers are living in our communities and hotels,” Wickham said. “They’re going back and forth every day.” Bowering said the B.C. public health office can easily put the brakes on what could quickly become a serious and escalating crisis in high-risk communities. “They have to decide whether having everybody else not travelling, but allowing these workers to travel is a reasonable public health decision? Is it even ethically reasonable?” Meanwhile, activity on Wet’suwet’en territory is increasing. “The whole territory is just crawling with workers,” Wickham said. She lives with her partner and three children in a cabin near the Coastal GasLink work zone. “They have helicopters flying overhead at least two or three times a day, both surveillance helicopters and industry helicopters slinging materials in and out of the territory. It’s a warzone out there.”Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
Le sud-est de l'Estrie, la Beauce, le Bas-Saint-Laurent et une partie de la Gaspésie peuvent s'attendre à recevoir de 20 à 30 centimètres de neige cette fin de semaine, selon Environnement Canada. Cette première bordée importante de la saison pour ces régions est attribuable à une dépression qui remonte le long de la côte-est américaine pour traverser le golfe du Maine lors de la journée de samedi et le Nouveau-Brunswick durant la journée de dimanche. Tous les secteurs qui sont en bordure, donc tout juste au nord de la trajectoire de cette dépression, en subiront les effets principalement sous forme de neige abondante et de vents, a expliqué le météorologue Alexandre Parent, d'Environnement Canada. «Ça pourrait même dépasser les 30 centimètres de neige dans les secteurs de Kamouraska, de Témiscouata, de Rimouski et de la vallée de la Matapédia», a estimé M. Parent lors d'une entrevue avec La Presse Canadienne. La neige devrait débuter en fin de journée samedi ou dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche. Les vents se mettront également de la partie, principalement dimanche matin. M. Parent prédit que ces conditions pourraient être difficiles en première moitié de journée dans l'est du Québec et que la visibilité sera probablement nulle par endroits. Il suggère «fortement» d'effectuer les déplacements samedi plutôt que dimanche. Le Grand Montréal ne devrait rien recevoir de cette dépression. La région de Québec pourrait quant à elle recevoir de 5 à 10 centimètres. La semaine prochaine devrait être «tranquille» avec pratiquement pas de précipitations et des températures près du point de congélation. \- Texte de l'Initiative de journalisme local.Michel Saba, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
A West Coast MP wants the federal transport minister to ditch fines in the thousands of dollars and allow BC Ferries passengers to remain in their vehicles on enclosed car decks to protect themselves from COVID-19 despite regulations against the practice. Rachel Blaney, North Island-Powell River’s NDP MP, has written to Transport Minister Marc Garneau questioning the logic of potentially fining people up to $12,000 when they are heeding public health orders to keep their contact with other people to a minimum. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and case numbers are growing in B.C.,” Blaney said. “And obviously it’s a concern to the point that people are willing to be written up and risk fines on the ferries to prevent exposure to COVID-19.” In the initial wave of the pandemic, Transport Canada temporarily waived regulations requiring people in cars on closed decks to head up to passenger lounges. But the federal agency rescinded the exception granted to ferry operators at the end of September. Blaney said she has made her second appeal to Garneau after learning 1,000 people have defied the order and have been reported to Transport Canada. The risks of exposure to the virus are higher now than during the initial exemption, Blaney said, adding B.C. Premier John Horgan has also called on Ottawa to extend the exemption. “The minister previously paused that rule so that people could stay safe,” she said. “Now, when case numbers are growing, why won't he do it again?” Ferry workers have not been policing passengers who choose to remain in their cars, said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “We’re not an enforcement agency,” said Marshall. “We’re politely reminding customers of the Transport Canada regulations.” Staff has been handing out Transport Canada leaflets to passengers who don’t leave the decks that outline the regulations and potential penalties, she said. Those who elect to stay in their cars have their information forwarded to the transport ministry, she added. Marshall confirmed more than 1,000 incidents have been reported to Transport Canada, most often on the sailings between Horseshoe Bay on the mainland and Departure Bay on Vancouver Island. But the vast majority of passengers have been complying with the regulation, Marshall said. The rule is in effect again because Transport Canada believes that new distancing and cleaning protocols on the provincial ferry service mitigate the risk individuals face from COVID-19 exposure, she added. “We certainly understand people are concerned about COVID-19,” Marshall said, adding there a number of risks associated with staying on a car deck. Though it’s unlikely, a car fire could pose serious danger in an enclosed deck, she said. “A customer in their vehicle could be overcome by smoke inhalation or might not be able to find their way out of their vehicle or get through to a stairwell to get upstairs,” she said. Blaney feels the current risks from the virus are greater than those from remaining on closed decks. And she has asked for the risk assessment the transport ministry relied on to make its decision. Constituents in her riding, particularly those who are vulnerable to the virus but must travel to seek medical attention, are expressing grave concerns, Blaney said. “People are very scared,” she said. “They're already travelling to access the care that they need from bigger centres, asking them in their health conditions to risk exposure just adds to the tension.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
A 15-year-old Colorado high school student and young scientist who has used artificial intelligence and created apps to tackle contaminated drinking water and cyberbullying has been named Time Magazine's first-ever "Kid of the Year." (Dec. 4)
WHITEHORSE — Yukon recorded three new COVID-19 cases in Whitehorse as the territory prepared to introduce new rules for restaurants and bars. The territory says in a statement Friday that the new infections bring the total active case count to 12. There have been 54 people infected in Yukon over the course of the pandemic. Beginning Monday, the government says restaurants and bars will be required to collect information from their patrons to assist contact tracers.One patron from each party will be required to sign in, and the eating and drinking establishments must keep the daily lists for 30 days.The lists will only be shared with Yukon Communicable Disease Control if an exposure has been identified.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
THUNDER BAY — A 62-year-old man who falsely claimed to be COVID-19 positive while under arrest for violating court orders was sentenced on Friday for one count of conveying false information, failing to provide a breath sample and failure to comply with conditions of an undertaking. Arnett Langfried appeared in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom on Friday, Dec. 4 where he was sentenced by Judge Peter Bishop to 50 days of pre-sentence custody, which was enhanced to 75 days for all three charges. During his sentencing hearing, Langfried told the court he had not been tested for the virus despite telling police during his arrest on Oct. 15 he had received a positive test result for COVID-19 days before. Langfried came to police attention after the vehicle he was driving was reported to police for erratic and aggressive driving, Crown Attorney Stella Vallelunga said Friday, Dec. 4. Police conducted a traffic stop on Highway 11/17 near Shabaqua where they informed the driver of the reason for the stop and requested his driver's licence. The driver provided an expired out-of-province licence which alerted police the motorist was under court orders to not be driving. Police also observed the vehicle had two different licence plates on it. Officers advised Langfried he was under arrest for breaching his recognizance and placed him in the back of a police cruiser. Officers then spoke with a woman who was seated in the front passenger side of the vehicle who was reluctant to give police her name. Court heard police were making efforts to arrange for an alternate ride for the woman but she insisted on staying with Langfried. Once she provided her name and date of birth, police were notified her name came back as a missing person from the Peel Region area. Officers notified police in Peel. The woman became extremely uncooperative with the police and began screaming at officers she wanted to stay with her husband, court heard. While Langfried was in the back of the vehicle, he told police he had tested positive for COVID-19 in Newmarket days prior. At one point, Langfried and the woman began to verbally abuse the police by using profanities, court heard. Langfriend also pulled his mask down while speaking with police and officers observed an odour of alcohol from his breath. While police were searching his vehicle they found a full can of beer. Police asked Langfried for a breath sample to which he refused. He was also on court-orders to have zero milligrams of alcohol inside his body outside of his residence. Langfried’s lawyer, Sharon Scharfe, informed the court her client's poor behaviour that day was partly be attributed to his concern for his girlfriend. The couple also had a cat inside the vehicle who had gotten out on the highway and both individuals were distracted and upset about what had happened, the lawyer said. Court also heard a background of Langfried's criminal history including a conviction of an attempt to commit murder using a firearm in 2011 for which he received four years and eight months at a Saskatchewan penitentiary. He was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and received a one-year driving prohibition for failing to provide a breath sample. Langfried apologized for his actions in court.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
VENTNOR, N.J. — The FBI is telling anyone who underwent a coronavirus test at a New Jersey laboratory to get retested and to contact the agency.In a statement Friday on Twitter, the FBI’s Newark office urges people who were recently tested for the virus at Infinity Diagnostic Laboratory in Ventnor “to be retested as soon as possible.” It also asks that anyone who was administered a finger-prick blood test at the laboratory to contact a victim assistance unit at the FBI.The announcement gave no further details, and a message left with the FBI seeking further information was not immediately returned.Voicemail for the company’s operations director Friday evening said it was closed and did not offer the opportunity to leave a message.___THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:— Vice-President Pence: Confidence in vaccine important for US— Fauci apologizes for suggesting UK rushed vaccine decision— As hospitals cope with a COVID-19 surge, cyber threats loom— A World War II veteran from Alabama has recovered from COVID-19 in time to mark his 104th birthday___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has authorized medically trained National Guard soldiers to fill nursing roles, drive ambulances and perform coronavirus testing for hospitals that are overstretched on staffing while they care for a climbing number of coronavirus patients.The order Friday allows the adjutant general to send hospitals reinforcements from the Tennessee National Guard. The state is focusing on troops who are actively assigned, including those serving in coronavirus testing roles statewide, but not those currently serving in civilian jobs in health care.State health officials decline to identify which hospitals have expressed interest, but say there is need statewide.The state reports 2,485 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with only 14% of floor beds and 8% of ICU beds available.___SAN FRANCISCO — The health officers in six San Francisco Bay Area regions issued a new stay-at-home order Friday as the number of virus cases surge and hospitals fill.The changes will take effect for most of the area at 10 p.m. Sunday and last through Jan. 4. The counties have not yet reached Gov. Gavin Newsom’s threshold announced a day earlier requiring such an order when 85% of ICU beds at regional hospitals are full, but officials said the hospital system will be overwhelmed before the end of December when Newsom’s order would apply.It comes the same day the state recorded another daily record number of cases, with 22,018, and hospitalizations topped 9,000 for first time.It means restaurants will have to close to both indoor and outdoor dining, bars and wineries must close along with hair and nail salons and playgrounds. Retail stores and shopping centres can operate with just 20% customer capacity. Gatherings of any size with people outside of your household are banned.___RALEIGH, N.C. — A judge agreed on Friday to name a third-party expert to scrutinize the COVID-19 response within North Carolina’s prison system, which like the rest of the state is experiencing a surge in cases and hospitalizations.Ruling again in ongoing litigation about health and safety within prisons, Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier said he’s worried about the pressure the coronavirus is now placing upon correctional institutions.The prison system closed temporarily three units over the last two weeks to handle staffing challenges, brought on in part by the upward swing in positive cases and the medical care prisoners need.The Department of Public Safety said that 370 correctional staff testing positive for COVID-19 were out of work Friday, up 50 workers from last week. There were 667 active cases among the roughly 30,000 prisoners statewide. Twenty-five prisoners have died from COVID-19 related illnesses since the pandemic.___ATLANTA — Georgia’s coronavirus infections are soaring above their worst peaks of the summer, pushing more people into hospitals and resulting in more deaths.Hitting a new single-day record of more than 6,000 suspected and confirmed infections on Friday pushed Georgia’s rolling 7-day average of infections to nearly 4,300. That rolling average was above its previous July record for the second day in a row.Hospitalizations have not yet reached their summer heights in Georgia, but beds are filling rapidly with COVID-19 cases. Nearly 2,400 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital Friday.Deaths, which usually come after infections and hospitalization, are also rising. Georgia has now recorded 9,725 confirmed and suspected deaths.___BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama health officials have urged the state Friday to extend its statewide mask mandate, set to expire next week.Dr. Sarah Nafziger, who teaches emergency medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said it was “critically important” for Republican Gov. Kay Ivey to maintain the requirement, which is opposed by some who consider it an infringement on personal rights or discount the threat of the new coronavirus.The president of the Alabama Hospital Association, Dr. Donald Williamson, said the organization “absolutely” supports continuing the order as cases of COVID-19 rise statewide.The order, which expires Dec. 11, requires anyone older than 6 to wear a mask when in public spaces indoors and outside if they can’t stay away from others. First imposed in July, health officials credit the rule with a sharp decline in cases until a recent spike began nationwide.___HARRISBURG, Pa. — States faced a deadline on Friday to place orders for the coronavirus vaccine as many reported record infections, hospitalizations and deaths.The number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 hit an all-time high in the U.S. on Thursday at 100,667, according to the COVID Tracking Project. That figure has more than doubled over the past month.New daily cases are averaging 210,000 and deaths are averaging 1,800 per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.Arizona on Friday reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases for the second straight day as the number of available intensive care unit beds fell below 10% statewide. Pennsylvania’s top health official says intensive care beds could be full this month.___SALEM, Ore. — As Oregon reached a new record number for reported daily COVID-19 cases and deaths, lawmakers, advocates and others continue to call on Democratic Gov. Kate Brown to declare a special legislative session.The Oregon Health Authority on Friday reported 2,100 new COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths. The previous daily records have been 1,699 cases and 24 deaths. Oregon also surpassed 80,000 cases since the start of the pandemic in March.Housing advocates in the state are asking the Legislature to act on a proposal to extend a statewide eviction moratorium until July 1. The current eviction moratorium, which was ordered at the beginning of the pandemic, is scheduled to lapse on Dec. 31.___TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly says Kansas considers meatpacking plant workers and grocery store employees essential workers, putting them in the second phase for possible vaccinations.Kelly says the Kansas vaccine plan calls for the first shots to go to front-line health care workers with a high risk of coronavirus exposure.She says the second phase will focus on vaccinating essential workers, including first responders but also grocery store and meatpacking plant workers.The Democratic governor says members of the Legislature will get vaccinated at different times, based on their risk of being exposed or developing serious complications.Next week, the Food and Drug Administration will consider whether to grant emergency authorization for vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.Kansas has reported 168,295 confirmed cases, an increase of 6,234 since Wednesday, and 1,786 total confirmed deaths.___KYIV, Ukraine — About 1,000 representatives of small business rallied outside the Ukrainian parliament against possible new coronavirus restrictions.Demonstrators in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv attempted to block access to the parliament building but were pushed back by police.Ukraine, which is facing a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, tightened weekend restrictions last month but lifted them this week. The government is considering a lockdown in early January. Protesters are concerned the new restrictions could deal a harsh blow to small and medium business.Ukrainian reported 15,131 new cases on Friday, bringing the total to 787,891 confirmed cases. There’s been 13,195 confirmed deaths.___ATLANTA — Vice-President Mike Pence is trying to boost Americans’ confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines that are awaiting regulatory approval and distribution.At the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention main campus in Atlanta, Pence said Friday the Food and Drug Administration could approve the first vaccines “the week of Dec. 14” with the first wave of Americans being vaccinated “in all 50 states” within 48 hours of that approval.Pence said “the confidence piece is so important” so that enough Americans will take the vaccine and ensure its maximum effectiveness. Pence called on “all of us in public life” to vouch for the process that got vaccines to the cusp of mass distribution.“We’ve gone at record pace, but we’ve cut no corners in this,” Pence said, sitting beside CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “What we want to do is assure the American people that there’s been no compromise of safety or effectiveness in the development of this vaccine.”Pence’s comments come the day after former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said they’d be willing to take a vaccine on television to boost confidence.___UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. health chief says positive results from coronavirus vaccine trials are encouraging but warns against poorer nations being left behind in “the stampede for vaccines.”World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Friday. He says vaccines must be shared “as global public goods.”Referring to the upsurge in cases and deaths: “Where science is drowned out by conspiracy theories, where solidarity is undermined by division, where sacrifice is substituted with self-interest, the virus thrives, the virus spreads.”Tedros urged all nations to unite and build the post-pandemic world by investing in vaccines, preparedness against the next pandemic and basic public health.Tedros says Covax, an ambitious but troubled global project to buy and deliver virus vaccines for the world’s poorest people, faces a $4.3 billion gap and needs $23.9 billion for 2021.He says the total is less than one-half of one per cent of the $11 trillion in stimulus packages announced by the Group of 20, the world’s richest countries.___MILAN — Italy recorded another 814 coronavirus deaths on Friday. There were 24,099 new coronavirus cases reported among more than 212,000 tests.While the rate of transmission in Italy has dropped below 1, signalling that the virus curve is under control, the government has imposed tight restrictions for the Christmas holiday.They include a ban on travelling between regions from Dec. 21-Jan. 6, and a strong recommendation against hosting guests for holiday lunches and dinners.New cases remain highest in Lombardy, the epicenter of both the spring peak and the fall surge, with 4,533 new cases. Neighboring Veneto followed with more than 3,700. There were 201 fewer new admissions to Italy’s intensive care units than a day earlier, dropping the total to 3,657 in ICU. Hospitalizations dropped by 600 to 31,200.Italy has 1.6 million cases and 58,842 confirmed deaths, the second-highest death toll in Europe, behind Britain.___WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief infectious disease expert, says there was never a question that he would accept President-elect Joe Biden’s offer to serve as his chief medical officer and adviser on the coronavirus pandemic.Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday, “I said yes right on the spot” after Biden asked him to serve during a conversation on Thursday.As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci has served several presidents, Republican and Democratic. During President Donald Trump’s administration, he has been largely sidelined as Trump gave rosy assessments of the virus and insisted it would fade away.Fauci has urged rigorous mask-wearing and social distancing, practices that have not often been followed at the White House.On Thursday, Biden said he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president.___The Associated Press
Fort Smith RCMP are asking the public's help in finding a 14-year-old boy.Dylan Lafferty was last seen Thursday at approximately 10 p.m. on Poppy Crescent in Fort Smith, N.W.T., police said in a news release late Friday afternoon. They believe Lafferty could still be in Fort Smith.RCMP say Lafferty has dark brown hair and brown eyes, is between 5' and 5'2" and weighs 130 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black sweater, grey polo pants and Nike shoes.Fort Smith RCMP are anyone with information on the whereabouts of Lafferty to call them at 872-1111, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or text nwtnutips and a message to 274637.
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local): 8:05 p.m. More than a half dozen Democratic congresswomen have sent an open letter to President-elect Joe Biden urging him to make Michèle Flournoy the country's first female defence secretary. They say in the letter dated Thursday that the selection of Flournoy would be “a symbolic moment for the United States, and for all women who over the years have aspired to careers in national security.” They call Flournoy “eminently qualified to serve." Biden has been facing escalating pressure from competing factions within his own party over his defence pick. Black leaders have encouraged the incoming president to select an African American to diversify what has so far been a largely white prospective Cabinet, while others are pushing him to appoint a woman to lead the Pentagon for the first time. Meanwhile, some progressive groups are opposing Flournoy, citing concerns about her record and private-sector associations. Among the seven women who signed the letter pushing Flournoy are Reps. Jackie Speier of California, Lois Frankel of Florida and Veronica Escobar from Texas. ___ HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE: President-elect Joe Biden is adjusting the scope of his agenda to meet the challenges of governing with a narrowly divided Congress and the complications of legislating during a raging pandemic. Read more: — EXPLAINER: Trump’s failing, monthlong fight against election — Trump loves to win but keeps losing election lawsuits — Dangerously viral: How Trump, supporters spread false claims — Optimism growing for coronavirus relief bill as pressure builds ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 4:05 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says keeping people safe is his first consideration for his Jan. 20 inauguration, making it “highly unlikely” that a million people will pack the National Mall for his swearing-in during the coronavirus pandemic. Biden was asked about inauguration planning during a news conference Friday in Wilmington, Delaware. He suggested that the festivities could end up looking like the largely virtual convention Democrats held in August, with online activity in the states. Biden says his team is talking with congressional leaders about their plans for the inauguration. The swearing-in ceremony and a lunch for the new president and vice-president are held at the Capitol. Biden says he wants people to be able to celebrate safely. He says, “There will probably not be a gigantic inaugural parade.” He says details are still being worked out. ___ 4 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says the Trump administration has diminished confidence in science so much that it will take some time and effort to rebuild it across the board, including convincing people that the coronavirus vaccines are safe. He said Friday that he’s bothered by what he said were “wild assertions” President Donald Trump has made about the virus going away on its own. He noted how Trump once suggested that perhaps scientists could come up with a way that injecting bleach would kill the coronavirus. Biden says that a president’s words matter and that he hopes to especially convince hard-hit Black and Latino communities that the vaccines are safe. Biden took questions about the pandemic in Wilmington, Delaware, after making comments on the virus’s impact on the U.S. economy. ___ 3:50 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says the Trump administration’s plan for distributing an approved coronavirus vaccine to the public lacks important detail. Biden said Friday that “there’s no detailed plan that we’ve seen” for how to get vaccines out of a container, into syringes and into people’s arms. He says more equitable distribution is also needed to get the vaccine into underserved communities, not just to drugstores and large retailers. Biden noted that Black people and Latinos are more likely to die of COVID-19 than white people are. Biden says the “equity side” is an important part of the process, too. He says he’s working on an “overall plan” and adds that’s why he asked government infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci to be part of Biden’s COVID-19 team and to serve as his chief medical adviser. ___ 3:35 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says that the most recent jobs report is “dire” and that there is no time to lose as millions of people have lost their jobs or have seen their incomes slashed. With the pandemic accelerating across the country, America’s employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month, adding 245,000 jobs, the fewest since April and the fifth straight monthly slowdown. Biden called on Congress to urgently pass an economic stimulus to help turn the corner on the impact that the coronavirus has had on the U.S. economy. Friday’s report provided the latest evidence that the job market and economy are faltering in the face of a virus that has been shattering daily records for confirmed infections. Economic activity is likely to slow further as the pandemic worsens during the winter months. “It was grim,” Biden said. “It shows an economy that’s stalling,” In the past three months, 2.3 million more people are long-term unemployed and deaths are rising. Biden says, “Americans need help and they need it now.” ___ 8:15 a.m. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief infectious disease expert, says there was never a question that he would accept President-elect Joe Biden’s offer to serve as his chief medical officer and adviser on the coronavirus pandemic. Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday, “I said yes right on the spot” after Biden asked him to serve during a conversation on Thursday. As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci has served several presidents, Republican and Democratic. But during President Donald Trump’s administration, he has been largely sidelined as Trump gave rosy assessments of the virus and insisted it would fade away. Fauci has urged rigorous mask-wearing and social distancing, practices that have not often been followed at the White House. On Thursday, Biden said he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president. “I told him I thought that was a good idea,” Fauci told NBC. ___ 8 a.m. National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe says foreign adversaries are using social media and other platforms to amplify allegations of voter fraud. But he won’t say which countries are using the issue to try to undermine public confidence in the U.S. democratic process. President Donald Trump and his allies continue to mount new legal cases alleging voter fraud in battleground states since he lost the November presidential election to Joe Biden. But they have been losing in court. And Trump’s own attorney general has declared the Justice Department uncovered no widespread fraud. Ratcliffe is a Trump loyalist. He says on CBS that U.S. intelligence agencies have no indication that any foreign adversary or criminal group had the ability to change vote results but that they are still analyzing all the information collected. Ratcliffe told “CBS This Morning” on Friday that he plans to issue a report on foreign election interference in January. The Associated Press
The Free Store in Summerside is booked solid with shopping appointments and asking clients to cancel their slots if they can't make it. Due to COVID-19 spacing restrictions, anyone wishing to shop at the store must make a 15-minute appointment in advance. The problem comes, said owner-operator Belinda Woods, when someone doesn't show up for their appointment. Then the time is wasted instead of another client being able to use it. "If you're coming, great," said Woods. "If not, please let other people come."My worry is that people aren't going to get the things that they need."> It's a little trickier now because we can't let as many people into the store. — Belinda Woods, The Free Store The Free Store allows people to shop free of charge for new and used goods such as winter clothes, bedding, furniture and household items. The store is always popular this time of year, said Woods, but before the pandemic, Islanders in need could line up outside and she let about 25 people into the store at once. Now, only one to five people are allowed inside at one time. "It's a little trickier now because we can't let as many people into the store," said Woods. "Please, please, either keep your appointment, or cancel it or let me know and I'll be able to fill it with somebody else." The store is open for shopping every Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. Appointments are all filled, but you can still get on a waiting list in case people cancel.Special children's shopping event Woods also just began taking appointments for her special annual children's shopping event on Saturday, Dec. 12. "That's where the children can come and shop for their parents," she said. She anticipates those spots will fill up fast as well, and she might extend the event to two Saturdays. More from CBC P.E.I.
A search continues in Haines, Alaska, for two people still unaccounted for after heavy rains this week caused landslides, washed-out roads, and widespread flooding in the small coastal community.Mayor Doug Olerud said that Alaska State Troopers were leading the search efforts for the two missing people."They've had teams out on the water, with search dogs combing the beaches, and on the beach they've got crews that are trying to remove some of the materials to get into some of the areas," Olerud said."So the efforts are ongoing."Olerud said Thursday that weather is still a concern. It was raining again on Thursday afternoon, and he said the forecast was calling for more rain or snow in the coming days."It's not stopping and giving us a break here," he said."We've got two missing individuals, but everybody else that has requested evacuation, we've gotten them out safely. We don't have any other missing individuals. And so to the best of our knowledge, everybody else in the community is safe."Olerud said local crews are doing their best to deal with the extensive damage around town, but it's been difficult to get a handle on things. "It's kind of one of those [where] we've got so many places that where do you put the crews first?" Olerud said.Alekka Fullerton, interim manager of the Haines Borough government, said there are about 50 homes that have been ordered to evacuate because of potential mudslides."Unfortunately last night we had to evacuate several other areas of town so we have a lot more people who have been displaced now and so our hotels are all full," Fullerton said.Fullerton said with all the rain, the ground is getting saturated and dangerous for residents in certain areas.A geological team from Alaska's Department of Natural Resources that was supposed to arrive Thursday to help determine the stability of the area, was weathered out and didn't arrive until Friday.They arrived by ferry as the weather made flying impossible, Olerud said."We really are discouraging people from coming to town, we do not need any more volunteers, we don't need people coming to town," Fullerton said.Olerud said the community has already received a lot of support, from within the state and beyond. He said it's been tough especially with two local residents still unaccounted for."It's hard. You know, everybody knows each other," Olerud said."I hope we get a break here. We've got a lot of talented people doing everything they can to keep everybody safe. And I have faith that they're going to do that."
Alberta’s top doctor is reminding Albertans that the COVID-19 virus is spreading across the whole province, not just in large urban centres. On Thursday afternoon, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said COVID-19 cases are rising and spreading in rural communities. The warning came on the same day the province broke another daily case record with 1,854 new cases found in the past 24 hours. “COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or an Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem within a global problem,” Hinshaw said. Hinshaw said in the spring rural communities were less impacted than urban areas by the virus' spread, but right now, cases are growing in the north, central and south zones, with one third of all active cases outside of the province's two major cities. COVID-19 doesn’t care where you live or what your postal code is, Hinshaw said, and she reminded residents it just takes one case in a community to cause an outbreak. On top of spread, Hinshaw said it may be more difficult to access services for serious outcomes in rural areas, including being further away from health care and intensive care beds. On Thursday, the province saw 1,854 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day case climb yet. “Anyone who contracts the virus needs our support,” Hinshaw said, reminding residents to not stigmatize those who have come down with COVID-19. In the last 24 hours, the province has conducted 19,600 tests, with 9.5 per cent coming back positive. There are currently 17,743 active cases of the virus in Alberta, with 511 people in the hospital and 97 in intensive care. “These numbers are very concerning and I know that AHS is watching them closely,” Hinshaw said. In the past 24 hours, 14 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported. “Sharing the number of lives lost is a little more difficult each day because I know the pain and sadness their deaths cause for their families and friends left behind,” Hinshaw said. On Nov. 24, the province announced new restrictions to help curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the province, with most of the restrictions kicking in on Friday and Monday. Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette