In the aftermath of the shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, some are placing blame with the U.S. president, saying his rhetoric is dangerous.
In the aftermath of the shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, some are placing blame with the U.S. president, saying his rhetoric is dangerous.
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
A grieving Vancouver mother wants answers after the shrine she maintained for years in her daughter's memory was removed without any notice. The shrine, near East 7th Avenue and St. Catherines Street in East Vancouver, was established near the spot where Marlene Thistle's daughter, Janice Nicole Bryant, 33, was shot and killed on May 23, 2017. Bryant's killer has not been found. "Someone took it upon themselves to remove the memorial, and dump it right there like it was garbage," said Thistle. "My daughter is not garbage." Thistle put up the memorial — which had flowers, statues of angels and a cross — just a few metres from where Bryant was shot. "She was a genuine human being. She had a huge heart, was very loving," Thistle said. "She'd give the shirt off her back to anyone in need." Thistle said the memorial was both a way of honouring her daughter and keeping a light on her unsolved case. The removal of the memorial has been devastating, she said. "When I witnessed it, it was like her being gone all over again, the moments of her being shot," Thistle said. "What if this memorial site was for your daughter, your sister or your mother? Really sit back and think about the impact of how you would feel as an individual to find a memorial destroyed like it was." In an email to CBC, both the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board say their staff were not responsible for taking down the memorial. City officials did note, however, that there had been several requests from the public to remove it due to its location and sight lines from the adjacent roads. Thistle said the memorial had taken years to build up, but she is committed to putting it back together for her daughter. "Until her murder case is solved, I will set it up again."
EDMONTON — Shea Weber's goal held up as the game-winner as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 Monday night. Rookie Alexander Romanov and Arttuti Lehkonen also scored for Montreal (2-0-1), which beat Edmonton (1-3-0) for the second time in three nights. The Habs also trounced the Oilers 5-1 on Saturday. Goalie Jake Allen made 25 saves in his debut for the Canadiens Montreal’s penalty kill was key in the victory, shutting down Oilers snipers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on seven power plays. Mikko Koskinen stopped 31-of-34 shots for Edmonton. He conceded a short-handed goal 12:15 into the third period after Lehkonen broke up a pass in his own zone and sprinted up the ice with the puck on his stick. He put a quick snap shot past Koskinen for his first of the season, and put Montreal up 3-0. Edmonton clawed a goal back with just over two minutes to go, though, with Devin Shore popping a snap shot past Allen for a short-handed tally. Koskinen allowed one to get past earlier in the game on a Montreal power play with seconds to go in the second period. Edmonton had the man advantage when McDavid was called for hooking, leading to 1:20 of 4-on-4 hockey before the Habs got a 40-second power play to close out the frame. With about 11 seconds left on the clock, Montreal's Jeff Petry drove through the slot and Shore careened into Koskinen. Meanwhile, Weber launched a shot from the side of the net and Koskinen made the initial stop. He couldn't control the rebound, though, which bounced back out to Weber. The defenceman batted it in off Koskinen's back as he lay in the crease with Shore underneath him. The goal was instantly called off, with the official saying Petry caused goalie interference when he sent Shore crashing into his netminder. Montreal coach Claude Julien elected to challenge the call and, upon review, the officials agreed, giving Weber his first goal of the season and a 2-0 lead for Montreal. Montreal already had a first-period tally from Romanov, who opened the scoring 9:53 into the game with a shot from just below the blue line. The puck rocketed through traffic and past Koskinen stick side for the Russian rookie's first NHL goal. Montreal selected Romanov, 21, 38th overall in the 2018 draft. The Canadiens scored on one of its five power plays. Montreal had to kill off three penalties in the first period alone, including more than 30 seconds of 5-on-3 play. Edmonton had some promising opportunities across the stretch -- including a big shot from McDavid that ricocheted off the knob of Allen's stick -- but the Habs didn't surrender a goal. As a crucial part of the penalty kill, Weber played 9:10 in the first frame alone. Montreal will open a three-game series with the Canucks in Vancouver on Wednesday. The Oilers will be in Toronto the same night to battle the Leafs. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
MEXICO CITY — Authorities in Mexico's Gulf coast state of Veracruz said Monday that 12 men were killed and their bodies dumped on a roadside in what may have been a dispute between cattle ranchers. The killings occurred in the rural town of La Choapas, near the border with the neighbouring state of Tabasco. Veracruz Gov. Cuitláhuac Garcia wrote in a statement that “initial investigations suggest a division between ranchers and helpers from La Choapas and Uxpanapa.” He added that “abuses and threats between them led to this unfortunate outcome.” The region is south of the crime-ridden city of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. The Associated Press
TOLEDO, Ohio — An Ohio police officer was shot and killed after an hourslong armed standoff that resulted in gunfire Monday, police said. Toledo Police Officer Brandon Stalker, 24, died after the shooting that sent both him and the suspect to the hospital, Police Chief George Kral said at a Monday night news conference. Negotiators had tried for hours to get the suspect to surrender peacefully. Stalker leaves behind a fiancée and a child. He had joined the police department in July 2018. “Very sad day for the city of Toledo and specifically the Toledo police department,” Kral said. "He was an amazing police officer.” The suspect's condition wasn't disclosed. Kral said the standoff started at about 4 p.m. when officers noticed a man with warrants out for his arrest in connection to cathedral vandalism smoking outside a home in a residential neighbourhood. Officers approached the man, who fled brandishing a firearm and entered a nearby home. Police set up a barrier around the home and a SWAT team was called in, Kral said. After hours of unsuccessful negotiation, police used tear gas to force him out. He then exited holding two guns, firing. Police shot back, striking the subject. One of the suspect's shots hit Stalker, Kral said. Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said his city's department “has had to endure too many dark and terrible days in the last six months," with the July on-duty killing of 26-year-old Officer Anthony Dia and the unexpected death of an officer just a few weeks ago. “This has been a very difficult time,” Kapszukiewicz said. “It is a very difficult day for the city." Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff. Police said they would provide an update on the standoff Wednesday. The Associated Press
HSINCHU, Taiwan — Taiwanese troops using tanks, mortars and small arms staged a drill Tuesday aimed at repelling an attack from China, which has increased its threats to reclaim the island and its own displays of military might. “No matter what is happening around the Taiwan Strait, our determination to guard our homeland will never change,” said Maj. Gen. Chen Chong-ji said, director of the department of political warfare, about the exercise at Hukou Army Base south of the capital Taipei. Chen said the exercise was intended as a show of Taiwan’s determination to maintain peace between the sides through a show of force. The drills are also meant to reassure the public the military is maintaining its guard ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year festival, when many troops take leave. Hukou base lies in Hsinchu county, a centre for Taiwan's high-tech industries that have thrived despite the constant threats of invasion by China, which considers the self-governing island democracy part of its own territory to be conquered by force if necessary. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has sought to bolster the island's defences with the purchase of billions of dollars in weapons from key ally the U.S., including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting both ships and land targets. She has also boosted support for the island's indigenous arms industry, including launching a program to build new submarines to counter China's ever-growing naval capabilities. China's increased threats come as economic and political enticements bear little fruit, leading it to stage war games and dispatch fighter jets and reconnaissance planes on an almost daily basis toward the island of 24 million people, which lies 160 kilometres (100 miles) off China’s southeast coast across the Taiwan Strait. Along with world’s largest standing military, numbering around 2 million members, China has the largest navy, with approximately 350 vessels, including two aircraft carriers and about 56 submarines. It also possesses around 2,000 combat fighters and bombers and 1,250 ground-launched ballistic missiles, considered a key strategic and psychological weapon against Taiwan. Taiwan’s armed forces are a fraction of that number, with much of its ground force consisting of short-term conscripts, and its fleet numbers only around 86 vessels, roughly half of them missile boats for coastal patrol. The Associated Press
DETROIT — The resiliency, culture and heroism of Black Americans and the African diaspora will be the central theme of a virtual event that will celebrate the nation’s diversity on the eve of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris is slated to speak at Tuesday's event, “We Are One,” which will also honour the historic nature of her being the first Black and South Asian woman to become U.S. vice-president. Black voters nationwide helped deliver Biden’s presidency, overwhelmingly supporting him from the start of his White House bid. Black-led organizing work across the nation galvanized voters of colour and contributed to historic turnout in key battleground states. Tony Allen, CEO of the inaugural committee, said the programming will “honour acts of resilience, heroism, and commitment to unity” from Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities "as the coalitions that make up our nation come together to celebrate a new chapter in our history." Several of the nation’s top Black leaders will deliver remarks, including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a close ally of Biden whose endorsement in South Carolina widened Biden’s winning margin and started his avalanche of March primary victories. Among other speakers: Stacey Abrams, whose voter registration and education efforts helped flip Georgia blue for Biden; Rep. Cedric Richmond; Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Joyce Beatty; Sen. Cory Booker; and the incoming senator from Georgia, Rev. Raphael Warnock. The event will pay homage to the legacy of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, as well as Black sororities and fraternities. Harris is the first HBCU graduate and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority member to be vice-president. The sorority’s international president and CEO, Dr. Glenda Glover, and Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick will deliver remarks. The event will feature musical performances and appearances from activists and celebrities. It'll be hosted by Terrence J and feature Leslie Jones, DJ D-Nice, and Black cultural icons such as Frankie Beverly, The O’Jays, and Rapsody. The celebration also includes a Battle of the Bands and features several HBCUs, including: Delaware State University, Howard University, the Texas Southern University Debate Team, Florida A&M University Marching 100, Grambling State University World Famed Marching Band, Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South, Louisiana Leadership Institute All-Star Marching Band, South Carolina State University Marching 101, Southern University Human Jukebox Marching Band, and the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands. The event is part of five planned days of programming under the inaugural’s theme of “America United.” It will air Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET on social media and on select channels, including Urban One, Revolt TV and The Choice channel on Peacock, NBCUniversal's streaming service. ___ Kat Stafford is an investigative reporter on The Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kat__stafford. Kat Stafford, The Associated Press
SANTIAGO, Chile — A powerful earthquake struck in northwestern Argentina near the border with central Chile just before midnight Monday, shaking people in parts of both countries. There were no reports of injuries or serious damage, though some power outages were reported in the quake area. The U.S. Geological Survey said the tremor had a preliminary magnitude of 6.4. Its epicenter was 27.6 kilometres (17 miles) southwest of the Argentine town of Porcito and struck at a depth of 14 kilometres (nearly nine miles). The quake was followed by a magnitude 5.0 aftershock about a quarter hour later and then at least five more strong aftershocks in the next hour ranging from magnitude 5.3 to 4.8, the USGS said. Argentine media said some houses reportedly were damaged in the small down of Media Agua and at least one road was said to have been disrupted, but there were indications of injuries. Electricity also failed in spots and some goods were shaken from supermarket shelves, the reports aid.. People in the quake zone reported there was panic when the initial quake struck and said they spent anxious hours as the aftershocks brought new shaking. Strong movement was felt in Chile's capital, Santiago, which is about 300 kilometres (186 miles) from the area hit by the quake. Chilean officials said there were no damage reported in that nation. The Associated Press
BEIJING — China is now dealing with coronavirus outbreaks across its frigid northeast, prompting additional lockdowns and travel bans. The country reported a total of 118 newly confirmed cases Tuesday — most of them in Jilin province, the Hebei region just outside Beijing and Heilongjiang province bordering Russia. A fourth northern province, Liaoning, has also imposed quarantines and travel restrictions to prevent the virus from further spreading, part of measures being imposed across much of the country to prevent new outbreaks during during February’s Lunar New Year holiday. Authorities have called on citizens not to travel, ordered schools closed a week early and conducted testing on a massive scale. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — Japan’s prime minister vows to hold the already postponed Olympics this summer as proof of victory over virus — Israel trades Pfizer vast troves of medical data for the continued flow of its hard-to-get vaccine — Brazil approves two coronavirus vaccines, ones by Sinovac and Oxford-AstraZeneca — China's economy grows in 2020 as it rebounds from virus, likely only major economy to expand — Britain vows to give all adults 1st shot of the virus by September — Tennis players find ways to keep fit even during hotel room quarantines in Australia __Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Travelers to New Zealand from most other nations will need to show negative coronavirus test results before boarding as of next Monday. New Zealand recently imposed the test requirement for travellers from the U.S. and Britain, and authorities said Tuesday that it is being extending to all other countries, with the exception of Australia and a handful of Pacific Island nations. Travelers returning from Antarctica are also exempt. COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says New Zealand has some of the strictest border measures in the world. There is currently no community spread of the virus in New Zealand, with all known infections among travellers who have been put into quarantine at the border. Most travellers are required to spend two weeks in quarantine upon arrival. ___ WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming White House press secretary says his administration does not intend to lift coronavirus travel restrictions for Europe, the U.K., Ireland and Brazil. The message from Jen Psaki came Monday evening after the White House said President Donald Trump had lifted the restrictions for those countries, effective Jan. 26. Psaki then tweeted: “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.” She added, “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” Trump imposed the travel restrictions early in the pandemic to slow the spread of the coronavirus to the U.S. They prevented most people without American citizenship or residency from travelling to the U.S. from the affected regions. ___ OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has announced a plan to set up coronavirus vaccination sites statewide with help from the National Guard and others as part of an overall goal to vaccinate 45,000 people a day. Inslee said Monday that while the goal is currently higher than the current allotment of vaccine the state is receiving from the federal government, the state is working to get the infrastructure in place now for when the supply increases. He says the state is now vaccinating between 13,000 and 15,000 people a day. The governor also announced a public-private partnership with business, health care and labour entities on areas ranging from co-ordination of volunteer vaccinators to communications support. ___ JACKSON, Miss. — More than 100,000 people in Mississippi have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and officials are taking further steps to administer the state’s supply of shots more efficiently, Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday. Inoculation rates in Mississippi have lagged far behind most of the U.S., according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Reeves insisted Monday that health officials are making changes to speed things along. The state’s website for making vaccine appointments has been upgraded to handle increased traffic, and more people are answering calls from those booking by phone, he said. Meanwhile, state officials are working to free up more shots for the general population aged 65 and older by getting several thousand doses from nursing homes that received more than they need, Reeves said. ___ LOS ANGELES — California’s state epidemiologist is urging a halt to more than 300,000 coronavirus vaccine doses by Moderna because some people who received it needed medical treatment for possible severe allergic reactions. Dr. Erica S. Pan is recommending that vaccine providers stop using one lot of the Moderna vaccine pending completion of an investigation. She says less than 10 people who were inoculated at a single vaccination site needed medical attention. But she also said serious reactions to vaccinations are extremely rare. The virus has claimed more than 33,000 lives in California. ___ MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced on Monday the state will open nine community sites this week to vaccinate adults over 65, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educators, school staff and child care workers. The program opens the state’s vaccine rollout beyond the first high-priority group that includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff. The nine sites will start inoculating people Thursday by appointment-only due to the small number of available doses. The announcement comes after the Democratic governor accused the Trump administration of “lying” when he and six other governors asked for permission to receive their states’ second doses from a national stockpile to ramp up vaccination efforts. The governors were told by federal officials that the administration would release the federal reserve of doses, but later learned the stockpile had already been exhausted. ___ BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota reported on Monday zero coronavirus deaths for the fifth time this month, although the fatality rate by population continues to be among the worst in the country. The state’s death count, which stands at a total of 1,384, is the sixth highest per capita in the country at 185 deaths per 100,000 people, according to John Hopkins University researchers. North Dakota’s 14-day rolling average of daily new cases has decreased by more than 27%, according to The COVID Tracking Project data. The state has experienced a steady decline in daily new cases since the virus case count peaked in mid-November. It now ranks 48th per capita in the U.S. for new cases over the last two weeks. A statewide mask mandate that was enacted in mid-November was allowed to expire Monday morning. ___ ST. LOUIS -- More than 172,000 people in St. Louis County have registered for the COVID-19 vaccine, but the the local health department so far has only received 975 doses, county Executive Sam Page said Monday. The county expects more doses to arrive Tuesday but it was unclear how many, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Page also urged residents to be honest about the information they use to register for vaccinations, saying some have falsely claimed to be health care workers or brought along family members who are ineligible at this time. A new inoculation phase began Monday in Missouri that allows older people and those with certain pre-existing conditions to be vaccinated. ___ PRAGUE — The fast-spreading coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. has been found in the Czech Republic, a health official said Monday. The National Institute of Public Health confirmed its findings after it announced over the weekend it was testing suspected samples. Health Minister Jan Blatny says the variant accounts for about 10% of all sequenced samples in in the country. No further details were provided. The country of 10.7 million has reported 891,852 confirmed coronavirus cases and 14,449 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The daily infection rate has been in decline since Jan 6., prompting the government to allow stores selling stationary and children’s clothes and shoes to reopen. The country still remains under a tough lockdown with a nighttime curfew. ___ MADRID — Spain’s Health Ministry has confirmed 84,287 new known coronavirus cases since Friday amid a post-Christmas virus surge. The ministry also reported 455 deaths over the weekend. Monday’s figures brought the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 2.34 million and known deaths to 53,769. Spain’s 14-day incidence rate for 100,000 inhabitants rose to 689, from 575 on Friday. Coronavirus patients currently occupy 33% of ICU beds, up from 30% on Friday. Despite the substantial daily increases, Health Minister Salvador Illa on Monday insisted the measures taken by each of Spain’s 17 regions are enough to quell the increase, ruling out a total lockdown. Spain’s health emergency chief Fernando Simon said that the country could be at the peak of the latest surge or getting close to it. ___ ROME — For the first time in three weeks, Italy’s daily caseload of known coronavirus infections dropped below 10,000 on Monday. Health Ministry figures reported 8,825 additional cases since Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 2.4 million since the start of the pandemic. Sicily has the nation's highest daily caseload. Italy registered 377 deaths for a second straight day. The nation’s known COVID-19 death toll of 82,554 is the second highest in Europe. ___ MADRID — The tiny British colony of Gibraltar says it has lost more people to the coronavirus since the start of the year than from any other single cause in the past century. Gibraltar, with a population of some 34,000, has posted 38 deaths since Jan. 1. “Even in war, we have never lost so many in such a short time,” Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said on Monday. He said 21 people had died from the virus in the past three days, bringing the colony's total virus deaths to 45 since the start of the pandemic. Located on Spain’s southern coast, Gibraltar has recorded some 4,000 cases. It has been under lockdown since the beginning of January. ___ BERLIN — Swiss authorities say they have placed two hotels under quarantine and ordered all guests and employees to be tested after a new variant of the coronavirus was detected among them in the upscale skiing resort of St. Moritz. Local authorities said Monday they have also closed down skiing schools, regular schools and kindergartens. Officials did not reveal the names of the two affected facilities, but Swiss media said both were luxury hotels. In addition to tests at the hotels, all residents of St. Moritz were being asked to be tested on Tuesday. Authorities ordered all residents to wear protective masks, and asked people to reduce their contacts to prevent the further spread of the virus. “The health office is concerned,” authorities of the Graubuenden canton said in their statement. “The variant of the virus is clearly more contagious than the one that’s currently predominant globally.” Swiss media reported that the variant of the virus detected in St. Moritz was the one first found in South Africa. ___ MOSCOW -- Backers of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V say it has been approved in Turkmenistan, an ex-Soviet nation in Central Asia that hasn’t officially reported any infections so far. The Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled the development of the shot announced Monday that health officials in Turkmenistan approved Sputnik V “under the emergency use authorization procedure.” It wasn’t immediately clear whether Russia would ship the vaccine to Turkmenistan any time soon. The vaccine is still undergoing advanced studies among tens of thousands of people needed to ensure its safety and effectiveness. Nevertheless, the shot last month was rolled out in a large-scale vaccination campaign in Russia. It has also received regulatory approval in several other countries, and immunization with Sputnik V has started in Belarus and Argentina. Turkmenistan, a gas-rich nation of 5.9 million, hasn’t reported any coronavirus infections, but authorities have shut restaurants and non-food stores and recommended that the population wears masks to protect against dust and unspecified infectious agents. However, the British ambassador to the capital, Ashgabat, said last month that he had contracted the virus. The Associated Press
Ankara has imposed advertising bans on Twitter, Periscope and Pinterest after they failed to appoint local representatives in Turkey under a new social media law, according to decisions published on Tuesday. Under the law, which critics say stifles dissent, social media companies that do not appoint such representatives are liable for a series of penalties, including the latest move by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK). It has caused concern as people turn more to online platforms after Ankara tightened its grip on mainstream media.
Ethel Lockrey, 97, and a resident of Silver Fox Estate in Salisbury said people might be surprised at what she and some other seniors have come up with while under lockdown at their retirement residence: floor curling. The game bears some resemblance to regular curling, except there are little wheels under the stones, and of course the absence of ice, said another resident, Doug Sentell, 83, adding that a smooth surface is still important. "I think people would be surprised to know such a game exists. It's fantastic,” said fellow resident Glenna Brugess, 91, adding that she really enjoyed playing and thinks she could be good at it. This week, the seniors had a faceoff: women versus men, said Sentell. The women's team won, he said The women’s team’s most senior senior was certainly a big part of their success, though she is very humble, Sentell said. Lockrey, who many referred to in interviews as “Speedy Ethel” said she thinks “people would be surprised that at 97 years old I can play." "I like to curl. It exercises my whole body and I feel that's important,” she said. Sentell said this week’s game was only the second time he and his fellow residents have given the new game a shot, but noted their skills have improved considerably. “The first time we were flipping the stones upside down,” he said, sharing that his biggest tip would be not to push too hard initially. “We had 10 playing this time. The first time there were maybe four or five that tried, with more as spectators,” said Sentell, adding that people have been learning by watching. Jason Wilson, operator of Silver Fox Estate, said the home, which opened in May during the pandemic, has hired a full-time wellness coordinator, who has been organizing everything from curling to chair fitness. Residents can’t have visitors nor can they participate in off-site visits right now, he said. The home is their household bubble, he said. But while opening during a pandemic was a nightmare from a business perspective, Wilson said, the positive side has been really getting to know each resident slowly and watching residents grow closer to each other than they perhaps would have been otherwise. “They rely on each other. They take care of each other,” he said. From crib, to bingo, to chair exercises, they do activities together, said Wilson. And now, of course, they curl together. Sentell said he thinks as they get more players interested they could explore the possibility of a tournament. “I think this could take off,” he said. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Justin Timberlake may just have had a second baby boy, but he's got an album about to pop, too!
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol complex temporarily locked down during a rehearsal for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment roughly a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns in an already jittery city. The false alarm briefly interrupted Monday's rehearsal for Wednesday's inauguration ceremony, a quadrennial exercise in which stand-ins take the roles of Biden and other VIPs and the U.S. Marine Band goes through its paces, including practicing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for Wednesday’s performance by Lady Gaga. Rehearsal resumed not long afterward, accompanied by frequent passes by a helicopter patrolling the skies over the Capitol. Law enforcement officials said there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration. Local firefighters put out the blaze quickly. The evacuation of some participants and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution, officials said. But the fast decision to lock down underscores the fear that has gripped Washington since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters and prompted extraordinary measures ahead of the inauguration. Armed protests planned for this past weekend around the country were mostly a bust, but anxiety is still skyrocketing. U.S. Secret Service tightened security in and around the Capitol a week early in preparation, and the city centre is essentially on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of National Guard and other law enforcement officers stationed around the area. But U.S. defence officials, worried about a potential insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing the event, pushed the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into the area. Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement Monday that vetting of National Guard troops continues and that the Pentagon has found no intelligence so far that would indicate an insider threat. Still, the Secret Service issued a bulletin over the weekend about what it sees as an “uptick” in National Guard troops posting pictures and details of their operations online. The Associated Press obtained the “all concerned” message sent to all the National Guard troops coming to Washington. Without getting into specific postings, the bulletin said, “No service members should be posting locations, pictures or descriptions online regarding current operations or the sensitive sites they are protecting” and urged them to stop immediately. Asked about the bulletin, a spokesperson for the Secret Service issued a statement saying it “does not comment on matters of protective intelligence.” President Donald Trump has refused to attend the inauguration, the first time a sitting president has not attended since Andrew Johnson, though Vice-President Mike Pence will be there as well as other former presidents. Capitol police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said there were currently no fires on or within the campus. “Members and staff were advised to shelter in place while the incident is being investigated,” she said in a statement. Firefighters were called to the homeless encampment shortly before 10:15 a.m., where a woman who lived there had a portable heater with a flammable gas tank, fire department spokesman Vito Maggiolo said. The woman, who was injured but declined medical treatment, told firefighters that the flames spread quickly and her possessions were burned. The fire was extinguished almost immediately after firefighters arrived. Participants were ushered from the West Front of the Capitol. Those who had gathered for a walk-through, including a military band, were directed to head indoors and moved in the direction of a secure location inside the Capitol complex. People involved in the rehearsal said security officials yelled “this is not a drill.” The lockdown was lifted about an hour later. Five people died in the Jan. 6 riot, including a police officer. ___ Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michael Balsamo in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Andrew Taylor, Colleen Long And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
More than four months into the school year, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District is still waiting for laptops that were to be distributed to students in case the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools again. But Tony Stack, CEO and director of education for the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, says the district is still ready to transition to online learning if necessary, and larger shipments of the computers are expected next month. "Laptops have been provided to all teachers, and we're awaiting the next iterations of the Chromebooks for Grade 7 to 12 students to move out," he said. "We've looked after Labrador, our most remote areas, and we're expecting the next shipment very soon." While schools are closed in some parts of Canada due to rising COVID-19 numbers, the Newfoundland and Labrador education system has been relatively unscathed so far this school year. "We've been very fortunate in this province to have such a low prevalence of the virus, and that's due in large measure to our population doing the right thing," Stack told CBC Radio's On The Go. "We have the good protocols in place, based on the public health guidance. So we're ready. We've done a lot of professional learning around this with teachers." Stack said about 2,000 teachers have had additional training on pandemic protocols. While there has been no in-school transmission of the virus, one case cropped up in an elementary school in Deer Lake in November, in a student connected to a case outside the school. Plugged-in and unplugged learning Stack says the school's online learning plan includes a blend of teaching methods. "Nobody expects younger students, or even students in the higher grades, to be online continuously during a normal five-hour instruction period — 300 minutes a day is not what we're aiming for," he said. "It could be a 10-minute check in at the beginning of a period, and then the student interacts offline, [then] the teacher goes and deals with another student one-on-one. Or, you bring the whole group together for a period of time. It doesn't replicate completely what happens in a normal classroom. We never said it would. But it is a much more robust form of interaction than … in the spring." Stack said there are still areas of concern for areas of the province with limited internet access. But, he said, devices have already been distributed to students in those areas that allow a student to connect to cellular signals. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The Tl’etinqox Government predicts COVID-19 cases in its semi-remote community west of Williams Lake could soar to 60 or more by the end of the week. “Tl’etinqox is calling for a state of emergency,” stated a Jan. 18 Facebook post by Tl’etinqox Government. “There are currently 12 cases in the community with a prediction of up to 60 or more.” Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse, who is seeking re-election, could not be reached for immediate comment. Positive cases have been identified in every Indigenous community in the Chilcotin. A local state of emergency remains in effect until Feb. 5 at Ulkatcho First Nation with non-members prohibited from entering the community. Ulkatcho First Nation band manager Brian Johnson confirmed a positive case was identified Jan. 18. “Everyone will be issued a permit to place on their dashboard, and we have implemented a curfew from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.,” Chief Lynda Price said in a Jan. 14 Facebook video. COVID-19 cases have also been identified on-reserve at Tsideldel, Yunesit’in, Xeni Gwet’in and Tl’esqox. “Individuals do not have to reveal this information, and it takes courage due to the stigma surrounding this virus,” said Tsideldel Chief Otis Guichon in a Jan. 14 Facebook video, praising a positive member for being transparent. A lockdown went into effect at Yunesit’in Wednesday, Jan. 13. Xeni Gwet’in is anticipated to enter a full lockdown for 14 days after the first rollout of the Moderna vaccine is complete Tuesday, Jan. 19. Full lockdowns will result in only essential services entering and leaving the community, with members who leave without authorization not being allowed re-entry until the lockdown is lifted. Informational checkpoints are active at Tl’esqox (Toosey) where Chief Francis Laceese said he is aware of at least two positive cases. “We do have a lot of members who live in Williams Lake and hopefully, the vaccine will happen for them sooner than later,” Laceese said. Vaccines have so far arrived to the communities of Ulkatcho, Yunesit’in, Xeni Gwet’in, Tsideldel and Tl’etinqox. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
Montreal resident Alexandre Cherton checked his street for any orange "no parking" signs before leaving his car next to the curb. There weren't any, so he headed into his apartment, thinking his car would be safe from tow trucks for at least another day since the city will remove any vehicle blocking snow-removal operations. Cherton was dismayed when he finally noticed the signs at 9 p.m., but he wasn't allowed outside. The province's curfew went into effect an hour before and moving his car before 5 a.m. would mean risking a hefty fine. That gave him a two-hour window Monday to get his car safely out of harm's way, as towing could start as early as 7 a.m. "This morning we had to wake up earlier to put the car elsewhere, make sure we don't get fined or get towed," Cherton said. "So it could be managed a little bit better by the city." Sud-Ouest Coun. Craig Sauve says he is looking into Cherton's complaints. "You know there's thousands and thousands and thousands of these signs that go up and down every day but we can trace it back hopefully and help him with this," he said. But the city has put in a few extra measures this year, recognizing the curfew is creating a bit of a headache for car owners who need to move their vehicle when the infamous "no parking" signs go up. The second snow-removal operation of the season started on Sunday at 7 a.m., with hospitals, access to public transit networks and major arteries a top priority. In a statement, the city says parking-prohibited signs, which are usually installed up until 8 p.m. for snow-loading starting the next day at 7 a.m., will be installed before 7 p.m. This is aimed at giving people an extra hour to move their cars before curfew. Montreal also added nearly 3,000 free parking spaces to various municipal facilities for a total of 8,400. These spaces are available during snow-loading operations. Additionally, the city says people can park for free in any off-street park-and-ride spots between 3 p.m. and 5 a.m. during snow-removal days. Of course, the parking lots are sometimes closed when snow-removal operations are scheduled there as well, the city says. Due to the curfew, snow-removal vehicles will stop activating their sirens after 7:30 p.m. to warn people to move their car. While residents are expected to adhere to both the snow-removal signs and the curfew, Montreal police will use their best judgment in an exceptional case where a car must be moved, the city says. Issuing fines for a curfew violation is completely up to the discretion of officers. The city publishes all information about snow operations, free parking spaces and towing on its website.
Active cases of COVID-19 in St. Albert increased over the weekend, up from 165 on Friday to 173 on Monday. New provincial data, released on Monday, shows the city added 25 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, while 17 more people recovered. The data reflects testing done Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Overall cases in the city increased from 1,799 to 1,824 between Friday's report and the data released Monday. Saturday brought news of 10 new diagnoses and four more recoveries. On Sunday, the province reported nine new diagnoses in St. Albert and nine more recoveries. Monday's data showed six more diagnoses and four more recoveries. In Sturgeon County, 41 people currently have COVID-19, with 513 people having recovered since the pandemic began. The county added seven new cases over the weekend and four people recovered. Morinville has 25 active cases, with 315 people having recovered from the virus since the pandemic began. The town added three new cases over the weekend and one person recovered. Across the province, another 474 COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in the past 24 hours. Some 8,500 tests were run overnight with a 5.4-per-cent positivity rate. There are currently 730 Albertans in the hospital with 120 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There were 11 new deaths reported by the province on Monday. To put that in perspective, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 11 deaths in one day alone make up nearly 20 per cent of all influenza deaths last year, with 58 people having passed away from the flu last year. Sixty-six per cent of all deaths related to COVID-19 in Alberta since the pandemic began have been in long-term care and seniors homes, Hinshaw said. There are currently 181 cases of COVID-19 in 133 schools since in-person classes resumed last monday. Hinshaw said those cases are being brought into schools from community spread and there are not many cases being transmitted in schools. "This number reflects community transmission and not in-school transmission, and it's important to distinguish between the two," Hinshaw said. On Monday, social gathering and business rules loosened, with the province allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and wellness businesses to operate by appointment only. Hinshaw said while the province is loosening restrictions, it is important for Albertans to continue to make safe choices around COVID-19. "We are making progress but we are not out of the woods yet," Hinshaw said. The province's top doctor said while COVID-19 numbers in the province are declining, there is still a lot of work to be done to continue to bring down case counts. Monday brought with it the relaxing of some provincial restrictions, allowing personal services businesses to reopen and outdoor gatherings, with limits, as well as eased rules for funerals. Hinshaw noted that three months ago, on Oct. 18, the active case count was sitting at just over 3,000. On Monday the provincial active case count sat at 11,923. "Critically, on Oct. 18, there were 120 people in hospital with COVID-19. Today we have more than six times that total," Hinshaw said. "So as we ease the restrictions on three province-wide measures today, please continue to take every precaution you can, and make good choices – choices that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19, choices that will help save lives and our health-care system, and choices that will help lead us in a direction where we may be able to safely relax more measures in the weeks ahead." Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
WASHINGTON — Someday, perhaps, John Roberts will swear in a new president who doesn’t wish someone else was chief justice of the United States. Wednesday won’t be that day. When Roberts leads President-elect Joe Biden in the oath of office, security will be unusually tight following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and inaugural events will be curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic. But it will be the fourth time that Roberts will stand across from a man who either voted against his confirmation to the Supreme Court or has made no secret of his unflattering views of the chief justice. Biden was one of 22 senators who voted against Roberts in 2005. Another was President Barack Obama, who twice took the oath from Roberts. President Donald Trump has castigated the chief justice as a “disgrace” for his role in upholding Obama’s health care overhaul. Roberts presided over Trump's first impeachment trial last year and could preside over his second, as well. Roberts is far from the only justice whose confirmation Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris opposed. Biden, who was a senator from Delaware for more than 35 years, also voted not to confirm Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Harris, a California senator, cast votes against the nominations of the three Trump appointees to the high court: Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. It’s the first time in American history that the incoming president and vice-president have together voted against a majority of the court. The unusual milestone reflects that both halves of the Democratic ticket served in the Senate at a time of increasing political polarization that found full expression in Supreme Court nomination fights. “It’s more partisan, more polarized, more contentious than at any time since” after the Civil War, said Richard Friedman, an expert on Supreme Court history at the University of Michigan law school. But Friedman and others dismissed the idea that bruised feelings would play any role in how justices decide cases. “It’s a remarkable thing what life tenure does. It can diminish the force of any kinds of grudge. You don’t need to get back at anybody,” Friedman said. Deanne Maynard, an appellate lawyer who served as a Supreme Court clerk in the 1990s and also worked in the Justice Department, said it would be a mistake to think justices allow personal feelings to influence decisions. “The court likes to think of itself as approaching, and does try to approach, every case on its facts and on its own law. I can’t imagine the justices are thinking back to the tally in their confirmation hearings when they decide any given case,” Maynard said. Roberts’ record on issues that were important to Obama and Trump offers support to the idea that deciding cases isn’t personal. He cast the decisive vote and wrote the opinion that upheld Obama’s health care law in 2012. He also upheld Trump’s ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries in 2018, then ruled against Trump on other immigration-related cases, including the administration’s failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and wind down protections for about 650,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Biden and Harris also are taking office at a time when the court is more conservative than it’s been since the early days of the New Deal and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration. If the administration runs into trouble at the Supreme Court, it’s likely to be over a clash of ideologies. The court’s conservatives “are not going to necessarily like big pieces of legislation,” said University of South Carolina political scientist Jessica Schoenherr. When Roberts joined the liberal justices in the 2012 “Obamacare” case, four conservative justices were prepared to strike down the law in its entirety. Efforts by the new administration to reverse Trump positions on some issues also could meet resistance on the court, Maynard said. “To the extent it is a situation where the Biden administration might take a different view, then I think that’s where the composition of the court might matter,” she said. Presidents don’t always see eye to eye even with the justices they put on the court. In addition, preserving the court’s independence is practically an obsession of Roberts’, Friedman said. “All justices are very conscious of their role,” he said. “They may not always be totally dispassionate, but it’s not as if they go in saying, ‘I like this president, let me do him a favour.’” Trump has criticized his three appointees for failing to take his side in election challenges. President Theodore Roosevelt was enraged when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes voted against the president in a major antitrust case. “Out of a banana I could carve a firmer backbone,” Roosevelt said of Holmes. President Dwight Eisenhower also soon regretted his choice of Chief Justice Earl Warren, referring to the man who led the court during its liberal era “the biggest damned-fool mistake I ever made.” Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
B.C.’s provincial health officer declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver officially over. Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the end of the outbreak, which claimed the lives of 17 McKinney Place residents, Monday during the province’s regularly scheduled press conference in Victoria. A total of 23 staff members and 54 of the 59 residents who lived at McKinney Place at the beginning of the outbreak had tested positive. “We are very thankful that McKinney place has been under control. That was a very challenging outbreak in Interior Health and we know 17 people in the McKinney Place community lost their lives to COVID in that outbreak,” Henry said. Interior Health announced residents at both McKinney Place and Sunnybank Retirement Centre received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 8 Minister of Health Adrian Dix touched on the end of four outbreaks in long-term care across the province Monday, including McKinney Place. “I can tell you from my own experience and the experience of every family member, every resident in long-term care, that the day an outbreak is declared is a very, very difficult day indeed and the day that it is declared over is a day of some relief,” Dix said. “Not that the pandemic is over, but that this period, this moment in the pandemic has changed. I’m thinking of everybody who has lost someone at those care homes, everyone who has been through that experience even if they were not diagnosed positive with COVID-19, everyone who works in those care homes, we are thinking of them today on what is I would say a better day in all of those places, a day when those outbreaks have been declared over.” Interior Health will provide an update on Sunnybank Retirement Centre later Monday. The province reported on new cases over a three-day period Monday. From Jan. 15 to 16 there were 584 new cases province-wide, from Jan. 16 to 17 there were 445 new cases and in the last 24 hours 301 new cases have been diagnosed. Of the new cases, 257 are in the Interior Health region. Across B.C. there are 4,326 active cases of COVID-19, 343 in hospital, 68 of whom are in intensive care. There are 6,865 people under active public health monitoring province-wide. Over the last three days, 31 people died from COVID-19, four of whom in the Interior Health region. A total of 1,078 people have died from COVID-19 in B.C. since the pandemic began, a majority of which are seniors in long-term care. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
If you think the world of politics could do with more consensus making and working across the aisles (and at this point, really, who doesn’t), then a new series from TVO might be right up your alley. Political Blind Date returns Tuesday, Jan. 19at 9 p.m. ET on TVO, tvo.org, and the TVO YouTube channel. Each of the six half-hour shows matches two politicians with differing points of view and sends them out into the community on a “date.” There likely won’t be any hook ups…But hopefully they’ll find some common ground? Of particular interest to Sun Peaks Independent News readers is the Jan. 26 episode on pipeline politics. In it, Green Party MP Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) and Cathy McLeod, shadow minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Conservative MP (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, B.C) will unwrap the pros and cons of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and its impact on Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across British Columbia. What does the building of a second parallel pipeline mean for those living along its route is among the issues that will be discussed. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.