In the wee hours of Thursday morning, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence announced the certification of the electoral college vote, confirming Joe Biden's presidential election victory and Kamala Harris as vice-president.
In the wee hours of Thursday morning, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence announced the certification of the electoral college vote, confirming Joe Biden's presidential election victory and Kamala Harris as vice-president.
THE LATEST: * Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has extended the ban on social gatherings until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. * B.C. health officials announced 761 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths on Thursday. * There are 372 people in hospital, including 74 in intensive care. * There are currently 6,349 active cases in the province. * As of Thursday, 41,064 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine dose in B.C. * B.C. government announced it will provide COVID-19 data for individual long-term care homes. * After a spike in COVID-19 cases, Cowichan Tribes, the largest First Nation in British Columbia, has issued a shelter in place order for its almost 5,000 members.Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has extended COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on social gatherings, until at least midnight, February 5, at a press conference Thursday. Under the restrictions, all in-person events and gatherings, including religious gatherings, musical performances and screenings at movie theatres are prohibited. Adult sports recreation leagues and high-intensity fitness classes are also banned.Henry reported 761 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths on Thursday. A total of 970 people in British Columbia have died of COVID-19.The latest update also showed 41,064 people have received a vaccine dose in B.C. so far.Residents of 18 remote First Nations communities are among the first people in the province to get the Moderna vaccine this week. As of Wednesday, more than 5,300 doses have been distributed to the rural and remote communities. Leaders said the delivery felt "surreal."In the meantime, however, B.C.'s largest First Nations band, the Cowichan Tribes, issued a shelter in place order for its almost 5,000 members because of a spike in COVID-19 cases.There have been 23 confirmed cases of the virus detected in Cowichan Tribes members since the beginning of the month.Meanwhile, firefighters and teachers are hoping to be added to B.C.'s COVID-19 vaccination priority groups. Distribution of the vaccine has so far been limited to frontline workers, hospital patients, long-term care staff and residents and remote Indigenous communities.On Thursday, the B.C. government announced a number of changes and improvements to its collection and release of data around the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it will once again release individual case and death counts at long-term care homes,Three more seniors at Little Mountain Place care home in Vancouver have died of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, 99 of 114 residents at the care home have tested positive, 41 of whom have died since an outbreak was declared Nov. 22, a statement from Vancouver Coastal Health said.It said 70 of the facility's staff have also tested positive.READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaAs of 3:45 p.m. PT on Thursday, Canada had recorded more than 635,134 cases of COVID-19 and 16,579 deaths.The number of active cases stood at 80,289.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The U.S. services sector, where most Americans work, grew for the seventh consecutive month in December even as coronavirus cases surged through the holidays. The Institute for Supply Management reported Thursday that its index of services activity grew slightly to a reading of 57.2 last month, from a reading of 55.9 in November. Readings above 50 represent expansion in services industries such as restaurants and bars, retail stores and delivery companies. Respondents to the December ISM survey continued to express anxiety about the ongoing ramifications of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the U.S. recorded nearly 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, the most ever. Thursday’s report showed that business activity and new orders both grew more quickly but the index measuring employment fell into contraction. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment each week continues to hover close to 800,000. Out of the 18 service sector categories, 14 reported growth in December, including management and support services, wholesale and retail trade, healthcare, and transportation and warehousing. Industries reporting contraction in December were arts, entertainment and recreation, accommodation and food services and real estate rental and leasing. Restaurants and anything to do with entertainment, travel and leisure have been among the hardest hit as the pandemic grinds on into its tenth month. The services sector had been growing for 122 consecutive months — more than a decade — before contracting in April and May as the coronavirus outbreak forced many businesses to close and people to stay home. Matt Ott, The Associated Press
A project to move Fort Simpson from diesel power generation to liquefied natural gas, partly funded by the federal government, is now close to moving ahead. The village is currently powered by four N.W.T. Power Corporation diesel generators. The proposed liquefied natural gas – or LNG – plant is seen by the territory as a step toward its 2030 emissions reduction target. The N.W.T. has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent (compared to 2005 levels) before the end of the decade. In its plan setting out how that will happen, the territory states it will try to reduce communities' emissions from diesel power by 25 per cent in that time. Doug Prendergast, a spokesperson for the N.W.T. Power Corporation, said an LNG plant in Fort Simpson would be expected to meet that 25 per cent reduction target. “The key driver for constructing this LNG plant is really about reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. Liquefied natural gas is still a fossil fuel. While its environmental merits as a fuel source are debated, LNG emissions are significantly lower than those associated with diesel. Village councillors and power corporation staff are discussing where the new plant may be built. On December 21, the village formally granted a development permit for the project. Prendergast said some logistics are still to be resolved and remaining approvals must be sought before work can get under way. There is no published timeline for the project's completion. The new plant, he said, should prove slightly more reliable than its predecessor, which is set to remain available as a backup option. According to the power corporation's website, up to 15 per cent of Fort Simpson’s power currently comes from a solar array installed in 2012. The rest is diesel. Fort Simpson's mayor, Sean Whelly, welcomes the new plant – particularly as the diesel plant sits uncomfortably close to an eroding riverbank. Prendergast agrees erosion is a concern. The diesel generators may be moved to the LNG plant's location, wherever that may be, he said. While work to finalize a location is ongoing. Whelly said a lot in Fort Simpson's industrial subdivision, adjacent to Jimmy Isaiah Drive, is one possibility. Finding an elevated site for the LNG plant is a priority, said Whelly, so residents don't have to fear loss of power during floods. “That was always part of our emergency planning every year: if the water got to a certain point, the entire power plant had to be shut down,” he said. “Having the plant on top of the hill would mean at least all the power from the top of the hill back towards the airport could continue to run.” Prendergast says a new plant is not likely to noticeably change the rates Fort Simpson residents pay. “The ongoing operation of a LNG plant tends to be lower than a diesel plant. There will be some savings there on an annual basis,” he said. “However, there’s also the capital costs that need to be paid.” In 2019, the project received more than $11 million in funding from the federal government. While that covers 75 per cent of the expected cost, Prendergast said the remainder must come from the power corporation – and its customers. “Between the capital costs and the potential slight savings in operating costs, it probably works out to be about the same,” he said.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
SANTÉ. Faisant suite à une recommandation du Comité sur l'immunisation du Québec, le ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) que la campagne de vaccination contre l'influenza prendra fin le 8 janvier. Depuis le début de la pandémie de la COVID-19, plusieurs mesures mises en place afin de limiter les contacts entre les personnes, telles que la distanciation physique, le port du masque et le lavage des mains, ont également contribué à réduire la transmission d'autres virus respiratoires. Les experts remarquent que la propagation de l'influenza a grandement diminué et que l'indice d'activité grippale est presque nul depuis avril dernier, tant au Québec que dans le reste du Canada. À la suite de l'analyse épidémiologique de l'influenza, le Comité sur l'immunisation du Québec a ainsi recommandé de ne pas poursuivre la campagne de vaccination plus longtemps. Notons par ailleurs que la demande de vaccination contre l'influenza a beaucoup diminué, comme c'est habituellement le cas à cette période de l'année. Malgré la fin de la campagne de vaccination, les personnes à risque qui souhaiteraient obtenir le vaccin pourront toujours le faire. Des doses demeureront ainsi disponibles dans les différents établissements du réseau de la santé et des services sociaux du Québec. Notons que selon le Registre de vaccination, près de 1,5 million de doses ont été administrées depuis le début de la campagne de vaccination contre l'influenza. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
During what participants described as a positive meeting, Canada's premiers told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tonight that they have the capacity to vaccinate Canadians faster than they are right now — and they need the federal government to step up its delivery of vaccines to match their quickening pace.The premiers made their push for more doses in a call with Trudeau earlier tonight that also touched on developments in the new testing regime for international travellers.Sources have told CBC News that the Quebec government is arguing it can administer more doses in a week that it will receive from the federal government during the entire month of January.Data released by the provinces show that only about half of the vaccines they've received have been administered to Canadians, although the pace of immunization by provincial health agencies is picking up daily."We are concerned that as we pick up the pace of inoculation, supply will be inadequate and I've heard other premiers express the same concerns," Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said after the meeting. "I have conveyed to the prime minister, as have my colleagues, the urgency of getting as much supply here as we possibly can." New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said the tone of the call tonight was courteous and all the premiers called for more doses. They also agreed, he said, that the different levels of government have worked well together since the beginning of the pandemic. "There was some accusations going back and forth earlier in the week and that's unfortunate, really, because I think we all recognize that the blame game is not going to help anyone here," Higgs told CBC News Network's Power & Politics after the meeting."The point was that we have to just buckle down and figure out how do we work with what we have and how do we work together to get more," he added. Vaccine pace issuesCanada has been outpaced on vaccinations so far by Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, the U.S., the U.K., Denmark, Russia, Italy and Germany, according to data from earlier this week collated by the University of Oxford-based Our World in Data."I am confident that the pace of vaccination is going to pick up rapidly and we will be there to support and help the provinces as they get these vaccines out the door," Trudeau said in an interview with a Whistler, B.C. radio station this morning.As Higgs noted, Trudeau expressed frustration earlier this week with Canada's progress on vaccinations.Government numbers show Canada had received nearly 425,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines as of Dec. 31. Roughly 195,000 Canadians had received shots as of Wednesday, according to an estimate by a group of academics and data analysts — well below 1 per cent of the country's population.Israel, which leads the world in vaccines administered per population, has given at least one dose to 17 per cent of its 9 million people already.Bumpy rolloutThe federal government has taken the lead on procuring doses of COVID-19 vaccines by signing advance agreements with seven vaccine makers and coordinating their delivery, while the provinces and territories are responsible for administering them.Some provinces acknowledge there have been problems with administering the vaccines — particularly with trying to get the delicate Pfizer-BioNTech product to remote areas.But many premiers have said the real question in the days and weeks ahead will be whether Ottawa gets vaccines to the provinces quickly enough.Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said in a tweet Wednesday he would be be telling Trudeau during the virtual meeting that the number of doses expected to be delivered to his province in January is insufficient."[Saskatchewan] is ready to deliver vaccines as quickly and safely as possible, as soon as we receive them," the tweet said. "The federal [government] is now telling us to expect only 30,000 doses by the end of January. This is not nearly enough, and considerably less than what they had estimated last month."A spokesperson for Premier Kenney also accused the federal government of being too slow to deliver doses."The truth is that the federal government has been slow to procure vaccine to the provinces, which has resulted in fewer Canadians being vaccinated," Christine Myatt wrote in an email. "For example, the prime minister went to the media to foreshadow the imminent arrival of the Moderna vaccine in the middle of December, but shipments only arrived in provinces at the very end of the year."Ontario 'running out' of vaccines, Ford claimsOntario Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly claimed that Ontario is on the verge of running out of vaccines."Every CEO of every hospital, the PHUs, public health units, are going to be running out of vaccines," Ford told reporters today. "I know the federal government is doing everything it can but we are moving — 15,000 vaccinations yesterday alone — and that's just going to climb."Despite those claims, a spokesperson for the Ontario government told CBC News the province recently received another 48,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for a total of 143,000 doses of that product. The Ontario government's vaccination website, meanwhile, shows Ontario had administered just 72,631 doses as of Wednesday night.WATCH: Maj.-Gen. Fortin says on Tuesday that provinces, territories will scale up vaccine distributionMaj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said on Tuesday that Canada will receive 208,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine each week for the next three weeks, while 171,000 Moderna shots are expected to arrive on January 11.The PMO said Trudeau also planned to bring up with the premiers the situation in long-term care homes, new measures for international travellers at land borders and airports and federal supports for people and businesses facing increasingly tight lockdown restrictions.Absent from the PMO's list of priorities was the provinces' and territories' demand for an increase in the Canada Health Transfer — something Ford's office said he planned to raise, despite the fact that the transfer was the main topic of a December First Ministers' meeting.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is speaking out after Wednesday's riots in Washington D.C.On Wednesday, rioters stormed the United States Capitol building to disrupt a vote officially certifying Joe Biden as the country's next president.Four people died in the protests, including one woman who was shot as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol.News footage sent shock waves around the world, as images of angry rioters filled the airwaves.In Saskatchewan, Premier Moe decried the protests on social media, calling them deeply disturbing."The United States of America is Canada's closest ally and has been a beacon of freedom and democracy for generations," he wrote."The events that occurred today in Washington D.C. were deeply disturbing and nothing short of an affront to the democratic values that we hold sacred."Moe's comments received more than 100 responses on Facebook. They ranged from criticizing Moe not speaking out during the Black Lives Matter protests to criticism of the federal government.Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark also spoke out on Twitter, highlighting pictures of quotes he had photographed during an earlier visit to to the Capitol building.
RCMP say a man from rural Saskatchewan is in custody after making threats online.In a news release, police said the incident started Wednesday afternoon at around 4:15 p.m. CST.Officers said the man barricaded himself inside a home with weapons, leading to the RCMP's emergency response team being called to the area.Later that evening, police asked local people to avoid the area. Negotiators spent several hours convincing him to come out, an RCMP spokesperson said.The man was taken into custody around midnight. The man has been taken to hospital for treatment and a mental health assessment.
KENAI, Alaska — The Kenai Peninsula Borough received more state and municipal coronavirus relief funds than almost anywhere else in Alaska, a new report said.An analysis by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District found the area in southern Alaska received just under $50 million, the Peninsula Clarion reported Tuesday.The analysis found 1,041 peninsula-based businesses received direct assistance from the state’s AK CARES small business relief grants.The amount was second only to the Municipality of Anchorage, where 1,438 businesses received $73 million in state aid.The state distributed about $274 million in direct relief to small businesses, the report said.About 20% of the AK CARES funds went to the Kenai Peninsula, but the borough only accounts for about 7% of Alaska’s population, said Tim Dillon, executive director of the development district.A wide range of peninsula industries received small business grants, the development district's data show.The commercial fishing industry received the most support with 298 individual business grants accounting for more than $16 million. Businesses in the accommodations and food services category received 142 grants for just under $6.6 million.Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting businesses received 44 grants of about $1.6 million. Health care and social assistance businesses received 48 grants of more than $2.5 million. Retail trade businesses received 80 grants of about $4.2 million.Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, construction and real estate business also received grants, along with professional, scientific and technical services companies.Dillon said he was surprised by the amount of assistance peninsula-based businesses received, but he believes the unique nature of the development district contributed to the high volume of assistance.The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District is one of nine Alaska Regional Development Organizations required under state statute to implement regional economic development strategies.The Kenai organization is the only one of those nine functioning as a privately operated non-profit rather than an agency within a borough or municipality, Dillon said.The group was able to act more quickly than its counterparts without many of the obligations facing government agencies such as public notices or meetings about specific policy decisions, Dillon said.While other organizations were held to normal business hours, Dillon said the Kenai organization was "getting calls directly to our cellphones at 10:30 at night on a Saturday from people needing our help with the paperwork.”For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.The Associated Press
Phyllida Lloyd's “Herself,” an Irish drama of spousal abuse set against Dublin's housing crisis, has some narrative weak spots but its foundation of resilience and heart is strong.Previous forays into film by Lloyd, a veteran theatre director, have been more elaborate, starrier affairs ("Mamma Mia!" “The Iron Lady"). But “Herself” is a smaller, neo-realistic and often stirring story about Sandra (Clare Dunne, who co-wrote the script with Malcolm Campbell), a mother of two daughters (Molly McCann, Ruby Rose O’Hara) and the wife of a monstrous brute, Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson).Some of the major beats in “Herself” verge on cliché but everything in between rings true thanks to Dunne's steadfast performance and the film’s delicate sense of humanity. The film begins almost immediately with the ruthless beating of Sandra by Gary. It's an anguishing scene, of course, though one, given its blunt timing in the film, divorced from any connection to the characters. Still, Lloyd from the start keeps the camera's focus on the connection between Sandra and her young girls, whom she sends running as soon as Gary comes home.The bond between Sandra and daughters — both of whom are far more natural than most children seen in movies — is the abiding through line of “Herself,” as is Sandra's determination to find a safe home for her children. Housing and homelessness has been a problem in Ireland in recent years, and it's not uncommon for those needing public housing to be put up in hotels for months or even years. When Sandra approaches the housing authority, which places her in a hotel, “Herself” verges on the kind of social realism Ken Loach specializes in. Sandra comes up with a novel pitch: If she builds her own house from a kit costing about $50,000, she'll actually cost the government less money.Sandra, a waitress at a pub, finds an unlikely benefactor in a physician she helps care for (a very good Harriet Walter) who offers a backyard as a plot. Through pluck and community, Sandra assembles a small, improvising crew of helpers, led by a reluctant but kindly contractor named Aido (Conleth Hill, also very fine). A warm spirit of neighbourly goodwill grows as everyone pitches in, which Aido attributes to the Irish the old Irish term of “meitheal.”That may sound like a feel-good, made-for-the-movies tale, and “Herself” does indeed conjure an air of fable. But the film, earthy and sober, refuses to be carried aloft by sentiment, instead navigating a difficult and painful path toward self-preservation and renewal.“Herself,” an Amazon Studios release out Friday on Amazon Prime Video, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for language and some domestic violence. Running time: 97 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press
WELLINGTON COUNTY – COVID-19 vaccines will be administered at other sites in the region with a different vaccine or if storage and other requirements of the Pfizer vaccine are eased, says a public health spokesperson. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (WDG) Public Health received its first doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week and gave the first shots on Wednesday at the Guelph head office on Chancellor’s Way. Danny Williamson, communications specialist at WDG Public Health, said their office has an ultra-low temperature freezer that is capable of storing 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which has strict temperature storage requirements. “Because of those requirements, there are restrictions on transporting it once it gets to the site,” Williamson said. This is why the doses were delivered to and being administered in Guelph but Williamson said this could change as other vaccines come to the region. “Those will have, it seems, less restrictions on moving them around,” Williamson said. “So once the Pfizer requirements change, or we start to get some of those other vaccines, that’s when our capacity for other places expands.” This could be as soon as next week as Williamson said they are expecting doses of the Moderna vaccine. “I believe we’ll be able to do some administering in other places,” he said. “It’ll still get stored here but people won’t have to come here for the Moderna shot.” Williamson said this could be at their other facilities, with community partners or on-site at long-term care facilities. “We know that COVID really takes a toll on seniors and a great many of the deaths unfortunately and the severe outcomes are seen in older people,” Williamson said. “That’s why you see the prioritization of the vaccine into long-term care and retirement homes as we know that’s a place that is a real concentration of vulnerable folks.” Williamson stressed that WDG Public Health leadership don’t want to be a bottleneck in the vaccination process. “The goal is as soon as it’s here in the region, then it’s going into arms,” Williamson said. “We got it (the vaccine) midday yesterday, it went into a few arms today and then by tomorrow we’re going to be at 250 doses a day here in our office. Then by next week we’re going to be at 500 doses a day.” Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
The member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming is certain that 2021 will be a better year for his Indigenous constituents and indeed for all Canadians. Liberal Anthony Rota, who is also the Speaker for the House of Commons, is overcoming his own health issues as the new year begins. “I had surgery to have my thyroid removed. My voice is coming back. It’s not yet the same as it was, but overall the surgery went very well. I don’t have to worry about cancer and everything went well,” Rota said. He added that he fully expects to be in the Speaker’s chair when the House resumes sitting in late January. Rota said that he is confident that the Indigenous people he represents will have a better year in 2021 than they did in 2020. He pointed to the Liberals’ proposed legislation that would implement the recommendations contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a positive measure to help Canada’s First Nations population. “I think it’s crucial. It’s basically a tool for addressing the systemic racism that’s been going on for years. It happens right across the country. It’s about human rights and respect for human rights. I think it’s a step forward in healing the wounds of the past,” Rota said. “There has been a lot of injustice over the years, and by accepting UNDRIP and looking at our past and what’s gone on, we recognize the mistakes that have been made in the past.” Rota said he has spoken to Indigenous leaders in his riding about the proposed legislation, and he believes that it has prompted an honest discussion among Canadians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, about how to make our country better. Rota said two areas that he would like to see prioritized by the Federal Government in 2021 are clean water for Indigenous Territories, and Indigenous education. He agreed that the water issue may not be a specific problem in his riding but added that it certainly has been on Indigenous territories elsewhere in Canada. “Everyone in Canada deserves clean drinking water. Measures have to be put in place and once the problem is resolved there has to be some ongoing consultation and upkeep to make sure that water plant remains operational,” Rota said. He added that Canadian educators have extensively taught the English and French history in Canada, but Indigenous history, taught to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, he said, has to be upgraded and enhanced. “They have a place in Canada. Bill C-60, introduced a couple of years ago, gave the right to the Anishinaabe to write their own education plans and their own curriculum,” said Rota. “Depending upon who writes the books and who writes the curriculum, you have different inputs.” Rota said that he is very optimistic that in 2021, Canada will get a grasp on the COVID-10 global pandemic, adding that once people are vaccinated, the virus will subside and that absolutely includes for the Indigenous people he represents. “The region as a whole has been very good. We have had the occasional case come up. But overall, people have been respectful and very careful. I’m very proud of the residents both on and off-reserve,” he said. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
“The Prophets,” by Robert Jones Jr. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) In Robert Jones Jr.’s “The Prophets,” Samuel and Isaiah are two enslaved men in love on a Deep South plantation. They spend their days caring for the animals in the barn, which has also become their haven. It is where they can be together, where they can retreat into one another for comfort from their daily suffering. Samuel and Isaiah’s love is deep and tender. They have always been known as an inseparable pair, but as their romantic love is increasingly revealed to others at the plantation, they begin to find themselves in more and more danger. “The Prophets,” Jones’ debut novel, is a marvel, as much an extraordinary queer love story as a devastating and inimitable portrayal of the agony endured by slaves in the antebellum South. Jones’ stunning storytelling crafts deep and powerful portraits of not only Samuel and Isaiah, but also the many others at the plantation. Alternating between perspectives, each chapter is its own work of art, delving deep into each character’s heart and mind and creating a rhythmic tapestry of profound love and unbearable pain. “The Prophets” vividly depicts the viciousness of slavery while simultaneously allowing space for the love between Samuel and Isaiah. “The Prophets” is a novel, but feels almost like poetry, with every word holding a weight and power that will continue to astound those who lose themselves in its pages. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
A team operating in Calgary's northeast has created a rapid response hotline to help cultural communities with COVID-19-related support.The Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative, which includes 16 different agencies, connects people of various backgrounds to someone who understands their language and culture,Support is currently offered in 20 languages, from Tagalog to Tigrinya, and includes advice on workplace rights and more.Edwin Chavez is one of the team's cultural brokers, who connects people to resources including food hampers, financial support and mental health support."I do community outreach so so that members of our communities will be informed about this emergency and rapid support for families who are negatively affected by this pandemic," he said. He says speaking the same language helps put people at ease to get resources they didn't know they had."You feel good when you are able to help community members, especially those who are in need," said Chavez.The northeast quadrant has been hit hard by the pandemic and the province has already sent in teams to go door-to-door with hampers and information for residents. Jun Naraval, policy and program manager with Action Dignity, one of the groups that forms the collaboration, says the program is helping to flatten the pandemic curve. "What we want to make sure is that those who are affected by COVID-19, those that are positive, those that probably are in isolation, those are impacted by this, that they could go into an isolation in a dignified way," he said. Those who need help, or more information, can call 1-833-217-6614 in order to be connected to someone who can help. All calls are free and confidential.
Coronavirus cases in Europe surpassed 25 million on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally, with several countries reinstating or extending lockdowns as a resurgence in the pandemic threatens to overwhelm health services. Europe has recorded at least 25,016,506 cases and 559,863 deaths since the start of the pandemic, recently reporting over a million new cases about every four days. With just a tenth of the world's population, Europe remains the worst-affected region, with nearly 30% of global cases and deaths.
Over the last two weeks in British Columbia, a number of factors have made it difficult for people tracking the COVID-19 pandemic to make firm determinations about whether transmission of the virus is declining."I think we'll just have to wait for another week or so to see," said Jens Von Bergmann, a Vancouver data scientist.This is largely due to a decline in testing of around 45 per cent — from a daily average of around 12,000 in late November and early December to around 6,500 a day since Dec 20. It means that while the average number of daily cases has declined by 13 per cent since Dec. 20, the positivity rate has risen to its highest average in the course of the pandemic. At the same time, hospitalizations have risen slightly."It's really hard to put a lot of certainty into anything," said Von Bergmann.Here's what we know about the decrease in testing, and when we'll be able to have a better sense of where B.C. stands.Why the testing decrease?According to Daniel Coombs, a UBC mathematician who has worked with the province on its pandemic modelling, the decline in testing can be attributed to three main factors.The first is a sharp decrease over the holidays in testing by private organizations — which usually account for 20 to 30 per cent of overall tests — much of which is due to film productions going on pause.The second factor is some people choosing not to get tested when they otherwise would due to personal holiday considerations — a point emphasized by Chief Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry last week.But the third factor has less to do with the holidays, and more to do with the trend line B.C. was on before they began."Since a month ago, there's been a decline in the number of cases before testing went down," said Coombs. "Not massive, but it has been going downward. And less cases means less contact tracing required, less testing of asymptomatic people."Coombs said the one exception is in Northern Health, where cases rapidly increased before the holiday period, and the positivity rate has been above 17 per cent in recent days. More information FridayBoth Coombs and von Bergmann said it was difficult to know what percentage of people who typically would have gotten tested over the holidays would have been positive. "We could build better models that also account for holidays … but I don't think anyone has done this, "said Bergmann. In addition, since Dec. 18, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has not issued its weekly situation report, which provides additional data, including the public testing positivity rate.Its next report will be released on Friday, two weeks after Christmas. That information will come at the same time positive tests based on transmissions happening at Christmas gatherings will be fully known.Those who track the numbers are hopeful that additional information will provide additional clarity. "If you called me in two days, I would feel more comfortable," said Coombs."But right now … it's just a little too early to say."
ARTHUR – A retirement and long term care home in Arthur dealing with a growing COVID-19 outbreak is working with health officials to control the situation. As of noon Wednesday, Caressant Care in Arthur has a combined total of 46 active cases in its retirement and long-term care facilities. An outbreak was initially declared Dec. 12. The retirement home has 21 cases in residents and 10 from staff while the long-term care has eight residents and seven employees who have tested positive. This is the largest active outbreak in the region. Danny Williamson, spokesperson for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, explained the outbreak cases indicate a link between cases but does not necessarily reflect current active cases. “An outbreak is declared around epidemiologically linked cases, which means you’re seeing at least two cases that are linked to another,” Williamson said, clarifying that in long-term care an outbreak is declared with one case. “So someone got it from someone else in the facility.” Caressant Care spokesperson Stuart Oakley said the company is reviewing the current situation with public health daily to control the spread. “We are in constant touch with public health and with community partners who are assisting as required with additional staffing to help manage this outbreak,” Oakley said via email. “We are also grateful for the assistance of the local paramedic service who are helping with remote patient monitoring of 12 retirement home residents.” Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service could not be reached for comment to clarify their involvement. Williamson explained that declaring an outbreak is a mechanism used to work with facilities as they don’t normally have a specific day-to-day role other than oversight of the kitchen. Through the outbreak, public health has a role in case and contact management as well as auditing infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures. “Do they have the correct measures in place in terms of cleaning, infection control, PPE use and are they following them,” Williamson explained. Oakley said deep cleaning is done daily, managers are on site, the home has adequate PPE and there is ongoing communication with Caressant Care corporate staff to discuss what supports are needed. “We have an incredibly capable team at Caressant Care Arthur who are working around the clock to ensure residents are cared for and to help stop further spread,” Oakley said. Oakley said the home stays in touch with residents’ family members so they know what is happening and if there is a change to their status. As those in long-term care have a concentration of vulnerable people, Williamson said this is why there is a push to prioritize vaccination in these facilities.Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
The ocean is clearly ruining all of the fun!
Some Saskatchewanians have begun their annual celebration of Orthodox Christmas. Christmas Eve, according to the Julian calendar, is Jan. 6. Christmas Day is Jan. 7. Christmas Eve dinner involves 12 meatless dishes, including borscht, perogies and fish. "The food is one of the most important elements," Bard Dedi said. Dedi has been hosting Orthodox Christmas dinner at her home for years. Every year, she tries to get a diverse group of people together so new people can experience it. This year, her celebration is pretty small because of COVID-19, but she and her family are still hand-making everything. Kutya is a dish made of wheat and one really important dish, Dedi said. It's said to be bad luck if you don't eat any at dinner. "At one time, wheat used to be thrown to the ceiling and if it stuck on the ceiling, then it meant you'd have good luck," she said. "We still ask that everyone eats wheat if they want to have good luck."You should only begin your meal when you can see the first star in the night sky, according to Dedi. "We do place a table setting at the door and it is decorated beautifully with Ukranian decor and it's got a plate there for anybody that has passed during the year and we actually put food on that plate," Dedi said. Dorothy Korol lives in Canora, Sask. and she shopped around at some markets this year to get everything she needed for Orthodox Christmas dinner, but she's still making some things by hand. This year, it's just her and her husband."My favourite Ukrainian food whenever it is, is pedaheh, perogies. I don't know why, it's just something I could do with all by itself," Korol said.She says one tradition she really misses is caroling."We haven't been able to do that for the last several years from our groups just because of numbers and because a lot of us are getting up there [in age] where it's quite a chore to be going from house to house and of course this year, that wouldn't happen at all," Korol said.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa says it will import 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate the country's health workers. This is South Africa’s first announcement of the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine as its cases soar. The first 1 million doses will be delivered later this month from the Serum Institute of India, followed by an additional 500,000 doses in February, Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize announced Thursday. South Africa is battling a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 that is quickly outstripping its first peak. It announced record highs of 21,832 new confirmed cases and 844 deaths late Wednesday. Some of South Africa's hospitals are already reporting that they are at capacity. The rapid spread of the disease in recent weeks has been driven by a new, more infectious variant of the virus, according to medical experts. The country of 60 million people has reported by far the most cases of the coronavirus in Africa, with more than 1.1 million confirmed infections, including 31,368 deaths, representing more than 30% of all cases on the continent of 1.3 billion. South Africa is not the first country on the 54-nation continent to announce a vaccine deal. Kenya’s health minister on Wednesday said the country is expected to start receiving 24 million doses next month of the AstraZeneca vaccine. And last month, Morocco announced it had ordered 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China’s Sinopharm and Britain's AstraZeneca. South Africa has 1.25 million health care workers in public and private hospitals, and the government has decided they should have first priority in getting protection from COVID-19, Mkhize said. The department of health has purchased the vaccine directly from the manufacturer in India, he said. South Africa's drug regulatory body is “fine-tuning and aligning all the regulations processes to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays or regulatory impediments to activate this rollout,” Mkhize said. Earlier this week, he said South Africa expects to get vaccines to inoculate an estimated 6 million people, or 10% of the population, from the international COVAX initiative starting in April. He said the government intends to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of 2021, which many experts say is an unrealistic goal. “We urge the public to be patient with us as we continue to engage manufacturers (for the purchase of additional vaccines). ... We will not neglect our responsibility to protect lives and also fight this pandemic,” Mkhize said. Mkhize told a parliamentary committee Thursday that South Africa expects to spend the equivalent of $1.4 billion to acquire vaccines to inoculate two-thirds of the country's population. He said the majority of the vaccines will come from AstraZeneca, which will cost approximately $3.60 per dose in comparison to Moderna's cost of $36.40 per dose. He said the state will purchase the vaccines and expects to partner with South Africa's private health care companies and possible international donors. Andrew Meldrum, The Associated Press
Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge timeshare resorts in Oro-Medonte Township's Horseshoe Valley area came one step closer to being sold on their last day of operation Tuesday. Ontario Superior Court Justice Barbara Conway endorsed BDO Canada as the receiver of the properties, changing its role from that of administrator following a hearing broadcast over YouTube. BDO has been given approval to enter into a listing agreement with Colliers International as the marketing and sales agent. The plan is to list the property for six months, with no fixed sale price. “We don’t want to set the number. We want people to take advantage of this opportunity to come in and come in as high as possible,” Sanjeev Mitra, the lawyer representing BDO, told the court. And as the management agreements with Wyndham Destinations came to an end at the end of Tuesday, so did all the jobs associated with running the property and the timeshare units. It's unclear how many people are now out of work with the closures, however. One issue of concern that arose in the hearing was the cost of insuring the property during the sale period. Mitra said primary coverage property loss insurance comes at a premium of $584,000 — the best that could be found. In addition, the court was told timeshare owners will now get email blasts prior to hearings and be provided access to any motion material. Carriage Ridge has 78 units within three buildings on eight acres, and Carriage Hills has 172 units in eight buildings on 20 acres running independently from Horseshoe Resort, a major ski and golf resort in Oro-Medonte Township, north of Barrie. The timeshare properties, with approximately 11,000 timeshare owners, had been operating at a deficit and it was ultimately decided to sell the properties.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com