Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom. British media reports suggest vaccinations for medical workers could start as early as next week.
Pfizer and BioNTech say they've won permission for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom. British media reports suggest vaccinations for medical workers could start as early as next week.
WASHINGTON — It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause. Members of the ex-presidents club pose together for pictures. They smile and pat each other on the back while milling around historic events, or sit somberly side by side at VIP funerals. They take on special projects together. They rarely criticize one another and tend to offer even fewer harsh words about their White House successors. Like so many other presidential traditions, however, this is one Trump seems likely to flout. Now that he's left office, it's hard to see him embracing the stately, exclusive club of living former presidents. “He kind of laughed at the very notion that he would be accepted in the presidents club,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who interviewed Trump in 2019 for her book “Team of Five: The Presidents’ Club in the Age of Trump." “He was like, ‘I don’t think I’ll be accepted.'” It's equally clear that the club's other members don't much want him — at least for now. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a three-minute video from Arlington National Cemetery after President Joe Biden's inauguration this week, praising peaceful presidential succession as a core of American democracy. The segment included no mention of Trump by name, but stood as a stark rebuke of his behaviour since losing November's election. “I think the fact that the three of us are standing here, talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said. Obama called inaugurations “a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us." Trump spent months making baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him through fraud and eventually helped incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor's inauguration in 152 years. Obama, Bush and Clinton recorded their video after accompanying Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider following the inauguration. They also taped a video urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Only 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has limited his public events because of the pandemic, and Trump, who had already flown to post-presidential life in Florida, weren't there. Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Trump isn't a good fit for the ex-presidents club "because he’s temperamentally different.” “People within the club historically have been respected by ensuing presidents. Even Richard Nixon was respected by Bill Clinton and by Ronald Reagan and so on, for his foreign policy," Engel said. "I’m not sure I see a whole lot of people calling up Trump for his strategic advice.” Former presidents are occasionally called upon for big tasks. George H.W. Bush and Clinton teamed up in 2005 to launch a campaign urging Americans to help the victims of the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast, Bush, father of the then-current president George W. Bush, called on Clinton to boost Katrina fundraising relief efforts. When the elder Bush died in 2018, Clinton wrote, “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life," high praise considering this was the man he ousted from the White House after a bruising 1992 campaign — making Bush the only one-term president of the last three decades except for Trump. Obama tapped Clinton and the younger President Bush to boost fundraising efforts for Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake. George W. Bush also became good friends with former first lady Michelle Obama, and cameras caught him slipping a cough drop to her as they sat together at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s funeral. Usually presidents extend the same respect to their predecessors while still in office, regardless of party. In 1971, three years before he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon went to Texas to participate in the dedication of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library. When Nixon’s library was completed in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush attended with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Trump's break with tradition began even before his presidency did. After his election win in November 2016, Obama hosted Trump at the White House promising to “do everything we can to help you succeed.” Trump responded, “I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future” — but that never happened. Instead, Trump falsely accused Obama of having wiretapped him and spent four years savaging his predecessor's record. Current and former presidents sometimes loathed each other, and criticizing their successors isn’t unheard of. Carter criticized the policies of the Republican administrations that followed his, Obama chided Trump while campaigning for Biden and also criticized George W. Bush’s policies — though Obama was usually careful not to name his predecessor. Theodore Roosevelt tried to unseat his successor, fellow Republican William Howard Taft, by founding his own “Bull Moose” party and running for president again against him. Still, presidential reverence for former presidents dates back even further. The nation’s second president, John Adams, was concerned enough about tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor that he retained George Washington’s Cabinet appointments. Trump may have time to build his relationship with his predecessors. He told Brower that he “could see himself becoming friendly with Bill Clinton again," noting that the pair used to golf together. But the odds of becoming the traditional president in retirement that he never was while in office remain long. “I think Trump has taken it too far," Brower said. "I don’t think that these former presidents will welcome him at any point.” Will Weissert And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
Though the pandemic has cancelled his daily commute to work, Verdun resident Patrick Lavery still tries to get in 15,000 steps a day. "With the pandemic and working from home I was very sedentary," he said. "There were days I didn't leave the house at all and I put on a lot of weight, probably about 20 pounds." So back in September, Lavery decided to take on a 100-day challenge to walk about 10 kilometres a day. He wears a fitness tracker on his wrist to count his steps and log his daily activity level. "In the evening, I'll look at my watch and say, OK, this is how many steps I need to hit to reach my goal," Lavery said. "I'll head out and get that goal." It turns out Lavery may be on the right track, as a recent study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, shows Fitbits do help people lose weight. People with the popular wearable fitness trackers sit less and are more active, the study found. Mickaël Ringeval, a PhD student in management sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal, is the lead author of the study. Ringeval said to make wearing a Fitbit effective, it's important to set goals — for example 10,000 steps a day — and stick to them. Ringeval said wearing the watch and setting a goal proved to be more efficient than receiving a reminder from a physician to stay active. Ringeval's findings are based on a meta-analysis of 37 clinical trials from around the world, reviewing the activity level of some 4,000 adults from 2007 to the summer of 2019. The study looked at Fitbits, since they are the most popular fitness trackers on the market. The research also found that people with chronic illness benefited the most from these devices. But the devices aren't a magic bullet for laziness, Ringeval warned, as people still have to be determined to reach that daily step goal. As for Lavery, he said being able to keep track of his activity level is just the motivation he needed to lose 30 pounds in four months. "It helps me stay on track and lets me quantify how I'm doing," he said. "I can see my results ever day."
A Komoka resident and lifelong environmentalist is building Middlesex Centre’s first net-zero energy house, hoping to spark a trend in the region. A net-zero home minimizes energy use for heating and cooling, while producing its own energy through solar panels. “It’s been a personal mission and passion of mine to try to educate, not to preach, and to live by example,” said Terry Keep. “Even a guy who is not a builder can do this with the right people around them.” Keep has been building his new carbon-neutral family home amid the pandemic and expects to be finished by April. He spent years researching the process before breaking ground last fall. The 2,300-square-foot (214-square-metre) home will feature solar panels on its steel roof, along with thicker walls for better insulation and triple-pane windows to reduce energy use. The lumber used is all Forest Stewardship Council certified. The driveway will use permeable pavers so stormwater can drain through into the ground. “It’s a nicer, quieter, dryer, tighter home,” Keep said. It’s also one of few homes to feature an electric furnace — the home uses no natural gas — and a heat pump. The house is divided into three zones, each heated only when necessary. Though net-zero homes are available in the London region — Sifton’s West Five development, for example, is geared toward sustainable living — Keep said building one independently in other neighbourhoods isn’t common. He’s documenting the building process — he calls it a “labour of love” — on YouTube, aiming to show carbon-neutral homes can be accessible and affordable for everyday consumers, not just environmentalists. He also wanted to prove you don’t have to move to a new neighbourhood to get a carbon-neutral house. “It’s the desire to show people it’s a regular neighbourhood, my home will stand beside a regular, code-built home,” Keep said. “I want people to see it can be done.” Walk through Keep’s house in progress, and it looks like any other mid-century modern home — with hints of Frank Lloyd Wright — not something out of The Jetsons. About 20 per cent of the average home's carbon footprint comes from household energy consumption. It takes about seven years for a solar-powered house to recoup the investment costs. But Keep has faced many hurdles getting his environmentally sustainable house off the ground, even without pandemic hiccups, such as labour and supply shortages. Finding architects, builders and tradespeople with knowledge and experience in developing net-zero houses was a challenge, Keep said, and getting them to commit to a single house even harder. “It’s been a really interesting ride,” said the home's builder, Frank Oosterhoff, who owns Great Lakes Construction. Keep said Middlesex Centre is a progressive area in terms of sustainability, citing the newly built net-zero firehall, and the community centre’s solar panels. Once his own house is finished, Keep plans to pursue building a row of affordable, net-zero townhouses. “The next generation is starting to realize there's value in that,” he said. “If everyone can afford one, they’ll buy it — if they can’t afford one, they won’t.” Keep drives a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is also a vegetarian. He was a founding member of EnviroWestern, a group at Western University that promotes sustainability. “We make small steps to get to a big impact over our life,” Keep said. “It doesn’t happen over a short period.” firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Regina police have charged Harvey Vince Huntinghawk, 47, in the death of Jeffrey Gerald Lehto. Huntinghawk is the second person to be charged in connection with that death. He made his first appearance in court on Friday. On Tuesday, police responded to the 1700 block of Quebec St. following a report of an attack. Inside, police and emergency medical responders found a seriously injured Lehto, 30. He was taken to hospital, where he died on Wednesday. Adam Hook, 39, was previously charged with the same offence as Huntinghawk and appeared in court on the matter on Thursday. Police say it's the city's second homicide of 2021.
White City ratepayers will see a property tax increase in 2021 after town council set its annual budget Jan. 11, but the increase will be mitigated in part by the results of this year’s provincial property revaluation. Settled by a 5-2 vote, council passed a budget that increases the residential and commercial mill rate by 0.33 mills, or 9.7 per cent, to 3.719 mills. Base taxes are also going up, with developed properties to pay $990 this year — up $40 or 4.2 per cent from last year — and undeveloped properties to pay $710, up $30 or 4.4 per cent over last year. With preliminary data from the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency’s 2021 revaluation showing a province-wide decrease in residential property values, however, the actual increase to White City’s property tax revenues is budgeted at 2.86 per cent. Council had initially sent the budget back to administration in December with the goal of achieving a 0.01 per cent tax increase. However, with utility accounts running in deficit, recent water rate increases yet to bring those services to self-sufficiency, and concerns over the future impact of hypothetical spending cuts that would have been required to balance the budget without increasing taxes, administration came back in January and recommended the tax increase to council. Councillors Hal Zorn and Scott Moskal voted against the final budget as presented, while Mayor Brian Fergusson, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Otitoju and councillors Andrew Boschman, Bill Krzysik and Kris Moen voted in favour. The 2021 budget projects gross operating revenues of $7.09 million, gross operating expenditures of $7.161 million and gross capital expenditures of $5.541 million. With $2.231 million in grants and other capital contributions factored in, along with amortization, debt repayments, a $390,394 transfer from the town’s reserves, and the issuance of $2.673 million in new long-term debt, the town is projecting a surplus of $4,552 for the year. White City residents had previously taken on almost $5.5 million in debt over the 2019 and 2020 tax years combined. Overall outstanding debt levels are projected to double from $9,037,900 in 2019 to $18,346,275 in 2023 due to projects such as the Multi-Use Recreation Facility, Betteridge Road buildout, and a Town Centre Office. Some of these projects, such as Betteridge Road, are slated to be funded by development levies. “There are some risks council should be aware of here, with respect to how soon we get development moving in this community again,” town manager Ken Kolb told council. “One, potential new borrowing would be required for the wastewater facility, and how soon we are able to collect that back as well. Those are a couple of unknowns which affect our capital plans going forward this year.” When Fergusson asked what that risk meant overall, Kolb replied if lands around the Town Centre area aren’t developed, the development levies needed to pay for it won’t be collected. “If we do get the ability to approve development in 2021, then our risk is significantly reduced,” Kolb said. “I wouldn’t recommend you proceed with construction until such a time you have development agreements signed and the developments approved by Community Planning.” Kolb said they can continue to plan for projects such as the Betteridge Road improvements or the Multi-Use Recreation Facility though there could be delays. When councillors started debate after the budget presentation, Moskal repeated his support for the near-zero per cent tax increase. “To draw that contrast in that unfortunate and unnecessary competitive nature between the RM and White City, and that they have held the line in the last two years while we have increased, it is important for us to hold the line noting that things will change with the annexation decision regardless of that decision,” Moskal said. “If we are successful in that annexation as we have proposed, things will change and they won’t change for the worse as taxes would not be going up for residents. That being said, if the decision is in part or fully declined we will need to revisit how we operate and spend in this town. We will be limited in future growth. We will not be able to expand. We will be restricted and that means a lot of things change.” Others such as Otitoju, said they shouldn’t be comparing tax rates with the RM of Edenwold in the first place. “We do need to be competitive and comparable, but I have a concern services could be stopped by doing this,” Otitoju said. “We need to make sure we make a budget that addresses concerns now. Whether we are successful with annexation or not, those are concerns for tomorrow.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. TikTok earlier this month rolled out some tightened privacy features for users under the age of 18, including a new default private setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15. The new practices, affecting users around the world, followed a move by U.S. regulators to order TikTok and other social media services to disclose how their practices affect children and teenagers. The Associated Press
The province’s largest vaccination effort in history is projected to vaccinate all 4.3 million eligible British Columbians by the end of September, health officials announced today. The province is prepared to deliver 8.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — both of which require two doses — to all adults who want one at a rate of up to 500,000 per week as vaccine supply increases. No vaccines have been approved for use by B.C.’s 900,000 children and youth under 18. “By the end of September, everyone who wants a vaccination will have one,” said Premier John Horgan. The province has changed early plans to continue prioritizing specific at-risk groups as is being done in other provinces. Instead, the vaccine will be administered largely based on age in B.C.’s four-phase strategy. “Our immunization plan is based on evidence and data,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “And we know the single greatest risk factor for serious illness and death from COVID-19 is increasing age.” Initially the province said frontline workers such as those in law enforcement, grocery stores and essential businesses and teachers and emergency responders could be prioritized in its plans. But research from B.C. and the rest of Canada indicates that risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19 increases “almost exponentially” with age, Henry noted. Those over 80 are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as those in their late 60s, who are five times more likely than people under 45. Even the other chronic conditions proven to increase the risk of hospitalization and death, such as serious asthma, heart disease and diabetes, are heavily correlated with age, Henry said. “Going on an age-based model captures the majority of people with underlying risk factors first,” she said. “This is going to be, and needs to be, an all-B.C. effort to make sure we can protect those most vulnerable and all of us in our communities.” Phase 1 of the strategy is already well under way, focusing on long-term care staff and residents and essential visitors, health-care workers treating COVID-19 patients and remote First Nations communities. More than 100,000 people have been vaccinated so far, and the phase will wrap up by March, Henry said. Under Phase 2, starting in March, 172 communities will see stadiums, high school gyms and public plazas turned into mass immunization centres. Mobile vaccination clinics and house-call teams will also be available for smaller communities and people who can’t make it to a vaccination centre. More than 240,000 seniors over 80 living in the community will be immunized, as well as Indigenous seniors over 65, hospital staff and community practitioners and homeless or vulnerable populations living in settings like shelters and group homes. At the same time, vaccination pre-registrations will start for the general population by phone and online, opening two to four weeks before each age group is eligible on a rolling basis. In Phase 3 starting in April, about 980,000 seniors in the community will be immunized. The plan is to start with people 75 to 79 and move through the population in five-year increments until everyone over 60 is vaccinated. B.C.’s vaccination lead Dr. Penny Ballem said immunocompromised adults and teens over 16 will get the vaccine if it’s deemed medically necessary during this phase, as well as organ transplant recipients and those with other clinical vulnerabilities. And the final phase starting in July will see about three million people aged 18 to 59 vaccinated in descending age order. Patients will also receive physical or digital vaccination records noting the date and kind of vaccination they received, and all immunization records will also be available through the provincial health gateway. The plan is based on the increasing availability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as the anticipated approval of additional vaccines on order. Vaccine shortages have already delayed vaccinations in B.C. and across Canada. The province expects more than 800,000 doses to arrive in B.C. before the end of March, 2.6 million from April to June and six million by the end of September. Planning also assumes 100-per-cent uptake in the population, which surveys indicate will not be the case. Henry hopes around 70 per cent of those eligible will be vaccinated to build community immunity. “This can be reached if the large majority of people in B.C. choose to be immunized,” she said. Officials say the timeline could shift if the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved and available in the province, or if vaccines need to be rerouted to deal with community outbreaks, clusters or high-risk workplaces. Ballem said the baseline estimates “allows us to know how to schedule human resources, supply chains for vaccines and other supplies that are necessary.” Horgan said more delays are possible if vaccine production is slower than expected. But the plan is a good starting point and can be adapted as vaccine supplies increase or acute needs emerge in communities, he said. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged people to continue washing their hands, staying home when sick and masking up in public areas. It will be a long time until any sense of normalcy can return, and this is a critical time to protect the most vulnerable before they are immunized, they said. “What’s really important for success and us getting through these next few months is continuing to take the precautions that we know work,” said Henry. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Hong Kong's government locked down an area of Kowloon peninsula on Saturday after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, saying 10,000 residents must stay home until they have been tested and the results largely determined. The government said there are 70 buildings in the restricted area, which is close to the International Commerce Centre (ICC), and it aims to finish the process within about 48 hours, so that people can start to return to work on Monday. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said 50 makeshift testing points had been set up and 3,000 civil servants were assisting.
The Crown has withdrawn sex-related charges against a former Edmonton martial arts instructor. Kevin Ford was the owner and operator of ATA Martial Arts in west Edmonton. He is no longer listed as an instructor at the facility. When he was charged in 2018, Edmonton police alleged that two women, ages 19 and 25, had been sexually assaulted by Ford when he was instructing them. The case was supposed to go to trial by jury in June, but that trial was cancelled after Crown prosecutor Lori Dunford withdrew the charges. On Friday afternoon, with the consent of Dunford and defence lawyer Mona Duckett, Ford entered into a 24-month peace bond. The terms of the peace bond were not read aloud in court.
WASHINGTON — It's a proven political strategy: Underpromise and overdeliver. President Joe Biden, in his first three days in office, has painted a bleak picture of the country's immediate future, warning Americans that it will take months, not weeks, to reorient a nation facing a historic convergence of crises. The dire language is meant as a call to action, but it's also a deliberate effort to temper expectations. In addition, it is an explicit rejection of President Donald Trump’s tack of talking down the coronavirus pandemic and its economic toll. Chris Lu, a longtime Obama administration official, said the grim tone is aimed at “restoring trust in government” that eroded during the Trump administration. “If you’re trying to get people to believe in this whole system of vaccinations, and if you want people to take seriously mask mandates, your leaders have to level with the American people,” he said. Biden said Thursday that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better” and offered “the brutal truth” that it will take eight months before a majority of Americans will be vaccinated. On Friday, he declared outright: “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” It's all part of Biden's pledge that his administration will "always be honest and transparent with you, about both the good news and the bad.” That approach, aides say, explains Biden’s decision to set clear and achievable goals for his new administration. The measured approach is drawing praise in some corners for being realistic -— but criticism from others for its caution. Trump often dismissed the seriousness of the virus and even acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately played down the threat to the U.S. to prop up the economy. Even as death tolls and infection rates soared, Trump insisted the country was already “rounding the turn.” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Biden’s pledge for 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office might fall short of what’s needed to turn the tide on the virus. “Maybe they’re picking a number that’s easier to achieve, rather than the number that we need to achieve. I would urge people to be bolder than that,” he said. Adalja argued that the goal they’ve set “should be the bare minimum that we accept.” But he also acknowledged that there’s a major political risk in overpromising. “You don’t want people to be discouraged or feel like the government is incompetent” if they fail to meet a goal, he said. “It’s a disappointingly low bar,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician. Biden on Friday acknowledged the criticism, saying he was hopeful for more vaccinations, but he avoided putting down a marker that could potentially fall out of reach. “I found it fascinating that yesterday the press asked the question, ‘Is 100 million enough?'" he said in the State Dining Room. "A week before, they were saying, ‘Biden, are you crazy? You can’t do 100 million in 100 days.’ Well, we’re — God willing — not only going to 100 million. We’re going to do more than that.” In fact, while there was some skepticism when Biden first announced the goal on Dec. 8, it was generally seen as optimistic but within reach. The Biden administration might be taking lessons from the earliest days of the Obama administration, when there was constant pressure to show real progress in turning around the economy during the financial crisis. One former Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about internal conversations, said there was a fevered effort during the first few months of Obama's first term to play down the focus on evaluating the president’s success within his first 100 days because aides knew the financial recovery would take far longer than that. In one notable misstep, Obama’s National Economic Council chair, Christina Romer, predicted that unemployment wouldn’t top 8% if Congress passed the administration’s stimulus package to address the financial crisis. It was signed into law a month into Obama's first term, but by the end of that year, unemployment nevertheless hit 10%. The risk in setting too rosy expectations is that an administration might become defined by its failure to meet them. President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003 — at a time when the Iraq War was far from over — became a defining blunder of his presidency. Trump provided an overreach of his own in May 2020, when he said the nation had “prevailed” over the virus. At the time, the country had seen about 80,000 deaths from the virus. This week, the U.S. death toll topped 412,000. Trump’s lax approach and lack of credibility contributed to poor adherence to public safety rules among the American public. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Trump’s handling of the virus caused so much damage to public perceptions of its severity that it’s important for Biden to set a contrasting tone. “I think it is really important to start telling the American people the truth. And that has not happened in a year, since we found the first case of coronavirus, so he’s got a lot of damage to undo,” she said. “This is a very serious, very contagious, deadly disease, and anything other than that message — delivered over and over again — is, unfortunately, adding to the willingness of lots of people to pay no attention to how to stop the spread of the disease.” Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — The son of a couple killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue attack that killed 11 worshippers is suing the National Rifle Association, arguing the group’s inflammatory rhetoric led to the violence. Marc Simon, the son of Sylvan and Bernice Simon, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against the NRA, the gun maker Colt’s Manufacturing Co., and accused shooter, Robert Bowers, news outlets reported. Colt manufactured the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle allegedly used by Bowers. A fourth defendant is the unknown business that sold Bowers the gun. Bowers is charged with killing 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Police said the former truck driver expressed hatred of Jews during and after the October 2018 rampage. “Bowers was not born fearing and hating Jews,” the suit claims. “The gun lobby taught him to do that.” Bowers has pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The plaintiff argues gun lobbyists like the NRA radicalized people with “mendacious white supremacist conspiracy theories.” The lawsuit also says Colt could have prevented the AR-15 from “bump firing,” or using a modification that allows the rifle to fire more rapidly. An NRA spokesperson declined comment on the lawsuit. The group filed for bankruptcy last week, and the claims against them in Simon’s lawsuit will be stayed as a result of the group’s reorganizing. Colt did not respond to request for comment. Besides a wrongful death claim, the complaint accuses Colt of product liability and says the gun is more akin to a military-style weapon than a civilian product. The Associated Press
PHOENIX -- Health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arizona are declining despite the state having the worst infection rate in the country. Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Friday that the number of patients and even the positivity test rate have dipped slightly in the last few weeks. It was the one bright spot of news as Arizona reached a grim milestone with a pandemic death toll of more than 12,000. That puts COVID-19 on track to eclipse heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the state. The Department of Health Services on Friday reported 8,099 additional known cases and 229 additional deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 708,041 cases and 12,001 deaths. One person in every 141 Arizona residents was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past week. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: Dr. Fauci says a lack of candour about the coronavirus under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives. Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics, but faces vaccine roadblocks. Germany passes 50,000 deaths from coronavirus. Lucky few get COVID-19 vaccine because of rare extra doses in U.S. New Chinese film praises Wuhan ahead of lockdown anniversary. Brazil awaits vaccine cargo from India amid supply concerns. ___ 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: BOISE, Idaho -- Limited coronavirus vaccine availability, confusion over which Idaho residents should be vaccinated first and rumours of line-jumpers are all complicating the state’s vaccine rollout. Members of Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee met Friday to help clarify exactly who should have first dibs on the state’s doses. Sarah Leeds with the Idaho Immunization Program says the demand is far higher than the doses available. So far, the federal government has distributed more than 178,000 doses to Idaho. That’s a rate of about 9,970 doses for every 100,000 residents, putting Idaho near the bottom compared to the allotment given other states. Currently, front-line health care workers, nursing home staffers, dentists, pharmacists and other medical-field staffers are eligible to be vaccinated in Idaho, as can child care workers, teachers and staffers at primary and secondary schools and correctional centre staffers. But the people who are charged with giving out the vaccine — local health departments, pharmacies and medical care providers — have different interpretations of exactly who is included in each category. ___ RALEIGH — North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that the state has seen 1,280 of its coronavirus vaccine doses get discarded. “Only 0.1% (or 1,280) of the 1.1 million doses which have entered the state thus far have become unusable for any reason and we have not received reports of significant batches being lost,” the department said in a statement to The Associated Press. In a Thursday afternoon news conference, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Mandy Cohen, estimated the waste to be “in the tens of doses.” Doses being administered at county health departments, clinics, hospitals and other places could be tossed out due to a vaccine being stored too long in a freezer or not being administered in a timely manner once it has been taken out of a freezer. There are currently 136 different vaccine providers in the state. The health department said providers are using low dead-volume syringes are designed to maximize the amount of doses it can get out one multi-dose vial. “In some cases, providers have been able to extract an extra dose out of the Pfizer supply, and we appreciate the hard work of providers to maximize the use of this supply,” the department said. North Carolina expects to continue getting about 120,000 new first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week. ___ SEATTLE -- A suburban Seattle man who advertised a supposed COVID-19 “vaccine” he said he created in his personal lab, has been arrested. KUOW reports Johnny T. Stine faces a misdemeanour charge of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Stine advertised injections of the supposed vaccine for $400 on his personal Facebook page in March 2020. At that time, there was no authorized COVID-19 vaccine on the market. It wasn’t immediately known if Stine has a lawyer to comment on his case. He could face up to one year in prison if convicted. ___ BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A state health inspector has found that some residents of a long-term care and skilled nursing facility in Burlington, Vermont, failed to get doses of required medication and proper wound care and were left to sit in their urine amid a coronavirus outbreak at the facility last month. The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did the inspection at Elderwood at Burlington on Dec. 9 and 10, the Burlington Free Press reported. The survey was done following recent anonymous complaints about the facility. A subsequent report did not find any instances of infection control failing to stop the spread of COVID-19, the newspaper reported. The facility said in a statement Friday that it is committed to working with regulatory authorities to ensure it maintains high standards of care and appropriately complies with all guidance. “Elderwood at Burlington is and always has been committed to high quality, safe resident care. Throughout the pandemic, which has stretched the resources of healthcare providers across the country, our staff have worked with diligence and dedication to care for residents,” the statement said. The report states that the facility continues to hire, train and schedule enough competent staff to meet the needs of residents and surpass state minimum staffing requirements. ___ MISSION, Kan. — Online sign-ups for the coronavirus vaccine are filling up almost as quickly as they are posted as health officials in Kansas begin moving beyond immunizing just health care workers and long-term care residents. Saline County had to shut its down within 30 minutes after residents 65 and older nabbed all 900 available slots. That’s about how long Douglas County had its signup open before its 500 slots were filled. The rush comes after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that the state was moving into the second vaccination phase, which includes about 1 million people. It includes not just those 65 and older but also people in congregate settings such as prisons and homeless shelters, and critical workers such as firefighters, police officers, teachers and meat packing plant employees. The state also will continue vaccinating people from the first phase, some of whom wanted to watch the rollout to see if there were problems before getting vaccinated themselves. The challenge is that the state doesn’t have nearly enough doses for all of them — at least not yet. So the state is leaving it up to counties to decide how to prioritize who gets vaccinated next. ___ SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is reporting a one-day record of 764 COVID-19 deaths but the rate of new infections is falling. The deaths reported Friday by the California Department of Public Health top the previous mark of 708 set on Jan. 8. In the last two days California has recorded 1,335 deaths. Hospitalizations and newly confirmed cases have been falling, however, and health officials are growing more optimistic that the worst of the latest surge is over. The 23,024 new cases reported Friday are less than half the mid-December peak of nearly 54,000. Hospitalizations have fallen below 20,000, a drop of more than 10% in two weeks. ___ PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown on Friday defended her decision to reject federal guidelines and prioritize teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine before the elderly, stating that if all of Oregon’s seniors were vaccinated first teachers would likely not be vaccinated before the school year and many students would not return to in-person learning. In addition, during a news conference, officials from the Oregon Health Authority presented a new vaccination timeline that delays the eligibility for seniors 65 to 69 years old to be vaccinated until March 7 and those 70 to 74 pushed back to Feb. 28. Last week, Oregon officials announced a change to the vaccine distribution — instead of vaccinating teachers and seniors at the same time, teachers would be vaccinated beginning Jan. 25 and people 80 or older beginning Feb. 8. ___ SAO PAULO — Sao Paulo state, which has posted the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths of any Brazilian state, has tightened its restrictions on activity until Feb. 7 with the 8 p.m. closure of non-essential businesses. The reopening of schools, previously planned for Feb. 1, was postponed by a week. Health authorities also announced local hospitals could run out of intensive-care beds in 28 days, which forced them to reassign 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients. Sao Paulo state is home to 46 million people, and has recorded almost 51,000 deaths from the virus —almost one fourth of the total in Brazil, where cases and deaths of coronavirus are surging again. Also on Friday, Brazil’s health regulator authorized the emergency use of 4.8 million CoronaVac vaccines bottled locally by Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute. Six million shots were previously made available by Butantan, and another 2 million AstraZeneca shots are expected to arrive from India later on Friday. Brazil has a population of about 210 million. ___ MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's state health officer said a low supply of vaccine is the largest hindrance to getting people vaccinated for COVID-19. Alabama health officials were expecting to get more than 112,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses a week based on conversations with federal officials when Operation Ward Speed began last year. Instead, officials said, the state is getting about 50,000 to 60,000 doses a week. Dr. Scott Harris said federal officials later said the 112,000 figure was not a promise but a figure that the state should use in its planning. Alabama has approved more than 883 pharmacies, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other providers to do vaccinations but only 364 have received any vaccine. He said only about 117 providers will get vaccine this week because of the available supply. The state of nearly 5 million people has received 502,950 vaccine doses and 223,887 of those have been administered, according to state numbers. Harris said many of the unused doses are designated for patients in upcoming appointments for their second or first dose. ___ WASHINGTON — White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked about a potential pause in vaccinations in New York, where the state is reporting a shortage in vaccines available for first doses. Psaki says the White House has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “look into what is possible” to address the situation in New York. But she stressed the administration will defer to the judgment of medical experts. “Clearly we don’t want any states to run out of access to vaccines,” Psaki says, adding the Biden administration aims to avoid supply crunches going forward. ___ LONDON — AstraZeneca says it will ship fewer doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union than anticipated due to supply chain problems. The company is waiting for the European Medicines Agency to approve its vaccine, which could happen when the EU regulator meets on Jan. 29. AstraZeneca’s statement said, “initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.” It adds: “We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes.” Regulators in Britain and several other countries have already given the vaccine the green light. ___ BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has released some demographic details on who’s received the coronavirus vaccine. However, the data provided Friday lacks key information to determine if Louisiana’s doses are equitably distributed. Few vaccine providers are identifying race in the data submitted. That undermines Gov. John Bel Edwards’ efforts to ensure minority groups have adequate access to vaccination. The information shows at least 33% of Louisiana’s nearly 273,000 vaccine recipients are white and at least 10% are black. But another 56% of those who have received the shots were listed as “unknown” or “other.” Edwards is calling on hospitals, clinics and pharmacies vaccinating people in Louisiana to start providing more complete data. ___ WASHINGTON — New research finds full doses of blood thinners such as heparin can help moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients avoid the need for breathing machines or other organ support. The preliminary results come from three large, international studies testing various coronavirus treatments and haven’t yet been published. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sponsors released the results Friday to help doctors decide on appropriate care. Nearly all hospitalized COVID-19 patients currently get low doses of a blood thinner to try to prevent clots from forming. The new results show that “when we give higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill, there is a significant benefit in preventing them from getting sicker,” said Dr. Matthew Neal, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one study leader. However, the researchers say these drugs don’t help and may harm people who are more seriously ill. The study highlights how timing and degree of illness matter for coronavirus treatments. Steroid drugs can help severely ill patients but not ones who are only mildly ill. Some antibody drugs seem to help when given soon after or before symptoms appear but not for sicker, hospitalized patients. ___ HAVANA — A possibly more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Cuba. Dr. María Guadalupe Guzmán of the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine says the variant, originally detected in South Africa, was found in an asymptomatic traveller during a check at ports and airports. While that case was imported, she says authorities can’t rule out the possibility it is also circulating locally. But the institute’s director of epidemiology, Francisco Duran, said it’s not the reason for a recent upsurge in cases on the island. The nation of some 11 million people has recorded more than 20,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 530 on Thursday, and 188 deaths. ___ PHOENIX — Arizona’s death toll surpassed 12,000 on Friday after reporting 229 more deaths. The Department of Health Services reported 8,099 confirmed cases, increasing total cases to more than 700,000. The surge has crowded hospitals statewide. Arizona is ramping up vaccinations by opening an additional site. But like other states, Arizona has had difficulty getting enough doses to administer. ___ WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation is extending its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew and lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more coronavirus vaccinations. Tribal officials announced the measures will take effect Monday and run through at least Feb. 15. Officials say the daily curfew will run daily from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The tribe has reported a total of 26,782 cases and 940 known deaths on the reservation. ___ RABAT, Morocco — Morocco has received its first doses of vaccine against the coronavirus and plans to start injections next week. The Health Ministry sats the AstraZeneca vaccine, delivered from India, will be followed by another delivery next week of a second vaccine, from China’s Sinopharm. The vaccine rollout will start next week. Priority will be given to health workers age 40 and above, police and army officers, teachers 45 and above and those over 75. The Associated Press
Trees may add aesthetics and environmental benefits, but if they are planted too close to power lines they can cause power outages and fires, a SaskPower delegation told the Town of White City at its Jan. 11 council meeting. The Crown corporation is assessing whether trees are impacting power lines in White City, and SaskPower arborist Blake Neufeld said while cutting down trees is a last resort, it is sometimes a necessity when they get too close to overhead power lines. Sometimes pre-emptive pruning can prevent the total loss of a tree. “Trees and power lines don’t mix,” Neufeld said. “Tree contacts with power lines in storms cause 15 percent of our power outages province-wide. We are trying to do preventative maintenance on our easements. In the Town of White City, there are a lot of poplars and that requires a lot of cleanup.” The tree maintenance is part of a provincial program which looks after more than 115,000 kilometres of power line right-of-ways. Within White City itself, Sask Power has two circuits it monitors, serving 2,600 homes and businesses. Approximately 500 trees are slated for removal in White City — 400 of them are on private property while the other 100 are on municipal land — though not all of those trees will fully disappear. “These town removals are not all big trees,” Neufeld said. “We have 10 larger ones while the rest of them are smaller. The way we identify a removal is sometimes we have ... a multi-stem tree, and if we take three stems off, that counts as three trees and we leave the rest of the tree.” Overall in White City 24,000 square metres of removal will be done to ensure the SaskPower lines are kept to safety standards. Neufeld said land owners are notified by SaskPower if work has to be done to prune or remove trees on their property. The assessor has already told affected landowners of the issue, and about 48-hours before the tree work is done, the contractor doing the work will also contact the landowner or resident advising of what is to take place. The goal is to have all tree work in White City completed by the end of March, when restrictions affecting elm trees come into force. For those looking at planting trees or shrubs to define their properties, Neufeld said power lines should be considered as well as the type of tree used in the area. Trees need to be three to six metres away from a power line to prevent future problems, depending on how high a tree is projected to grow. Taller trees should be at least six metres away, with trees growing more than 12 metres in height being at least 15 metres away from the power line. Neufeld said by taking note of those guidelines, both trees and power lines can co-exist safely. Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
An online social event for Black students at Dalhousie University in Halifax was hijacked Wednesday by people who hurled racist and homophobic comments at participants. OmiSoore Dryden, who organized the event, called it a "co-ordinated attack" as several people tried to gain access to the Zoom session, which was supposed to be a place where Black medical and health profession students could talk about their studies and support one another. "People actually felt that they had the right to do this," Dryden, the James R. Johnston chair in Black Canadian studies in Dalhousie University's faculty of medicine, told CBC Radio's Maritime Noon on Friday. "They felt perfectly within their rights," said Dryden. "They actually colluded and collaborated with others to engage in this racist behaviour, and they were gleeful." It wasn't the first time Dryden has been at an event celebrating Black students that was Zoom-bombed, a term used to describe when people take over digital meetings and cause mayhem or post disturbing content. In September, an online event to launch the National Black Graduate Network was also attacked, Dryden said. "I think to be a Black person in Canada in 2021, these are experiences, whether it's virtually or just walking down the street, where people will call you the N-word or people will push you off the sidewalk claiming that you don't have the right to be in public space," she said. On Wednesday, there seemed to be a lot of people waiting to join the Zoom meeting. It was the first "chair chat" since November, and Dryden said she was looking forward to meeting new students. She's been hosting the events for Black medical students, health profession students and graduate students since 2019 through her role as the James R. Johnston chair. Dryden asked people who joined the meeting to turn on their cameras so she could see their faces and they could introduce themselves. At first she noticed one person had posted a creepy picture, and then several people's mics turned on. "That's when we were confronted and affronted with their racist and misogynist and homophobic slurs and their hateful speech and, you know, it was a kind of taunting and racist bullying that many people still have to face," Dryden said. In the past, Dryden has promoted the events on social media, but this time she also sent a letter to several departments at Dalhousie. "My sense is that they may have been Dal community members or folks who know Dal community members, but I can't guarantee that. There's nothing I can pull from that call that would solidify that," she said. During the onslaught of racist comments, Dryden said she quickly removed people and noticed there was a slew of other people still waiting to join. She then shut the meeting down and asked students to rejoin. The event was able to continue after that. University trying to ID perpetrators Dalhousie IT staff and security services are now trying to figure out if they can identify the people who made the comments, according to a letter sent to the university community on Thursday. Deep Saini, president of Dalhousie University, and Theresa Rajack-Talley, vice-provost equity and inclusion, wrote that the university "unequivocally condemns these cowardly acts of anti-Black racism." "The Dalhousie community stands with Dr. Dryden, the students and all those affected by this incident and condemns all forms of racism and discrimination in the strongest terms. We will continue to focus on strengthening our resilience, resistance and efforts moving forward," they wrote. Dryden said she appreciates that response. "I think whenever we are confronted with this kind of overt racial harassment, racial violence, we should be enraged. I think that's an appropriate response to racism and anti-Black racism," she said. What most disturbs her, she said, is that the perpetrators seemed to revel in what they were doing. It's part of the culture in Canada right now that allows people to feel emboldened in their racist behaviour, she said. "It can make one weary, continually weary or tired because it's part of the day-to-day, everyday racism that Black people have to face." Saini and Rjack-Talley encouraged students affected by what happened on Wednesday to reach out to the university for resources and support. The next chair chat event is planned for Feb. 17. The social events — which typically include food and music if they're allowed to happen in person — are a chance for students to celebrate their accomplishments, ask questions and socialize. "It was just a social space where we got to talk to each other about navigating the university as Black people and supporting each other in our milestones and in our successes, and we will return to that," Dryden said. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. MORE TOP STORIES
The Ontario government is kicking off a new social media campaign with actors, singers, athletes, and business owners who are all asking you to remain at home. Meanwhile, data tracking mobility in the city continues to show progress. Matthew Bingley reports.
VICTORIA — The federal economic development minister says business leaders in British Columbia want to work with a new development agency aiming to help them endure the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for the future. Melanie Joly said she's heard from entrepreneurs and business owners across B.C. about the support for a home-based economic development agency, including during an online forum Friday with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. Joly said the promised B.C.-based agency will provide targeted economic support and relief in the form of loans, subsidies and advice about federal programs. "People want to be able to have access to levers to survive the economic crisis and the pandemic, but at the same time people want to talk about the future and want to be optimistic as the vaccinations roll out," she said in a phone interview. Joly said she's heard in panel discussions with business leaders that they're concerned about the distance between Ottawa and B.C. as entrepreneurs argue for an agency that is closer to home. "There's a feeling of disconnection towards the federal government," she said. "That has created sometimes frustration on the part of people in B.C. We need to increase our impact, our footprint. We need to make sure that people trust the fact that the federal government is there for them." Joly, who is also the minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, said B.C. entrepreneurs have told her the province's economy was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic and they need help now to get them through. Last December's federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year, she said, adding the budget for the new B.C. agency has not been set and there's no date yet for an opening date. "I always have a sense of urgency in life," Joly said after her meeting with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. "I'm a very impatient person, so the team and I are working extremely hard to make sure we can launch this new B.C. agency but we need to make sure we do things right." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The former top editor of The New York Daily News has been tapped as the next executive editor of The Providence Journal. David Ng succeeds Alan Rosenberg, who retired in December 2020 after more than four decades working at Rhode Island's largest paper. The 62-year-old said he hopes to continue the Journal's mission of serving as the “town square for its citizens” to gather to “share our stories and to exchange ideas and debate our opinions.” Lisa Strattan, a vice-president of news at Gannett, which owns the Journal, said Ng's “drive to win" and commitment to diversity and inclusion will elevate the Journal's coverage. Ng also previously served as associate managing editor at The New York Post, a former senior news editor at Newsday on Long Island and an assistant managing editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. The Providence Journal is considered the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the country and has won four Pulitzer Prizes. Ng starts Jan. 28. The Associated Press
B.C. health officials confirmed 508 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and said nine more people had died of the disease. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 315 people, 74 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,128 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are currently 4,479 active cases of coronavirus in the province, which is an increase from Thursday's number when there were 4,450 active cases. Public health is monitoring 6,719 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 56,455 people who tested positive have recovered. Bend curve, not rules In their statement, Henry and Dix again asked residents to closely follow measures in place to reduce infections "We can break the chains of transmission and bend the curve through our individual actions," it said. "This weekend, choose to bend the curve, not the rules." B.C. has recorded two new outbreaks in health-care facilities — one at Royal Inland Hospital and the other at Royal Columbian Hospital. Interior Health said that as of Friday morning, six patients and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Royal Inland Hospital. Late Friday, Providence Health announced that an outbreak has been declared in another unit at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. There are now outbreaks in three separate areas of the hospital, but the health authority says there is no impact on other parts of building. Interior Health has announced an additional 11 cases of COVID-19 linked to the community cluster at Big White Mountain, bringing the total there to 214 cases since the cluster was first declared. Meanwhile, a community cluster in the Williams Lake area has grown to include a total of 268 cases. Interior Health says most of those cases are related to transmission at social gatherings and events, which are not permitted under current public health orders. The province has also declared an outbreak at the North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre in Port Coquitlam, where 20 inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The new cases announced Friday break down by region as follows: 132 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 228 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 13 in the Island Health region, 79 in the Interior Health region and 55 in the Northern Health region. There was one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada. About 29 per cent of the new cases announced Friday were in the Interior Health, Northern Health and Island Health regions, compared with 39 per cent of new cases in those regions that were announced Thursday. Also on Friday, the province released its plans to vaccinate 4.3 million residents against the virus by September. Officials will vaccinate people in four phases based on age with high-risk and most elderly populations going first. So far, 110,566 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., including nearly 2,202 second doses. Friday's statement said that even as more people are vaccinated in B.C., residents need to continue to keep their guard up against infection. "We need to remember our risk remains high right now, even as we protect more and more people with vaccine," said the statement. "We are not at the point where we can lift restrictions in our community or long-term care." Henry and Dix's statement Friday follows news that B.C. will not ban non-essential travellers from other provinces in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. Thursday evening, Horgan said that the government has explored its legal options but won't be restricting travel at this point, although that could change.
WASHINGTON — New first lady Jill Biden took an unannounced detour to the U.S. Capitol on Friday to deliver baskets of chocolate chip cookies to National Guard members, thanking them “for keeping me and my family safe” during President Joe Biden's inauguration. “I just want to say thank you from President Biden and the whole, the entire Biden family,” she told a group of Guard members at the Capitol. “The White House baked you some chocolate chip cookies," she said, before joking that she couldn't say she had baked them herself. Joe Biden was sworn into office on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after Donald Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol in a futile attempt to keep Congress from certifying Biden as the winner of November's presidential election. Extensive security measures were then taken for the inauguration, which went off without any major incidents. Jill Biden told the group that her late son, Beau, was a Delaware Army National Guard member who spent a year deployed in Iraq in 2008-09. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. “So I'm a National Guard mom,” she said, adding that the baskets were a “small thank you” for leaving their home states and coming to the nation's capital. President Biden offered his thanks to the chief of the National Guard Bureau in a phone call Friday. “I truly appreciate all that you do,” the first lady said. “The National Guard will always hold a special place in the heart of all the Bidens.” Jill Biden's unannounced troop visit came after her first public outing as first lady. She highlighted services for cancer patients at Whitman-Walker Health, a Washington institution with a history of serving HIV/AIDS patients and the LGBTQ community. The clinic receives federal money to help provide primary care services in underserved areas. Staff told the first lady that cancer screenings had fallen since last March because patients didn't want to come in because of the coronavirus pandemic. More and more patients are taking advantage of options to see a doctor online. When the issue of universal access to broadband internet was raised, Jill Biden, who is a teacher, said she hears from teachers around the country who can't get in touch with their students because of the spotty access in some areas. “We just have to work together and address some of these things," she said. “The first thing we have to do is address this pandemic and get everybody vaccinated and back to work and back to their schools and get things back to the new normal.” Darlene Superville, The Associated Press