Vice President Kamala Harris holds a virtual town hall with members of Congress and leading women's advocacy groups to highlight the need for the American Rescue Plan, especially to help women who have suffered during the pandemic. (Feb. 18)
Vice President Kamala Harris holds a virtual town hall with members of Congress and leading women's advocacy groups to highlight the need for the American Rescue Plan, especially to help women who have suffered during the pandemic. (Feb. 18)
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — With Democrats controlling the presidency and Congress, Republican state lawmakers concerned about the possibility of new federal gun control laws aren't waiting to react. Legislation in at least a dozen states seeks to nullify any new restrictions, such as ammunition limits or a ban on certain types of weapons. Some bills would make it a crime for local police officers to enforce federal gun laws. That can create confusion for officers who often work with federal law enforcement, said Daniel Isom, a former chief of the St. Louis Police Department who is now a senior advisor for Everytown for Gun Safety. Federal law plays a big role in some areas, such as keeping guns away from domestic violence offenders. Putting local officers in a position to decide which laws to enforce is the last thing police need at a time when cities such as St. Louis are experiencing a rise in violent crime, Isom said. “This has been an extremely challenging year for both communities and law enforcement, and to ask any more mental strain on officers at this point in time seems to be quite displaced," he said. Gun sales also have set monthly records nationwide since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Isom is concerned about a Missouri measure passed by the state House that would allow police departments with officers who enforce federal gun laws to be sued and face a $50,000 fine. It's not the first time Missouri has considered such a bill, but supporters pointed to President Joe Biden taking office as a reason to pass it now. In Utah, Republican Rep. Cory Maloy also referenced the incoming administration after the state House passed his bill with a similar provision forbidding the enforcement of federal gun laws. Many Republican state lawmakers see attempts to pass federal firearms restrictions as a threat to the Second Amendment. “We really feel the need to protect those rights,” he said. Several states passed similar laws under then-president Barack Obama, although judges have ruled against them in court. Most of the latest crop of federal nullification proposals focus on police officers inside their states who primarily enforce state rather than federal laws. While Biden has called for a ban on assault weapons, any new gun legislation will likely face an uphill climb given the political polarization that has tripped up past administrations. Democratic lawmakers from conservative-leaning states also could join Republicans in opposing new gun restrictions. Any measures likely to pass would have broad support, like background checks on all gun sales, said Everytown President John Feinblatt. Those dynamics haven't stopped state lawmakers who want to make the first move to protect gun rights in their states. Federal nullification bills have been introduced in more than a dozen other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Iowa. In Texas, the governor has called for the state to become a Second Amendment sanctuary. In Arizona, a Senate proposal that passed the chamber on Wednesday would allow officers to be sued for enforcing federal gun restrictions that the state considers violations of the Second Amendment. They potentially could face criminal charges. A bill in the House doesn't include those punishments, but its sponsor, Republican Rep. Leo Biasiucci, said it would be a clear rejection of federal restrictions on assault-style weapons, high-capacity magazines or other firearms. "They can do that at a federal level, but in Arizona it’s not going to fly,” he said. His proposal passed the state House last week over the objections of Democrats such as Rep. Daniel Hernandez of Tucson, who was present at the 2011 shooting that severely injured former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. If signed into law, the measure would be unconstitutional and lead to an expensive court fight, he said. Biasiucci compares his plan to Arizona voters' move to legalize recreational marijuana even though it remains against federal law. Gun-control groups see it differently. “Guns kill people and are used to create a public safety issue, whereas marijuana is really not,” said Allison Anderman, senior counsel with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “What is likely to happen if gun laws are not followed is people get killed as a result.” Similar measures passed by the Republican Legislature in Montana were vetoed in previous years by the former Democratic governor. Now working with a Republican governor, the state House passed a bill last week to bar state officials from enforcing federal bans on certain firearms, ammunition or magazines. Under Obama's presidency, the Legislature passed a law in 2009 that made guns and ammunition manufactured in Montana exempt from federal law. It eventually was struck down in court, but several states still followed with their own nullification measures. In 2013, two Kansas men tried to use that state's nullification law to overturn their federal convictions for possessing unregistered firearms, but the challenge was rejected. “The main issue there is the Supremacy Clause," the part of the Constitution that says federal law supersedes state law, said Jacob Charles, executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School. Even so, the bills focused on what local police can and can't do could pass legal muster. “States have no obligation to enforce federal law," he said. ___ Associated Press writer Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
A group of Indigenous youth called on supporters to block a Vancouver intersection leading to the port in protest of an elder who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for anti-pipeline actions in 2019. For most of the day March 3, the police held off traffic around the intersection of Hastings St. and Clark Drive in east Vancouver where police say 43,000 vehicles pass through daily. But in the evening they moved in to disband the blockade, arresting four adults for mischief and intimidation by blocking a roadway, both criminal offences, according to a police spokesperson. Those arrested were released that night under orders to appear in court. The blockade, organized by a group called the Braided Warriors, was peaceful. There were elders, youth, and many non-Indigenous supporters gathered in the intersection. People were sitting on blankets reading, chatting in small groups, all wearing masks. A sacred fire was lit in the centre of the intersection, and people sat around it in picnic chairs. The mood was peaceful and somber, punctuated occasionally with songs and chants. RELATED: Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester RELATED: A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer The Braided Warriors shared on social media that they were there in solidarity with elder Stacy Gallagher who had been sentenced the night before to 90 days in prison. A police spokesman says the group marched from the courthouse to the East Vancouver intersection late Tuesday following the sentencing. The Braided Warriors shared an update mid-Wednesday that Gallagher was released on bail, but the blockade continued until VPD moved in. After police broke up the blockade, the protest moved to the nearby jail as they awaited the release of the four who were arrested. RELATED: Arrests at anti-pipeline protest call Vancouver police actions into question In February the Braided Warriors coordinated a protest in the lobbies of two insurance companies who are backing the Trans Mountain Pipeline Extension. That protest went on for three days before being disbanded by police on Feb. 19, where four people were arrested. Arrests at that time are under investigation for allegations of aggression and violence. The Braided Warriors said they would file complaints with the UN Human Rights Tribunal with regards to the treatment from police. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
HALIFAX — Premier Iain Rankin says Nova Scotia should have enough COVID-19 vaccine to give all residents at least one shot by the end of June. Rankin told reporters today following his first cabinet meeting as premier that his estimate is based on new federal government guidelines about increasing the interval between first and second doses of vaccine. He says he will likely have more details about the province's plan at Friday's COVID-19 briefing. The province is to get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week, which will complement Nova Scotia's vaccine supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Health officials are also announcing that restrictions on restaurant operating hours and sporting events will be lifted in Halifax and its surrounding regions on Friday morning. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today, all in the Halifax area. Two involve contacts of previously reported cases and the third is under investigation. The province has 29 active reported cases of the disease. Residents of long-term care homes in the Halifax area are still limited to receiving visits from two designated caregivers. Officials say the restrictions for long-term care residents will remain in place in the region until March 27. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Since Aurora began enforcing a three-bag limit on garbage collection, the community has seen a significant reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill. But, in some cases, a three-bag limit isn’t cutting it for residents and some flexibility is in order. This was the view that Mayor Tom Mrakas and Councillor Harold Kim presented to Council last week in a joint motion which could lead to a bag tag program for the Town of Aurora. Approved by Council on February 23, the motion has tasked municipal staff with drafting a report on various options for a garbage bag tag policy to be implemented “as soon as possible.” Among the reasons citied by lawmakers for adding some flexibility for waste collection were households with large families and homes that have tenanted secondary suites such as basement apartments. “It just seems like a more pragmatic solution to have a tag system,” said Councillor Kim. “There are a lot of options out there and this motion is asking staff to look at those options and see which is the best solution for Aurora.” Mayor Mrakas, however, already had one particular option in mind: allocating households a specific number of tags each year and letting them use them as they see fit. “There is one thing that is in common with almost every single municipality that provides a limit and that is there is a tag policy in place,” he said. “The difference with some of them [is] you get a full amount for the year and I believe that is probably the best approach. I think if we provide everyone with a full amount for the year… we have 26 weeks of garbage [collection]…you provide 78 tags to everyone. It becomes a very simple process for GFL and our waste diversion: if you don’t have a sticker, it does not get picked up. You can still get extra tags on top of that, but this also, I believe, allows us to follow our strategic goals [from an environmental perspective].” Although Council has not yet pinned down a specific bag tag method, the motion calling for options was warmly received. Councillor Wendy Gaertner, for instance, said she has received feedback on the three-bag limit from a resident with “quite a large family” and options would be welcome. “There will be families who have more than one generation and they need that,” she said. “For homes that have registered secondary dwelling units… I don’t think we should be charging them for extra bags of garbage because they are providing affordable housing.” Al Downey, Aurora’s Director of Operations, said legal secondary units are a “challenge” with the three-bag limit and there are a variety of ways to address that. “One of the options that we provided to Council was to provide tags to those residents so they could tag the additional bags,” he said. “If you had three dwelling units, you would be able to put out nine bags. Six of those bags would be tagged. There is also a system where you can put an icon on the building itself identifying the number of dwelling units on that icon and when the garbage collector comes to that site, they are aware there [is more than one] dwelling unit.” Whatever options ultimately come forward, however, Councillor Michael Thompson sought re-assurances they would fit into the Town’s stated commitments on waste reduction. “As a whole, we have made a strategic commitment to reduce waste and continue to look at ways to do that,” he said. “We all know there are some costs to it… not just from a financial perspective, but a social perspective as well. I would be interested seeing in that report any evidence or anecdotal information that supports a bag tag policy as being able to reduce our waste or not. I would be interested in knowing how this can help us further align with our strategic goals when it comes to the reduction of waste in the environment.” Since Aurora began looking at ways to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill, the figures have dropped by 31 per cent, said Mr. Downey, a five-year low. “We have never put so little garbage in landfill, so it has had a very positive impact,” said Mr. Downey. “There are some challenges and I think that we need to address those challenges and [the report will tackle] some of those challenges. Secondary dwelling units are an issue and people want to know how we can deal with secondary units more effectively. I believe the bag tag system will help with that. We will be providing some options. As you know, Aurora has the highest bag limit within York Region, so no one [municipality] has more than three bags. We are already at the upper level, however there are situations where people may want to put out more bags and this report will help address those things. “I am very happy to say we have had a very dramatic impact in just the first month.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
A nearly $4 million investment into Newmarket-Aurora will help victims of human trafficking access the services and supports they need to recover. On Friday, Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced an infusion of $3.8 million over the next five years to two Newmarket-based organizations: BridgeNorth and Cedar Centre. Their community-based programs will help the organizations create two new programs “to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in York Region with access to the supports they need.” “These new programs will help more people who have experienced sexual exploitation heal and rebuild their lives,” said Minister Dunlop in a statement following the virtual announcement. “Victims and survivors of human trafficking need specialized, trauma-informed supports to help them recover. Providing more dedicated services for children and youth will help address critical needs in this Region.” With their share of the pot, BridgeNorth will provide a survivor-led peer mentoring and day program for children and youth, providing supports from early intervention through to stabilization, transition and reintegration. Cedar Centre will provide trauma-specific, rapid-response therapy to help children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation. “Our government has made it a priority to end human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable from this terrible crime,” said Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health. “We are proud that this investment will create new critical programs in Newmarket to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with the help they deserve and support their recovery.” Last week’s announcement is part of Ontario’s $46 million investment to increase supports, with a special emphasis on survivor-led programming. “Voices of survivors and those with lived experiences are being heard,” says Cassandra Diamond, Survivor and Founder of BridgeNorth. “For years, we have been asking to have peer-led services, and today, because of our government’s strong and wise leadership, it is a reality.” Added Alison Peck, Executive Director of Cedar Centre: “We are very excited by this opportunity and humbled by the trust in us to work in partnership with the government to provide this critically-needed service for children and youth who are at risk of, or have experienced human trafficking in York Region.” More than 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police Ontario-wide are under the age of 25 and 28 per cent are under the age of 18, according to the Ministry. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
A mechanical whir fills the room as a sling slowly lifts a patient out of her hospital bed. "Wow, it's fun to see you like that," says nurse Caroline Brochu, as the woman is lowered into a chair. After spending nearly two weeks on a ventilator, severely sick with COVID-19, the patient had been extubated a few days earlier. She's slowly being weaned off the oxygen and has regained enough strength to start physiotherapy. In her early 70s, the woman was admitted to the intensive care unit at Cité-de-la-Santé hospital in Laval in early February. Like many of the patients the hospital has treated, she was generally healthy before she contracted the virus. "No comorbidities," said Dr. Joseph Dahine, an intensive care specialist. "Just high blood pressure and a little bit of asthma." Psychologists regularly check in with the ICU staff to see how they are coping with the exhaustion and emotional strain of COVID-19.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) The unknown road ahead In mid-February, CBC Montreal was granted exclusive access to the hospital's intensive care unit. A year into the pandemic, it's still difficult to predict who will only need a few days of oxygen to bounce back and who will be on a ventilator for weeks. But what is clear is the virus spares no one. The ICU has treated severely ill patients as young as 24. Back in January, about two-thirds of the patients were under 60. At the time of CBC's visit, there were five patients. Over the past 11 months, the ICU has treated a total of 175 patients. Twenty-five have died. During that time, the ICU has worked in uncharted territory, with personnel at times risking their own health to ensure those suffering the most severe COVID-19 complications get care. WATCH | Staff inside the ICU talk about the cases that still haunt them and the unknown road ahead: "Trying to keep the morale has been the hardest aspect of all of this," said Joanie Bolduc-Dionne, the ICU's head nurse. "Right now, we have some fantastic psychologists that come day, evening, night to support the team." The psychologists visit to get a sense of how staff are coping, and what they might be struggling with, she said. Family has to stay at a distance Life inside the ICU can be an emotional roller-coaster — for the staff, the patients and their families. The daughter of the woman who was recently extubated has arrived for a visit but she has to stay outside the room because her mother could still be contagious. The distance is painful for both of them. Exhausted from the effort of sitting and eating, the woman is back in her bed. Her eyes fill with tears as she looks at her daughter through the glass door. "It's harder to see her now, like this," said the daughter, turning to a nurse. "When she was intubated that was bad, but at least she didn't realize she was in that situation. Now, she knows what's going on. Dr. Joseph Dahine, pictured at right, consults with the ICU team at Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital in Laval. Treating COVID-19 patients requires constant re-calibration to pinpoint what may be causing a patient's deterioration.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Startling deterioration Following CBC's visit, the woman had an unexpected setback overnight. During her sleep, her heart started to race. The ICU team managed to bring her heart rate back down, but the doctor on shift is concerned about her breathing, which is rapid and shallow. "If we can't give you enough oxygen and you are tired with the mask, and if we don't intubate you, well, it's death," Dr. Dahine tells the woman. With a resigned nod, she agrees to be re-intubated as a last resort. As she continues to deteriorate over the next few days, doctors have no choice but to put her back on a ventilator. It's a sobering reminder of just how unpredictable this virus can still be. At the beginning of March, the patient was brought out of the induced coma, but still needs a ventilator to breathe. She had to undergo a tracheotomy. She can only communicate with her family and the staff by blinking. "She still has a long way to go to recovery but at least she is no longer in a coma," said Bolduc-Dionne. At the height of the first wave, Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital had 22 COVID-19 patients in the ICU. The week CBC visited, there were five. Although the number of cases appears to be stabilizing, health officials are worried variants of the coronavirus could trigger a third wave.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Although the number of COVID-19 cases may appear stable, the volume of cases linked to variants of the coronavirus is rising rapidly. 'The fight is not over' On Tuesday, Quebec's health minister continued to warn people to remain vigilant over the March break. This week, Laval's ICU accepted two new patients to the red zone, which is strictly for those who are severely ill with COVID-19. "The fight is not over," said Bolduc-Dionne. As the vaccination effort in Quebec gathers steam, staff here hope people don't forget there's a parallel battle being fought in the ICU, a battle the public doesn't see. "I hope they realize that [the virus] is really dangerous and that you can infect people you love," said nurse Caroline Brochu.
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Universal Pictures has delayed the global debut of the "Fast & Furious" movie "F9" by one month until June 25, the company said on Thursday, the latest shift by Hollywood studios trying to gauge when moviegoers will return to theaters in large numbers. The move signaled that Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp, is confident of a summer rebound as coronavirus vaccines become more widely available in the United States and Canada, which combined make up the world's largest film market. Theater operators including AMC Entertainment, Cineworld Plc and Cinemark Holdings Inc are hoping they will have blockbusters movies to show this summer, typically their most lucrative season.
HALIFAX — A compensation agreement has been reached between Glen Assoun and the Nova Scotia and federal governments for his wrongful conviction and the almost 17 years he spent in prison. Nova Scotia Justice Minister Randy Delorey said today the recently signed deal is confidential, and Assoun's lawyers Sean MacDonald and Phil Campbell said the amount of the settlement and its details are not being released. Assoun's lawyers, however, praised the two levels of government for the settlement, and Campbell said federal Justice Minister David Lametti had done all that can be expected. Campbell says he hopes the deal serves as an example for similar cases in the future. Assoun lived under strict parole conditions for nearly five years after he was released from prison, before a Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling in March 2019 reversed his 1999 conviction for the murder of Brenda Way in Halifax. The 1995 killing has never been solved. Assoun suffered mental illness in prison, and he said he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required the insertion of stents — small mesh tubes that are placed in a narrowed coronary artery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
BOSTON — Distance running, traditionally one of the world's most genteel sports, has been roiled by an ugly mid-pandemic squabble over who should get a shot at a coveted Boston Marathon medal. Rival camps in the running world began snapping at each other's heels this week. It began after the Boston Athletic Association, which still hopes to hold a truncated in-person edition of the planet's most prestigious footrace in October, said it will award medals to up to 70,000 athletes if they go the distance wherever they are. Practically within minutes of the BAA's announcement greatly expanding its virtual version of the race, a boisterous social media maelstrom ensued. On one side: Runners who've spent years training to qualify to run the real thing, including some who complain that mailing medals to people who run the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometres) in Dallas or Denver will cheapen the iconic Boston experience. “A dagger through the heart to someone who has worked hard to finally earn the qualifying standard,” one runner, Mark Howard of Salisbury, North Carolina, groused on Twitter. On the other: Pretty much everyone else, including the plodding masses and runners who raise millions for charities, who counter that anything that helps the 125-year-old marathon survive the COVID-19 crisis is worthwhile. “A virtual Boston race that invites everyone is a reason to celebrate,” said Maria Arana, a marathoner and coach in Phoenix. “It in no way takes away from my personal Boston Marathon experience or anyone else’s.” The bickering seems to have caught many off-guard, if only because road racing has long had a reputation as a kind and egalitarian sport. It's one of the few disciplines where ordinary amateurs compete in real time on the same course as elite professionals, and where trash-talking is rare. As four-time Boston champion Bill Rodgers famously said: “Running is a sport where everyone gets along.” A notable exception to that gentility was the 1967 race, when race director Jock Semple ran after Kathrine Switzer — the first woman to run with an official bib number — and tried unsuccessfully to pull her off the course. It also comes as the Boston Marathon and other big-city races are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic and looking for creative ways to keep runners engaged online. The BAA put on a virtual version of the marathon last year, after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to first postpone its usual April running to September, and then cancel in-person racing altogether. But that was limited to athletes who had already qualified to race or had registered as charity runners. This time, the first 70,000 people aged 18 or older who sign up and pay a fee will be able to earn a finisher's medal simply by covering the classic distance wherever they happen to be. They don't even need to run — they can walk. “For the first time in our history, most everyone will have the opportunity to earn a Unicorn finisher’s medal,” BAA president and CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement. Grilk said the in-person race, if it comes off as scheduled on Oct. 11, will have a reduced field to help keep athletes and spectators safe. Typically the Boston field is capped at around 30,000; the BAA hasn't said how much smaller it will be this autumn. Josh Sitzer, a San Francisco runner who's qualified for the Boston Marathon three times, initially was among those who trashed the idea of giving out 70,000 medals as “a blatant money grab.” “Respect yourself and the game. Don’t do Boston unless you earn it,” he tweeted. Then he had a change of heart, tweeting: “I was wrong. It's not the same as the actual Boston Marathon, and it doesn't devalue” the experience of those who meet strict qualifying standards for a chance to line up in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. It's been a bad look, acknowledges Erin Strout, who covers the sport for WomensRunning.com. “If there ever was a time to put our elitism and cynicism aside, it’s now,” she wrote in an opinion piece. “Let’s welcome each other in, cheer each other on, and seize the opportunity to bring back running bigger, better, and more inclusive than it was before.” ___ This story has been corrected to delete a reference to a $70 entry fee for the virtual marathon; organizers say they haven't yet decided on entry fees. ___ Follow AP New England editor Bill Kole on Twitter at http://twitter.com/billkole. William J. Kole, The Associated Press
RCMP are asking witnesses to a violent incident to come forward, after a man was discovered seriously injured outside a Richmond, B.C., shopping mall Wednesday afternoon. Police were called around 2:40 p.m. PT to the parking area on the north side of the Lansdowne Centre, where the 40-year-old man was found lying injured on the ground, according to an RCMP statement Thursday. The Vancouver resident was taken to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition, police said. RCMP say the incident does not appear to have any criminal connections, and there doesn't appear to be any risk to the public. Anyone who might have witnessed Wednesday's incident is asked to contact the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if they want to remain anonymous.
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are setting aside some of the billions of dollars planned in short-term transit spending to help municipalities further green their bus fleets. The hope is that the $2.75 billion in traditional grant money will dovetail with the $1.5 billion an infrastructure-financing agency is supposed to invest toward the same cause. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the grant money is supposed to help cover the upfront cost of purchasing electric buses to replace the diesel-powered ones rumbling through Canadian streets. She says federal funding has helped cities buy 300 buses and the government hopes the funding will help them add 5,000 zero-emission buses over the next five years. But she acknowledged there are added costs that need to be addressed, including having charging stations on transit routes and in existing depots. The Liberals are hoping cities then turn to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to finance the cost of the remaining work. The bank's chief executive, Ehren Cory, says the energy savings expected from not having to buy diesel could, for instance, be used to pay off a low-interest loan from his agency. "It's quite a from-the-ground-up reinvestment and the savings will pay for a lot of that, but not for all of it," he said, via video link. "That's why the combination of a grant from the government, a subsidy, combined with a loan against savings together will allow us to get the most done, allow us to make wholesale change quickly and do so at minimal impact to taxpayers." Garth Frizzell, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, welcomed the funding as a way to speed up work in cities to replace diesel buses. "We are already putting more electric vehicles on our streets, and this major funding to electrify transit systems across the country will reduce GHG emissions, boost local economies, and help meet Canada’s climate goals," he said in a statement. McKenna made the same connections multiple times during an event Thursday in Ottawa, where she stood near the city's mayor, Jim Watson, with Cory and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne joining by videoconference. Joanna Kyriazis, senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, noted that the investments could help the country's six electric-bus manufacturers scale up to compete internationally. “As Canada develops its battery supply chain — from raw metal and mineral resources to our North-America-leading battery recycling companies — we must build the market for electric vehicles and their batteries at home," she said in a statement. The Liberals are promising billions in permanent transit funding as part of a post-pandemic recovery, including $3 billion annually in a transit fund starting in five years. Cities have seen transit ridership plummet through the pandemic as chunks of the labour force work remotely. Demand for single-family homes well outside urban cores suggests some workers are expecting remote work to become a more regular fixture of their post-pandemic work lives. McKenna said her thinking about public transit hasn't been changed by that shift, saying her only thought is that Canada needs more and better systems. It's up to cities and transit agencies to set routes and priorities, she said. "The reality is many of our essential workers have no other option than to take public transit. And I think we've recognized how important it is for people to be able to get around in a safe way," McKenna said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is asking Premier Jason Kenney to launch a public inquiry into a deadly outbreak of COVID-19 at a Red Deer slaughterhouse, delay the meat-packing plant's reopening and compensate its employees during the closure. The Olymel plant, which had been closed since Feb. 15, confirmed Wednesday that it planned to reopen for slaughter operations on Thursday and resume cutting room operations on Friday. The news of the reopening came on the same day that a third worker's death had been linked to the outbreak. According to the union representing workers at the plant, that makes a total of four deaths — including a woman in her 60s previously linked to the outbreak — but the government has yet to confirm that total. The outbreak has been linked to 511 COVID-19 cases, including 91 that are still active. Speaking from Calgary's McDougall Centre on Thursday morning, Notley asked the provincial government to keep the plant closed until safety measures requested by the union are met and employees feel safe going back to work. Opposition, union want inquiry "With 500 infections and three deaths, [safety measures were] not adequate before," Notley said. "I can only imagine the grief and the stress that they are experiencing as a result." The union said it supports the NDP's call for a public inquiry, while Olymel said earlier this month that it has improved health and safety measures. The Alberta government also confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) had toured the facility on Monday, and again with Alberta Health Services and the union on Tuesday. In an email, a spokesperson with Alberta's labour and immigration ministry said OHS had inspected the facility 14 times since Nov. 17, adding that AHS had also visited the facility several times. The spokesperson argued the Opposition's calls for a public inquiry were politically motivated. "It is disappointing — but not entirely surprising — that the Notley NDP continues to play politics with a global pandemic that has tragically taken the lives of over 22,000 Canadians and over 2.5 million worldwide," the spokesperson said. Deaths linked to outbreak The Olymel outbreak was first declared on Nov. 17, 2020, and the first death linked to the plant's outbreak happened on Jan. 28. Darwin Doloque, a 35-year-old permanent resident who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines was found dead in his home. Darwin Doloque, 35, died of COVID-19 on Jan. 28 after contracting the virus in an outbreak linked to his work at the Olymel slaughterhouse in Red Deer, Alta. (GoFundMe) His death was followed on Feb. 24 by that of Henry De Leon, a 50-year-old who immigrated from the Dominican Republic and had worked at the plant for 15 years. He left behind a wife, two adult children and three grandchildren. The third worker's identity has not yet been made public, nor has the identity of the woman in her 60s who died. It has not been disclosed how she was linked to the outbreak. Notley said Thursday the NDP is aware of three Olymel workers who are currently in intensive care. In an interview with CBC News on Thursday after the news conference, Thomas Hesse, the president of UFCW Local 401 — the union representing the workers — said he is hearing reports about people linked to the plant who are "gravely ill." "We are very, very, very worried that we are going to see more loss of human life in the coming days," he said. Accountability, compensation Notley said that outbreaks have occurred in meatpacking plants across the country since the pandemic started, but shutdowns occurred sooner in other provinces. She called for an immediate public inquiry to understand the Olymel plant's handling of the outbreak. "We need to hold those responsible accountable," Notley said. "I fear that instead we are doing nothing, or very little." For his part, Hesse said his feelings about the reopening mirror those of the the plant's employees who are scared, confused and grieving. "Moves to reopen the plant have to be seen through that perspective; there's a lot of insensitivity here," he said. Some of the union's recommended changes had been adopted by the plant, Hesse said. But according to Hesse, neither public health nor Olymel officials have spoken to any employees at the plant about the plant's safety conditions, or how they feel about their workplace. Thomas Hesse, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers 401(Submitted by UFCW 401) "Our legal system is based on talking to witnesses, and they haven't talked to any of the actual witnesses to the functioning of this workplace, or the risks that are built into [it]," Hesse said. He would have liked to have seen employees interviewed about the plant's safety, and corrections made in accordance with their feedback, before having those employees report back on their implementation. In the absence of this, Hesse said he agrees with the request for a public inquiry. "Alberta Health Services, government agencies that are involved here — they're spending Alberta taxpayer's money. I mean, taxpayers fund those agencies, those agencies have a responsibility … and by all indicators, they're doing little or nothing to save lives and protect these workers." The NDP's request to delay the plant's reopening came with an acknowledgement from Notley that the slowdown or shutdown of meat plants jeopardize livelihood of employees. She asked the provincial government to compensate workers for lost wages. "It is not something that needs to be provided by workers literally being compelled to put their lives at risk," Notley said. "That is an immoral choice." Company says it has worked with AHS According to Alberta Pork, 40,000 to 50,000 pigs go through the Red Deer facility each week. Last month, it was reported that the temporary closure of the Olymel pork processing plant due to COVID-19 left hog farmers scrambling to find somewhere to take their animals. On Wednesday, Olymel defended plans to reopen Thursday, saying it had used the temporary closure to update and reinforce health and safety measures at the plant. "Reopening can occur because Olymel management and the regulators are satisfied that employees can return to the plant safely," said spokesperson Richard Vigneault. "Alberta Health Services authorities have however specified that the coronavirus is still spreading and that everyone is at risk of contracting it, whether in the community or otherwise. Accordingly, they recommend the utmost vigilance." A sign outside the Olymel pork plant in Red Deer, Alta., thanks the company's essential employees. It will reopen on Thursday, after being closed since Feb. 15 due to a COVID-19 outbreak.(CBC News) The company said teams from Alberta Health Services, Occupational Health and Safety, and Environmental Public Health visited the facility on March 1 and 3. AHS made several recommendations at that time. The company said it had added staff to monitor and enforce health and safety measures, and "further adjusted and enhanced" social distancing protocols, particularly when it came to adding physical space. Health and safety meetings between management and union representatives are scheduled on a daily basis, the company said. Safety recommendations made The Alberta government confirmed to CBC News that it will continue to oversee health measures at the plant. "OHS continues to monitor Olymel to ensure safety protocols and measures continue to be used to limit the spread of COVID-19," Joseph Dow said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. According to Dow, AHS made safety recommendations to be implemented before the plant's reopening. The measures recommended by AHS included: Implement capacity limits in lockers rooms and washrooms. Remove reusable dishes in break rooms. Enhance cleaning/disinfecting schedules of washrooms, break rooms and locker rooms. Add more hand-sanitizing stations throughout. Increase education plan for staff, including staff training sessions, posters and other visuals.
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
York Region’s vaccination rollout to all residents 80 years of age and older hit a snag within two hours of its launch on Monday morning with approximately 20,000 appointments snapped up within the first two hours. By noon on Monday, Patrick Casey, Director of Corporate Communications for the Region of York, said that the 20,000 appointments booked on March 1 accounts for the current supply of vaccines in the Region and, as more vaccines become available, they will resume booking appointments for this demographic. This week, the Region and local hospitals began offering vaccines to those born in or before 1941 at several clinics across the community, including Newmarket’s Ray Twinney Complex, operated by Southlake Regional Health Centre; Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, operated by Mackenzie Health; and at Markham’s Cornell Community Centre. As they prepared for Monday’s rollout, two additional community clinics were opened the Richmond Green Sports Centre in Richmond Hill and, come Wednesday, March 3, at Georgina Ice Palace. “With support from our hospital partners and additional vaccine supply, we are very pleased to open more clinics ahead of schedule,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “We understand there is a large volume of interest for vaccines and we thank everyone for their patience as we expand opportunities as vaccine becomes available.” Those who were unable to book one of the 20,000 slots on Monday will have to exercise some additional patience until further supply rolls in. “At this time, residents are urged to remain patient and will be notified as more appointment bookings become available,” said Mr. Casey. In his weekly update on COVID-19, Dr. Kurji hailed the Region’s efforts in getting vaccine registration up and running before the Province’s registration system is formally launched later this month. “We have certainly come a long way. After receiving permission from Retired General Hillier and the Province, York Region is moving forward with our COVID-19 mass immunization plan,” he said. “To be eligible, you must be 80 years of age or older, and be a resident of York Region. However, I must stress these vaccinations are by appointment only. Walk-in appointments are not available. Please do not attend a clinic without booking an appointment. Residents who are not able or comfortable booking an online appointment are encouraged to seek support from a family member, friend or caregiver who can assist with the booking. “We understand there is a lot of interest for vaccines in this priority group, but we ask for your patience. We expect our website will experience higher than normal volume and we apologize in advance for any delays you experience. If you do experience a delay, please do not call us or the hospitals as it will cause more delays. Please just wait and try again later. To ensure vaccines will be available for all those 80 years of age and older, please do not make more than one appointment or appointments at multiple clinics.” Immunization, he added, is the best way to protect ourselves from the virus. “We continue in Phase 1 of the Provincial vaccine distribution plan,” he continued. “To date, we have invited health care workers in the highest and very high priority groups and now residents 80+ for vaccination. Vaccine supplies are becoming steadier and with the recent approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we expect the supply to increase. York Region has been planning ahead to ensure we can get as many vaccines into many people’s arms as quickly as possible when adequate vaccine supply is available. As vaccine supply increases, more clinics across York Region will open. “We know residents are anxious and eager, but we ask for your patience as we immunize those who are most vulnerable and at highest risk of acquiring COVID-19.” For more on how to register for your appointment, or how to help others who may not be able to access the portal themselves, visit York.ca/Covid19Vaccine. As of Tuesday, March 2, Aurora has seen a total of 951 cases of COVID-19, 32 of which remain active. There have been 879 recoveries and 40 deaths. Of the remaining active cases, 30 are attributed to local transmission and close contact, and 2 to workplace cluster. At press time, there were zero reported cases of COVID-19 in long-term care settings. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins says it was a "failure" on his part that he was unaware of any incidents of sexual harassment by former pitching coach Mickey Callaway during their time together with the Cleveland Baseball Team. Atkins told reporters in a video conference Thursday that it was "heartbreaking" that the proper channels were not in place in Cleveland for those facing harassment to seek support. His comments come after a report published Tuesday by The Athletic that said several former Cleveland employees had come forward in the last month to say the team's front office was aware of Callaway's behaviour. Atkins joined Cleveland's front office in 2001, and was promoted to director of player development five years later. Callaway was with Cleveland from 2010-17 — serving as the pitching coach for five years — before he was hired as manager of the New York Mets. He has been suspended as the Los Angeles Angels pitching coach, pending the outcome of Major League Baseball's investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press