Warren and Buttigieg clash over former mayor's record on race

Pete Buttigieg, a newly minted frontrunner in the Democratic presidential race, had a difficult time at Friday’s debate explaining statistics that showed disproportionately high arrest rates for African-Americans for marijuana possession during his tenure as mayor of South Bend, Ind.

Asked to account for the statistics by ABC News moderator Linsey Davis, Buttigieg launched into a notably long-winded answer that seemed to veer off course.

“The reality is that, on my watch, under my leadership, drug arrests in South Bend were lower than the national average, and specifically to marijuana, lower than in Indiana,” Buttigieg began. “But there is no question that systemic racism has penetrated to every level of our system, and my city was not immune. I took a lot of heat for discussing systemic racism with my own police department, but we’ve got to confront the fact that there is no escaping how this is part of all of our policies.

“Earlier we are talking about opioids and, thankfully, America has come to a better understanding that opioid addiction is best understood as a medical problem,” Buttigieg said, “but there are a lot of people, including African-American activists in my community, who have made the very good point: It’s great that everybody’s so enlightened about drug policy now when it comes to opioids, but where were you when it came to marijuana, where were you when it came to the crack epidemic in the 1990s?”

He went on to discuss his proposal to “end incarceration as a response to possession and make sure that we legalize marijuana,” but was interrupted by Davis, asking him to respond to the question about arrest rates on his watch.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images (2))

“And again, the overall rate was lower —” Buttigieg began. “One of the strategies that we adopted was to target cases where there was gun violence and gang violence, which was slaughtering so many in our community, burying teenagers, disproportionately black teenagers. We adopted a strategy that said that drug enforcement would be targeted in cases where there was a connection to the most violent group or gang connected to a murder. These things are all connected, but that’s the point. So are all of the things that need to change in order to prevent violence and remove the effects of systemic racism not just from criminal justice but from our economy, from health, from housing and from our democracy itself.”

Davis then turned to one of his rivals for an opinion on that belabored response.

“Senator Warren, was that a substantial answer from Mayor Buttigieg?”

“No,” Warren replied crisply, to applause from the audience at St. Anselm College. After a beat, Warren continued, as Buttigieg, at the adjacent lectern, glared at her. “You have to own up to the facts. And it is important to own up to the facts about how race has totally permeated our criminal justice system. You know, for the exact same crimes, study after study now shows that African-Americans are more likely than whites to be detained, to be arrested, to be taken to trial and convicted and be sentenced to harsher sentences. We need to rework our criminal justice system from the very front end on what we make illegal, all the way through the system and how we help people come back into the community. But we cannot just say that criminal justice is the only time we want to talk about race, specifically. We need to start having race-conscious laws.”

Buttigieg had a strong showing in the Iowa caucus, where he virtually tied for first place with Sen. Bernie Sanders. Warren finished third.

_____

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  • B.C. health officials 'considering' widespread mask use as COVID-19 cases rise
    News
    CBC

    B.C. health officials 'considering' widespread mask use as COVID-19 cases rise

    As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases soar, B.C. health officials are starting to consider whether the wider use of face masks could curb the spread.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has so far recommended against widespread community use. That's consistent with advice given by the World Health Organization, the Government of Canada and the nation's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam: Unless you are exhibiting symptoms, you don't need to wear a face mask.Henry also warned that wearing a mask improperly could lead people to fiddle with it and contaminate it, especially if they do not wash their hands before removing and donning the mask.But the stance against face masks softened Wednesday when Henry said her team is now looking into community use."Obviously, this is something we've been considering as well," she said at her daily press conference Wednesday. Henry said masks might have some benefit for people who don't have any symptoms."The use of non-medical masks ... may reduce, in some cases, the touching of your face [and] they can have some benefit in keeping your droplets in," she said."But we need to be careful ... what is not proven is that they provide you with any protection. That's the really critical part."Lack of consensusThere is currently no global consensus on whether a widespread use of face masks would slow down the spread of COVID-19. But European countries like Austria and Czech Republic are now making it mandatory to wear masks. And the practice is common in several East Asian countries that have seen some success in keeping transmission low.Benjamin Cowling, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong, says there is evidence that face masks are just as effective as hand hygiene in preventing the spread of respiratory viruses.And while physical distancing appears to be most effective in curtailing the spread of COVID-19, "it would make sense that if everybody was wearing face masks, there would be less chance of transmission to occur than if people are not wearing masks," Cowling said."There is definite recognition that some infected persons have been able to spread infection before their symptoms appear. So if everybody wears a face mask, it also reduces the chance that if you're infected, you're going to spread infection to other people."Reserving limited supplyHenry maintains that B.C.'s health-care workers are a priority to receive the province's limited supply of masks. After hearing that health-care workers are facing a shortage of personal protective equipment, Vancouver dentist Patrick Wu says he and other volunteers started collecting face masks and other supplies to donate to local hospitals.But while he agrees health-care workers have the most urgent need for masks, Wu also makes sure to wear one when he is in a public space.Wu, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in Vancouver, says people in other Asian countries also do the same."During this pandemic, we're all fearful of the airborne disease, so [we believe] wearing a mask gives us some protection," he said.

  • More evidence indicates healthy people can spread virus
    News
    The Canadian Press

    More evidence indicates healthy people can spread virus

    NEW YORK — Scientists offered more evidence Wednesday that the coronavirus is spread by seemingly healthy people who show no clear symptoms, and the federal government issued new guidance warning that anyone exposed to the disease can be considered a carrier.A study by researchers in Singapore became the latest to estimate that somewhere around 10% of new infections may be sparked by people who carry the virus but have not yet suffered its flu-like symptoms.In response to that study and others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed how it defined the risk of infection for Americans. The agency's new guidance targeted people who have no symptoms but were exposed to others with known or suspected infections. It essentially says that anyone may be a carrier, whether that person has symptoms or not.The findings complicate efforts to gain control of the pandemic and reinforce the importance of social distancing and other measures designed to stop the spread, experts said.“You have to really be proactive about reducing contacts between people who seem perfectly healthy,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, a University of Texas at Austin researcher who has studied coronavirus transmission in different countries.The newest research was published online by the CDC. It focused on 243 cases of coronavirus reported in Singapore from mid-January through mid-March, including 157 infections among people who had not travelled recently. Scientists found that so-called pre-symptomatic people triggered infections in seven different clusters of disease, accounting for about 6% of the locally acquired cases.One of those infections was particularly striking. A 52-year-old woman's infection was linked to her sitting in a seat at a church that had been occupied earlier in the day by two tourists who showed no symptoms but later fell ill, investigators said after they reviewed closed-circuit camera recordings of church services.An earlier study that focused on China, where the virus was first identified, suggested that more than 10% of transmissions were from people who were infected but did not yet feel sick.The seemingly healthy people who can transmit the virus are believed to fall into three categories: pre-symptomatic, who do not have symptoms when they spread but develop illness a couple of days later; asymptomatic, who never develop symptoms; and post-symptomatic, who get sick and recover but remain contagious. The Singapore and China studies focused on pre-symptomatic infections.It remains unclear how many new infections are caused by each type of potential spreader, said Meyers, who was not involved in the Singapore study but was part of the earlier one focused on China.CDC officials say they have been researching asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic infections, but the studies are not complete.In an interview Tuesday with a radio station in Atlanta, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield cited an estimate that 25% of infected people may be asymptomatic. It was not clear what that estimate was based on, or if it included people who were pre-symptomatic or post-symptomatic. The AP requested more information from the CDC, but the agency did not provide those details.Redfield's comment was in response to a question about whether the agency is going to recommend that people who seem healthy wear masks or face coverings when they go out. He said the agency is reviewing its guidance, looking at research in Singapore, China and other places in making that decision.California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week said he planned to announce new state guidelines on wearing masks.Wearing scarves or bandanas over noses and mouths is “not necessarily going to protect you, but if you are carrying the disease, it may reduce the amount you transmit,” said Carl Bergstrom, a University of Washington evolutionary biologist who studies emerging infectious diseases.In the initial months of the pandemic, health officials based their response on the belief that most of the spread came from people who were sneezing or coughing droplets that contained the virus.Another kind of coronavirus caused the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which was first identified in Asia in 2003 and caused a frightening but relatively short-lived international outbreak that never spread as widely as the new virus.Although some asymptomatic infections were discovered, none were found to have spread the disease. Because symptomatic people were the spreaders, health officials could focus on them to see an outbreak happening and could better isolate infected people and stop the spread.“It was much, much easier” to contain, Bergstrom said. With the new coronavirus, “we clearly have asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission,” he added.—-The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press

  • 'A battlefield behind your home': Deaths mount in New York
    News
    The Canadian Press

    'A battlefield behind your home': Deaths mount in New York

    New York rushed to bring in an army of medical volunteers Wednesday as the statewide death toll from the coronavirus doubled in 72 hours to more than 1,900 and the wail of ambulances in the otherwise eerily quiet streets of the city became the heartbreaking soundtrack of the crisis.As hot spots flared around the U.S. in places like New Orleans and Southern California, the nation's biggest city was the hardest hit of them all, with bodies loaded onto refrigerated morgue trucks by gurney and forklift outside overwhelmed hospitals, in full view of passing motorists.”It’s like a battlefield behind your home," said 33-year-old Emma Sorza, who could hear the sirens from severely swamped Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.And the worst is yet to come.“How does it end? And people want answers," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "I want answers. The answer is nobody knows for sure.”President Donald Trump acknowledged that the federal stockpile is nearly depleted of personal protective equipment used by doctors and nurses and warned of trying times to come.“Difficult days are ahead for our nation," he said. “We're going to have a couple of weeks, starting pretty much now, but especially a few days from now that are going to be horrific.”Scientists offered more evidence Wednesday that the coronavirus can be spread by seemingly healthy people who show no clear symptoms, leading the U.S. government to issue new guidance warning that anyone exposed to the disease can be considered a potential carrier.Stocks tumbled on Wall Street and markets around the world, a day after the White House warned Americans to brace for 100,000 to 240,000 deaths projected in the U.S. before the crisis is over. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 970 points, or over 4%.A new report Wednesday from the United Nations said the global economy could shrink by almost 1% this year instead of growing at a projected 2.5%.Under growing pressure, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis belatedly joined his counterparts in more than 30 states in issuing a statewide stay-home order. The governors of Pennsylvania, Nevada and Mississippi took similar steps.Trump said his administration has agreed to ship out 1,000 breathing machines vital for treating severe cases of COVID-19. He said the U.S. government has kept close hold on its stockpile of nearly 10,000 ventilators so they can be deployed quickly to states in need.Meanwhile, European nations facing extraordinary demand for intensive-care beds are putting up makeshift hospitals, unsure whether they will find enough healthy medical staff to run them. London is days away from unveiling a 4,000-bed temporary hospital built in a huge convention centre.In a remarkable turnabout, rich economies where virus cases have exploded are welcoming help from less wealthy ones. Russia sent medical equipment and masks to the United States. Cuba supplied doctors to France. Turkey dispatched protective gear and disinfectant to Italy and Spain.Worldwide, more than 900,000 people have been infected and over 45,000 have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the real figures are believed to be much higher because of testing shortages, differences in counting the dead and large numbers of mild cases that have gone unreported.The U.S. recorded about 210,000 infections and about 4,800 deaths, with New York City accounting for about 1 out of 4 dead.More than 80,000 people have volunteered as medical reinforcements in New York, including recent retirees, health care professionals taking a break from their regular jobs and people between gigs.The few who have hit the ground already found a hospital system being driven to the breaking point.“It’s hard when you lose patients. It’s hard when you have to tell the family members: ‘I’m sorry, but we did everything that we could,’” said nurse Katherine Ramos of Cape Coral, Florida, who has been working at New York Presbyterian Hospital. "It’s even harder when we really don’t have the time to mourn, the time to talk about this.”To ease the crushing caseload, the city's paramedics have been told they shouldn’t take fatal heart attack victims to hospitals to have them pronounced dead. Patients have been transferred to the Albany area. A Navy hospital ship has docked in New York, the mammoth Javits Convention Center has been turned into a hospital, and the tennis centre that hosts the U.S. Open is being converted to one, too.On near-lockdown, the normally bustling streets in the city of 8.6 million are empty, and sirens are no longer easily ignored as just urban background noise.“After 9-11, I remember we actually wanted to hear the sound of ambulances on our quiet streets because that meant there were survivors, but we didn't hear those sounds, and it was heartbreaking. Today, I hear an ambulance on my strangely quiet street and my heart breaks, too,” said 61-year-old Meg Gifford, a former Wall Streeter who lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side.Nearly 6,200 New York City police officers, or one-sixth of the department, were out sick Wednesday, including about 4,800 who reported flu-like systems, though it was not clear how many had the virus.Cuomo said projections suggest the crisis in New York will peak at the end of April, with a high death rate continuing through July.“Let's co-operate to address that in New York because it's going to be in your town tomorrow," he warned. "If we learn how to do it right here — or learn how to do it the best we can, because there is no right, it's only the best we can — then we can work co-operatively all across this country.”In Southern California, officials reported that at least 51 residents and six staff members at a nursing home east of Los Angeles have been infected and two have died. Mayor Eric Garcetti warned residents of the nation's second-largest city to wear non-medical-grade masks whenever they go outside.The number of dead topped 270 in Louisiana, Grand Canyon National Park closed to visitors indefinitely, and Florida was locked in a standoff over whether two cruise ships with sick and dead passengers may dock in the state.Even as the virus appears to have slowed its growth in overwhelmed Italy and in China, where it first emerged, hospitals on the Continent are buckling under the load."We don't have enough masks, enough protective equipment, and by the end of the week we might be in need of more medication too,” said Paris emergency worker Christophe Prudhomme.Spain reported a record 864 deaths in one day, for a total of more than 9,000, while France registered an unprecedented 509 and more than 4,000 in all. In Italy, with over 13,000 dead, the most of any country, morgues overflowed with bodies, caskets piled up in churches and doctors were forced to decide which desperately ill patients would get breathing machines.England's Wimbledon tennis tournament was cancelled for the first time since World War II.India’s highest court ordered news media and social media sites to carry the government’s “official version” of developments, echoing actions taken in other countries to curb independent reporting.Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to order law enforcement to shoot troublemakers and stop massive food and cash aid if there are riots and people defy a lockdown imposed on millions. Duterte, who has been condemned for a brutal anti-drug crackdown that left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead, also said he would ask police to punish people who attack health workers with toxic chemicals by dousing the offenders with the substance or forcing them to drink it.The strain facing some of the world's best health care systems has been aggravated by hospital budget cuts over the past decade in Italy, Spain, France and Britain. They have called in medical students, retired doctors and even laid-off flight attendants with first aid training.The staffing shortage has been worsened by the high numbers of infected personnel. In Italy alone, nearly 10,000 medical workers have contracted the virus and more than 60 doctors have died.For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia.___Charlton reported from Paris. Sherman reported from Washington. Associated Press writers around the world contributed, including Joseph Wilson in Barcelona; Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless in London; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Karen Matthews in New York; and Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand.___Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakRobert Bumsted, Angela Charlton And Mark Sherman, The Associated Press

  • Alberta hospitals prepare for COVID-19 influx 'that will certainly test our capacity'
    News
    CBC

    Alberta hospitals prepare for COVID-19 influx 'that will certainly test our capacity'

    Patients with COVID-19 have been showing up in increasing numbers at Alberta hospitals and things remain manageable for the time being, but doctors are bracing for a potential influx that could push the system close to its limits."We are preparing for an increase that will certainly test our capacity," said Dr. Neil Collins, who is handling the pandemic response for emergency departments in the Calgary health zone.People with COVID-19 symptoms have been showing up at ERs for roughly two weeks now, he said, and a growing number are expected in the coming weeks."Some of them have serious respiratory illness and others have mild illness — the whole spectrum," Collins said of the cases he's seen to date.Alberta Health said Wednesday that 29 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 13 in intensive care.Those numbers have been gradually rising since mid-March but are relatively lower than other provinces.In British Columbia, for example, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday there are now 142 patients in hospital, including 67 in critical care.In Quebec, there were 307 people in hospital, including 82 in intensive care, at last count.Collins said there are provincial models forecasting possible scenarios for the extent of the outbreak in Alberta and some of them include patient volumes that would stretch hospital resources close to capacity.Reporters have been asking the provincial government for days for the details of those models but it has so far refused to make the information public. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw has said there are plans to release the information eventually.Premier Jason Kenney reiterated that on Wednesday."It is our intention to come forward and present Albertans with a fairly detailed briefing on our modelling for the pandemic in Alberta and our capacity to cope with it," he said. "We think it's important to be as transparent as we can."Other jurisdictions have already shared their modelling data publicly.B.C., for example, has published some forecasts of peak use of acute-care beds and ventilators. Those models also suggest physical distancing measures have reduced the spread of the COVID-19 in that province, compared to what would have happened without such measures.On Tuesday, the White House said its models forecast 100,000 to 240,000 people in the United States could die from the disease, even if people follow measures such as physical distancing, and possibly more if they don't.Collins said "there's a lot of smarter people than me working on projections for the volume of patients" in Alberta.Based on those projections, he said the province has been taking "some extraordinary measures, the likes of which I have not seen in my career," to free up resources.Reorganizing health-care resourcesAll elective surgeries have been cancelled, which Collins said is a "big sacrifice" for both the patients who had been waiting on them and the surgeons whose careers rely on the work.Hospital wards are also being expanded and some community sites are being prepared to help shoulder the expected health-care needs.The footprints of emergency departments have also been increased and Collins said "we're looking at our manpower and our processes to handle the large influx of patients."Alberta has also been expanding its inventory of ventilators for the most critically ill patients.But are there enough?"It depends on how many people are going to require them," Collins said. "And that, right now, is a big unknown."Protecting staffAs for the health of health-care workers, themselves, Collins said there are "really rigorous practices for preventing staff from becoming infected.""The province and AHS have given us the tools to protect ourselves during this pandemic," he said.Alberta Health Services medical director Dr. Mark Joffe said the province had amassed a significant stockpile of supplies as part of its pandemic planning prior to the COVID-19 outbreak."We actually have a three-to-four-month supply of most of the items of personal protective equipment that will be required by our front-line health care workers," he said."The supply is slightly less for the N95 respirators that are used under specific circumstances and, of course, we are in the process of sourcing additional supplies."Emergency-room physicians are also preparing schedules that have them working extra shifts, Collins said, and a roster of ER doctors throughout the Bow Valley is being prepared. If needed, he said doctors from outside Calgary will be redeployed to fill gaps in the city, or vice-versa if there are needs at smaller hospitals elsewhere.Overall, Collins said he is confident that staffing will be maintained."We have a very dedicated group of 220 career emerg docs in Calgary," he said. "We staff four large emergency departments. We take great pride in being able to staff those 24 hours a day, seven days a week on every single day. We've done that for the past many years and I don't see a reason why we won't be able to do that in the future."Discharges and deathsThe hospitalization numbers cited above are the latest, current counts in Alberta and don't include patients who have been discharged from hospital — or died.In total, the province says 62 people have ever been hospitalized for COVID-19, including 20 who required intensive care.Eleven people have died from the disease, according to the latest count from Alberta Health.A 12th person has also died who is not yet included in that count. Late Wednesday, Revera Living, which operates the McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Home, confirmed that another resident of the facility had succumbed to the disease.Alberta Health confirmed that person's death was not yet included in the numbers released Wednesday afternoon.Collins said the coming days and weeks will be crucial in determining how many people ultimately end up in hospital with COVID-19."We need to listen to the leaders in public health and our provincial guidance around social distancing and staying at home right now," he said."We in the health-care business really need the curve to flatten here, and the number of cases to stop increasing exponentially in Alberta."

  • News
    CBC

    With Muskrat work halted, Nalcor says it can't predict when megaproject will be completed

    With much of the work on Muskrat Falls now halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nalcor Energy says it can no longer provide a reliable completion schedule for the troubled Lower Churchill Project.Companies carrying out critical work on both the generating and transmission components of the project have been temporarily freed of their contractual obligations — a legal clause called force majeure — because of the unprecedented and unforeseen travel and physical distancing restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic.It's the latest setback for a project that has soaked into the very psyche of many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians during a decade of controversy, massive cost overruns and schedule delays.Before the pandemic, full commercial power from Muskrat was scheduled to be reached by the end of this year, which was more than two years behind the original schedule.But in an update late last week to the Public Utilities Board, Nalcor wrote, "The integrated project schedule will not be updated for both the Labrador-Island Link and Muskrat Falls sites until there is greater certainty on the path forward."In the construction world, it's known as a black swan, or the realization of a risk that has a serious effect on a project's cost and schedule.For Muskrat Falls, sanctioned in 2012 at an estimated cost of $7.4 billion, the coronavirus is the latest hit for a publicly funded project that is now more than $5 billion over budget.Nalcor's update to the PUB did not include any information about a potential increase in the final forecast cost, which has remained unchanged since June 2017.Care and maintenance modeNalcor announced March 17 it was demobilizing hundreds of workers at the Muskrat generating station in Labrador because of concerns over the potential spread of the virus.As a result, the workforce has been trimmed from 500 to just 80 essential workers who are maintaining essential systems and operations.Nalcor has adopted a variety of safety measures to ensure workers are not infected with the virus, including daily temperature testing of all workers, physical distancing, and enhanced sanitization. All essential workers are required to stay on site for the entire duration of their shift.Plans to produce power from the first of four turbines at the station are now in limbo, after repeated schedule targets were already missed because of construction delays.GE hires outside helpThe technical challenges surrounding efforts to transmit electricity from Labrador to the island power grid over the new Labrador-island link have also been dealt another setback.GE Grid, the company developing the complex transmission software in Stafford, England, has struggled to deliver what's called the control and protection software. In a new development revealed to the PUB, Nalcor confirmed GE has hired external experts to help fix some bugs in the software.What's more, Nalcor has recalled its personnel from Stafford because of the pandemic.Meanwhile, software development is continuing, according to Nalcor, with teleconferences used for progress updates.The sprawling switchyard at Soldiers Pond, outside St. John's, was placed in care and maintenance mode Saturday, which means all commissioning work, including repairs to the three synchronous condensers, has been suspended.As a result of the pandemic, Nalcor has declared force majeure against its contractors, which frees Nalcor and its contractors from any contractual liability or obligation because of the pandemic, which has paralyzed countries throughout the world."We are actively monitoring and addressing the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and the potential risks to our people, our communities and site operations," a Nalcor official wrote in a statement to CBC News.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • For Mohawk community that straddles Canada and U.S., the border is no barrier to coronavirus
    News
    Reuters

    For Mohawk community that straddles Canada and U.S., the border is no barrier to coronavirus

    Canada and the United States have closed their border to non-essential traffic to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, but one rural corner of the vast frontier remains open: an indigenous territory that straddles the two countries. Nurses from Massena, New York, work at the Akwesasne health facility in Quebec whose parking lot is in New York. Canadians returning from the United States must quarantine for two weeks, but many of the 12,000 Canada-based Akwesasne go back and forth every day, sometimes several times.

  • Words to remember: Canadian newsmakers have their say on COVID-19
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Words to remember: Canadian newsmakers have their say on COVID-19

    A look at some of the top quotes from across Canada on Thursday in relation to COVID-19: "If we all stopped moving for two weeks and nobody talked to anybody for two weeks and we all just stayed put, in fact we would see this virus would die." — Health Minister Patty Hajdu.———"The hard truth is right now, today, there's very little separating what we will face here in Ontario from the devastation we've seen in Italy and Spain." — Ontario Premier Doug Ford.———"There must be no visits in residences. It's a matter of life and death." — Quebec Premier Francois Legault.———"Provided there is live racing at Woodbine this year, the Queen's Plate will 100 per cent be run. Even if it's without spectators, we will run the race." — Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson on the postponement of the Queen's Plate, a horse race held every year in Toronto since 1860.———"In New York, it's just exploding, and it's pretty scary. And I know people in Canada that are still getting together with people and I'm just like, 'Stay home. It's so bad.'" — New York-based Canadian Allana Harkin.———"Isolation gowns, reusable and disposable, are made in China, so to build a small resource base in Canada is important to dealing with crises like this in the future. You can't have your supply chain be permitted to suddenly fall to zero like this." — Jon Stanfield, CEO of Stanfield's Ltd., a longtime undergarment maker now manufacturing personal protective equipment and clothing for front-line health workers. ———"We need a leader who is focused on the health and safety of Albertans. Instead (Health Minister Tyler Shandro) is focused on his own personal vendettas." — Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley during question period. After she spoke, government house leader Jason Nixon accused Notley of playing partisan politics in the middle of a pandemic.This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • Air Canada suspends all Saint John flights, some Moncton trips
    News
    CBC

    Air Canada suspends all Saint John flights, some Moncton trips

    The Saint John Airport will have no more flights arriving and departing as of Monday as Air Canada suspends more New Brunswick flights.Saint John Airport director of Commercial Development, Jacques Fournier said Wednesday that Air Canada suspended a flight to and from Montreal effective Friday. As of Monday, April 6, the last two remaining flights to and from Halifax will also be suspended. The suspensions are a response to stay-at-home directives from public health to stop the spread of COVID-19 infections."People are not flying right now, so it's a little hard to justify for the airlines to put capacity in all the smaller airports," Fournier said.Fournier said the terminal will not shut down. He said layoffs are on the table, but "not in the near future.""There will definitely at some point be a need for [layoffs]," he said. "If this lasts six months then it's a definite possibility but it all depends how long it lasts." He said "no one seems to have a really good grasp" of how long the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions will last, which is adding to the uncertainty around the airport operations.He said if the travel restrictions remain long-term, lasting more than a few months, "everyone at the airport," is at risk, from people in administration to people who clean runways and electricians."It will not just affect one sector," he said.The airport previously had three flights a day to Toronto's Pearson Airport, three to Montreal, one flight to downtown Toronto and one flight to Cuba. Those have all been previously suspended.Air Canada will revisit the Halifax flights in early May, Fournier said. In the past few days, he's seen those flights come in with as few as one or two passengers, he said.Moncton flight reductionBernard LeBlanc, CEO and president of the Moncton airport, said Air Canada also suspended two flights to Montreal and back. The airport now has two flights a day to Halifax, and one to Toronto.He said from what he's seeing in other regions, it appears Air Canada is centralizing air service to capital cities."I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens here [as in Saint John]," he said, but Air Canada hasn't confirmed any more suspensions.LeBlanc said Air Canada has offered no timeline for flight restoration. Most Air Canada flights suspended in other parts of the country are effective until April 30.Fredericton flightsJohanne Gallant, the chief executive officer of the Fredericton International Airport, said the airport still has two flights to Montreal, two to Halifax and one to Toronto. Multiple other flights have previously been suspended, she said."This has a tremendous impact on the airport," she said. "We're losing potentially over 70 per cent of our revenue ... we've made some major cuts into our operating budgets and we're deferring capital projects."She said the construction project which began last year is still ongoing.She said the airport is asking the federal government for support."We're still asking the federal government to provide us some assistance to get through this crisis," she said."If we receive one flight a day or two versus 15 a day, it's the same overhead cost," she said. "Because we have to stay safe. We have to maintain the runways. We have security. So you know we have a high fixed cost so therefore we need support."

  • News
    CBC

    Sask. students feeling summer employment crunch due to COVID-19

    Post-secondary students are nearly finished with their winter semester. For many, that means it's time to start searching for summer employment. That task is one of many commonplace activities that have been drastically impacted by to the COVID-19 pandemic. "The search has been pretty difficult," said third-year University of Regina political studies major Katarina Ewert. "If you go on like, [job search website] Indeed, there are so many people hiring in Regina for waitressing jobs, but now all that's been shut down. So that was my plan, but it's not doable at the moment."  Ewert said she's been able to secure provincial government employment in the past as a summer student. She has applied this year, too, but she's not sure there will be as many seasonal jobs available."They're usually around $17 per hour to start with, so you can make all your money during the summer and live on that for the rest of the year," she said.Some students may not qualify for pandemic benefitsEwert knows she's not alone in her struggle. "All over Canada you can go on social media and see people in the same situation, not knowing if they're going to be hired, if they qualify for EI, because they probably wouldn't if they hadn't worked, if you even qualify for the emergency response benefit," she said, citing minimum income amounts to qualify for federal help. "If you haven't been working, you can't qualify."She said that while it's nice to see governments deferring payments for student loans, that's not helpful for people like her who are still in the midst of their studies. University of Regina calls for donations to emergency fundMeanwhile, the University of Regina is calling for donations to its emergency fund, which awards bursaries to students for housing, food security, technology, medical care, necessary travel or unforseen circumstances. The school also offers emergency loans, but in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic it's highlighting the bursary program. The university's interim president and vice chancellor, Thomas Chase, said the bursary fund normally awards $90,000 to students annually. Right now, it's seeing three times the amount of daily applications it normally sees. "So it's a tough time. All available funds to date have been depleted. We're relying on the generosity of our communities both inside the university — faculty and staff — and outside, to help our students in this time of need," he said. Chase said the fund is dealing with the added difficulty of being unable to host its usual fundraiser events due to restrictions around the pandemic, so it's asking people to donate online at urgiving.ca/emergency.Many internships maintainedChase said the university knows its students are facing hardship around summer employment. "There's no question. One group that we would think of immediately is people who work in restaurants, many of whom are students," Chase said. "That's a terrific blow, and that's just one group."He said many of the school's partners in co-op work experience programs and internships 'have maintained what they've been able to do,' but that there are exceptions such as education student-interns, who will not be able to work in a classroom while the province's classes are out indefinitely. "It's kind of happening on a case-by-case and employer-by-employer basis," he said.

  • Exploding population of parasitic sea worms a worry for endangered orcas, says U.S. researcher
    News
    CBC

    Exploding population of parasitic sea worms a worry for endangered orcas, says U.S. researcher

    A tiny parasitic ocean worm that's seen a population explosion since the 1970s may be contributing to the decline of endangered orcas, according to a Washington State researcher.The worm population has exploded in tandem with the failure of fish-eating southern resident killer whales to thrive off the coast of British Columbia and Washington State.The herring worms called anisakis have increased 283-fold in the past 40 years, according to a newly released study from the University of Washington in Seattle.Author Chelsea Wood, an associate professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, suspects that's had a dire effect on southern resident killer whales because there is evidence they've been plagued by the parasites."We're especially worried about those [marine mammals] that are not doing well," said Wood, noting that southern resident killer whales populations are "tanking."At last count the endangered group numbered 73. Scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tried with limited success in 2018 to deworm a juvenile whale dubbed J50 after finding a high burden of worms in her fecal and breath samples The emaciated, lethargic animal later vanished and is believed dead.Wood suspects the worms in J50, also called Scarlet, helped kill the critically ill animal.De-worming did help save an orphaned orca dubbed Springer back in 2002. After the animal was medicated, her appetite improved and she tripled her fish intake, eventually recovering and calving her own offspring.Martin Haulena is head veterinarian for the Vancouver Aquarium and he says the parasite explosion may also be linked to the decline of salmon, reducing the number of hosts for anisakis."As each fish that a [marine mammal] eats is loaded with more and more parasites in the larval stage, then you can get a bigger and bigger parasite load," said Haulena.He says the bigger the parasite load in salmon and fish, the more they build up in salmon-eating orcas. In most cases the parasite is a normal part of their gut, but he says there are critical points in an orca's development when they are more susceptible to the negative effects of the parasite.He said malnourished or weak animals may end up with a "super infection" which puts an extra load on a young, developing animal. Small public health concern for humansHerring worms are found in wild fish and can also be transmitted to humans when they eat raw or undercooked fish. The tiny flesh-coloured worm is almost invisible on raw pink salmon."These worms are not fatal for people in general. They're not even particularly dangerous, but they're probably a cause of a large proportion of the cases of what we call food poisoning from consumption of sushi," said Wood.If accidentally ingested the parasite can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.In their more common hosts — including seals and whales  — the worms are not a problem for healthy animals. But the parasite can penetrate the stomach lining in thin or weakened animals, boring into internal organs or causing a bacterial infection in the bloodstream."It's highly possible that worms are impeding the conservation progress for those endangered and threatened marine mammals," said Wood.Parasites thrive when hosts thriveIt's not clear why anisakis worms are thriving. But there are theories.The parasite became more abundant after the implementation of the 1972  Marine Mammal Protection Act, a  U.S. moratorium for the protection of many marine mammals."Parasites profit when their hosts profit," said Wood.But other factors include nutrient runoff from farms that helps feed small crustaceans called krill that host the worms. It also causes phytoplankton blooms that may increase worm populations.She said climate change may also play a role."It's really tricky to attribute these global changes to particular drivers because everything's changing at the same time," said Wood

  • COVID-19 fears keep most Windsor cabs off the road, remaining drivers install barriers
    News
    CBC

    COVID-19 fears keep most Windsor cabs off the road, remaining drivers install barriers

    More than half of the Vets Cab drivers in Windsor are choosing to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and those still on the road are doing a number of things to help keep themselves and their passengers safe.Even more drivers are off the road because demand is down, according to Unifor Local 195, as the public heeds health advice to stay home whenever possible. Many of the drivers are particularly worried because of their age or underlying medical conditions, said President Emile Nabbout.Right now, there are about 40 drivers working, when normally they'd have upwards of 140, he added."Every single driver does have a concern because you have to exchange money [or] a debit machine. You have to engage with the customer. They are really concerned," he said. "But, we take extra precautions. They are trying to do the best that they can."For those cab drivers interacting with passengers each day, precautions are being taken to help ensure safety, including the installation of plastic barriers between the front and back of each vehicle.Drivers have also been supplied with a disinfectant to clean the vehicle after each passenger. And they've also stopped assisting the public with things such as putting groceries in the trunk."Some feel that it's a duty and responsibility in this type of crisis to step up to the plate and continue serving the community," said Nabbout.Hiram Walker also supplied each driver with a spray hand sanitizer with a high concentration of alcohol.The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said Wednesday it plans to make recommendations for taxi and Uber drivers when it comes to how they should operate in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.Cabs crossing the borderNabbout also said there are preliminary discussions taking place with the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit to allow Vets Cab drivers to cross the border to transport essential workers, if needed.The Canada Border Services Agency said cab drivers transporting essential workers may fall under the exemption allowing "asymptomatic persons in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people."But senior spokesperson Rebecca Purdy wouldn't clearly say if that's the case, only that each border officer will "make that determination based on the information provided upon presentation at the port of entry"On this side of the border, the taxi business has spiked since Transit Windsor suspended its service Sunday night. Nabbout said if the demand continues to rise, there is a possibility for more drivers to return to work.Council approves cash back for some transit usersDuring a special meeting on Wednesday, council voted to approve a one-time payment for transit users who purchased a pass for parts of February and March. That ranges from $25 for students, to $75 for those on Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). "At the end of the day, the cost that they will be incurring having to rely on cabs and Uber drivers could go into the hundreds of dollars a month." \- Rino Bortolin, Ward 3 councillorCouncillor Rino Bortolin opposed the suspension of transit and said this "goodwill gesture" is "simply insulting."He believes the city should be providing more to those affected, especially considering some may have to take a cab to city hall to physically pick up the cheque.In the week prior to the suspension of transit service, anywhere between 4,000 and 7,000 people took the bus each day. That's down 77 per cent compared to the same time last year, but Bortolin said it's still significant for those who need to get groceries or get to work."At the end of the day, the cost that they will be incurring having to rely on cabs and Uber drivers could go into the hundreds of dollars a month," said Bortolin. "By taking public transit they are more so the people who have the least amount of income in our community."There's been a lot of criticism from people in Windsor questioning Mayor Drew Dilkens' decision to suspend city bus service for two weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.However, he's firm in that choice and said he doesn't regret doing it."This community is smart. This community knows how to adjust and knows how to adapt," said Dilkens. "I did not make this decision lightly."The main reason for making the decision to suspend transit is to save lives, and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, said Dilkens. It's for two weeks, but could last longer, he added."But if things get worse here and the circumstances change, which they seem to be doing hour by hour, I will have to re-evaluate before I make that decision again," said Dilkens.Dilkens predicts other forms of public transportation, such as cabs or Uber, won't be overwhelmed by the transit suspension. He suggests people will instead walk, ride their bike or get a ride from friends, family or neighbours.In Tecumseh, the town's transit system remains operational and is currently free to passengers, as was Transit Windsor before the temporary shutdown.Mayor Gary McNamara said they are disinfecting the buses regularly, and passengers cannot sit near the driver. He said it was important to keep it running."The rationale behind it is the people who are using the bus, it's their only mode of transportation to get to groceries when they need it, financial institutions, appointments and work," said McNamara."We felt in working closely with our medical officer of health … that it wasn't necessary to shut down the system, providing that we provide the essential protection," he said.

  • Nova Scotian hosts online kitchen party as antidote to the COVID-19 blues
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Nova Scotian hosts online kitchen party as antidote to the COVID-19 blues

    HALIFAX — For those growing weary of gloomy news about the COVID-19 pandemic, Nova Scotian Heather Thomson has created an upbeat antidote: an online, down-home kitchen party.Her Facebook page, launched less than two weeks ago, has attracted almost 200,000 followers from 99 countries — and about 15,000 people join the party every day."It gives people something to focus on other than the news," Thomson said Wednesday from her home near New Glasgow, N.S. "It's really bringing people together through the power of music."The site features thousands of newly uploaded videos showing musicians, singers and dancers — all of them performing in isolation from basements, garages, bedrooms and, of course, kitchen tables.Hundreds of videos are added every day. There are acoustic ballads, traditional Celtic reels, opera, karaoke, dancing babies, the Royal Canadian Air Force band and even a very pregnant woman and her two boys dancing to a rap song.One particularly Canadian video shows three Mounties dancing a jig as fiddle music blares across a frozen Sakatchewan lake.Then there's Scott MacKinnon in Westville, N.S., who shows off his basement shrine to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He tells viewers it would normally be filled with friends watching an NHL game. And then he picks up his guitar.To the tune of Stompin' Tom Connors' "Hockey Song," MacKinnon sings: "Hello out there, hockey's off the air. There's no hockey tonight. My tension grows, I feel I'm getting old, stuck inside with just the wife."Canadian country stars George Canyon and Johnny Reid have made appearances on the site, officially known as the Ultimate Nova Scotia Kitchen Party — COVID-19 Edition.Another popular video shows eight-year-old Caleb MacDonald of Sheet Harbour, N.S., belting out Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," the theme song from James Cameron's blockbuster film "Titanic."Caleb's mother, Sherrilee Redden, says her little boy was stunned by the reaction to his performance, which he completed in his pyjamas."He was absolutely flabbergasted when he was reading the comments," Redden said in an interview Wednesday, adding that Caleb's video received more than 5,000 likes. "He was floored. He couldn't believe that many people watched him sing."When asked what he thought about the page's popularity, the Grade 3 student said simply: "It cheers people up .... It's wonderful."And that is precisely the idea behind the online kitchen party, says Thomson.She was inspired to create the page last month when she was feeling overwhelmed by the bleak tone on social media."I was sitting at my kitchen table and my Facebook page was just flooded with negativity and everything that is wrong in the world today," says Thomson, who is continuing to work through the crisis providing in-home care to those with intellectual and physical disabilities."I just needed to find a bit of joy."She reached out to a few friends who are musicians in Nova Scotia's Pictou County and asked them to share their music online."I sang along," she says in an online post. "I felt joy. I felt like the world was the place we knew only a few weeks ago. In that moment, I knew I wanted to drown out the bad and flood my own Facebook with music."As for the kitchen party theme, Thomson says she thought everyone knew about the tradition, which remains strong in Atlantic Canada. But some "from away" were initially confused, saying they thought the page was a forum for swapping recipes.According to Maritime lore, these makeshift jam sessions typically started in the kitchen because that's where the wood stove was. Food and drink were easily accessible, too."People would naturally gravitate to that area of the house and stick around," says Thomson, who comes from a family of musicians."In true Nova Scotia fashion, everyone is welcome."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020.Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

  • Coronavirus outbreak: B.C. records 53 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 death
    Global News

    Coronavirus outbreak: B.C. records 53 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 death

    British Columbia's chief provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Wednesday there were 53 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and one new confirmed death. She also said there were now 606 people who had recovered from the novel coronavirus.

  • Elon Musk's SpaceX bans Zoom over privacy concerns -memo
    News
    Reuters

    Elon Musk's SpaceX bans Zoom over privacy concerns -memo

    SpaceX's ban on Zoom Video Communications Inc illustrates the mounting challenges facing aerospace manufacturers as they develop technology deemed vital to national security while also trying to keep employees safe from the fast-spreading respiratory illness. In an email dated March 28, SpaceX told employees that all access to Zoom had been disabled with immediate effect.

  • 'No room left on my credit card': 1,300 stranded Canadians apply for emergency loans
    News
    CBC

    'No room left on my credit card': 1,300 stranded Canadians apply for emergency loans

    Cash-strapped and stranded abroad, hundreds of Canadians are waiting for an emergency loan from the federal government because they need money to pay for hotels or book flights.The Canadian government has paid out $1.8 million in loans to 525 recipients through the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. It is currently processing another 800 loan applications, according to Global Affairs Canada.The repayable loan of up to $5,000 is intended to cover flights back to Canada, or basic expenses, such as hotels and food, until citizens can return home. There are currently 391,451 Canadians signed up to the Registration of Canadians Abroad. Kimberley Bradley, 50, of Pembroke, Ont., says she needs the emergency loan to cover her hotel bill in Varadero, Cuba. She's been forced into quarantine with hundreds of other travellers and only has enough cash to cover four more nights, she said."People have run out out of money. They're waiting on emergency loans, begging the hotels to wait," she said. "I have no room left on my credit card."Bradley said she has booked three different commercial flights out of Cuba in the past 10 days, each paid for on her credit card, but they've all been cancelled. Each time, she received credit for future travel but no refund.Travelling on a tight budgetBradley started the loan application process eight days ago. She received an email from Canada's emergency response centre today that said, "Due to a high volume of requests, we will not be able to give updates on the status of individual loan applications." The most recent communication warned the process could take a week.In a statement released Tuesday, Global Affairs Canada said it is working "around the clock" to ensure it is "providing emergency assistance and consular services to Canadians abroad who need it."Bradley, who has an autoimmune disease that is exacerbated by the cold, arrived in Cuba in early January. She rented an apartment in a fishing village for six months, she said.When COVID-19 concerns escalated in early March, she weighed her options. She says she didn't have a place to quarantine in Ontario because she lives with her daughter, who is an essential service worker. Bradley also survives on a disability pension and had pre-paid six months' rent in Cuba.So, she decided that she would self-isolate in her private apartment in Cuba until the end of June. That plan fell apart last Tuesday, when Cuban immigration officials decided to force all foreigners into quarantine in hotels to try to control the fast-spreading virus."A lot of people missed opportunities to take flights because they thought they were just going to wait things out here," Bradley said.Nonetheless, she doesn't blame Cuban officials for taking steps to contain the virus, she said.Now, she's forced to pay $50 a night at the Barcelo Solymar hotel, which she said is beautiful, with kind staff, but far beyond her tight budget.There are no commercial flights in or out of Cuba, but Bradley was informed late Wednesday that the Canadian government is chartering a flight out on Sunday. She can't afford the ticket unless she receives the loan in time, she said.Loan application deniedToronto resident Alexandra Acosta helped her 62-year-old father apply for a $1,000 emergency loan last week to go toward a plane ticket home from Lima, Peru.Given the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and her own circumstances, Acosta couldn't afford to loan him money herself, she said."I have enough money to last me for my groceries. My husband's not working. I'm not working. You can only use your credit card so much," she said.Her father, Juan Acosta, just received an email from the Canadian Embassy in Lima that he was denied the loan. The rejection email didn't specify why, but said: "This program is intended to provide assistance to Canadian citizens who plan to return to Canada, have been prevented from doing so because of COVID-19, and have no other source of funds."The federal government has arranged three flights to bring Canadians home from Peru this week. Acosta said she is devastated."If he was here with me, he would be ... in this house, so I could make sure he is OK," she said. "You gotta take care of your parents because they took care of you." Acosta said she searched for a commercial flight out of Peru for her father last month after the Canadian government warned travellers that they should return home while they still can. She wasn't successful.She said her father moved from Canada to Peru two years ago to pursue a business opportunity and care for his elderly father. Acosta concedes that Peru is her father's primary residence these days, but she says he's a Canadian citizen and she wants him home.The eligibility criteria to qualify for an emergency loan from the federal government include: * You are eligible if you are a Canadian citizen impacted by COVID-19 who plans to return to Canada and who has no other source of funds. * Global Affairs will consider that you plan to return to Canada if you: * Had a return flight booked and your flight was cancelled or delayed. * Attempted to book a flight, but cannot due to the travel restrictions or exorbitant pricing. * You must be a Canadian citizen. * You must be a permanent resident travelling with an immediate family member who is a Canadian citizen, or facing a threat to life or other grievous harm.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    B.C. residents and businesses get break on electricity bills for three months

    VICTORIA — People who have lost their jobs or had their wages cut will get a three-month break on BC Hydro bills, while small businesses are also eligible to apply for similar relief.Premier John Horgan said Wednesday the credit for residential customers will be three times a household's average monthly bill over the past year and does not have to be repaid as part of the government's support package during the COVID-19 pandemic.He said small businesses that are closed will not have to pay their power bills for three months and large industrial customers, including those operating mines and pulp mills, can opt to have 50 per cent of their electricity costs deferred.BC Hydro rates will be cut for all customers by one per cent as of April 1 after the B.C. Utilities Commission provided interim approval of an application the utility submitted last August.Eligible residential customers can apply for bill relief starting next week and small business applications will be accepted as of April 14, with the deadline for both categories set at June 30.Energy Minister Bruce Ralston said the three-month break also applies to those who are in quarantine or are caring for young children, with the average savings over three months expected to be about $477."In fact, during the summer, since many people's bill tends to decline, the credit may carry someone a little bit further than three months," he told a news conference on Wednesday."We are working with BC Hydro to make sure there is a simple and streamlined process for customers to apply for relief so we can implement these new measures as soon and as effectively as is possible. But we wanted to let people know more relief is coming."Large industries deferring 50 per cent of their bills will be required to make their first repayment in September.Ralston said the cost to BC Hydro to provide relief for residential and small-business customers is up to $90 million.Horgan said the province is co-ordinating these temporary support programs with the federal government.This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Trudeau: U.S. standing down plan to send soldiers to backstop northern border
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Trudeau: U.S. standing down plan to send soldiers to backstop northern border

    OTTAWA — The United States appears to have backed off on its plan to send soldiers to the Canada-U.S. border, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security had been floating the idea to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials keep migrants from crossing the border between official entry points, ostensibly to limit the possible spread of COVID-19.But Trudeau's equivocal language Wednesday suggests the idea might not be off the table."The ongoing conversations we have with the American administration continue on a broad range of subjects, and we have heard that that is not something they are continuing to pursue," the prime minister said."But we will, of course, continue to engage with the American administration as new situations come up and as things develop."President Donald Trump has suggested the plan was a measure of "equal justice" linked to a plan to send additional U.S. soldiers to its border with Mexico, where the administration has long been focused on mitigating the flow of illegal immigration.Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command, confirmed Wednesday that the military is sending 540 more troops to the southern border "very soon" to assist the U.S. Border Patrol in intercepting and preventing migrants trying to enter the country from spreading the virus.The U.S. has about 5,000 soldiers backstopping authorities at the southern border, which Trump famously made a cornerstone of his 2016 election strategy by promising to build a wall and to make Mexico pay for it.O'Shaughnessy described the deployment as part of the "whole-of-America" effort against the pandemic, which as of Wednesday had sickened more than 210,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 in the U.S. In Canada, the total number of cases was approaching 10,000, with 114 deaths. "As the president has said, we are at war with COVID-19," O'Shaughnessy told a briefing at the Pentagon. "To win this war, which we absolutely will, we're approaching it as a large-scale military campaign."In Canada, the prospect of U.S. soldiers along the world's longest unmilitarized border had prompted strong opposition from the Prime Minister's Office and diplomatically pointed language from Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.Freeland had said such a move would be damaging to Canada's relationship with the United States."Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal and we have made that opposition very, very clear to our American counterparts,"she said last week. "We really don't think this is the right way to treat a trusted friend and military ally."Trump administration officials never publicly confirmed they were entertaining the idea — nor have they ever ruled it out.The administration is "considering every option," they said at the time. "The risk of further spread of the virus is too high not to respond in an appropriate and measured way."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    'Everybody understands': P.E.I.'s harness racing season delayed due to COVID-19

    This is usually a time of excitement for horse owners, drivers and fans as they get ready for the start of the harness racing season. But on May 2, no horses will be coming around the backstretch, and no announcer will be announcing the winner over the loud speaker.Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of P.E.I.'s harness racing season has been pushed back at least a month.The season was supposed to start on May 2 at Red Shores in Charlottetown. It has now been tentatively rescheduled to June 4.But that may be pushed back further if restrictions on public gatherings are still in place, said Blaine MacPherson, chair of the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association."Everything's so uncertain right now. Things change every day," he said. "But we decided to not race in May."MacPherson said he was on a conference call Wednesday with representatives from Red Shores, the Prince County Horsemen's Club and the P.E.I. Standardbred Horseowners Association.He said there will be lost revenue for the horse owners, but that "everybody understands.""Whatever Dr. [Heather] Morrison recommends, that's what we'll have to do as a group until we get this whole issue under control."Red Shores is closed to the public but the track, paddocks and barns are still being maintained. There are about 270 horses at Red Shores, MacPherson said. He said they will continue to train in hopes the season will not be lost.More from CBC P.E.I.

  • Yukon reports 6th case of COVID-19, and 'good news' of 3 recoveries
    News
    CBC

    Yukon reports 6th case of COVID-19, and 'good news' of 3 recoveries

    Yukon's chief medical officer said Wednesday there was "good news" in the latest COVID-19 numbers for the territory — three Yukoners who earlier tested positive are now considered "recovered" from the illness."They are symptom-free, and they have finished their self-isolation period[s]," said Dr. Brendan Hanley, at a news conference on Wednesday."Once a they have cleared their symptoms and finished their time of isolation, then they are no longer infectious."Hanley also announced a new confirmed case, however — Yukon's sixth overall. He said the person returned from Europe within the last two weeks, and were already self-isolating when symptoms began to show. Hanley said the person is currently doing well. He also confirmed that all of Yukon's cases so far have been in Whitehorse."We're in a good position, with no cases outside Whitehorse, and all cases doing well."As of Wednesday, 722 Yukoners had been tested for COVID-19, and results were still pending on 26 of those.On Wednesday afternoon, neighbouring N.W.T. confirmed its second case of COVID-19 in the community of Inuvik.'We are not suspending mining,' says ministerAlso on Wednesday, Yukon's economic development minister, Ranj Pillai, held a news conference, where he was asked about mining activity in the territory. Some Yukon First Nations want a halt on all mining operations during the pandemic, citing concerns about mine workers travelling into and out of the territory.Pillai called it a "complex" issue because it's not just out-of-territory workers at Yukon's mines — he says many Yukoners work in the industry too.Watch Wednesday's news conference here:Pillai also said Yukon's two working mines — Minto and Eagle — have taken measures to control the risk of spreading coronavirus. Anybody coming into the territory, including miners and prospectors, is required to self-isolate for 14 days, he said."At this point, we are not suspending mining because I am following the direction of the chief medical officer," said Minister Ranj Pillai. Pillai also suggested there were new measures coming "very soon" to address some of the concerns from First Nations communities about mining activity during the pandemic.Fund for cancelled eventsPillai also announced a new government fund on Wednesday to help businesses and organizations pay the bills for large cancelled events, such as the Arctic Winter Games or the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament."While the loss of these large gatherings is disappointing to all Yukoners, the negative impact is especially heavy for businesses that invested in these preparations," said Pillai."The program will reduce some of their burden during a period that is already hurting Yukon's businesses."Pillai said businesses and NGOs can apply for funding to cover any or all "irretrievable losses" associated with events cancelled between Mar. 7 and Jul.30.He said the fund is only for events that were intended for more than 50 people. Businesses and organizations must first try to cancel contracts, return supplies and otherwise cut losses before applying for help.

  • News
    CBC

    Kitikmeot Inuit Association announces COVID-19 programs for beneficiaries

    The Kitikmeot Inuit Association has announced two temporary programs for beneficiaries using funding from Indigenous Service Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.The association represents Inuit beneficiaries from Nunavut's Kitikmeot region, which includes the communities of Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Kugaaruk, Kugluktuk, and Taloyoak.The funding for the programs comes from Indigenous Services Canada, and both programs will run for three months starting on April 1 and running through the end of June.Registered beneficiary elders will each receive a cash supplement of $500 a month for the three months, intended to help assist them in purchasing healthy foods, according to a news release. All beneficiaries born in 1960 and earlier will automatically qualify for the supplement, with no application required.The association also states that it will be in contact with some eligible elders to get banking information for direct deposits. There are 541 registered elders in the region, bringing the total amount committed under the supplement to $811,500.In addition, registered Kitikmeot beneficiary families can apply for financial assistance to get out of their communities and live on the land at cabins or camps.Each of the five communities in the region will be allocated $50,000 per month for the three months under the program, bringing that total amount to $750,000.The association is currently finalizing a "brief online and phone-in application process," according to the release. It also states that more programs will be introduced by the association in the "near future."

  • News
    CBC

    8 COVID-19 deaths reported at Scarborough long-term care home

    Eight residents of the Seven Oaks Long Term Care Home in Scarborough have died as result of COVID-19 amid an outbreak at the facility, Toronto Public Health says.The ages of the residents who died range from their 60s to their 90s — six of these eight are over 85 years old, according to Toronto Public Health spokesperson Dr. Elizabeth Rea.The public health agency says it is aware of a total of 18 outbreaks currently occurring in long-term care homes across the city as of Wednesday morning. An outbreak is defined as simply one lab-confirmed positive test involving a resident or staff member.  Six of those deaths were reported overnight, the agency says. Four people died at Seven Oaks, one died at Extendicare Bayview (SouthWest Unit), and one died at the Rekai Centre at Sherbourne Place."We extend our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of these individuals during this difficult time," Rea said.Seven Oaks has had 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among 14 residents, including the eight who died, and nine staff members. No staff members have died.Rea said there are 54 probable resident cases at Seven Oaks.According to the city's website, 249 residents live at the facility, which was built in 1988.The other outbreaks are occurring at the following long-term care homes: * St. Clair O'Connor Community Inc. with six confirmed cases involving three residents and three staff. * Extendicare Bayview (SouthWest Unit) with 4 confirmed cases involving two residents, including one who died in a COVID-linked death, and two staff. The resident who died was in their 90s. * West Park Healthcare Centre with four confirmed cases involving two residents and two staff. * Chartwell Gibson with three confirmed cases involving residents.  * Rekai Centre at Sherbourne Place with four confirmed cases involving four residents, including one death. The resident who died was in their 60s. * Elm Grove Living Centre with one confirmed case involving a staff person. * West Side with one confirmed case involving a staff member. * Eatonville with one confirmed case involving a staff member. * Cedarvale Terrace with one confirmed case involving a staff member. * Vermont Square with one confirmed case involving a staff member. * Rockcliffe with one confirmed case involving a resident. * Altamont Community Care Centre with one confirmed case involving a staff member. * Kensington Gardens with one confirmed case involving a resident. * Sunnybrook Veterans Centre with one confirmed case involving a resident. * McCall Centre long term care unit with one confirmed case involving a staff member. * Baycrest Apotex Long Term Care Home with one confirmed case involving a staff member. * House of Providence Long Term Care Home with one confirmed case involving a resident. There are two active outbreaks in retirement home settings: * Terrace Gardens Retirement Residence with three confirmed resident cases and one staff case. * Village of Humber Heights Retirement Home with one confirmed case involving a resident.As of April 1, Toronto Public Health has reported 653 COVID-19 cases in the city, with another 165 probable cases.There have been 75 people hospitalized and 19 deaths, according to the city's website as of Wednesday afternoon.

  • Videos Of Wild Animals During Coronavirus Are A Hit, But Not Always Legit
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    HuffPost Canada

    Videos Of Wild Animals During Coronavirus Are A Hit, But Not Always Legit

    Dolphins and monkeys and goats, oh my!

  • Fines coming for COVID-19 infractions, mayor warns
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    CBC

    Fines coming for COVID-19 infractions, mayor warns

    It seems some people just aren't getting the message about physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson cautioned Wednesday bylaw officers will soon be issuing fines along with the warnings.Earlier this week, Watson announced police and bylaw officers would begin cracking down on what he called "idiotic" behaviour by people unaware or unconcerned about a provincewide ban on gatherings of more than five people.Last week, the city announced the closure of municipal parks an playgrounds as part of the ongoing effort to keep people at home. We've got to get people to think that this is not just sort of a suggestion that you not go out and gather in groups of more than five, it's actually now the law. \- Ottawa Mayor Jim WatsonDuring a teleconference with reporters Wednesday, Watson said on Tuesday alone, bylaw officers had responded to 139 calls about people disobeying the restrictions."Bylaw and regulatory services had to respond to a child's birthday party held in the backyard which had between 12 and 20 children present. Bylaw officers had to visit Lansdowne Park [for] a complaint that more than 20 people were playing on the place structures and in the skateboard park," Watson said."They were also required to intervene at Britannia Beach where over 200 people had gathered in the last few days, and bylaw also received complaints about a yard sale in Greenboro."No fines yetIndividuals caught flouting the provincial ban on gatherings can be fined $750 or up to $100,000, while the director of a business can face a fine of up to $500,000 and corporations could pay as much as $10 million.So far there have been no fines issued in Ottawa, Watson said."I suspect that will change in the next couple of days if we continue to see the kind of bad behaviour of people gathering," he warned."We've got to get people to think that this is not just sort of a suggestion that you not go out and gather in groups of more than five, it's actually now the law. And I suspect that the bylaw officers, if they continue to see patterns in a particular area, they will start to hand out the tickets."In an effort to help housebound residents get some exercise and fresh air, Watson said the city is ramping up efforts to clean up multi-use pathways. The NCC has said it's doing the same, although it has closed Gatineau Park as well as vehicular access to several parks within the Greenbelt.

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    CBC

    Support groups in Cape Breton change how they offer services during COVID-19

    As the COVID-19 outbreak forces people to change the way social gatherings are conducted, some support groups in the Sydney area are finding new ways to support their members.Narcotics Anonymous in Cape Breton says a switch to online meetings will be useful for current members who are able to connect, but it could create roadblocks for new members looking for help.John with Narcotics Anonymous in Sydney said the local group will hold its first virtual meeting on Wednesday night, but he's worried about members losing face-to-face contacts.John's last name is being withheld to protect his identity.He said a switch to online meetings could affect people who are looking for help for the first time."Right now we're in the same situation as, for example, somebody starting a new group in a new town," he said."It's going to take months … for people to actually start joining and for the results to start happening."He said the group is still in the process of getting the system in order, saying the move to a virtual meeting system is not something the association is used to.He's worried about the impact on people who aren't familiar with remote technology, and afraid the virtual meetings will drive away the people who need the support the most.'They are not forgotten'Christine Porter, executive director of the Ally Centre of Cape Breton, said the lack of physical contact with her clients has been difficult and that having meaningful conversations from six feet away is "strange."She said people can still come by for some support, but safety measures have been taken at the centre to protect workers and volunteers.One challenge, according to Porter, is letting vulnerable people know that even though people are practicing physical distancing, it doesn't mean they don't care."I want people to know, especially vulnerable populations, that people are thinking of them," Porter says. "Plans are being made, they are not forgotten. We are working hard to make sure things get better for them."Porter's advice for people looking for help is to get in contact, even if they feel isolated and alone.She says there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the light will come quicker if everyone listens to the advice of public health officials.MORE TOP STORIES:

  • Calgary police charge man over threat to spread COVID-19 to Indigenous people
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    CBC

    Calgary police charge man over threat to spread COVID-19 to Indigenous people

    Calgary police say they have charged a man over a social media post threatening to deliberately spread COVID-19 among Indigenous communities.The charge centres around a message posted to an "Indigenous social media group threatening to try to intentionally spread COVID-19 to Indigenous people," police said in a release.The post was reported to Calgary police on Sunday and, after working with the Tsuut'ina Nation Police Service and Blood Tribe Police Service, a man was charged with uttering threats. "This is a time when we should all be coming together to encourage one another and keep everyone safe," Const. Craig Collins, hate crimes co-ordinator with the Calgary Police Service, said in a release."It is unacceptable that some members of our community are weaponizing this pandemic to make others feel even more vulnerable than everyone already does. We won't ignore it."Police noted in the release that threats can be prosecuted as hate-motivated crimes if it's determined the actions were "motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on one of nine personal characteristics of the victim.""The hate motivation is considered by the courts after a person is found guilty of the charges," the release said. "If the judge decides during sentencing that hate was a motivation for the crime, it is an aggravating factor that adds to the convicted person's sentence."Separate threat against Chinese restaurantIn a separate incident, police said they're also investigating an anonymous threat made against a Chinese restaurant in Calgary, which they believe was motivated by "current events."The threat was received March 14 and police say they've identified a suspect, but no charges have been laid and the investigation continues."While making a threat toward a stranger may not seem like a big deal to some, it leaves victims shaken and worried that someone is actually out to get them," Collins said."When people are already dealing with the stress of COVID-19, adding more fears and stress can do very real damage to their mental and emotional health. It's unacceptable."