Cars drive through evening rain in St. John's, NL.
Cars drive through evening rain in St. John's, NL.
Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday, approving Johnson & Johnson's product a week after it was authorized in the United States. That gives Canada four distinct vaccines — along with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and it adds flexibility to the country's plan to immunize the majority of its residents by September. Health Canada includes a fifth vaccine, Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the AstraZeneca product made at the Serum Institute of India. The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27. Canada has already secured 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through previous negotiations with the company, with the option to buy another 28 million. The 10 million pre-purchased doses will be delivered before September, but they're not expected to start flowing into Canada until at least April. Here's what we know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death. The vaccine had a 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID infections after 28 days in the company's U.S. trials. The efficacy dropped to 66 per cent when averaging in results from other global trials, including a South African study that factored in more transmissible variants of the COVID virus. An FDA report last month said the vaccine was 64 per cent effective in preventing infection in South Africa about a month after the vaccines were administered. Pfizer and Moderna showed 95 per cent efficacy in their respective trials, but those were both tested against previous dominant strains of the virus and didn't account for the variants that have popped up since. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also had zero hospitalizations and deaths in their trials. The FDA report said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was similarly effective across age, race and people with comorbidities. The agency added that effectiveness appeared to be lower (42.3 per cent after one month) in people over 60 with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS VACCINE? The potential ease of distribution offered by a one-and-done shot, and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among its biggest strengths. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all require two doses. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge for up to three months, the company says. Pfizer's vaccine initially required ultra-cold storage temperatures between -60 C and -80 C, though Health Canada said this week it could be stored in a regular freezer for up to 14 days. Moderna's vaccine can also be stored at regular freezer temperatures while AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge. WHAT KIND OF VACCINE TECHNOLOGY IS USED? Unlike the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna's products, Johnson & Johnson is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine similar to AstraZeneca's. That means it uses a different harmless virus, which can't copy itself, as a vector to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus's spike protein. The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack from the same virus if exposed in the future. WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS NOTED? No specific safety concerns were identified in participants of the trials, regardless of age, race and comorbidities. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that almost 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups." The FDA said the most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab's picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of a massive crater, mission managers said on Friday. The six-wheeled, car-sized astrobiology probe put a total of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) on its odometer on Thursday during a half-hour test spin within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars. Taking directions from mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled 4 meters (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backward another 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
Longtime Chicago Blackhawks defenceman and three-time Stanley Cup winner Brent Seabrook announced Friday he is unable to continue playing hockey because of injury. After surgeries on his right shoulder and both hips, it's a lingering right hip issue that's keeping the 35-year-old Canadian from getting back on the ice. Seabrook could remain on long-term injured reserve and not technically retire because he has three years remaining on his contract. “Not sure it was a decision I made or my body made for me,” Seabrook said in a video news conference. "I told my body to screw off for 15 years and it finally turned around and said, ‘I’m not going to do it anymore.’” The 6-foot-3 Seabrook was a key player and leader for Chicago for more than a decade. He had 103 goals and 361 assists in 1,114 games, plus 20 goals and 39 assists in 123 playoff appearances — all with the Blackhawks after they selected him 14th overall in the 2003 draft. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He also won a gold medal playing for Team Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics. “Over his entire 15-year career with the Blackhawks, Brent Seabrook gave everything he had to his teammates and the city of Chicago,” president of hockey operations and general manager Stan Bowman said. “His determination to win, passion for the game and innate ability to lead culminated in bringing three Stanley Cups to Chicago." Seabrook’s physical style slowly took a toll and his last NHL game was on Dec. 15, 2019. He had right shoulder surgery later that month, left hip surgery in January 2020 and right hip surgery last February. “We have tried all available conservative treatments, and nothing has worked well enough for him to live life as an athlete,” team physician Dr. Michael Terry said. "We support his decision to prioritize his long-term physical health.” Seabrook, who turns 36 next month, tried to return last summer when the season resumed amid the pandemic. But he decided he didn’t have enough time to reach a level where he would be comfortable playing again and he hurt his lower back while preparing for this season. He missed all of training camp and was placed on injured reserve. Seabrook is owed $15.5 million over the next three seasons before his contract expires. NHL rules allow Chicago to keep him and pay him without his $6.875 million salary-cap hit counting against the team's spending up to the $81.5 million limit. Bowman said Seabrook is on longterm injured reserve for now. ___ More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Jay Cohen And Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press
The County of Stettler will lobby the Alberta Safety Codes Authority (ASCA) to closely monitor private wastewater systems surrounding Buffalo Lake after councillors were required to alter a bylaw that had already passed first reading. The decisions were made at the Feb. 10 regular meeting of council streamed via the county’s YouTube channel. Councillors read a report from Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk, who noted a water and wastewater bylaw, if it was to receive second and third reading, had to be changed. “Bylaw 1652-21, Water and Wastewater was presented for first reading at the January 2021 regular council meeting,” stated Brysiuk’s memo. “At that time, it was advised that administration was seeking direction from council prior to referring the bylaw to legal counsel. Upon review, our lawyers advised that the provisions of the bylaw that sought to give the county the ability to require compliance with the Safety Codes Act was inconsistent with the Safety Codes Act and therefore would be inoperative. “In this case, the safe operation of a private wastewater system is identified to be a matter addressed by the Safety Codes Act. Thus, any bylaw a municipality makes to regulate the safe operation of a private wastewater system is inoperative.” Brysiuk explained a bylaw cannot regulate something that’s already in a provincial act. He noted sections 3.15 and 3.16, essentially allowing the county to monitor private wastewater systems, would have to be removed from the proposed bylaw. He further noted, “Representatives from the Buffalo Lake South Shore Water Quality Committee (BLSSWQC) have raised concerns about the removal of this language.” A letter included in the council package from the BLSSWQC spokesperson Bruce Olson stated some residents of Buffalo Lake are concerned about water quality. “The BLSSWQC was formed as a direct result of the positive test for human fecal matter waste discovered in Buffalo Lake in the summer of 2020,” stated Olson. “Our concern is that if there is a situation that occurs where ground or surface water is potentially contaminated as a result of a faulty private sewage disposal system, there needs to be a method for the county to act or investigate.” Coun. Cheri Neitz stated it’s very important to keep human fecal matter out of Buffalo Lake. County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy reminded councillors their bylaws apply to the entire county, not just Buffalo Lake. During discussion councillors made some suggestions such as offering free inspections of wastewater systems, but Brysiuk stated that still goes against the provincial act. Brysiuk said county staff saw a number of options available and listed them in the memo. Eventually councillors passed a motion to support option #2, which read, “We can instead seek that the Alberta Safety Codes Authority (a division of the Safety Codes Council, which is an independent regulatory body created by legislation) investigate problems in the County - as they are currently the authority having jurisdiction here. “We have had limited success in lobbying other independent regulatory body's for specific action, but we haven't yet engaged with the ASCA.” Councillors also passed second and third reading of the water and wastewater bylaw after removing sections 3.15 and 3.16. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Local residents are upset over the city’s modular housing proposal at Trenton Avenue and Cedarvale Avenue citing concerns of appropriateness of the area and community safety regarding the future occupants of the building. The concerns have prompted an online community meeting on the evening of Monday, March 8. The project is part of the City of Toronto’s Housing Now initiative to make use of city-owned lands to address the lack of affordable housing. The modular housing proposal for Trenton and Cedarvale in East York aims to create a three-storey building with 64 studio apartments, self-contained with a private kitchen and bathroom each. It’s designed to help individuals who are exiting homelessness, and will be administered by a local non-profit housing provider under an agreement with the city. It’s not unlike the modular housing proposal at 11 Macey Ave. in southwest Scarborough that includes 56 studio apartments. That building – also designed to assist people exiting homelessness – opened on Dec. 19, 2020, eight months after city council approval. The “modular” part of the term essentially means pre-fabricated components of the building arrive onsite ready to construct. This allows the city to build the affordable units within the span of months, and not years. The Macey Avenue building had its own local opposition – several area residents, including the West Oakridge Neighbourhood Association wrote letters to the city, elected officials, planners, and media expressing concerns with “social problems associated with vagrancy and public intoxication” from people experiencing homelessness being moved into one area. With the Trenton Avenue site, a number of residents are also speaking in opposition. Global News was on the scene of a local protest at the parking lot near the Trenton site in late February, where residents referred to the lot as a community “hub.” Resident Steve Bland told Global News he’s not against providing affordable housing, but noted that increasing the population density in the area by adding the Trenton site “may not be the appropriate place” for “people going through the most troubling and difficult times of their lives with addiction and mental health issues.” The city-wide initiative to construct modular housing for people exiting homelessness is being released in phases. The Macey Avenue site was included in the project’s Phase 1, and now Trenton – which was approved just a few weeks ago – is part of Phase 2. In a letter to Beach Metro News, local resident Lars Bot, expressed concerns about the building’s proximity to Parkside Public School and Stan Wadlow Park, which are across the street. “The simple fact that a homeless shelter is planned across from a public school and park… shows how poor this program is planned,” he wrote. Local elected officials, including Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford and Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith have also received a flurry of correspondence from residents. They both reminded residents that the modular housing buildings are housing and not shelters. Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
Saskatoon family doctor Marlys Misfeldt says wait-lists for psychiatric help have been an issue for a long time but recently, several of her referrals have been rejected outright. Dr. Misfeldt told CBC's Saskatoon Morning that she has been working with a patient who has depression and is not improving. "He's not doing well, so I requested a referral from the pooled psychiatry referral system and about three or four weeks later, I got a letter back saying, 'Specialist has decided this referral is not needed and has been cancelled,'" she said. "No discussion with my patient, no discussion with me, just a letter back saying … it is cancelled." She said she has received two or three other letters like this in the past year, where prior to that, she would receive a letter saying her patients were on a wait-list. Misfeldt was trying to access the pooled referral program, which is operated and directed by psychiatrists. The voluntary program includes 22 psychiatrists and the Saskatchewan Health Authority provides one staff member for the program, a triage nurse. Misfeldt said a psychiatrist she spoke to who deals with the pool system told her there are 300 people on that waiting list. Once you get on the waiting list, Misfeldt said it can take nine months to a year to see a psychiatrist. There are eight other psychiatrists who are not part of the program and who can, in theory, accept referrals, but Misfeldt said when she has tried reaching out to them, they've said they're not taking new patients. Global shortage of psychiatrists Psychiatrist Sara Dungavell, who works in Saskatoon and northern Saskatchewan communities, said what happened to Dr. Misfeldt is "not appropriate." "What Dr. Misfeldt got as a response is, frankly, wrong," Dr. Dungavell said. "If you aren't accepting patients or if the wait-list is going to be too long for you to see this person with an adequate amount of urgency, then at least you told the family doctor why you said no. You can't leave this blank." While the number of psychiatrists per capita in Saskatchewan compared to other provinces is low, Dungavell said there's actually a global shortage of psychiatrists. "We can't see people quickly because brains don't heal quickly, so it requires a lot of psychiatrists to provide adequate levels of care for folks, and we're not accepting people just staying in misery and untreated mental illness anymore." Dungavell said efforts have been made to provide more access to psychiatry in Saskatchewan, particularly for those who go to the emergency room. Even that, however, adds to the backlog, because there's no one to take those patients on once they leave the ER. "It's leaving family doctors in the situation of Dr. Misfeldt, where they are doing their absolute best to try and treat their patients but don't have access to the specialists who should be supporting them," she said. Saskatchewan needs to be a place psychiatrists want to work, which means creating a good continuum of care for patients, Dungavell said. "What most of us physicians want is to be able to provide good, quality, efficient care where we're doing what we do best," she said. "We count on community mental health nurses, social workers, on licensed psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists, rec therapists, to help our patients with those other very important areas of life that contribute to their mental health." Dr. Sara Dungavell splits her time between her Saskatoon clinic, where she provides support for members of the LGBT community, and northern Saskatchewan communities, including La Ronge, La Loche and Stony Rapids. (CBC) The north is particularly lacking the kinds of support people need to care for their mental health, Dungavell said. "The more the government actually pays for and supports this full team of people to work with each psychiatrist, the more efficient and effective we can be, the more psychiatrists will want to work here and the more we can stretch the limited resources that is psychiatry." Cancelled referrals uncommon: government, SHA The Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Psychiatry Referral Pool and the Ministry of Health sent a joint statement in response to questions about psychiatric referrals. "The capacity of pooled referral psychiatrists is significantly below the rate of incoming referrals," the statement said, but it's uncommon for psychiatrists to cancel referrals. While the statement said the departments can't comment on specific cases, they will "continue to look into the individual reasons why [cancellations] may occur in certain instances." Alternatives for family physicians include contacting the psychiatrist on call, contacting LINK — a provincial program that connects family physicians with psychiatrists — or contacting a psychiatrist who is not part of the referral pool. The statement said that in situations where a patient has been triaged and recommended for treatment other than psychiatry, "a letter always accompanies the return with information about the review and includes clear guidance on mental health access points as well as the phone number for the intake triage." 'Heartache and grief for the people of our province' Dr. Misfeldt said if this problem doesn't get solved, it will cause "more suicides, more marital breakup, more relationship deterioration, more heartache and grief for the people of our province." She's continuing to work with her patient who was denied access to the pooled referral program but she said it makes her feel "anxious and depressed" to hear about the long waits for psychiatric help. "These people are valuable people to our province and they are not functioning to their best ability and not participating in life." If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, help is available. For an emergency or crisis situation, call 911. You can also contact the Saskatchewan suicide prevention line toll-free, 24/7 by calling 1-833-456-4566, texting 45645, or chatting online. You can contact the Regina mobile crisis services suicide line at 306-525-5333 or Saskatoon mobile crisis line at 306-933-6200.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Friday said authorities disrupted an attempted hijacking of a passenger plane in flight the previous night, though it offered few details on what happened. Media outlets close to the forces later said the hijacker had used a fake gun and explosives belt to stage the attempt. The purported hijacking targeted an Iran Air Fokker 100 regional commercial jet heading from the southwestern city of Ahvaz to the northwestern city of Mashhad, the Guard said on its website. The Guard's announcement did not identify the suspect and only said the hijacker sought to divert the flight to the “southern shores of the Persian Gulf.” That description would include the countries of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, three nations long suspicious of Iran's intentions in the wider region. It said the Iran Air flight made an emergency landing in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, and no one was injured in the incident. It wasn't immediately clear if the purported hijacker had been armed during the attempt. A Fokker 100 was scheduled to take off from Ahvaz for Mashhad at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, according to the plane-tracking website FlightRadar24.com. Iran Air has three of the aircraft in its fleet, each around 30 years old as Iran remains locked out of international aircraft sales due to sanctions. Later Friday, news outlets close to the Guard identified the suspect as Mohammad Hossein Haghighatmanash, saying that he tried to hijack the plane with 62 passengers and six crew members on board about 20 minutes after takeoff. The reports said he handed a written note to one the flight attendants. “I am carrying a bomb and the remote control is in the hands of another passenger” the note said, asking that the flight return to Ahvaz. The man then moved to the front of the cabin, and verbally repeated his threats. He showed what looked like an explosive belt made with duct tape, wires and wooden sticks and threatened to set it off, the reports said. Air marshals detained him after a brief conversation. The reports, which carried a photo of a man in handcuffs with duct tape around his upper body, said he was travelling with his wife and two sons who were also detained. The man apparently had no criminal record, according to the reports. The semiofficial ILNA news agency quoted an unnamed informed official as saying that the suspect had “no bomb" but had “wrapped some wooden sticks" around his body. Iranian domestic flights reportedly carry armed air marshals from the Guard aboard them to disrupt any attempted attack or hijacking. The Guard took over aviation security in the 1980s after a series of incidents involving Iranian opposition groups seizing aircraft in the unrest that followed the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. The last two such attempts happened in 2000. In September 2000, a man armed with a fake pistol and a gasoline bomb sought to seize an Iran Air Fokker 100, trying to get the flight to go to France. He started a fire aboard and later was detained, according to a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration report. In November 2000, armed men from four families seized a Yakovlev YAK-40 aircraft flown by Iranian Ariatour Airlines, demanding to be flown to the United States. Guard air marshals foiled the attempt, though one of them was shot and a second stabbed. A flight attendant and five hijackers also were injured, the FAA report says. ___ Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report. Nasser Karimi, The Associated Press
A bingo hall in Charlottetown has come up with a plan to entice customers who may never have played bingo before. Kiwanis Bingo Country on Riverside Drive is closed during current COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but hopes to reopen soon to players old and new with a private room, a bingo starter kit and a tutorial. "It's often considered a game for a senior class of individuals — it's not widespread through the younger demographic," said Kyle Hambly, the manager at Bingo Country, speaking with Mainstreet P.E.I.'s Angela Walker. "We don't see a lot of new players." He said the game is about 100 years old and is well known across North America and Europe. Because it requires concentration, he said it tends to not be a social game, but Bingo Country wants to change that. 'Have a little fun' So the hall has developed an introductory package in a private room that people can book. Their bingo "starter kit" includes the room, bingo cards, dabbers, and a drink from the canteen. My hope is to see the game stay alive. — Kyle Hambly "It just creates an atmosphere where they're not in the rest of the bingo hall ... it enables them to speak with each other, to learn, to laugh, to have a little fun," without disrupting other players, he said. A staff member will be on hand to explain how to play including more complex games such as bonanza or "hot ball." The package includes promotional "bingo bucks" to entice players to come back. They did a few successful test runs earlier this month, Hambly said. "My hope is to see the game stay alive," he said. "Bingo is a fading activity, and unfortunately it doesn't need to be that way." The bingo hall is currently closed because P.E.I. is in a period of COVID-19 circuit-breaker restrictions, and will open when public health authorities allow. "My hope is that we can reintroduce the game ... and people will use it as a form of entertainment," Hambly said. More from CBC P.E.I.
CALGARY — Projects that qualify to sell federal greenhouse gas emission credits to offset industrial carbon taxes will have to have been started in the past four years and go "beyond business-as-usual practices" under proposed regulations unveiled by Ottawa. To qualify for federal GHG credits, projects must be situated in Canada, have been started after Jan. 1, 2017, and offer "real, additional, quantified, unique and permanent GHG reductions," Environment and Climate Change Canada said Friday. Some of those provisions are concerning for Canadian farmers because they mean the sector won't be rewarded for responsible practices they've been adopting for decades, said Drew Spoelstra, a grain and dairy farmer who is also a vice-president with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "Farmers have been doing a lot of good environmental work for a number of years. This didn't just happen overnight," he said on Friday. "We've been doing things like following no-tilling and best management practices for a generation almost." He added there's a potential for farmers to be a "huge generator of credits" if the federal program is set up properly, adding the OFA intends to take part in a 60-day comment period ending May 5. Final regulations are to be established by next fall. In a briefing, department officials said Friday the federal program will not compete with credits generated under similar programs offered in provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec but will instead complement provincial programs. Approved carbon offsets can only be used once, they said, adding one credit will be issued for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced or removed from the environment. The projects will have to be registered, approved, monitored and face third-party verification before credits can be sold to industrial buyers for use to offset their applicable greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce their carbon tax costs. In December, Ottawa announced a $15-billion plan to meet its climate change commitments that included steady annual increases to its carbon tax from $50 per tonne in 2022 to $170 per tonne by 2030. Canada wants to get to a 32-per-cent reduction in emissions by 2030, slightly more than its 30-per-cent Paris agreement commitment. The department said Friday it will be developing protocols going forward to govern regulations for various types of offsets. On Friday, it unveiled proposed protocols for advanced refrigeration system upgrading, landfill methane reductions, and forest and agricultural land management. It said the duration of the crediting period would be up to 30 years for forestry projects, up to 20 years for other biological sequestration projects and eight years for all other project types. Monitoring for the biological carbon sequestration projects will have to be submitted annually for the crediting period and 100 years after, it said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
Toronto police say they have suspended an officer following his arrest for an alleged indecent act in Whitby, Ont. Police in Durham Region said Tuesday that they received reports of a man committing an indecent act near an arena in Whitby. The force says a witness tried to confront the man but he drove off through a nearby parking lot. Police say they found him in his car and he was arrested. They say the 33-year-old is charged with committing an indecent act in a public place and dangerous operation of a conveyance. Toronto police say the officer has been with their force for six years and has been suspended with pay. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Saskatchewan reported 207 new cases of COVID-19 and two more coronavirus-related deaths Friday. One of the people who died was in the 60 to 69 age group from Regina. The other resident was in the 80 and older age group and was from Saskatoon. There have been a total of 393 known COVID-19-related deaths in the province as of Friday. Of the 29,432 total known cases to date, 1,507 are considered active. The seven-day average of daily new cases in Saskatchewan is 155 — 12.7 new cases per 100,000 population. The new cases Friday are in the following provincial zones: Far northwest, 23. Far north central, two. Far northeast, 13. Northwest, 20. North central, 13. Saskatoon, 45. Central east, 18. Regina, 43. Southwest, two. South central, five. Southeast, five. Ten of the new cases have pending residence information. There are currently 138 people in hospital in the province due to COVID-19, 20 of whom are in intensive care. The province also reported 125 new recoveries in the latest update. There have been 27,532 known recoveries total as of Friday. To date, 589,109 COVID-19 tests have been processed in Saskatchewan, 3,289 of which were processed on Thursday. 2,789 new vaccinations There were 2,789 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered Thursday in Saskatchewan, according to the province. To date, a total of 86,879 shots have been administered. The latest doses were administered in the following provincial zones: Far north central, 22. Northwest, 544. North central, 60. Central east, 120. Southeast, 30. Saskatoon, 850. Regina, 1,163. Health Canada approved the use of the new single-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Canada on Friday. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is approved for people 18 years and over. The province says shipment dates and vaccine quantities for Saskatchewan are not yet available. A shipment of the new AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine (15,500 doses) is expected arrive late the week of March 8, according to the province. It will be distributed among Regina, Saskatoon, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, and Yorkton. The Moderna vaccine shipment for the week of March 8 is now not expected until the week of March 15, according to the province. (CBC News Graphics) CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
CALGARY — Darryl Sutter says he has "unfinished business" as he returns to coach the Calgary Flames. The Flames announced late Thursday night that they had fired head coach Geoff Ward and hired Sutter to replace him. Calgary's general manager Brad Treliving says he feels the move was necessary because the team had been inconsistent and was under performing this season. Treliving says Sutter's clarity and ability to maximize player performance will help the team that has gone 11-11-2 so far this year. The move marks Sutter's return to the team he coached from 2002 to 2006, and served as general manager for from 2003 to 2010. Under his guidance, Calgary went to the Stanley Cup final in 2004, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a seven-game series, and Sutter says he is intent on winning the Cup now that he has returned to the Flames. Sutter is expected to join the team Monday after going through the league's COVID-19 protocols. Assistant coach Ryan Huska will run the bench when the Flames face the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday and host the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Ontario government’s recent decision to postpone March Break for all students and teachers across the province has received a mixed response from families throughout Haliburton County. Last Thursday [Feb. 11], Ontario’s education minister Stephen Lecce said he was making the “difficult decision” to delay March Break until the week of April 12. “This decision was made on advice from public health officials, including the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams. At this time, it is critical that we continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, staff and their families so we can ensure the safe return to in-person learning,” Lecce said. “Postponing March Break, not cancelling it, is an important way that schools can help to limit community transmission. We recognize that congregation is a key driver of the spread of COVID-19 – something we realized over the winter break, and we will not take that risk again with your child, with our staff and with Ontario families.” Lecce reiterated that the key driver behind the decision was ensuring public safety at a time when the province’s COVID-19 caseload is at a months-long low. Health officials noted there were 1,076 new cases on Friday [Feb. 12], and 5,380 new cases across the whole of last week. This differs greatly from the situation we were in a little more than a month ago when, between Jan. 4 and 8 there were 17,432 new cases, with a daily high of 4,249 on Jan. 8. Minden resident Krysta Neave feels the decision to postpone March Break is a mistake. She has two children currently participating in in-class learning – one in Grade 12 at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School and the other in Grade 8 at Archie Stouffer Elementary School. She feels both students and staff deserve a break following a hectic schedule since school started up again, initially virtually and later in person, back in January. “I personally think moving the March Break is not a good idea. These kids have had so much change in the last year, that more change could disrupt their lives more. Teachers also need this break,” Neave said. “My youngest has been in-class learning, and also did a couple of weeks of online learning right after Christmas, so he could use this break to give him a bit of a rest. He isn’t happy about it being taken away from him.” Haliburton resident Sherri Barry feels the same way. Her son has been attending class in-person at Stuart Baker Elementary School since September. While she admits he, as a Grade 1 student, likely won’t be impacted by the delay, Barry feels thousands of others will. “I feel like the kids really do deserve a break from school. Even if we had to have the break in our own house [and not going out], it would still be a break,” Barry said. “The kids and teachers have been working so hard to follow the new rules and having to switch back and forth from in-class to online. I’m sure a lot of people will [be affected be this].” One of the main concerns provincial officials have right now surrounds the new variants of the virus that are prevalent in parts of Ontario, Lecce said. He admitted the increased presence of these variants was a key factor in Thursday’s decision, as was a desire to avoid the kind of spikes we saw case-wise following the winter break. “We want Canadians to stay put in their communities, and not take the risk given the obvious challenge of these new variants imposing difficulty within our communities and our health care system,” Lecce said. “We recognize that congregation is a key driver of the spread of COVID-19, something we realized over the winter break, and we will not take that risk again with your child, with our staff and with Ontario families. Bethany Houghton, who lives in Haliburton, commended the decision, expressing her belief that the delay would actually benefit students. “The weather should be better for outdoor activities, which is safer for spread than indoors. We will still get our break, just later than originally intended,” Houghton said. “Hopefully [the delay] will also provide time to get a few more vaccinations given to at-risk people.” While Jennifer Jowell said she understands why the decision was made, having her child home on break a month later than expected is likely to cause a major problem for her. “They’ve rescheduled March Break for when I’m scheduled to write my university exams in April. I’m going to have to balance writing my exams with a child at home who doesn’t understand that when I’m sitting for a three to six hour exam that needs my full attention, that means he really can’t disturb me for three to six hours,” Jowett said. “It wasn’t easy last year, and I’m not looking forward to doing it this year either.” One of the other concerns noted was parents who had booked time off work in March to take care of their children likely now won’t have the ability to reschedule or book more time off in April. Lecce didn’t address that particular issue during Thursday’s press conference. He did, however, state that the decision had been made following extensive consultation with all Ontario teachers’ unions, trustee associations and principal councils, noting their feedback was appreciated. Immediately following the decision, Ontario’s four teachers’ associations were unanimous in voicing their opposition to the delay. “These are unprecedented times, and this is a much-needed break for students, teachers, education workers, and families who have been under tremendous pressure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” a press release sent out by the unions reads. “The government’s decision to postpone March Break does not take into consideration the mental health and well-being of those involved.” The unions rejected Lecce’s claims that this decision was being driven out of fear of COVID-19 cases escalating once again following another break, saying that any concerns related to travel and gatherings should be addressed via other means. By postponing March Break, the unions say the provincial government is continuing a pattern of ignoring the views of frontline workers most affected by the decision. “This decision to postpone, despite unanimous opposition from unions representing educators and other stakeholders in the sector, including all school board associations and the Ontario Principals’ Council, is another example of this government ignoring experts and making decisions that are reckless and baseless,” the release reads. “Teachers and educators have gone to extraordinary lengths to teach and support students every day since the start of the school year. Their efforts should be applauded, not diminished.” While much of the local concern surrounded students and teachers, Judy Hobbs Neimann pointed to another sector that would be severely impacted by this decision. “I am concerned about our local ski hill. They have already been closed for most of the winter, and now March Break business has been taken away from them,” Hobbs Neimann said. “I doubt there will be skiing in mid-April.” Sir Sam’s Ski/Ride has been closed since the onset of the second provincial lockdown on Dec. 26. Chris Bishop, owner of Sir Sam’s, estimates he’s lost around $500,000 in revenue since then. The Eagle Lake business will reopen on Feb. 17, and will be extending their season into April to make up for some of the lost days. “Even if we go into grey zone again, we will be able to keep our lifts operating, chalet access to washrooms and takeaway food service,” Bishop said. “As before the lockdown, all opening criteria will apply regarding mandatory online reservations, chalet and food access and following all COVID-19 safety protocols.” Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
VANCOUVER — Dentists, teachers and bus drivers are among the essential workers who hope to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in British Columbia, as a provincial committee determines who should be prioritized for the shot. BC Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring says her members should be included in the plan expected to be released by the B.C. Immunization Committee by March 18. Mooring says teachers have put in the second-highest number of COVID-19-related claims to WorkSafeBC, behind only health-care workers, and have faced difficult conditions in schools with some of the most lax mask policies in Canada. The BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely, they work in very close proximity to the mouth and often use aerosol-generating procedures. Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111, which represents Metro Vancouver bus drivers, says his members should receive the vaccine because passengers come very close when they enter and exit the bus. BC Trucking Association president Dave Earle, meanwhile, says he represents both long-haul truckers and local drivers who return home every night, so he wants to hear from the province about where the COVID-19 hot spots are in the transportation system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's health department confirmed reports late Thursday that members of his COVID-19 task force altered a state Health Department report to omit the full number of nursing home patients killed by the coronavirus, but insisted the changes were made because of concerns about the data's accuracy. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, citing documents and people with knowledge of the administration’s internal discussions, reported that aides including secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa pushed state health officials to edit the July report so it counted only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who became ill there and later died at a hospital. It's the latest blow for Cuomo, who's been besieged by a one-two punch of scandals involving his handling of nursing home deaths and accusations that he sexually harassed two former aides and a woman that he met at a wedding he officiated. Cuomo had apologized Wednesday for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable” but rejected calls for his resignation and said he would fully co-operate with the state attorney general's investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Federal investigators are scrutinizing his administration’s handling of nursing home data. Top Democrats in the state have said they want those investigations to conclude before they make a judgment about Cuomo's conduct, but in the wake of Thursday night's report, a few state lawmakers renewed calls for the governor to either resign or be ousted. “And Cuomo hid the numbers. Impeach,” tweeted Queens Assembly member Ron Kim, who said Cuomo bullied him over the nursing home response. The July nursing home report was released to rebut criticism of Cuomo over a March 25 directive that barred nursing homes from rejecting recovering coronavirus patients being discharged from hospitals. Some nursing homes complained at the time that the policy could help spread the virus. The report concluded the policy played no role in spreading infection. The state's analysis was based partly on what officials acknowledged at the time was an imprecise statistic. The report said 6,432 people had died in the state's nursing homes. State officials acknowledged even then that the true number of deaths was higher because of the exclusion of patients who died in hospitals, but they declined at the time to give any estimate of that larger number of deaths, saying the numbers still needed to be verified. The Times and Journal reported that, in fact, the original drafts of the report had included that number, then more than 9,200 deaths, until Cuomo's aides said it should be taken out. State officials insisted Thursday that the edits were made because of concerns about accuracy, not to protect Cuomo's reputation. “While early versions of the report included out of facility deaths, the COVID task force was not satisfied that the data had been verified against hospital data and so the final report used only data for in facility deaths, which was disclosed in the report,” said Department of Health Spokesperson Gary Holmes. Scientists, health care professionals and elected officials assailed the report at the time for flawed methodology and selective stats that sidestepped the actual impact of the directive. Cuomo had refused for months to release more complete data. A court order and state attorney general report in January forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll was higher than the count previously made public. DeRosa told lawmakers earlier this month that the administration didn't turn over the data to legislators in August because of worries the information would be used against them by the Trump administration. “Basically, we froze, because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys, what we start saying was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said. Cuomo and his health commissioner recently defended the March directive, saying it was the best option at the time to help free up desperately needed beds at the state’s hospitals. “We made the right public health decision at the time. And faced with the same facts, we would make the same decision again,” Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said Feb. 19. The state now acknowledges that at least 15,000 long-term care residents died, compared to a figure of 8,700 it had publicized as of late January that didn’t include residents who died after being transferred to hospitals. The Associated Press
Les entreprises Pronature Blackburn & fils et Plenty Humanwear d'Alma s'unissent afin de lutter contre l'itinérance. Ils ont ainsi donné généreusement une partie de leur inventaire vendredi au service de travail de rue d'Alma afin de permettre aux personnes sans domicile fixe de demeurer au chaud cet hiver. Gants, manteaux d'hiver, tuques, sacs de couchage, bas, chandails et plus encore, les deux entreprises croient ainsi pouvoir habiller près de 50 personnes. Les dons seront ainsi distribués dès lundi non seulement à Alma, mais partout dans la région. "Ici, la devise, c’est "Inspiré par tous". Cette année, c’est très difficile pour beaucoup de gens, notamment les personnes en situation d'itinérance. De plus, on prône beaucoup la notion d'écologie. Ça nous permet d'éviter de faire du gaspillage", explique Daniel Gagné, copropriétaire de Plenty Humanwear. Itinérance bien présente "Dans ma tête, l'itinérance, c’est surtout dans les grands centres. Quand j’ai discuté avec Guillaume Bégin, qui est travailleur de rue, il m’a expliqué qu’il y en avait quand même plusieurs dans la région. Juste à Alma, on parle d'une trentaine. J’ai été surpris de voir à quel point ça touchait le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean plus que je le pensais", explique celui qui est aussi à la barre des émissions Roadfish et Roadhunt à TVA Sports. Il espère également que ce geste incitera d'autres entreprises à faire de même. "J’aimerais qu’à un moment donné, un mouvement comme ça prenne de l’ampleur et que d’autres entreprises embarquent, que ce soit dans la région ou au Québec", conclut-il. Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
Accidental handballs in the buildup to a teammate scoring will no longer lead to the goal being ruled out after the law was eased on Friday. The move by the International Football Association Board follows irritation in the game about how goals seem to be harshly ruled out since the law was changed two years ago. “After analyzing everything it was felt this was maybe one step too far," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said. "This was the perception of the public and the perception we had at IFAB. For this reason we amended this regulation. It’s not embarrassing or a climbdown." IFAB said an “accidental handball that leads to a teammate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence.” On the eve of the virtual meeting, Fulham was denied an equalizer in its English Premier League match against Tottenham when Davinson Sanchez's clearance hit the hand of Fulham's Mario Lemina, whose arm was down the side of his body, before Josh Maja netted. “What happened yesterday is evidence that the decision taken today is correct, but it was not a reaction to the incident,” said Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of FIFA’s referee committee. Goals will still be ruled out if a player using their hand before or while scoring. But referees are being urged to “use their judgment” when assessing the position of hands and arms when a ball hits them. “As the interpretation of handball incidents has not always been consistent due to incorrect applications of the law, the members confirmed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence,” IFAB said. Changes to the laws of the game take effect from July 1, although IFAB said competitions have the flexibility to introduce them sooner. Another thorny spinoff from the introduction of VAR in recent years is how forensic decisions are being taken on offsides with an array of dotted lines being used to assess the position of often blurred body parts. FIFA is trialling semi-automated offside mapping of the players and the pitch to provide an offside decision as quickly as technology determines if the ball has crossed the line by buzzing a referee's watch. “The fan experience is negatively impacted by waiting to see if a goal has been scored,” said English Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham, who holds one of the eight IFAB votes. IFAB also received a presentation from Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager who is FIFA’s chief of global football development, on a proposal to change the offside law. He thinks a player should be deemed onside if any part of the body that can score is in line with the second-last defender. “We have been seeing that maybe we can think about a new law which allows a bit more attack in football,” Infantino said. IFAB also opened the door to the use of five substitutes being extended through the 2022 World Cup. The congested calendar due to the pandemic saw competitions last year permitted to give teams two additional substitutions in matches. That currently runs through July 2022 for national team competitions but IFAB said it will “remain under review.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
Mourners left flowers and hockey sticks outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., on Friday. The city is mourning Walter Gretzky, a fixture in the community, who died Thursday at age 82.
A prominent medical journal’s provocative tweet was meant to prompt interest in a podcast on racism. Instead, the Twitter post and the podcast stoked backlash and admonishment from the doctors' group that publishes the journal. The tweet from the Journal of the American Medical Association said in part, “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?" It was promoting a podcast episode featuring two white doctors: a deputy journal editor and a physician who runs a New York City health system. They were discussing how structural racism worsens health outcomes and what health systems can do to address it, JAMA said in an online description. The episode, designed for doctors, was first posted last week and was billed as a discussion for skeptics. It included comments that racism is illegal and a term that should be avoided because it evokes negative feelings. The journal later removed the tweet. Its top editor, Dr. Howard Bauchner, issued an apology Thursday for the tweet and for portions of the podcast. Outcry continued Friday on Twitter. Some called the podcast “cringeworthy? and said physicians who have experienced racism should have been involved. The American Medical Association, which owns and publishes JAMA but has no editorial control over its content, tweeted Thursday that the podcast “was wrong, false and harmful." The association's CEO, Dr. James Madara, said in a statement that “structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it." The AMA’s chief equity officer, Dr. Aletha Maybank, who is Black, called the JAMA tweet and podcast “absolutely appalling.” Dr. Brittani James, a Black Chicago physician who co-founded the Institute for Anti-Racism in Medicine, accused the journal of “whitesplaining racism." Dr. Uche Blackstock of Advancing Health Equity tweeted that, “Yes, physicians can absolutely be racist”’ and that JAMA should not have deleted the tweet. Her group works to confront racism in medicine. A journal spokeswoman said Friday that Bauchner would have no additional comment. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @ LindseyTanner. ___ 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. Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
The Ontario government has introduced changes to the COVID-19 school screening protocol, now calling on students who display even a single symptom to stay home for at least 10 days, or until they have received a negative COVID-19 test result or been cleared by a health care professional. Since schools returned to in-person learning last month, students have been required to be screened for symptoms prior to entering the classroom. Those symptoms include: fever and/or chills; cough or barking cough; shortness of breath; decrease or loss of taste or smell; sore throat; difficulty swallowing; runny or stuffy/congested nose; pink eye; headache; digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain; muscle aches; extreme tiredness; and falling down often. Previously, there was no set timeframe on how long students were expected to stay home if they displayed symptoms. Instead, parents were informed to continue screening children until such a time as their symptoms cleared up, or they received a negative COVID-19 test result. All Trillium Lakelands District School Board students and staff are required to screen for COVID-19 symptoms every morning before coming to school using the Ministry of Health’s Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Other safety measures implemented by the province include: all students from kindergarten to Grade 12 being required to wear a mask while at school and on the school bus; elementary students wearing masks outside during recess and breaks; secondary students outside on school property or leaving the property for breaks must wear a mask, and are not to congregate in groups larger than five and outside of their cohort. Also last week, the Ministry of Education announced plans to expand targeted COVID-19 testing for staff and students in all school boards across the province. “In addition to daily screening, masking and the other health and safety measures, targeted testing in schools is an important layer of protection that helps to limit the spread of COVID-19. Targeted testing will help ensure that our schools remain a safe environment for all to learn and work in,” a recent press release states. Targeted COVID-19 testing is voluntary for asymptomatic students and staff. Consent will be required from parents and guardians of students under the age of 18. All local COVID-19 information and updates can be found at tldsb.ca/covid19. Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo