Wisconsin officials have partnered with a medical testing company to provide free at-home COVID-19 tests as the state set a new record for disease-related deaths. (Dec. 22)
Wisconsin officials have partnered with a medical testing company to provide free at-home COVID-19 tests as the state set a new record for disease-related deaths. (Dec. 22)
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ 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. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public-health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. Health officials are reporting another 309 COVID-19 infections and say six more residents have died. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says the province remains stuck at a daily average of around 300 new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Moe says he doesn't believe the province needs to introduce stricter public-health measures to stem the virus's spread, but people need to follow the rules already in place. There are 207 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020 The Canadian Press
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he won't grant a curfew exemption for Montreal's homeless population, telling reporters Tuesday he has confidence that police will use their good judgment in dealing with cases. Legault told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing in Montreal that altering the government's decree to exclude the homeless from the provincial curfew would be used as a loophole by others to flout the measure. Montreal's mayor had made the formal request just an hour earlier, calling on Quebec to relax the COVID-19 measure on the city's most vulnerable population. "What I'm say is right now, the police are doing a very good job. They use their judgment," Legault said. "If we change the rules and say that you can't give a ticket to someone who is saying they're homeless, you may have some people that will pretend to be homeless." Mayor Valerie Plante's appeal followed the weekend death of Raphael "Napa" Andre, a 51-year-old Innu man found dead in a portable toilet not far from a shelter he frequented. Andre often spent time at a day centre for the homeless called The Open Door, which was forced to close its overnight service last month following a COVID-19 outbreak. He visited the centre Saturday evening and was found dead Sunday morning, not far from the shelter, which had to send him out at 9:30 p.m. The coroner is investigating Andre's death. Plante said there's evidence the curfew is causing problems for the homeless and those who work with them. "What we've been seeing in the past week is that it created a lot of stress — not only for the homeless population itself but also the workers," Plante told reporters outside Montreal City Hall. "The curfew just adds to that and creates a sense of insecurity for a lot of users and we don't want that.... I want people to feel safe in the streets." Plante says the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew — which began Jan. 9 and is scheduled to last at least until Feb. 8 — is creating an untenable situation for the city's most vulnerable. Legault said police aren't there to ticket homeless people, but direct them to homeless shelters. Plante agreed Montreal police have shown compassion, noting they had helped at least 400 homeless people find shelter. The mayor says on most nights the city's overnight shelters are at least 95 per cent full. While she wants the rules relaxed to relieve the pressure, she doesn't want people sleeping on the street. "I want people to have access to a bed, a place where it's warm, where there's food, where there's services for them," she said. Plante said a 100-bed facility is set to open in the coming days. Legault said the province has added 800 beds and it stands ready to add more as needed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
There was a clear but unusual path for three Alberta-based teams to play in the Tim Hortons Brier this season. Curling Alberta made a difficult choice that will send two rinks to the Calgary event and leave that third team on the outside looking in. Jeremy Harty's team issued a statement Monday night that congratulated the provincial representatives while expressing disappointment that only two Alberta-based men's teams would go to nationals. "Alberta men were fortunate enough to have a Tour this year with three very well-run events and all competitive teams in attendance," the team said on Twitter. "We were No. 1 on the Alberta Tour both this season and last season and felt we had the merit to be named Team Alberta knowing that (Kevin) Koe and (Brendan) Bottcher would be guaranteed the wild-card spots. "We understand that it was a tough decision and we appreciate all of Curling Alberta's efforts this year." The association decided to invite last season's champions -- Brendan Bottcher and Laura Walker -- to wear Alberta colours again, dropping Koe into a wild-card spot. Curling Alberta waited 10 days after cancelling its championships before announcing its picks. Bottcher, ranked fourth in the country and a Brier finalist last year, was obviously a worthy selection. But Curling Alberta also had to consider Koe, since his team didn't compete in provincial playdowns thanks to its automatic Brier entry as Team Canada. Further muddying the waters was Harty, a young team that had a slight edge on the second-place Koe in the Alberta Tour points race. Bottcher and the sixth-ranked Koe were essentially Brier-bound no matter what. But picking Harty -- ranked a respectable 15th in Canada -- as the provincial rep would have meant all three could go. "We think Team Bottcher are going to be great reps," Harty third Kyler Kleibrink said Tuesday. "They're good guys and they're good mentors to us. Team Koe will be great as well. "We're not saying we're better than these teams or that we deserve it more than these teams. We just think Alberta had a good chance to send three reps." Helping ease the disappointment was a phone call from Bottcher third Darren Moulding, who Kleibrink said reached out to voice his support and say he thought the team's time would soon come. "Lifted the spirits for sure," Kleibrink said. "His words of encouragement and telling me his story and path was great." Curling Alberta's decision to send reigning champions to the so-called curling bubble was one that other provinces have used in recent weeks. The Walker pick for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was expected but the men's selection for the Brier was the subject of more debate. Harty's teammates were buoyed by recent decisions from Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia to consider results beyond 2020 provincial championships for their picks, Kleibrink said. Before the pandemic, many elite Alberta-based teams were focused on top-flight events around the country rather than just provincial bonspiels. The association also had to consider that the 2020-21 women's Alberta schedule had to be cancelled. It all left Curling Alberta board members with plenty to think about before selections were made. The decision left Koe to join Manitoba's Mike McEwen in a secure wild-card position based on the 2019-20 Canadian rankings. A Harty pick as Team Alberta would have given Bottcher and McEwen wild-card spots and Koe would have been a slam dunk for the third. "I think that it's good for Alberta that there is a discussion over situations like this because it just shows the depth that we have," said Koe lead Ben Hebert. "What we've created here in Alberta is a good curling culture. "I think that's how young teams get good is they have good competition to play against and there's a couple good, young, up-and-coming teams in Alberta here as well that are going to be around for a while." Ontario's Glenn Howard, a four-time Brier champion, is a favourite for the final wild-card entry as the highest-ranked team without a berth. Harty is a longshot to get the entry as he's in the mix with other underdog teams that may be considered by Curling Canada. The federation is expected to make its selection next month. For the Scotties, it's possible there could be a whopping five Manitoba-based teams in the 18-team draw depending on how the wild-card picture plays out. Tracy Fleury is a lock for one of the three wild-card spots, so her team will join Manitoba's Jennifer Jones and Team Canada's Kerri Einarson in the field. Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the Prince Edward Island title this month but she'd get the second wild-card spot with a loss. Mackenzie Zacharias would be next among eligible teams on the rankings list, a whisker ahead of fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson. The criteria for the third wild-card pick in both draws has not been finalized. As a result, it remains possible that higher-ranked teams skipped by Alberta's Kelsey Rocque and Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan could be considered. Both teams have two returning players, one short of the normal required minimum. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — More than half of New Brunswick was moved to the red level of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan as Premier Blaine Higgs warned Tuesday of even more severe measures if the spread of the virus doesn't slow. Health officials reported one new death and 31 new COVID-19 cases in the province Tuesday, with 21 of them in the Edmundston region, which entered the red level Monday. The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John zones were to join Edmundston as of midnight Tuesday. At the red level, gyms, salons and recreational facilities must close, and restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people, with masks and physical distancing. "We have had some success in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus across our province, and we have succeeded because we acted swiftly and decisively," chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday. "We haven't waited, as some other jurisdictions have done, until critical levels have been breached." Russell called the increase in cases across the province this month alarming. "The threat it poses to our health-care system and the well-being of our citizens cannot be ignored," she said. Russell said the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, and there have now been more than 1,000 cases since the pandemic began. Four hundred of those have been in the last 30 days. Russell said many of the new cases were spread through large social gatherings, such as parties and holiday gatherings around Christmas and New Year's. Higgs said the province will consider imposing more stringent measures if the latest restrictions don't limit the spread of the virus. "We are not making enough progress with the current measures that are in place," he said. "We know there are more cases in these zones that exist but have not yet tested positive, and we cannot take the risk of potentially overwhelming our hospitals." He said a continuing rise in case numbers could mean a return to a full lockdown as was in place in March, with schools closed and people staying home except to buy essential items. Higgs said the all-party COVID cabinet committee would meet again Thursday to discuss next steps. "Public health is currently working to determine exactly what a lockdown would look like if we need to take this additional step," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
Richmond councillors are considering a program that would make free menstrual products available in most city facilities. At last night’s general purposes committee meeting, Coun. Carol Day brought the proposal before councillors. While the program was initially envisioned as a pilot project with a review to come at the one-year mark, councillors were in support of expanding the proposed program to a permanent one. “We know many women are specifically marginalized now more than ever due to COVID,” said Richmondite Karina Reid, who spoke as a delegation at the committee meeting. “Access is important, because if you’re in a public facility, you should be able to access (products) and your needs should be able to be met.” In addition to coming up with an implementation plan, staff were also directed to report back with a budget and come up with an education plan. There will be a one-year review of the program. All councillors were in support of the project. It will come before council for final approval in the coming weeks. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A woman accused of entering the U.S. Capitol illegally during the Jan. 6 riot will likely be charged with stealing a computer from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a federal prosecutor said in court Tuesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson in Harrisburg said he will consider bail and that he plans to conduct a preliminary hearing on Thursday in the case of Riley June Williams. Williams is charged with trespassing as well as violent entry of the Capitol and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanours, and is being held in the county jail in Harrisburg. She spoke only briefly during the half-hour proceeding and was represented by a public defender. Federal authorities are preparing two new felony charges of stealing government property and aiding and abetting against the Harrisburg resident, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian T. Haugsby told Carlson. Those charges have not yet been approved by a judge in Washington, he said. The FBI has said a witness who claims to be an ex of Williams' said friends showed that person a video of Williams taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Pelosi’s office during the breach of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. The tipster alleged that Williams intended to send the device to a friend in Russia who planned to sell it to that country’s foreign intelligence service, but that plan fell through and she either has the device or destroyed it, investigators said in court records. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed two days after the Capitol attack that a laptop used only for presentations had been taken from a conference room. Haugsby told Carlson that prosecutors in Washington intend to file two felony charges against Williams, but the documents had not yet been approved by a federal judge. Haugsby argued Williams should not be released on bail pending trial, saying she might flee or try to obstruct justice. Carlson scheduled the preliminary hearing and consideration of bail for early Thursday morning. Williams' lawyer, Lori Ulrich, argued for her release and against a delay. Williams' father, who lives in the Harrisburg suburb of Camp Hill, told local law enforcement that he and his daughter went to Washington on the day of the protest but didn’t stay together, meeting up later to return to Harrisburg, the FBI said. Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press
Inmates at the Drumheller Institution are engaging in a hunger strike following restrictions and lockdowns due to a number of reported COVID-19 cases among the inmate population. It was reported by the Calgary Herald on Friday, January 15 “more than 30 inmates” are participating in the hunger strike, which began on Saturday, January 9, to protest the ongoing lockdown. “Last week, one inmate from Drumheller Institution declared they were on a hunger strike,” said a spokesperson for Correctional Service Canada (CSC). “We worked with the inmate and found a resolution to the issues which led them to begin a hunger strike. There are no inmates currently on hunger strike at Drumheller Institution.” A total of 39 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 since the first cases were reported on December 24; as of Monday, January 18, all reported cases have recovered and there are no active cases at Drumheller Institution. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, in-person visits have been suspended for both the minimum and medium security facilities at the Drumheller Institution. “Drumheller Institution continues to operate under modified routine as a means to protect staff and inmates from COVID-19 infection. As part of the infection prevention and control measures currently in place, inmates of one unit at the institution are presently being isolated,” the spokesperson stated. They added, “Normal routine will be re-established at the institution once managers, following public health advice, determine it is safe to do so.” Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
OTTAWA — Conservatives were torn Tuesday over a decision by party leader Erin O'Toole to try to expel an MP from their ranks over a donation from a known white nationalist. The party's 121 MPs are set to vote via secret ballot Wednesday morning on whether Derek Sloan ought to be removed, with a simple majority required to oust him. While Sloan has courted his fair share of controversy for months, the idea he should be booted from caucus specifically because of a donation he said he had not realized he'd received wasn't sitting well with some MPs and party supporters. And the move prompted immediate backlash from some anti-abortion groups, who had been firmly in Sloan's corner during the leadership race he lost to O'Toole almost six months ago. The group Right Now urged backers to contact MPs to voice their displeasure. "We feel that this an attempt to discourage pro-lifers from engaging within the Conservative Party of Canada, specifically at the upcoming policy convention," Right Now's email said. "If those officials in the Conservative Party of Canada who do not share our values were not threatened by us taking our rightful and democratic place within the party, then they would not attempt such a brazen and obviously desperate effort such as this." The controversy over the $131 donated by Paul Fromm, a longtime political activist with links to neo-Nazi causes, erupted late Monday. O'Toole declared the donation — made under the name "Frederick P. Fromm" — meant Sloan could no longer be a Conservative MP, citing an intolerance for racism within the party. O'Toole promptly kick-started the process of getting him removed from the Conservative caucus. Some MPs publicly voiced their approval on social media, but privately concerns were immediately raised about the bar O'Toole was setting. The party prides itself on collecting donations from hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters. Vetting them all against an unclear standard would be challenging, if not outright impossible. Sloan was first elected as the MP for the Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington in 2019 and stunned many of his fellow MPs by running to lead the party not long after. He has sparked several controversies during his relatively short political life. He's been accused of racism for questioning the loyalty of the country's chief public health officer, a charge he denied. He's also suggested being LGBTQ is not a matter of science and compared a ban on therapy designed to force a person to change their gender or sexual identity to child abuse. During the leadership race, O'Toole told MPs Sloan ought not be kicked out of caucus over the remarks he made about Dr. Theresa Tam, even buying ads on social media trumpeting that position. The fact a donation would be the thing that finally turned O'Toole against Sloan raised some eyebrows. "That he plays silly-bugger word games that homosexuality is a choice should have disqualified him. But kicking him out over a donation from a racist who disguised his identity? So many good reasons to kick him out. Not sure this is one," wrote longtime Conservative operative and strategist Chisholm Pothier on Twitter. "Glad he’s gone. But ends justifying the means is easy, principled politics is hard." The Liberals had been calling for months for O'Toole to eject Sloan, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he was pleased O'Toole was showing leadership. "Political parties need to remain vigilant, particularly in the wake of what we see in the United States, from the infiltration or the active presence of fringe or extremist or violent or unacceptable or intolerant elements," Trudeau said at a news conference. "And that's something that we constantly need to work towards as all politicians in Canada." Trudeau, however, did not address whether Fromm's organizations would also see money they received in COVID-19 supports clawed back as well. Fromm has been connected to Holocaust-deniers and other white nationalist groups for years. Sloan cited Fromm's use of his first name in making the donation in saying he was unaware of the source of the funds. Fromm also holds a membership in the Conservative party, voted in the leadership race, and had registered for a virtual convention the party is holding in March, none of which had raised red flags before Monday's revelation. Late Tuesday, the party said Fromm's membership would be revoked and he would not be allowed to participate in the convention. In an interview, Fromm said he's never met Sloan, and while Sloan's policies did appeal to him, he argued that to suggest his money, membership or desire to participate in the convention taints Sloan or the party is ridiculous. "I think basically, somebody is out to get Sloan and are prepared to use just about anything," he said. O'Toole won the leadership last year thanks in part to Sloan's supporters, whom he'd courted. Ever since, he has faced questions about how he'll broaden the appeal of the party, given the strength of its social-conservative wing. That faction was already gearing up to try to play an outsized role at the party's policy convention in March, organizing to advance several socially conservative positions through policy motions and ensuring they had enough delegates to make them pass. Their efforts were spurred on by Sloan, who had been pushing people to sign up as delegates, a move viewed within caucus as challenging O'Toole. Sloan has said he'll fight efforts to expel him. He noted he told the party to return Fromm's donation as soon as he was made aware of it, and wasn't sure what more he could have done. He declined to say what he was hoping to achieve at the convention, saying he is now focused on what he called the fight of his life. "O'Toole ran a leadership campaign on fighting cancel culture and promoting a big-tent version of the Conservative party," Sloan said. "And I hope that he has not jettisoned that in favour of perceived short-term political gain." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
Like so much this past year, the inaugural celebration will be like no other: pared down, distanced, much of it virtual. But for actor Christopher Jackson — the original George Washington in Broadway's “Hamilton" — performing in a virtual “ball” is a way of participating in an essential rite of American democracy. “I’m glad to play a part in it,” says Jackson, who will perform at the quadrennial ball for the Creative Coalition, a fundraiser for arts education and one of the more prominent unofficial events surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration. “It’s a great honour, and I’m very grateful that we have allowed our system to continue to work in the way it was intended.” Jackson -- not to mention former co-star and “Hamilton” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda -- joins a slew of celebrities descending on Washington, virtually or in person, for entertainment surrounding the inauguration of Biden and Kamala Harris. Although the festivities have been radically scaled down due to the raging coronavirus pandemic and security threats, a steady stream of A-list names have signed on, headlined by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks contributing musical performances. Other top-tier performers will be part of “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks that officially takes the place of the usual multiple inaugural balls. Miranda will contribute a classical recitation, joining musicians like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labour leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history. The inaugural committee has made sure to blend this high-powered list with ordinary Americans and inspiring stories. Segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsey, the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The proceedings will be carried by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and PBS as well as the committee’s social media channels and streaming partners. Fox News will not carry the broadcast. Beyond that event, there’s also a virtual “Parade Across America” on inauguration afternoon, hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn with appearances by Jon Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire and the New Radicals — reuniting after more than two decades — among many others. There’s also star power on display Tuesday evening at the virtual “Latino Inaugural 2021,” hosted by Longoria and including Broadway and screen star (and EGOT winner) Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, and Miranda again, saluting Puerto Rico with his father, Luis Miranda. The show honours members of Latino communities keeping the country running during the pandemic as front-line workers. In a normal year, there would be a wealth of sideline events, parties and concerts around Washington. One of the higher-profile events is the Creative Coalition's ball, going all virtual this year, Along with Jackson, KT Tunstall will perform. Host Judy Gold will kick off with a comedy set, also featuring comedians Randy Rainbow, Michael Ian Black and Wendi McLendon-Covey. More than two dozen members of Congress are set to join celebrity guests like Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Jason Alexander, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ellen Burstyn, Alyssa Milano and others. Jackson, who spoke in an interview late last week while planning his performance, said he would not be appearing as George Washington -- but history was on the actor’s mind nonetheless, given the unique circumstances of this inauguration. “We put ourselves in a perilous position,” he said of recent events roiling the country. “So the idea that this inauguration is happening is testament to the resolute dedication that our public servants have to making this thing work.” He said he was also eager to shine a spotlight on arts education, the coalition’s core mission, noting that as a kid growing up in southern Illinois, he depended on resources like an early-morning band class at school, where he’d begin each day playing the trumpet. “There was a time when I went through a lot of bad emotional passages as a kid,” Jackson said. “Had it not been for the outlet the arts created for me, I don’t know where I would be today." He noted that support for the arts is ever more urgent given how the pandemic has decimated the arts industry. Actor Tim Daly, the coalition’s president, said that despite optimism for the new administration’s approach to arts funding, it’s still an uphill battle in the United States. “I feel there’s going to have to be a really long and powerful effort by the Creative Coalition and other organizations to finally try and make federal, local and state governments understand the importance of the arts," he said, adding that the arts, besides being a driver of the economy, "is part of our spirit. It’s how we teach empathy and kindness.” Daly said he has mixed feelings as he approaches this very unique inauguration. “This is going to be the strangest (celebration) ever,” he said. “It’s virtual, and the celebration will in some ways be very muted. But in some ways, very meaningful. In a way this year is more important than any other, because our democracy has been under threat.” The coalition’s ball will include breakout rooms where guests can mingle, and even simultaneous hand-delivered meals in multiple cities. But there’s still no way to replace an in-person experience, Daly acknowledged. “There’s nothing that takes the place of human interaction,” the actor said. “I’d be lying or dishonest if I said this was better. But we’re doing the best we can -- and it’s better than nothing.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
IMMOBILIER. Tel que rapporté, selon les données colligées par JLR, une société d’Equifax, 899 préavis d’exercice (prise en paiement, vente sous contrôle de justice, vente par le créancier et prise de possession à des fins d’administration) ont été émis au cours du quatrième trimestre de 2020. Ce qui représente une baisse de 46 % par rapport à la même période un an plus tôt. Pour l’ensemble de l’année, les publications d’actes de ce type se sont élevées à 3916, une chute de 42 % comparativement à 2019. Le nombre de préavis diminuait légèrement avant la pandémie une tendance qui se poursuivait depuis 2016 grâce à une économie et un marché immobilier en croissance rapporte JLR. «La baisse s’est grandement accrue à partir de la mi-mars, soit lors de l’arrivée de la pandémie et de la mise en place de mesures d’aide. Peu de temps après la mise sur pause de l’économie, une possibilité pour les ménages ayant perdu tout, ou une partie, de leurs revenus de reporter leurs paiements hypothécaires de six mois a été annoncée. Ceci, combiné à l’octroi de la PCU à plusieurs citoyens dans le besoin, a réduit de manière importante les processus de reprise hypothécaire, ce qui est contraire à ce qui s’observe habituellement lors d’une crise économique», indique-t-on. Un total de 296 délaissements a été publié au Registre foncier au cours du quatrième trimestre de 2020, une chute de 26 % relativement à la même période en 2019. Un recul qui s’amenuise depuis deux trimestres pour ces immeubles hypothéqués abandonnés volontairement au profit de son créancier ou d’un jugement qui l’ordonne.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
North Simcoe's environmental association seems to be under the microscope in another municipality. This time, it's Tiny Township, which is also the residence of the Severn Sound Environmental Association's (SSEA) board chair Steffen Walma. The matter came up at a recent budget meeting when Coun. Tony Mintoff questioned the increase in municipal contributions toward the SSEA. "I’d like to get a specific cost for the SSEA," he said. "I noticed the actual in 2019 was $93,000 and for 2020 it was $176,000. I would like to know which services are mandated and the cost for those services and any other services they provide and their costs and benefits for the residents." The issue also came up recently at Tay Township's council meeting. Budget documents shared with council show that the township budgeted $93,672 for the SSEA costs in 2019 and paid a total of $119,136, which includes costs for Sustainable Severn Sound (SSS) and an invasive species coordinator. For 2020, the township budgeted $176,911 for SSEA costs and paid $181,600, which includes the SSS cost. For 2021, Tiny is being asked for $228,805, which breaks down to a $11,155 for the SSS portion, $187,630 for the SSEA core services and $30,020 for municipal drinking water source protection. Walma, who is also Tiny's deputy mayor, ventured to sum up the reasons for why the costs are the way they are. "In 2019 to 2020, we made a board decision to stop Band-Aiding our way through operations," he said, adding there was a leadership change and SSEA relocated its office to Tay Township. "In 2019, we presented a 65% increase to our municipalities. That included a change in staffing and office and upgrading of our networks." As part of its water quality sampling mandate, staff needs to visit various locations in North Simcoe, said Walma. "We’ve been borrowing vehicles from municipalities and never owned our vehicles," he said. "(From a) liability standpoint, municipalities were no longer willing to loan us vehicles, so we ended up having to purchase our own. "We had been testing wells in the municipality, so we had the responsibility to decommission those wells at the end of their life. We started budgeting a reserve we’ve never had in the past. We also found some liabilities in our existing staffing policies. We modernized our existing budget for the 65 percent." This year, the increase is five percent, according to Walma. "That was listed in the five-year plan," he noted. "We do expect to see some savings on 2020, but those savings won’t be realized by our partners this year because we don’t know what they are yet." As for the services, Walma said, every municipality pays a board-approved service level, there’s no a-la carte. Members, however, have the choice to opt out of core services on a two-year notice period. "(Core services) include cold-water stream sampling, fish habitat mapping, inland lake-water quality sampling, and invasive species programs," he said, adding he can bring to council a more comprehensive list. "The SSS portion of things, they have been rolled in together, is optional. This is a service municipalities choose to participate in." Where contracting the SSEA itself is not mandatory, "the only legislated piece is the source-water protection modelling that’s been put in place by the province," said Walma. "In short, at least until council opts out of the program, we’re obligated to the pay $187,000, not the $11,155 for the SSS." Mintoff said he would bring forward a notice of motion at a future meeting so council could take a closer look at it. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Despite an array of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency responsible for stocking B.C.’s lakes with freshwater fish successfully completed its mission for 2020, ensuring a smooth transition for the recreational fishery going into the new year. The importance of the achievement by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) is heightened this year with a 20 per cent spike in new licence holders expecting the most from this outdoor pursuit. “It was a huge feat, because this past year was unique given the pandemic,” Andrew Wilson, president of FFSBC said. “We had to develop new protocols, new procedures to ensure we were compliant with the the provincial health officer and WorkSafe BC, and that meant a bit of a rethink on how we were able to culture the fish and deliver them. But at the end of the day we were able to do that. We never got to the place where we thought it wasn’t going to happen.” FFSBC is solely responsible for stocking B.C.’s freshwater lakes on behalf of the provincial government. Throughout 2020 the society stocked 5.63 million rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat trout, eastern brook trout and kokanee into 662 lakes across the province. More than 311,000 steelhead smolts were also raised and released into six rivers in the Lower Mainland, and four rivers on Vancouver Island. The society’s Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery also released 15,306 anadromous coastal cutthroat trout into the Oyster and Quinsam rivers on Vancouver Island. Wilson said once new procedures were in place, operations moved smoothly. He credits the participation of BC Parks, BC Rec Sites and Trails, and BC Hydro to develop workable plans for accessing the bodies of water. Without the completion of the program, Wilson said anglers would have experienced immediate impacts. “At the beginning of the year there were so many unknowns … particularly with the government having to walk that fine line of trying to look after British Columbians while also encouraging them to get outside to stay healthy.” The annual provincial recreational stocking program is funded through the sale of B.C. freshwater fishing licences. In the early stages of the pandemic the society was concerned about deep financial losses in 2020, as many in the tourism sector experienced, but the government’s encouragement for residents get outdoors resulted in a 20 per cent uptake in new freshwater fishing licences sales to B.C. residents. The 16-20-year old category saw the largest gains of 64 per cent. “That 20 per cent increase in resident anglers pretty much offset the 94 per cent decrease in international anglers,” Wilson said. “It is big news. People are getting out and engaging with their backyard, getting out on the water in a really healthy pursuit.” Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte won a crucial confidence vote in the Senate late Tuesday, keeping his wobbly coalition afloat for now, but with such a shrunken majority it will make it extremely hard to effectively govern a country reeling from the pandemic. The vote went 156 to 140 in his favour, There were 16 abstentions, thanks to a coalition ally that bolted the centre-left government last week. An absolute majority in the Senate is 161, so to pass critical legislation, including aid to help Italy's battered economy, Conte will likely have to resort often on support from outside his coalition. Had he lost the confidence vote in Parliament's upper chamber, Conte would have been required to resign. But without absolute command of a majority there, he could still opt to hand in his resignation to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, in a bid to be tapped anew to try to cobble together a revamped, more dependable coalition. In the lower Chamber of Deputies, where the 16-month-old government holds a more comfortable margin, Conte won a first confidence vote on Monday. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. Premier Giuseppe Conte appealed in Parliament for a second straight day Tuesday for crucial support to keep his government afloat after the defection of a small but key coalition party as Italy struggles with a second surge of the COVIC-19 pandemic that has seen citizens subject to months of degrees of lockdown. "With today’s vote, I trust that the institutions will be able to repay the trust of citizens in order to put behind us this great act of irresponsibility as soon as possible,” Conte said. He was referring to ex-Premier Matteo Renzi's yanking his small Italia Viva (Italy Alive) centrist party from the centre-left government, in part to protest what Renzi saw was Conte's holding too much control on how more than 200 billion euros (dollars) of European Union recovery funds are spent. Conte on Monday clinched what amounted to a confidence vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies, securing a 321-259 victory after Renzi's party deputies abstained. Without the backing of Renzi and his 17 fellow senators, Conte went into Tuesday's vote in the upper chamber of Parliament facing an even more uphill battle for him and his government to stay in power, since the centre-left coalition's majority in the Senate is narrower than what it enjoys in the Chamber of Deputies. “Numbers are important, today even more so. But even more important is the quality of the political project,’’ Conte said. “We ask all the political forces to help us relaunch with the maximum speed and help us repair the damage to citizens’ trust that the crisis has produced.” Renzi, in replying to Conte in the Senate Tuesday, hammered away at what he contended was the government's less-than-bold response to fighting the pandemic, including in how funds will be spent to revive Italy's battered economy, already stagnant for years before COVID-19 struck. "In view of the pandemic, there's a need for a stronger government,” Renzi added in attacking Conte. But even surviving the Senate vote, Conte’s government still risked being hobbled going forward, since he would have to count on lawmakers outside his coalition to help pass legislation. Conte largely staked his hope on winning votes from senators outside both his government and the centre-right opposition. Among those were the tiny ranks of senators-for-life, who only occasionally come to Parliament to cast votes. In a sign of support, Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor and senator-for-life who travelled from Milan to vote. A representative said that Segre, 90, has not yet received a vaccine against the coronavirus. Segre was made a senator-for-life by Italy's president to honour her work in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive by speaking to students in schools throughout the nation. The government crisis heightened demands by the opposition for an election two years early. But President Sergio Mattarella is considered unlikely at this point to choose that option, given the difficulty of organizing a campaign and vote during a pandemic. Conte has boasted of his efforts to secure pandemic-recovery aid from the European Union. In Brussels, EU officials were following Italian political developments with concern. EU Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis expressed hope that Italy's “political instability would not compromise” Italy's already “substantial” preparation of the recovery plan. He noted that Italy is by far the largest recipient of the pandemic funding. A key source of irritation between Conte and Renzi has been who gets to control how the pandemic relief funds that hard-hit Italy are spent. Barry reported from Milan. Nicole Winfield in Rome and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed. Frances D'Emilio And Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
A man who police say stole a Victoria harbour ferry has been arrested after cops and the coast guard had to chase the wannabe pirate through city waterways Tuesday morning. According to a statement from the Victoria Police Department, officers were called to the waters off the 400-block of Swift Street at approximately 3 a.m. after a boat was reported stolen and heading up the Gorge Waterway. When officers arrived on the scene, the alleged thief changed direction toward the inner harbour and appeared to be trying to flee the area. With the assistance of a nearby harbour ferryemployee, officers boarded a separate boat, took off after the stolen vessel and were able to get close enough to speak with the suspect and convince him to surrender. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape St. James brought additional VicPD officers to the scene to help. Police say the stolen ferry and suspect were then towed to a dock in the 900-block of Wharf Street where the man was arrested. The short-lived ride resulted in recommended charges of theft over $5,000.
Pembroke – With only 10 new COVID-19 cases in the last week in the region, Renfrew County and District Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman is encouraging residents to continue to be vigilant as they await the vaccine roll-out. “We are through the middle of January and we are seeing a turn-around,” he said on Monday afternoon. “Keep it up. Let’s bring on the vaccines and get through this.” After weeks of rapidly increasing numbers, the last week has seen the new cases trickle down to one or two a day. Currently there is one person in hospital with COVID from the district. He said they are in an Ottawa hospital and had significant co-morbidity issues. While outbreaks have all but been eliminated with one outbreak remaining at a long-term-care home, he cautioned this can “turn on a dime” and people need to continue to be cautious. Fortunately, area residents can enjoy being outdoors, he said. “We need to keep doing this,” he said. “Renfrew County is not a densely populated urban centre. Get out and get some fresh air. Stick to members of your household.” With December being the worst month for COVID cases, January seems to be improving slightly. He pointed out with seven people in isolation and no new cases on Tuesday, things were looking up. “We are seeing the fruit of the hard work everyone is doing since the Boxing Day lockdown,” he said. This contrasts with December and even the first 10 days in January where the numbers were increasing. The district, which includes not only Renfrew County but Nipissing and South Algonquin, has seen a total of 296 cases of COVID since the pandemic began in March. There has been one death early on. Numbers had begun to spike in November and December but are levelling off now significantly with only seven people currently in self-isolation with a diagnosed case of COVID. “We are seeing the drop off because of the lockdown and co-operation,” he said. With the numbers that low in the county the province might be looking at these numbers and pursuing a more regional approach again, he noted. “I don’t want to speak for Mr. Ford (Ontario Premier Doug Ford),” he said. “Maybe in another week or so we can re-assess, and certain jurisdictions can open up.” If the colour-coding system were in place, Renfrew County would be considered green right now, he said. One of the issues with the zones was people travelling from the grey (lockdown) zones to red, orange, yellow and green zones, he clarified. “And I do understand there is a lot of spillage when people find the rural areas and green zones,” he said. While many families are awaiting a provincial announcement on Wednesday about school re-opening, Dr. Cushman said this will be a provincial and school board decision. One concern by many is the impact on mental health the lockdown is having. It is not only affecting seniors isolated in long-term-care homes but children not able to go to schools and people in abusive relationships, including many others. “It is terrible,” he said of the mental health impact. “The collateral damage is almost on par. You can’t deal with one without the other.” Vaccine Roll-Out Stating he understands the desire to see businesses re-open and people able to congregate again, Dr. Cushman said it is important to wait on the vaccine roll-out and plans are in place to vaccinate the most vulnerable in early February in the county. “The latest is we think we do the long-term care homes the first of February,” he said. “We are very committed to that. “We have been advised that we can expect to receive Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines in early February, but there has been no confirmation of the number of doses,” he noted. However, a clear plan is in place on how the vaccines will be administered. “We’ve seen examples of spoilage in other centres,” he said. “That will not happen here.” Each long-term care home has a plan in place to vaccinate residents and staff, he said. “We are ready to go,” he said. “We are working with each home and they have a plan.” In this first phase, the province has announced the vaccine will be rolled out to health care workers, adults in First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations and recipients of chronic home health care. Phase 2 is expected to begin in late winter and will expand to include additional congregate care settings and adults over 70. Phase three will expand the roll-out. Dr. Cushman said he remains concerned about travel as a risk factor for people in the area, noting cases have come in from travel to other regions, including Ottawa. As well, people should not let their guard down in the workplace or at home. “Don’t congregate in the work setting,” he stressed. As far as being outdoors, people don’t have to wear a mask if they are alone but should take one along in case it is impossible to keep physically distant, he said. While very few fines have been issued in the district, the health unit did go public on a few fines late last year. With the new State of Emergency order brought in by the province last Thursday, Dr. Cushman explained now by-law officers and police can also issue fines. “It means we have more means of enforcement,” he said. The health unit has received calls about some people breaking the Stay-At-Home order and lockdown order, he said. “We did have some chatter in one small neighbourhood,” he said. “We investigated and it was more chatter than reality.” In the meantime, he reminded area residents standard COVID-19 precautions go a long way and are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Area residents are reminded to: get the flu shot; stay home if sick; avoid contact with people who are ill; practice physical distancing (two metres); wear a mask/face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained; wash their hands, and use the COVID Alert App. COVID testing continues in the county with 51,243 tests completed. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader