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Alberta reports a record 1,155 new cases of COVID-19 Friday –



Alberta is not bringing in any new health measures, despite Friday’s announcement of a record 1,155 new cases of COVID-19.

“Our current situation is grim,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference.

But Hinshaw said officials are waiting to see if measures announced one week ago have an effect on case numbers before pursuing further restrictions to slow the spread.

“Of course, I am concerned,” she said. “The measures that we have put in place over the past several months may have somewhat slowed the growth, but they have not bent the curve as much as we need to.

“And we do need everyone to pull together to follow all of those measures to the letter, or unfortunately we will need to put in additional restrictions.”

Alberta has one of the highest infection rates in the country, but has among the fewest restrictions.

On Friday, Ontario restricted shopping, closed high schools, restaurants and bars, while other provinces mandated face masks.  

‘Even if you don’t like them’

Hinshaw urged Albertans to follow mandatory and voluntary health measures.

“This weekend, I encourage everyone to abide by all public health measures even if you don’t like them, even if they’re inconvenient or even if you don’t agree with them. We must all do our part to bend the curve, prevent the health-care system from being overwhelmed and prevent more restrictive measures from coming into effect.”

WATCH | Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says health measures need to strike right balance

When asked about potential further restrictions, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, says it’s important to control COVID-19 spread while having “minimum impacts on people’s health in other ways.” 1:39

There were 11 deaths new deaths attributed to the disease, bringing the total number of deaths to 462.

Hinshaw dismissed the idea that only the elderly are vulnerable, pointing out two individuals in their 30s were among the deaths announced this past week. She also made it clear that people with co-morbidities include a significant number of Albertans of all ages. 

“Severe outcomes are not limited just to those already at the very end of their lives, and it is a mistake to think so,” Hinshaw said,

“Having a chronic medical condition is very common,” she said. “These conditions include things like high blood pressure and diabetes. In Alberta, almost one-quarter of all adults over the age of 20 have a chronic condition. That is almost 800,000 people.

“When looking just at men in Alberta, more than half of men over 50 and almost 70 per cent of men over 65 have high blood pressure. That should not be a death sentence.”

Currently, 310 people are being treated in hospital, of which 58 are in intensive care units.

Hinshaw said that there are 173 general adult ICU beds in the province. While 70 have been designated for COVID-19 patients, more beds can be shifted if the need arises, she said.

“Alberta Health Services manages ICU beds and staff depending on demand from both COVID-19 patients and patients with other conditions that require intensive care,” she said.

“These beds can be used for many patient types. I want to assure Albertans that as more COVID-19 patients require intensive care, AHS is able to add additional intensive care capacity.” 

AHS has prepared more ICU beds in the Edmonton and Calgary zones to be ready if needed, Hinshaw said.

“This is where most of the capacity is likely to be required, but creating this capacity means stopping or delaying other services, and this is the impact we want to avoid.”

Hiding symptoms, risking health workers

Hinshaw said she has heard of people who have the disease covering up their symptoms while visiting hospitals to see loved ones.

“I understand that it is hard to not be able to see a loved one or accompany them to hospital, but we must all think beyond ourselves right now,” she said.

“If a provider or other member of a health care team gets sick, it means they are not available to treat patients for at least two weeks, which translates to a lack of staff to care for all patients.

“Ultimately if this behaviour continues, Alberta Health Service will have to consider limiting designated family and support and visitation even further. And that is not something we want AHS to have to do.”

The number of active cases now sits at 10,655, the highest number in Alberta since the pandemic began in March.

Here is how the active cases break down in the zones:

  • Edmonton zone: 4,520 cases
  • Calgary zone: 4,272 cases
  • North zone: 651 cases
  • South zone: 569 cases
  • Central zone: 564 cases
  • Unknown: 79 cases

The 11 deaths reported Friday include:

  • A woman in her 90s from Edmonton, linked to the outbreak at Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
  • A woman in her 80s, also linked to the outbreak at Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
  • A man in his 80s, linked to the outbreak at Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
  • A woman in her 60s from Edmonton, linked to an outbreak at Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
  • A woman in her 90s from the Edmonton zone, linked to the outbreak at Covenant Care Chateau Vitaline.
  • A man in his 90s, also linked to an outbreak at Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
  • A man in his 70s from the North zone, linked to the outbreak at Grande Prairie Care Centre.
  • A man in his 60s from the Edmonton zone.
  • A man in his 60s from the South zone.
  • A woman in her 70s from the Calgary zone.
  • A man in his 80s from the Central zone.

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How to tell if you're flying on a Boeing Max 737 – Boing Boing



I’m a nervous flyer to begin with, so the news that Boeing is putting its crash-prone Max 737 jet back into service fills me with Lovecraftian dread.

I would rather ride a goddamn burro across the continental United States that get on one of those things. “Don’t worry, we updated the software.” There is no modern statement less reassuring.

But, how can you tell if you’ve been slated to fly on one?

As Jalopnik notes, Reuters reports that some airlines may stop using the “Max” name, so all you’ll know is that you’re flying on some sort of 737. So maybe you could just check your booking to see what sort of plane you’re on? But airlines’ methods of ID vary, and of course, sometimes at the last second they need to swap out jets for unanticipated reasons of maintenance or weather-related delays.

The upshot is that, as Jalopnik notes, you might have to simply figure it out by looking at the jet you’re about to board. This assessment would come rather late to be of any prophylactic use, mind you, unless you’re willing to skip the flight at the last second when you discover you’re about to step onto the creditScore_xxbin32_init.exe of airplanes.

Anyway, here’s how to recognize a Max 737 when you see one:

If your booking information doesn’t note what kind of 737 you’ll be flying, you may be able to spot the naming on the nose, tail or landing gear doors. Some airlines with a high number of 737 MAX aircraft orders, like Southwest, have no prominent markings at all.

At the airport, you can also check the winglets at the end of the wings. The 737 MAX will often have winglets that extend both up and down. Other versions of the 737 often have winglets that extend only upward. However, as some airlines — like United — have upgraded older planes to use the newer winglets, this isn’t always a surefire way to determine 737 type, either.

If all else fails, look at the engines. The 737 MAX uses CFM International LEAP-1B engines.

These are physically larger and pushed forward compared with the CFM International CFM56-7 engines of the older 737NG. The LEAP-1B engines will also have serrated edges at the rear of the engines.

(That CC-2.0-licensed photo of a Max 737, by Edward Russell, comes courtesy Wikimedia)

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Trudeau warns COVID-19 vaccine will come later to Canada than other countries – National Post



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“The issue of domestic vaccine manufacturing supply was identified as an issue after the H1N1 pandemic,” she said. “This issue in and of itself should not have come as a surprise to the Prime Minister or to the Health Minister or to the Procurement Minister when looking at a COVID vaccine rollout plan.”

Andrew Casey, president and CEO of Biotech Canada an industry association, said the prime minister is partially right, especially with the leading candidates.

“For two of the three vaccines that we now know about, the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines, those are mRNA vaccines, which there is no manufacturing for that in Canada,” he said. “In fact, it’s very limited around the world because it’s such a novel vaccine.”

The prime minister told the House that Canadians would be first in line to receive the vaccine

Casey said there is plenty of manufacturing capacity in Canada for making vaccines, but it uses different types of technology and can’t be easily switched to something different.

“One type of vaccine is like making wine and the other one is like making coke. Yes, they’re both put in bottles, and you can drink them with straws, but they’re very different processes.”

He said the manufacturers in Canada also have other orders they are processing for the flu and for childhood vaccinations and couldn’t just scrap that production for COVID even if the technology was interchangeable. Given Canada’s limitations, Casey said, buying access to as many doses as possible from other countries was a good move.

Casey said for large pharmaceutical companies it will take more than just money to build facilities in Canada and the government will have to think about investments in research, drug pricing and regulations structures and other issues.

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1 in 3 Toronto schools, nearly half of Brampton schools, have active COVID-19 cases – CityNews Toronto



One in three Toronto public schools have an active case of COVID-19 – more than double the provincial average being touted by Ontario’s education minister as he promotes the government’s school safety strategy and the picture worsens at other boards in pandemic hot spots.

In Toronto’s public board, 35 per cent of schools, some 206 facilities, have at least one student or staff member who are reported as actively sick with COVID-19. Of Toronto’s Catholic schools, 40 per cent – or 79 institutions — have active cases. In Brampton, 48 per cent of all schools, both public and Catholic, have active cases.

Toronto and Peel are in lockdown so it’s no surprise they have more cases than the provincial average, but the premier has acknowledged it’s concerning.

“It is definitely setting off alarm bells,” Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference Tuesday.

The government has consistently said it is safer for students to be in school, and that the priority is to keep them open. It has never mentioned that cases in locked-down regions are significantly higher than the provincial average, which is 14.6 percent. Four schools are currently closed due to outbreaks.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce stood in the legislature Monday and insisted schools were safe.

“Parents want the facts. Here’s a fact that I think would instill a level of confidence: if they knew that 99.95% of students are COVID-19-free, that 99.92% of staff are COVID-19-free, that 99.7% of staff have never had COVID-19,” said Lecce. “Our leadership in public health and our school boards are working together to flatten this curve, to reduce the risk and to keep our kids safe, and that is a good thing we should celebrate in this province”

In Brampton, 61 public schools and 28 Catholic schools are reporting 122 and 89 cases, respectively. In the public board, 51 schools beyond Brampton are reporting a further 78 cases. Of those, 46 schools are in Mississauga, four schools are in Caledon, and one is in Bolton.

In the Dufferin-Peel Catholic board, 37 schools outside of Brampton are reporting a total of 61 cases. All but one of those schools is in Mississauga, with the lone other location in Caledon.

Brampton’s percentage of schools with active COVID-19 cases exceeds the proportion in its school boards in large.

The rate across Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board, which includes Mississauga, Caledon, Bolton and Orangeville, is 43 per cent, with a total 65 of its 151 elementary and secondary schools reporting active cases. In Peel’s public board, which serves Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, the rate is 44 per cent, or 112 of the boards 257 schools.

CityNews has used the latest information posted on all the boards’ own websites to compile this data.

The premier said today that he was not downplaying cases at schools: “numbers don’t lie, they are out there.”

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has said several times it is important to keep schools open for children’s mental health, and while students and staff are bringing COVID-19 into schools, it’s not being spread inside them. Provincial Minister of Health Christine Elliott echoed that today, adding she would re-evaluate the situation if needed.

“If the circumstances change and there’s a huge increase in the number of cases in schools, we might have to take another look at it,” Elliott said.

Ontario has started deploying rapid testing in long-term care homes and rural communities. Ford called it a game-changer and suggested if schools needed testing, it could happen. University of Toronto epidemiologist Colin Furness says he doesn’t believe schools need to close, but he says those inside should be tested regularly.

“We should be doing surveillance testing broadly in the province, we should have been doing that since April. By surveillance testing, I mean you don’t test people who show up at hospital looking sick, that’s diagnostic testing. Surveillance testing means you go and test people at risk,” he explained.

“We should be testing teachers because they are also in high-risk positions, and if want to know what’s going on with COVID in schools, test teachers,” he added, “But Ontario has been very resolutely committed to not doing surveillance testing. We are not trying to control transmission with testing, we are controlling with lockdowns. I think that’s unfortunate.”

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