Connect with us

Tech

Dozens of elderly Niagara residents still at risk of dying from COVID-19 – NiagaraFallsReview.ca

Published

 on


Seventy-two.

That’s the number of elderly Niagara residents fighting a COVID-19 infection.

Even as the local infection rate continues to slide downward and the most vulnerable are vaccinated, because of their age, those 72 people are at greatest risk of joining the growing list of Niagara’s pandemic dead.

By late Tuesday afternoon, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the region dropped to 520 — a low not seen since late December when the second wave was well on its way to a crisis point — and Niagara’s public health department had nearly completed three-quarters of the second round of Pfizer vaccine doses for long-term-care residents.

But the local death count, one of the highest in Ontario, is likely to continue to rise, said Niagara’s acting medical officer of health. Six new deaths were recorded Tuesday, and the region has only seen one death-free day in 39 days.

“These are people who are absolutely the most at risk of dying,” said Dr. Mustafa Hirji. “Of those 520 cases, most of them will be younger people, but there is still a large number of those who, unfortunately, are still at risk.”

The number of elderly residents still fighting COVID-19 is the result of the wide community spread of the virus in December and January, which caused a spike of outbreaks and deaths among people aged 80 or older.

January was Niagara’s worse month of the pandemic to date, with 72 per cent of cases and deaths occurring during that month.

No less than 353 people with the virus have died since the pandemic hit Niagara last March.

Niagara’s COVID-19 numbers continued their downward trend Tuesday with only 13 new cases confirmed, a number last seen in the middle of November. Hirji said the average number of late is in the 20 to 43 new daily case range, so Tuesday’s figure is likely an outlier in the overall trend.

“I think we will get there eventually,” said Hirji, who continues to worry that Niagara’s infection rate, and the presence of novel coronavirus variants in Ontario, make next week’s economic reopening a very risky proposition for the region.

Hirji said by the end of the day Thursday, the public health department will have completed the second round of shots for long-term-care residents and will move on to the second round of injections for high-risk retirement home residents.

The health department has been very successful at squeezing extra doses out of the Pfizer vials — they are now approved by Health Canada for six doses instead of the original five — so Hirji said more long-term residents are being vaccinated than was originally planned for.

Initially, given limits of Pfizer supplies, only those residents who had not been previously exposed to the novel coronavirus were being vaccinated. Someone who recovered from the virus will have a degree of immunity, and would be vaccinated at a later date.

However, since public health has been able to stretch the supply, first-round shots have been started for people previously exposed.

“We do not know yet if the vaccine provides better immunity than a natural immunity at this point like vaccines do for diphtheria and HPV, but if it does not, it won’t do any harm,” Hirji said.

What the vaccines will do, however, is provide protection against the novel coronavirus variants, at least one of which has been able to reinfect people. The Pfizer vaccines appear effective against those strains of the virus and vaccinating previously infected residents could protect them against a possible third pandemic wave, and prevent a repeat of the second-wave fatalities.

Loading…

Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…

But for those elderly people with COVID-19, the immunization program has come too late. More than 60 per cent of Niagara residents with the virus who have died were older than 80 and 72 people in that demographic are fighting the infection.

There are 25 people, many of them elderly, in Niagara hospitals with COVID-19. There are 22 COVID-19 outbreaks still active in Niagara health-care facilities, including long-term-care homes. The most recent outbreaks were declared on Feb. 4 at Maple Park Lodge in Fort Erie and Feb. 6 at Linhaven Nursing Home in St. Catharines.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

'Relief, relief, relief': Vaccination begins for seniors in high-risk Ottawa neighbourhoods, as infections rise locally – Ottawa Citizen

Published

 on


Article content

Ottawa marked a significant milestone in its COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Friday, with the opening of the city’s first pop-up vaccination clinic for eligible seniors and home care recipients living in the community.

“Relief. Relief. Relief. And contentment,” said 90-year-old Norma O’Connor, about life, post-injection.

It was her age and address that allowed O’Connor to get her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine Friday, at the Albion-Heatherington Recreation Centre. It’s the first of several neighbourhood pop-up clinics, open by appointment for those born prior to 1942 or who are adults receiving chronic home care, and living in one of seven Ottawa neighbourhoods whose residents face the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19, according to OPH.

Mass vaccination for those aged 80 and older is planned to begin after the province launches an online booking system on March 15. But some local public health units have been able to get an earlier start on this age group.

Article content

Ottawa Public Health has found that rates of COVID-19 are, on average, five times higher than the rest of the city in the highest-risk neighbourhoods — in some cases, 16 times higher. The threat of hospitalization and death is also higher.

“So we said, we have to push the envelope,” Emergency and Protective Services GM Anthony Di Monte told reporters Friday, at a media tour of the pop-up clinic. “We didn’t want to wait for the 15th. We said ‘We have vaccine, we can put this concept in place,’ and that’s what we did.”

According to Mayor Jim Watson, more than 1,600 residents from the eligible neighbourhoods have so far booked vaccination appointments. The Albion-Heatherington clinic has the capacity to vaccinate 150 people daily, and is slated to operate for three days.

OPH said there are still some appointments left for this weekend, and other clinics are scheduled to pop-up next week. After that, new sites will be announced every Monday until all high-risk communities have been completed.

“I think it’s just – we won’t be as nervous about things,” said Marian O’Connor, of her mother Norma’s vaccination.

“We’re still going to take all the cautions, because, you know, you have to. But it’s a relief.”

“It is,” Norma added. “It is the first step, and the first day of the rest of my life.”

Media speak with Norma O’Connor after she received her vaccine from Ottawa Public Health at the The Albion-Heatherington Recreation Centre in Ottawa Friday March 5, 2021. Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Friday’s atmosphere wasn’t strictly celebratory, however. While Ottawa continues to make progress on the vaccination front, the virus seems to have been finding more opportunity to spread in the local population

“I think there is a sense of optimism, because we’re starting to see the flow of vaccines. But at the same time, as you’ve heard Dr. (Vera) Etches in the last 24 to 48 hours, our numbers are climbing up into the red zone,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

“And that is a wake-up call for us all, to ensure that we continue to follow the sage advice of Dr. Etches and other medical professionals.

“We do not want to go back into the red zone. We don’t want to put the business community and their employees through this rollercoaster ride.”

Later in the day, the province announced a number of health units that will be moving into different levels of its colour-coded COVID-19 response framework. Ottawa wasn’t among them, but that’s no guarantee things won’t change next week.

The province usually reviews weekly numbers on Tuesday, according to OPH, and announces any status changes for public health units on Friday. And there’s always the so-called “emergency brake,” which allows the province’s chief medical officer of health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, to immediately recommend moving a region into lockdown to disrupt transmission.

In a Friday tweet, Ottawa’s medical officer of heath flagged that “COVID levels in our community are rising at alarming rates & we CAN’T vaccinate our way out of this.”

“But we CAN turn this around with our actions,” she added. “Every action, by every person, matters.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Dr. Vera Etches says it seems Ottawa's 3rd COVID-19 wave is coming – Yahoo News Canada

Published

 on


Local Journalism Initiative

Should community centres be property tax exempt during the pandemic?

Community centres and event halls across New Brunswick have started receiving their property tax bills, but with revenue streams all but dried up by pandemic restrictions, some are wondering how long they can keep paying. Lise Cormier, president of the Centre-St-Andre-LeBlanc, a community centre in Beaubassin-Est, received a property tax bill for more than $900 this week. The centre is fortunate to have an emergency fund, Cormier said, but if their usual revenue-generating activities have to be cancelled again this year and they receive no tax relief, she believes the centre will run out of money in a year. As non-profit organizations, community halls like this one can’t apply for many of the government programs designed to help businesses during the pandemic, Cormier said. And the wage subsidy doesn’t apply to an organization like theirs, because it’s all volunteers, she said. The centre has done everything it can to lower the bills, from unplugging fridges to turning off hot water tanks, but bills continue even if weddings and Bingo nights do not, Cormier said. If the province would forgive property taxes for this year for community centres, that could make a difference, she said. Laurie McGraw, treasurer of the Centre Culturel et Sportif de Cormier-Village, said this centre, one of the newest in the region, faces a property tax bill of more than $1,600. The centre hasn’t sold a drop of alcohol in a year, a significant revenue source, because it hasn’t had large events, he said, but bills keep coming. The centre is run by volunteers, and he’s hoping they won’t get discouraged during this time. Cormier Village’s community centre has no events generating real income right now, he said; there’s just one karate session a week and some pickleball. McGraw said he knows centres like theirs are not alone in this struggle. He’d like to see more support for organizations coming from government, property tax relief being an option that seems doable. “We recognize there remains a high degree of uncertainty in the outlook,” said Jennifer Vienneau, director of communications for the province’s Finance Treasury Board, “and we will continue to work with stakeholders on a path forward.” The Community Investment Fund, which is available to qualifying non-profit community-based organizations for the 2020-21 fiscal year through the Regional Development Incorporation, may help some organizations, she said. The fund has offered $500 to $10,000 non-repayable funds and supported 148 organizations to date, said Mary-Ann Hurley-Corbyn, spokesperson for the province’s Regional Development Corporation and encourages non-profits struggling to reach out to RDC fo see if the fund might be able to help them. No commitment has been made yet to extend the program into 2021-2022 but the program has been well-received, she said. The fund cannot be used for debt payments, said Hurley-Corbyn. The government’s website indicates it can be used for the purchase of supplies such as sanitizer and COVID signs as well as to cover certain administrative and operating costs such as phone, power or insurance bills or projects related to addressing impacts of COVID-19. Some community centres struggling say this is one of few funding streams they have been able to qualify for and have a long list of bills. Michael Poirier, a manager who has been applying to grant after grant on behalf of Notre-Centre in Grande-Digue, said the rental of the space for the provincial election in the fall was the only significant event revenue for the past several months while fixed expenses amount to $4000 a month for the centre and almost every month of the pandemic the centre has faced a shortfall. Notre-Centre serves people across a wide area, he said, “We have to keep going.” McGraw said the centre in Cormier-Village received a small amount to cover signs and sanitizer, and to have access to some funds, was better than nothing but he and others in similar positions with new property tax bills in their mailboxes are still hoping something can occur on that front. Beaubassin-Est councillor, Jean-Charles Dugas said he has put the topic of property tax relief on the table at the community’s March council meeting and is hoping the municipality might be able to provide some relief if it can cover the equivalent of the municipal portion of the tax for the community centres in Beaubassin-Est of which there are several. Taking no action is not just harmful to the social health of the community, it is a safety risk, said Dugas, noting that if there is an emergency, such as a natural disaster, these community centres are where people would be gathering to safely warm up. He hopes Beabassin-Est can at least ease some of the pain for these organizations, and hopefully, can shake the can and trigger action provincially. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

At home for a year, office workers complain of aches, pains and Zoom fatigue – CBC.ca

Published

 on


As a physiotherapist, Matthew Laing is seeing first-hand the consequences for many people who have been working from home for nearly a full year because of the pandemic.

He says he frequently hears the same complaints from clients: neck, back and shoulder pain that bothers them throughout the day because they’re stuck and not moving.

“I’ve got clients who just don’t move for eight hours a day,” said Laing, who is based in Toronto. “We’re human beings, we’re not meant to be in a sedentary position, not moving at all.”

Back in March 2020, when many companies directed most of their staff to leave the office and telecommute in an effort to slow the spread of a scary new coronavirus, the experience of working from home felt novel, perhaps even exciting for some workers.

At the very least, it was considered a blessing to have the option, particularly as workers in other sectors, such as health-care workers and grocery store staff, didn’t have the same choice, and many other workers were laid off because of the pandemic’s economic toll.

But working from makeshift setups with non-ergonomic chairs and unorthodox workspaces has caused its share of physical strain. And collaborating with colleagues remotely for so long has only worsened a COVID 19-era ailment of another kind: Zoom fatigue.

WATCH | Zoom fatigue is taking its toll:

Zoom fatigue has become a pandemic side effect for people working from home. It has led to neck, back and shoulder pain, and made workers overly aware of their facial expressions because of constant videoconferencing. 2:01

“The novelty has worn off,” said Peter Flaschner, a director of the marketing firm Klick Health, who started working from his Toronto living room and kitchen a year ago.

He’s since turned a room upstairs into a temporary office. “We’ve become quite adept at this,” he said, referring to collaborating with colleagues remotely.

A year ago, few would have foreseen how widespread videoconferencing would become. Trials are held online, world leaders attend international summits virtually, and even Queen Elizabeth makes appearances via a webcam at Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth has been holding virtual meetings while staying at Windsor Castle during the pandemic. (Twitter/Royal Family)

Downloads of the pandemic’s hottest video chat software, Zoom, exploded. The company said last spring 300 million daily participants were meeting on the platform. This past week, it reported total revenue of $882.5 million US, up a whopping 369 per cent year-over-year for the quarter ending Jan. 31.

But with that added usage came increased complaints of Zoom fatigue, the term given to the unique brand of mental exhaustion caused by hours of videoconferencing on any app, including Microsoft’s Skype and Teams, Cisco Webex and Google Meet.

“I’ve never put my finger on why being on Zoom all day is so mentally and physically exhausting,” Giancarlo Fiorella, a Toronto-based investigator for the website Bellingcat, tweeted

“There’s a reason why TED talks are 18 minutes,” said Anthony Bonato, a Ryerson University mathematics professor, referring to the popular series of online lectures. “Zoom fatigue is real.”

Researchers at Stanford University recently considered what makes videoconferencing so tiring. They pointed to four factors:

  • The unnaturally prolonged simulation of close-up eye contact. 
  • The mental strain of watching other attendees for visual cues. 
  • A reduction in mobility from staying in the same spot. 
  • Constantly seeing yourself in real time. 

Their work was published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior. Stanford communication professor Jeremy Bailenson points out in the article, “The arguments are based on academic theory and research, but also have yet to be directly tested in the context of Zoom, and require future experimentation to confirm.”

Still, “this is a huge transformation to the way we normally talk,” fellow Stanford communication professor Jeff Hancock told CBC News over Zoom from his home in Palo Alto, Calif. “It’s like walking around with a mirror hanging around in front of us.”

He said Zoom fatigue is bound to affect people of different genders and races to varying degrees, particularly when it comes to the way individuals pay attention to — and perceive — their own image, what’s known as self-focused attention.

“There’s a lot of work in psychology that shows people that have higher levels of self-focused attention are more likely to feel anxious or even more likely to get depressed,” said Hancock, a B.C. native. “And we find the same kind of thing here [with Zoom fatigue].”

What to do about it

Bailenson recommends turning off “self-view” mode as much as possible, as well reducing the size of the videoconference window so it doesn’t take up the entire screen. He hopes platforms such as Zoom will change default settings so the user isn’t automatically faced with their own image any time they enter a video meeting, unless that’s what they choose.

As for the aches and pains, Laing, the physiotherapist, recommends doing small exercises between meetings to break up the time spent in front of the computer screen.

“It’s not about changing what they’re doing during those meetings … instead, it’s actually to get them to maximize the time between meetings,” he said.

Matthew Laing, a registered physiotherapist and the owner of Foundation Physiotherapy in Toronto, says it’s important to move around between online meetings. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

Laing recommends at-home workers get up — even for 30 seconds at a time — to do a few squats or stretches. Even going up and down stairs can help break the monotony and physical inertia.

“Just pacing around between meetings … can go a long way,” he said.

Others have a longer-term solution. While vaccines start to help fight the spread of COVID-19, the eventual return of face-to-face meetings may prove to be the only cure for Zoom fatigue.

“If we could do hybrid [meetings], that would be just great, if it means more people are able to participate,” said Dipika Damerla, a municipal councillor in Mississauga, Ont. A hybrid meeting would have a mix of virtual and in-person attendance, once public measures allow for it. 

The city, like many others, has been holding public meetings via videoconference.

And it hasn’t always gone according to plan.

A presenter at a recent council meeting asked for her presentation to be delayed.

“What issues are you having?” staff asked.

“My Powerpoint presentation isn’t opening,” the presenter replied, reflecting a recurring pandemic-era scenario.

Damerla herself shared a habit to which many videoconference participants can relate, even a year into the pandemic.

“I still start to speak with the mute button on.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending