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'I'm not aware of where she got her numbers': Federal government casts doubt on Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine rollout – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Hours after Ontario’s health minister announced that the province expects to receive more than two million COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months, the federal government says it’s unsure where those numbers came from.

Liberal MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Darren Fisher, exposed the apparent disconnect between the feds and the provincial government during an interview with Evan Solomon on CTV’s Power Play Wednesday.

“I’m not aware of where she got her numbers,” he said. “I am not sure what provinces have for possible numbers that might come forward depending on which contract yields a successful and approved-by-Health Canada vaccine.”

News of Christine Elliott’s announcement made its way to question period in Ottawa with MPs pressing Health Minister Patty Hajdu for confirmation on the specifics of the rollout, which she could not do.

“In terms of distribution, we will work out with provinces and territories as we have with other things like personal protective equipment, rapid tests, a ratio or sharing approach that will work to ensure that all Canadians have access to viable and safe vaccines,” she said.

According to Elliott, the Ontario government is expecting to receive some 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine between January and March of 2021.

The Government of Canada has already signed deals with Pfizer for a minimum of 20 million doses of its vaccine candidate and 56 million doses from Moderna, neither of which have been approved by Health Canada.

On Wednesday, Pfizer said Phase 3 of its trial vaccine was found to be 95 per cent effective with officials saying they plan to seek emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the coming days.

Similarly, Moderna has said preliminary analysis suggests their vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective and is also nearing the point at which it can be submitted to the USFDA for emergency use authorization.

Recipients of either vaccine will be required to take two doses 21 days apart, so it’s likely that the initial shipments will only be enough to protect about 1.2 million Ontarians.

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health said Elliott’s comments were based on “early conversations with the federal government and using a per capita model.”

“While a vaccine is still months away, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” the spokesperson said in an email.

With files from CP24’s Chris Fox.

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Ontario government to spell out whether people can have winter holiday gatherings – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Ontario government is expected to spell out its guidelines today for celebrating the upcoming winter holidays as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Toronto and Peel Region are currently under the grey or lockdown level in the province’s tiered COVID-19 alert system, with those restrictions to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.

Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.

The province’s top doctor said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over 28 days to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower.

Five other regions — Hamilton, Durham, Halton, York and Waterloo — are currently classified as red zones, which caps social gatherings at five people indoors and 25 outdoors.

Ontario’s most recent modelling showed the province is on track to see up to 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December, though those projections are expected to be updated Thursday.

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1 in 3 Toronto schools, nearly half of Brampton schools, have active COVID-19 cases – 680 News

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

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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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