More restrictions could be on the horizon for Niagara Region if current COVID-19 trends continue.
As cases continue to rise, including 55 new positive tests over the weekend, the region’s acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, is urging everyone to limit their number of social contacts.
During a media briefing on Friday (Nov. 6), Hirji outlined the current state of affairs in Niagara when it comes to the fight against COVID-19. The region’s top public health officer said an increasing number of cases means more work needs to be done to limit interactions that lead to community spread of the virus.
“Right now is a time where we need to be seeing that social interaction really bend in Niagara, or we are going to be heading into that next range.”
On Friday, the province launched its new colour-coded COVID alert system, with graduating levels of restrictions in each range.
Niagara is currently placed in the yellow “protect” category, but according to Hirji, the latest trends put the region at risk of moving up into the orange “restrict” category, where further restrictions would be placed on businesses, including reduced hours, limited indoor dining, and fewer people allowed into stores and restaurants.
“If I am looking at the average over the past seven days, Niagara is at 37 cases weekly per 100,000 population, which puts us near the top end of that protect range.
“The most recent data on our positivity rate also puts us at the top end of the protect range.”
From a public health perspective, Hirji said increased vigilance on the part of younger people will be required if Niagara hopes to bend the curve of COVID-19.
“The numbers show that, quite clearly, the younger age group in their 20s and 30s is driving most of the spread, and has really diverged from the other age groups in terms of the number of cases.
“These are people in their 20s who are really making up the most new cases in that younger age group that is rising. This is the highest risk group we are focused on, where we need to encourage people to break up their social interactions”
Nine months into the ongoing pandemic, and with many already feeling the effects of COVID fatigue set in, Hirji said he understands the challenge that exists in motivating a public who seek a return to normalcy, but adds more work remains to be done if the number of cases are to come under control.
“With cases going up, I think many people may feel disheartened that they are doing quite a lot already, and it doesn’t seem to be enough yet.
“But the only way we address rising numbers is by placing restrictions on businesses, or us voluntarily limiting our social activity. It Is just the hard truth of the situation that nobody likes and nobody wants.”
Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
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Husky Energy is getting $41.5 million from the Newfoundland and Labrador government to keep the idled West White Rose offshore oil project going, particularly to “protect the option of re-starting” in the next year — although there is no guarantee that will happen.The announcement came Thursday morning in a news conference that involved Premier Andrew Furey, provincial Energy Minister Andrew Parsons, federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan and Husky senior vice-president Jonathan Brown. The money is coming from the government’s Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Fund, and is the first project to get financial help from that source.The $41.5 million is half the total project cost. Husky Energy will be kicking in the other half. Furey said the work related to the project will happen in 2021, and it will mean 331 jobs. Specifically, there will be 169 positions in project management and engineering, and 162 tradespersons at the Port of Argentia and a fabrication facility in Marystown.The money keeps the project — one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s biggest offshore operations — alive for now.> The signal you’ve received from Husky today is that they’re planning to move forward. – Andrew FureyIt’s known as “warm suspension,” and it’s only an option, not a certainty, that the project will fully re-start.”Everyone wants a crystal ball, but of course we don’t have one and we don’t have that certainty,” Furey told reporters following the conference.”But I think the signal you’ve received from Husky today is that they’re planning to move forward. They recognize the value of this project.”‘One heck of a Christmas surprise’: O’ReganO’Regan called the announcement “one heck of a Christmas surprise for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and their families.”He said the announcement was not merely a “government handout” but instead called it a “strategic investment” in the offshore oil industry, which was thrown into turmoil this spring when the COVID-19 pandemic caused oil prices to plummet. “We believe in our workers, we believe in this industry and we believe in its future,” O’Regan added. O’Regan acknowledged there will not be an entirely smooth road in the coming months. “Spring is coming and the vaccines are coming, but we have a hard winter ahead,” he said.A ‘first step back in the right direction,’ says Husky VPBrown, Husky’s senior vice-president for the Atlantic region, said the announcement will put the project in a better position for a 2022 restart, allowing project capability and skilled workers in the province to be retained.”This is the first step back in the right direction for the White Rose project,” Brown said. “But one of many steps still ahead.”Brown said the announcement is positive news in what has been a “year of tough decisions” on the project, which has suspended construction until 2021.He said work in Marystown will continue on projects like life boats, helipads and a flare tower, while the maintenance and preservation program will continue in Argentia.Opposition, NDP looking for guaranteesFollowing the press conference, NDP Leader Alison Coffin voiced concern over the project’s continued precariousness, citing the agreement’s reliance on unnamed “conditions.””We’ve been given no idea of what those conditions are,” she told reporters Thursday.”Do we have to put even more money into this? Are the conditions that the price of oil has to go up?…We have no guarantees.”PC Leader Ches Crosbie echoed a similar sentiment, saying Furey “should be moving heaven and earth” to restart the project. He also questioned the number of new jobs to come from the announcement.”What we’re hearing is that the 331 jobs that they’re claiming, more than half of those … are already in existence,” he said. “So the actual number of jobs created by all that money is not what they’re claiming it’s going to be.”Coffin said the money could have been better spent diversifying the economy, opening more work opportunities for those who may not be able to re-enter the oil and gas sector.”I think there are better ways to spend this money, to ensure that the workers who need to go back to work have employment,” she said.Latest development in a roller coaster ride for workers, projectThat Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Fund was announced Sept. 25, with the federal government allocating $320 million for the N.L. government to support direct and indirect employment. Furey appointed a task force with the same name, chaired by Bill Fanning and Karen Winsor, who were also on hand for Thursday’s announcement. The announcement is the latest development in a saga that started in April, when Husky announced it was stopping construction on the project, as the global pandemic battered oil markets. Hundreds of workers were laid off.At the time, the project was nearly 60 per cent complete.In October, Husky said construction was cancelled for 2021 as well.That news came just days after Cenovus Energy announced it would buy Husky Energy in a deal worth nearly $4 billion. In a statement, Cenovus said regarding Husky’s operations in the province “the WWR [West White Rose] project is key to extending the life of the White Rose field. As we have said before, all options are on the table and accelerating abandonment remains a possibility.”When asked about Cenovus walking away from the project once the merger is complete, Brown said it’s too early to know. He said his team is committed to continuing the West White Rose project.”I think that really understates the level of commitment that we’ve already shown to the project,” he said. “The responsibility everyone feels to completing the project and the effort … don’t underestimate the importance of that.”He said a review of Husky’s East Coast operations that the corporation had announced in September are also still ongoing.”We have to create a path forward,” Brown said.”Yes, I’d love to have a decision tomorrow, but I’d also like … the economy to stabilize, the oil prices to improve, because they’ll provide a better basis for that decision.”Take that decision too early, it might not be the one you want.”Husky has been asking both the federal and provincial governments for money to save West White Rose, but both governments have rejected the company’s pitch to buy a stake in the project.Newfoundland and Labrador, through its Crown corporation Nalcor Energy, already owns a five per cent stake in the project.Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
VIDEO: Massive fireball lights up the sky in parts of Canada and the US – KamloopsBCNow
Some people in parts of Canada and the United States witnessed a massive fireball streak through the sky yesterday.
Witnesses reported seeing a flash of light, and the moment was also caught on camera.
A massive #fireball lit up the sky over parts of the United States and Canada earlier today. Check out this footage that was caught from our #EarthCam‘s in Toronto. Could it be a meteor?? 👀☄️ @TourCNTower pic.twitter.com/Qxdz168p0I
— EarthCam (@EarthCam) December 2, 2020
Footage from the EarthCam at the CN Tower in Toronto shows the flash of light and points out the meteor-like object soar through the sky.
The Geminid meteor shower is taking place this month, and promises to be one of the most active meteor showers of the year.
Nasa sets prices for Moon dust – Bangkok Post
WASHINGTON: The US space agency Nasa awarded contracts to four companies on Thursday to collect lunar samples for US$1 to $15,000, rock-bottom prices that are intended to set a precedent for future exploitation of space resources by the private sector.
“I think it’s kind of amazing that we can buy lunar regolith from four companies for a total of $25,001,” said Phil McAlister, director of Nasa’s Commercial Spaceflight Division.
The contracts are with Lunar Outpost of Golden, Colorado for $1; ispace Japan of Tokyo for $5,000; ispace Europe of Luxembourg for $5,000; and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California for $15,000.
The companies plan to carry out the collection during already scheduled unmanned missions to the Moon in 2022 and 2023.
The firms are to collect a small amount of lunar soil known as regolith from the Moon and to provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material.
Ownership of the lunar soil will then be transferred to NASA and it will become the “sole property of NASA for the agency’s use under the Artemis program.”
Under the Artemis program, Nasa plans to land a man and a woman on the Moon by 2024 and lay the groundwork for sustainable exploration and an eventual mission to Mars.
“The precedent is a very important part of what we’re doing today,” said Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations.
“We think it’s very important to establish the precedent that the private sector entities can extract, can take these resources but Nasa can purchase and utilize them to fuel not only NASA’s activities, but a whole new dynamic era of public and private development and exploration on the Moon,” Gold said.
“We must learn to generate our own water, air and even fuel,” he said. “Living off the land will enable ambitious exploration activities that will result in awe inspiring science and unprecedented discoveries.”
Any lessons learned on the Moon would be crucial to an eventual mission to Mars.
“Human mission to Mars will be even more demanding and challenging than our lunar operations, which is why it’s so critical to learn from our experiences on the Moon and apply those lessons to Mars,” Gold said.
“We want to demonstrate explicitly that you can extract, you can utilize resources, and that we will be conducting those activities in full compliance with the Outer Space Treaty,” he said. “That’s the precedent that’s important. It’s important for America to lead, not just in technology, but in policy.”
The United States is seeking to establish a precedent because there is currently no international consensus on property rights in space and China and Russia have not reached an understanding with the United States on the subject.
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is vague but it deems outer space to be “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
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