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Nurses sound alarm on social media, as health officials call for calm and accuracy –



A growing chorus of British Columbian nurses are taking to social media to warn people to stay home, but health officials say while the calls are well-intentioned, not all claims are accurate and can stoke fear. 

In numerous social media posts, nurses beg people to stay home, others urge anybody with access to masks, gloves or gowns, to email their health authority. Nurses say they need people to take the coronavirus threat more seriously.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix reassured the public Monday, saying medical supply shortages were not, as yet, a concern. They both also underscored the need to stay home to protect health-care workers as the number of novel coronavirus cases in the province hit 472 on Monday. Thirteen people have died.

Health officials say hunkering down at home is the best action to stop the pathogen’s spread so it doesn’t spike and overwhelm health-care systems.

A call to action

On Saturday, Jenny O’Mahoney went live on Facebook and urged watchers in an emotional plea, to “stay home.” O’Mahoney, a Vancouver nurse on maternity leave, says  what she’s hearing from colleagues who are at Vancouver General Hospital has her very concerned.

“There is a very real chance that I will be called back from my maternity leave — and then I need to decide whether it’s safe for me to come home to my children. I have friends sleeping in their garages because they don’t want to go home,” said O’Mahoney in the live feed on March 21 shared thousands of times.

“I’m actually shaking … I’m begging you to stay home.”

Jenny O’Mahony says she fears being called back from maternity leave to work as a nurse in Vancouver hospitals where she says health workers have been told they probably will be exposed to the virus. (Jenny O’Mahony/Facebook)

Another woman, who identified herself as a nurse at Surrey Memorial Hospital, also sounded an alert.

“We are seeing a lot of people walk through these doors with COVID-19 symptoms,” the woman says. “We have a lot of people in critical care currently at the hospital. Our wards are getting full.”

A woman who identified as a nurse at Surrey Memorial went on social media urging people to ‘stay home’ to protect health-care workers. (Facebook)

‘Doesn’t reflect the situation accurately’

But Dixon Tam, a spokesperson for Fraser Health told CBC that the Surrey Memorial nurse’s call to action — though well-intentioned —was inaccurate and misinformed.

Tam said emergency room visits at the hospital are at an “all-time low” in the past five years, adding the hospital is currently at 90 per cent occupancy.

“It’s an unfortunate video that doesn’t reflect the situation accurately,” he wrote in an email.

“We regret that she felt she needed to share this, as it has negative consequences by creating fear in the communities and she shared information without confirming her data.”

When should you go to the hospital and other questions answered here:

Doctors answer your questions about the coronavirus in Canada, including when to go to the hospital and how health care workers can protect their families. 5:14

Christine Sorensen, the president of the B.C. Nurses Union, said these nurses are sharing concerns currently shared by thousands of nurses across the province — but emphasized the need for information shared on social media to be accurate.

“I’m asking every one of our members at this time to refrain from posting public messages of this nature, even if they are intended to reinforce the message of the public health officer,” Sorensen said. 

Sorensen said nurses and other health-care workers have been working with the Ministry of Health to make sure hospitals have enough space when needed.

“My message to all nurses is this: please focus on your patients and providing the best quality patient care you can and let the provincial health officer focus on the message to the public.”

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at 

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Four-year-old Jets fan takes the social media spotlight – CTV News Winnipeg



A four-year-old Winnipeg Jets fan making the most of self-isolation with his parents has garnered the attention of the National Hockey League and the Winnipeg Jets along with hundreds of other people across social media.

Ryan Palsson convinced his mom to record a video of him singing both the Canadian National Anthem and the Star Spangled Banner. Ryan’s mom says he is a huge Jets fan and normally likes watching Stacey Nattrass, the NHL national anthem-singer for the Jets, belt out the anthems.

But with home-isolation and the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the NHL to postpone the remainder of the season, the boy from Riverton, Man., decided to bring some of the game to his home.

Decked out in his Winnipeg Jets jersey and equipped with a toy microphone, and after receiving an introduction from his mom behind the camera, Ryan belted out the national anthems.

“They were all pretty bored, so he wanted to be introduced just like they do at the Jets game,” said Ryan’s mom Angie.

“He loves to sing. He’s always been very keen on music. When he listens, he seems to very intently listen to what’s being played.”

Since posting the videos, Angie said both the NHL and the Winnipeg Jets have asked to share the videos, and Stacey Nattrass even commented on the videos.

Angie said Ryan got his musical talents from his great grandmother, Dorothy Johnson, who played with Johnny and his Musical Mates, a folk band that gained popularity in the 1950s across Manitoba.

“I think she always saw something special in this one,” Angie said.

As for why Ryan wanted to post the videos, he has a very simple answer.

“Because I like singing,” he said.

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Trio of Lethbridge groups launch social media campaign to support businesses affected by COVID-19 – Lethbridge News Now



Those who participate will be entered to win one of 10 $100 gift cards to support businesses in Lethbridge. From those who post on social media, 10 random names will be drawn, and they will get a $100 gift certificate to the business they tagged in their post.

There is no limit on the amount of posts residents can make.

Ted Stilson, Executive Director of the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ, said this is the second time they’ve done a campaign similar to this.

“Now more than ever, being in it together is an important thing to do for the success of our downtown businesses and businesses throughout the community,” he said.

“We know that a lot of our businesses, as Trevor said, are pivoting into different business models, which is exciting, and we just need to continue on promoting and supporting those local businesses.”

The campaign will kick off Monday, April 6 and is set to run until May 18.

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Edmonton Institution inmate punished for speaking to media about COVID-19 –



An inmate at the maximum security Edmonton Institution has been punished for speaking to the media, with his phone privileges suspended.

Jonathan Henry, 32, is serving a ten-year prison sentence for drugs and weapons-related offences. He is scheduled to apply for parole in May. 

In a story published by CBC News last Monday, Henry expressed concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I have chronic asthma,” Henry said. “I take medication for high blood pressure, so I’m more susceptible to catching whatever this thing is.” 

He also complained about the reaction from some prison staff to the pandemic. 

“They think it’s a big joke,” he said. “You’ll ask for something like a request form and he’ll pretend to sneeze on the request form. Like, it isn’t funny to me.”

Henry’s wife said that behind prison walls, there was an immediate reaction to the CBC story. 

“Apparently the guards had a meeting about him that morning,” Deanna Henry said. “I think somebody might have heard it on the radio. So they called a meeting and talked about him that morning and they decided then that they would be suspending his [phone] card for 45 days.” 

Jonathan Henry, 32, is serving a ten-year prison term for drug and weapons offences. (Deanna Henry )

All visits to the prison are forbidden due to COVID-19, so phone calls are the only way she can stay in touch with her husband. 

“I’m very upset about it,” Deanna Henry said. “I mean, this is a global pandemic that is happening right now. And for them to just cut it off for 45 days when that’s the only way for me and the kids to be able to speak to him. It’s very concerning to me.”

Henry’s lawyer calls the prison’s response “draconian”.  

“It’s appalling,” Amanda Hart-Dowhun told CBC News. “It looks like they are trying to prevent prisoners from talking and from telling the public how they are actually being treated.” 

‘Punish and muzzle’ 

As soon as she heard about the phone suspension, Hart-Dowhun sent an urgent letter to prison warden Gary Sears. 

“The suspension of Mr. Henry’s phone privileges as punishment for speaking to the media about the concerns of inmates during a pandemic creates a chilling effect,” she wrote. “That action will discourage inmates from voicing any concerns about their quality of care during this time.” 

Defence lawyer Amanda Hart-Dowhun calls the suspension of telephone privileges for 45-days ‘draconian.’ (Janice Johnston/CBC News )

On Friday, Hart-Dowhun received a response from the warden. The letter was provided to CBC News. 

In it, Sears appeared to suggest Henry had broken prison rules by speaking to a CBC journalist. 

He quoted from the inmate handbook, noting, “Third party calling is not permitted under any circumstances. Any misuse of telephone privileges, particularly third party calling, may result in an inmate’s phone privileges being restricted or suspended for a period of time.”

The response didn’t satisfy Hart-Dowhun or Henry’s wife. 

Deanna Henry said her husband was never given a copy of the inmate’s handbook when he was transferred to Edmonton Institution. 

Hart-Dowhun sent a letter Friday to the Public Safety Minister, the Commissioner of Correctional Services Canada and correctional investigator Ivan Zinger, asking for their help to resolve the situation.

“I ask that you take steps to intervene in this decision and allow Mr. Henry to have contact with the community during this health crisis,” she wrote.

“This censoring of an inmate in the wake of him publicizing his fears and the conditions inside of prison is appalling. It gives the appearance that CSC will punish and muzzle any inmate that publicly voices concerns about their treatment during this pandemic.”

The correctional investigator declined comment on the case in an email to CBC News, but said he would investigate the situation. 

Inmate rules for speaking to media 

Esther Mailhot, a CSC communications officer, responded to a request for comment from CBC News with a reminder that journalists “are required to inform CSC of their requests” to interview an inmate. 

Mailhot added that prisoners are also “responsible for informing their parole officer of their interest in being interviewed by the media.”   

She declined to comment on Henry’s case, citing privacy reasons. 

Meanwhile, Deanna Henry sits by the phone, willing it to ring. 

“It’s extremely frustrating and we’re sitting here worried about him,” she said. “We don’t know if maybe he’s going to start showing symptoms and has no way of calling us and letting us know.”

The most recent CSC statistics indicate three inmates at the Edmonton Institution have been tested for COVID-19. Two of the tests have been negative, while the third result is pending. 

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