Bureaucratic turf concerns prevented a highly trained team of infection prevention and control experts from helping Ontario long-term care homes in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, an independent commission has heard.
Dr. Gary Garber, the former medical director of infection prevention and control at Public Health Ontario, testified last week that his department was asked to maintain a “low profile” in order to avoid being “subsumed” by the newly created Ontario Health.
The reorganization, which the province said would modernize the health-care system and save millions of dollars, occurred on Jan. 22, 2020. The next day, a Toronto hospital admitted the first patient in Canada with the novel coronavirus.
In March, when a growing number of long-term care homes in the province were reporting COVID-19 outbreaks, Garber said 25 to 30 highly trained experts from Public Health Ontario watched from the sidelines.
“At the time, I was explaining it to people that COVID really was the IPAC (infection prevention and control) Olympics, that we had people who had been training for years,” Garber told the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.
Instead, he said, the team was told not to get involved.
“We were basically told, ‘No, we don’t have the bandwidth for that. No, we can’t do that. No, it’s … the health unit’s responsibility to do that.”
Public Health Ontario said in a statement to The Canadian Press that it did not prohibit its infection prevention specialists from going into nursing homes, but it noted that “with a small team at PHO, it was not possible to meet every request.”
The commission has heard about numerous failures in infection prevention and control in nursing homes in the pandemic’s first wave, from not isolating sick residents from healthy ones to the lack, or misuse, of personal protective equipment.
In its first set of interim recommendations to the Minister of Long-Term Care on Oct. 23, 2020, the commission said major improvements in infection prevention and control were needed. It also said inspections teams should be sent in to nursing homes immediately to evaluate and improve IPAC protocols.
Garber said the infection prevention and control experts were finally allowed to help out the homes in late April.
He said one of his most frustrating moments came in March when he was on the line with a nursing home that had reported only a couple of COVID-19 cases.
“Can you cohort? Can you move the sick people? Can you take the ones you know have COVID in one place, the sick people in another and separate them from the rest?” Garber recalled asking the home, which he did not name.
“And the answer I was told was no. And it was the one time — maybe one of the few times in my career that I just felt helpless because I just knew what was going to happen.”
He said about 90 per cent of the residents in that home became infected with COVID-19.
The commission is investigating how the novel coronavirus spread in the long-term care system and will submit its final report on April 30, 2021.
Hearings are not open to the public, but transcripts of testimony are posted online days or weeks later.
On a frozen Minnesota lake, political antagonisms melt away – CNN
‘People are a lot more optimistic’
Laughter overcomes politics
Politics and the public good – Gazette
The ongoing provincial election is unusual in more ways than one.
But faculty members from the Department of Political Science at Memorial are helping voters make sense of the situation through public engagement.
Dr. Kelly Blidook, an associate professor in the department, made a video explainer to help people understand Newfoundland and Labrador’s current political circumstances.
A question from anti-poverty advocate Dan Meades prompted Dr. Blidook to make the video, he says.
“There wasn’t anything out there that kind of captured the whole thing,” he said, adding that interviews with media can be piecemeal because they are usually reactionary and focused.
With the video, he hopes to provide a beginners’ overview of the situation.
“I tried to think of it as a regular lecture for an introductory level class, or even for a high school class,” Dr. Blidook said. “It was meant to bring together a lot of different ideas and try to figure out what the best path is.”
Watch the video below.
The video is one of several ways that he is contributing to public discourse about the election, which moved to mail-in ballots only when the province went into another pandemic-related shutdown in mid-February.
Dr. Blidook is also a regular commentator for CBC. He also does interviews with other media outlets and contributes to conversations online via Twitter.
“Academics, in Canada at least, are significantly funded by the public,” Dr. Blidook said.
Writing books and articles is one way he and his colleagues provide a public good, he says, but most people won’t read them. Social media and media interviews are a way to share knowledge and spur conversation in real time.
Dr. Blidook is one of several instructors and faculty members in the department who are sharing their political science expertise with the public.
“This election is tough to navigate — both as a “regular” citizen and an expert on elections and voting,” Dr. Bittner said.
She says she values the behind-the-scenes conversations she has with colleagues as they try to make sense of both the election and what it means for the province.
And along with lawyer Lyle Skinner, his colleague Dr. Alex Marland helped with Dr. Blidook’s video content.
“I’m grateful to my colleagues for sharing their expertise on social media and in traditional media interviews,” Dr. Bittner said.
A positive response
Dr. Blidook says the response to his video, which he uploaded to YouTube a week ago, has been largely positive so far.
The 22-minute video has almost 600 views and sparked discussion on Twitter. In the meantime, Political Science faculty and instructors continue to do media interviews as the election continues.
Amid the ongoing discussion, Dr. Bittner says that nobody has a crystal ball for the province’s future. But she hopes the importance of planning and preparation is one takeaway from the “pandemic” election.
“We have much to learn from this. It is my hope that on a go-forward basis, we take political processes more seriously in the province.”
Terri Coles is a communications advisor with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
'He's just checked out of politics': Kushner disappears from Trump's inner circle – CTV News
As Donald Trump plotted his Conservative Political Action Conference appearance last week, and a broader, more-robust plan to return to politics as an omnipresent disruptor, one person was conspicuously absent from the confab.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was notably not on the list of advisers assisting the former president. Kushner, who previously served as chief adviser-cum-micromanager with far-reaching responsibilities and had virtual carte blanche, has tapped out, say several people who worked closely with Kushner at the White House or are familiar with his thinking and told CNN on background in order to maintain relationships.
“Right now, he’s just checked out of politics,” says one person, echoing the mindset of Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, who is so over the political bubble she has told friends and colleagues of late to not utter anything to do with Washington.
Given Trump’s election loss and current out-of-power position, Kushner’s absence from the aftermath follows a pattern critics have previously pointed out: being present for the wins and MIA from the losses. A person with close ties to Kushner told CNN that Trump’s son-in-law is enjoying “some much needed time with his family,” and his retreat is unrelated to the ebb and flow of the former president’s popularity.
During the administration, Kushner was more than happy to speak on behalf of the moments that turned out well for the White House — but also conveniently skip the parts embroiled in turmoil.
As far back as 2017, when Trump’s health care plan floundered and failed, Kushner and his family were on the slopes of Aspen, Colorado. In 2018, they were vacationing in Florida amid the government shutdown, even though the White House insisted Kushner was actively leading negotiations. And in 2019, when Trump was under fire for multiple issues, from background checks to comments about Jews and Democrats, the couple was having downtime in Wyoming, something even Trump noted with a tweet of a photo of them on vacation: “Two incredible people. I can’t believe they’re not working (few work harder)!”
A Trump spokeswoman did not provide an on the record response to CNN’s request for comment.
It’s not clear, however, who is instigating this — at least for now — breakup. Some who have been in contact with Kushner place it at the feet of being done with his father-in-law’s antics. Sources closer to Trump say he’s angry with his son-in-law over the election loss.
TRUMP’S REGULARS, MINUS ONE
That Kushner has now developed anathema to his father-in-law’s political appetite is questionable in its timing, an indicator that Kushner again is putting space between his image and Trump’s, in the wake of the delusional flow of falsehoods after Election Day and the deadly Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Yet several people told CNN that Kushner is truly — this time — effectively done with Trump’s rhetoric.
Kushner and Ivanka Trump got out of their posh Washington rental home soon after Jan. 20, the last moving trucks rolling towards their new high-rise, beachside Miami rental departing within 24 hours of President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Another person familiar with Kushner’s new chapter, says he wants closure and a fresh start, one that doesn’t include advising his father-in-law on a daily basis.
Yet two other people who spoke with CNN indicated the schism was instigated by Trump, who has been telling those in his inner circle he is angry with Kushner.
Late last week, when Trump convened what he believes is his strongest political brain trust for a meeting to discuss his political future he did not include Kushner. The group looked at the 2022 midterms and, more and more likely, say people who have spoken to Trump of late, a presidential run in 2024.
Ensconced in Trump’s private quarters at Mar-a-Lago, his club/post-White House headquarters/home in Palm Beach, the advisers consisted in part of former campaign manager Bill Stepien, adviser Jason Miller, former White House social media director Dan Scavino, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and another former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who Kushner fired at Trump’s request last summer and replaced with Stepien.
On the table was a push to create a super PAC to raise money, as well as a broader discussion of who would do what as Trump determined where and when and to whom to dole his outsized influence within a fractured Republican Party.
For Kushner not to be present at a strategic roundtable struck many who know his deep involvement in every aspect of Trump’s political messaging as odd.
“That’s about as 180 a turn as he could ever make,” said a third person, who worked inside the Trump White House with Kushner. “This was a guy who for four years did everything on behalf of President Trump. He lived that job.”
Another former White House colleague expressed surprise at Kushner’s decision to walk away, adding there was nothing in the administration’s portfolio that Kushner didn’t “meddle” in, according to this person.
From domestic policy, foreign policy, staffing, speechwriting, national security, criminal justice reform, budget, COVID-19, Kushner had a hand in it all.
“He was an ‘expert’ in everything,” said the former colleague, who noted Kushner’s flitting from one topic to the next was often the bane of some senior West Wing staff’s existence.
But Kushner’s — and similarly Ivanka Trump’s — ability to manoeuvre in and out of topics, day-in and day-out, was due in part to being family.
“It’s not like Trump could fire his son-in-law, or give him a nickname and attack him on Twitter,” said the person who worked inside the Trump White House.
As such, Kushner was able to be a chief strategist and an influential voice for the then-president.
Not so much now.
Two of the people who spoke to CNN say Kushner’s relationship with Trump, son-in-law or no, has been fractured since Trump’s re-election loss.
Trump, they say, has at times in the last several weeks expressed to those close to him that he faults Kushner for losing.
A person who speaks with Kushner frequently strongly denied any contention between the two men, noting Kushner and Trump met for lunch Wednesday in Florida at Trump’s Doral property.
Kushner, however, would be a plausible surrogate, seeing it was he who orchestrated much of the administration’s response to, essentially, most things, from the economy to immigration reform and ultimately coronavirus — and who can forget Kushner’s pledge last April during an interview that the United States would be “really rocking again” by July?
“We know the boss isn’t going to blame himself” (for losing the election), said one source speaking to the nature of their relationship, highlighting Trump’s habitual avoidance of personal responsibility.
However, if it is Trump who is keeping Kushner at arm’s length, or vice versa, one thing is clear to those who have talked to Kushner in recent weeks: “He wants a break,” said a person familiar with his thinking. But the source predicted that after a cooling-off period, and if and when Trump decides to launch a 2024 campaign, Kushner would likely come back into the fold as an adviser.
For now, however, Kushner is more than willing to see Trump Jr. or even Parscale assume the role of Trump whisperer and loyal first lieutenant, though Kushner’s close associate said he keeps tabs on Stepien, Parscale and Miller, and speaks with them frequently.
Several of the people who spoke to CNN noted Kushner’s peripheral interests still include an ongoing focus on the Middle East, brokering peace deals and helping ensure they take hold.
He would also like to be part of advancing criminal justice reform, such as reviving parole in the federal prison system, something that was eliminated in 1984 and Kushner feels deserves reexamination.
“He is trying to be someone you would go to on the Republican side to put a deal together,” said the person familiar with Kushner’s potential career path.
Yet for the foreseeable future, don’t expect to spot Kushner among the former presidential advisers eagerly volunteering for a second tour.
“The drama of politics wore him down. Eventually, Trump wears everyone down,” the person said.
Younger, FOMO-inclined adults warned about investment tip fraud via social media – Richmond News
Chris Schultz, former Argos lineman and CFL broadcaster, dies at 61 – The Globe and Mail
Populations Eligible for Phase Two COVID-19 Vaccination | Ontario Newsroom – Government of Ontario News
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Galaxy M31 July 2020 security update brings Glance, a content-driven lockscreen wallpaper service
Media18 hours ago
Restaurant owner makes last-ditch effort on social media as business plummets – CTV Toronto
Business21 hours ago
BC residents will not be able to select their preferred version of the COVID-19 vaccine – BC News – Castanet.net
Health8 hours ago
How COVID-19 reshaped Calgary, one year after first case – Calgary Herald
Health19 hours ago
Ontario to roll out next phase of COVID-19 vaccine strategy tomorrow; age and risk to be prioritized – CTV Toronto
Media23 hours ago
Penguins alter social media post, admit wrongdoing – National Post
News12 hours ago
Ontario expecting shorter timeline for COVID-19 vaccine rollout after good news on dosing and AstraZeneca – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Health14 hours ago
EU to extend COVID vaccine export controls to end of June: sources – Reuters
Science17 hours ago
There's a Robodog Walking Around the Site of the SpaceX Starship Explosion – Futurism