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5 things to know about Sask.’s Phase 1 vaccine plan — including who decides where early doses go

It’s been just over a month since the Saskatchewan government delivered its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, starting with health-care workers in Regina. Over 27,000 first and second doses have since been administered to people in priority groups in 10 of the regions monitored by health officials, under the first phase of the province’s vaccine rollout plan. However, no vaccinations had been done as of Wednesday in the south central region — which includes Moose Jaw, the fourth-largest city in the province — the central west, or the southwest, to the puzzlement of some. How is the Saskatchewan government making decisions on Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout — and exactly who is making those decisions? Here’s what we know. The daily COVID updates provide some idea of the delivery schedule Bookmark this page, which is home to the COVID-19 updates provided each day by provincial health officials. The updates are typically released at around 1:30 p.m. CST. Recently, at the top of each release, the day’s new cases have taken a back seat to updates about the vaccination rollout, including where doses will be sent. On Tuesday, for example, officials revealed that the week’s shipment of 2,925 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses would be divided between the Regina, Fort Qu’Appelle and North Battleford areas, and would be used to continue vaccinating priority populations — health-care workers, people living in northern or remote parts of Saskatchewan, seniors, and long-term care home residents. No specific locations within those communities were disclosed, however. “We have a great deal of confusion when it comes to who is on the list, who’s in Phase 1,” said Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili. The complete tally of doses administered in the 13 regions is updated daily on this page. Here’s how things looked as of Wednesday: Transmission rates, active case loads and outbreaks are key factors The limited availability of vaccines and the logistics of handling the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — which needs to be refrigerated at extremely low temperatures — play a role in determining where the vaccines will go, said Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority. But so do transmission rates in an area, he added. “One of the other big factors in the distribution is the attack rates, or the current caseload in those areas of the province which also have a high likelihood for us to be successful in … dealing with the most vulnerable,” Livingstone said. The Ministry of Health added that locations are prioritized based on “a combination of risk criteria,” including an area’s outbreak rate. Moose Jaw is located in what the province calls the South Central 2 subzone. As of Wednesday, the subzone, with a population of 43,862, had only 22 active COVID-19 cases. By comparison, the neighbouring Regina and area subzone, with a population of 273,287, reported 575 active cases. Moose Jaw had only three active outbreaks. Regina had dozens. CBC News has asked the ministry what other risk criteria determine where Phase 1 vaccines will go. 4 regional command centres choose where to send vaccines The decisions of two key groups determine where vaccines will go, according to the ministry. “While priority sequencing is determined by the COVID-19 Immunization Planning Oversight Committee, specific locations and facilities are determined by local Integrated Health Incident Command Centres (IHICCs).” These groups are represented on the oversight committee: Ministry of Health. Ministry of Government Relations. Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency. Indigenous Services Canada. Saskatchewan Health Authority. The committee oversees a number of subcommittees, including the COVID-19 Immunization Planning Indigenous Advisory Committee, the COVID-19 Immunization Planning Municipal Advisory Committee and the COVID-19 Immunization Planning Clinical Experts Advisory Committee. These committees “help inform the development of the COVID-19 immunization program in the province,” according to the ministry. CBC News has requested a list of the organizations represented on each committee. The regional command centres that decide on specific vaccine shipment locations date back to the early days of the pandemic. There are four of them: Saskatoon, Regina, rural and north, run according to “a military command and control-based reporting structure,” according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority. The integrated command centres “must operationalize the sequencing framework created by the oversite committee and determine their clinics,” according to the ministry. “Vaccine chiefs” and “vaccine physician co-leads” work with the command centres to review delivery locations, the ministry says. CBC News has asked who is in charge of each command centre and where the vaccine chiefs rank in the pecking order. Vaccines are going to care homes with outbreaks. Some COVID-positive residents are among those getting doses Two facilities run by private home care operator Extendicare have had residents and staff receive COVID-19 vaccines: the Parkside home in Regina, which was the site of the worst long-term care outbreak in the province, and the Preston home in Saskatoon. “Fifty-two of 53 eligible [Preston] residents” were vaccinated as of last Friday, even as other residents were infected, according to Extendicare. All residents vaccinated at Parkside and Preston were either COVID-free at the time or had never tested positive for the virus that causes the illness, according to Extendicare — which is in line with a policy espoused by the Ministry of Health. “You are noteligible to receive COVID vaccine at this time if you have been diagnosed with COVID in the last 90 days,” the ministry recently said in a public service announcement touting the availability of vaccines for seniors living independently. But at least one care home in the province has seen COVID-positive residents vaccinated in recent days. Lakeview Pioneer Lodge, a private care home in Wakaw, Sask., had 28 COVID-positive residents vaccinated on Jan. 15, said Michael Lummerding, the home’s administrator and CEO. The home has been dealing with an outbreak since Dec. 30. “All residents were given the option to be vaccinated as per the medical health officer,” Lummerding said. “Staff members were given the opportunity to be vaccinated to ensure all doses were utilized and none were wasted.” Seventeen staff were vaccinated, along with two workers declining, he added. The vaccination of COVID-19 positive residents at Lakeview occurred three days after a letter saying the Standing Committee on Immunization approved of vaccinating long-term care residents infected with COVID-19. The letter was sent by Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab to medical health officers, public health nurse managers and immunization providers. “Residents of long-term care facilities and personal care homes, and persons aged 80 years and older living in the community, should be immunized, irrespective of whether and when they had SARS-CoV-2 infection,” as long as they had recovered from the acute illness and there were no other factors to prevent it, the letter said. “[T]hey are extremely vulnerable and there is no clear evidence on the length of disease immunity among these populations,” the letter stated. Cory Neudorf, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said that may refer to people who are no longer infectious but may still test COVID-positive. He said the move makes sense. “It is still unclear how long immunity from natural infection lasts, and there is some evidence of people who have been infected twice, though still rare at this point,” Neudorf said. “In order to speed up delivery of the vaccine and ensure people are not missed later on, it makes sense to try to immunize everyone in a long-term care facility regardless of whether they have had prior infection.” The National Advisory Committee on Immunization — from which the province took its cues in choosing priority groups for Phase 1 — made a discretionary recommendation earlier this month stating that if vaccines are in short supply, initial does may be prioritized for those who have not been infected with COVID-19. “In the context of limited supply, to allow for the protection of a larger number of at-risk individuals, vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccine may be delayed for three months [for someone infected with COVID-19], as reinfections reported to date have been rare within the first three months following infection,” the committee wrote on Jan. 12. “However, if challenging from a feasibility perspective, jurisdictions may elect to disregard prior infection status and vaccinate everyone in a given target group.” Visitations won’t resume just because care home residents are getting vaccinated Visitors have been strictly banned at all long-term care homes in the province for months now, with exceptions allowed only for those visiting dying patients. On Tuesday, Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, was asked if those restrictions might be relaxed in homes where people are being vaccinated. Shahab said that while clinical vaccine trials have shown 95 per cent effectiveness, the vaccine may not be that effective for everybody, leaving some residents still susceptible to COVID-19. “Once we have the vast majority of the population vaccinated — especially adults with underlying risk factors, but also broadly all adults — I think then we can cautiously start looking at how we relax our public health measures over the summer,” he said.

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New photos reveal more details about Google’s Pixel 9 Pro Fold

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Google’s secret new line of Pixel 9 phones isn’t that big of a secret anymore. Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) released new photos of the phones including the Pixel 9 Pro Fold from almost every conceivable angle.

Android Authority found the photos in the NCC archives and uploaded galleries of each of the four phones including the Pixel 9, 9 Pro, 9 Pro XL and 9 Pro Fold. They reveal some interesting details about the new Pixel phones.

The charging rates will be a little faster than the last generation of Pixel phones: Taiwanese authorities measured 24.12W for the base model, 25.20W for the Pro and 32.67W for the 9 Pro XL. The Pixel 9 Pro Fold, however, was the slowest of all of them at 20.25W. These numbers don’t often match up perfectly with the advertised ratings, so expect Google to be promoting higher numbers at its event.

Speaking of chargers, it looks like Google needed a bigger charger to power its new phones. Photos included in the NCC leak show each phone will come with a wall charger that’s around 45W depending on which model you purchase. The charger’s plug moved from the middle to the top of the brick.

The Google Pixel 9 Pro Fold can fully unfold.
NCC/Android Authority

The latest photo dump also shows the 9 Pro Fold unfolded for the first time. Google has moved the selfie camera to the inside screen for a wider field of view. The 9 Pro Fold also has a slimmer top and bottom, a reduced fold crease on the display and a full 180 degree unfolding angle to make a screen that’s just over 250mm or just under 10 inches.

These photos are the latest in a very long list of leaks of Google Pixel 9 photos. The last Pixel 9 leak came down yesterday showing two prototype models of the base and XL models. Google might look into buying a new combination lock for the high school locker where they apparently keep all their unreleased gear.

 

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Apple Wallet now supports Canada’s Presto card, with Express Transit

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Apple Wallet now supports the Presto transit card used in Ontario, Canada. The card can be used for travel in Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa.

The digital version of the card includes the Express Transit Pass feature, meaning that you can tap in and out without having to authenticate …

 

Ontario’s Presto card

The Presto contactless smart card system was first trialled back in 2007, and started the full rollout in 2009. The card can be used across 11 different transit systems in the areas covered.

Apple Wallet support was first promised many years ago, but things went quiet until a “coming soon” announcement back in May of this year.

Although the contactless terminals allow the use of credit and debit cards for regular fares, a Presto card is needed for monthly passes and discounted travel.

Apple Wallet support now available

The company made the announcement today.

Tap to ride with PRESTO on iPhone and Apple Watch.

Traveling around town just got easy with your PRESTO in Apple Wallet. With Express Mode, you don’t need to wake or unlock your iPhone or Apple Watch or open any apps to use PRESTO in Apple Wallet. Just hold your device near the reader to pay and go.

Ride, even when your iPhone needs a charge

If your iPhone needs a charge, PRESTO Card in Apple Wallet will still work. Power Reserve provides up to five hours of support, so you can still ride.

Reload on the go. 

With your PRESTO card on your iPhone and Apple Watch, you can easily load funds, right from Apple Wallet or PRESTO App. No need to visit a customer service outlet.

Extra security. Built right in 

PRESTO in Apple Wallet can take full advantage of the privacy and security features built into iPhone and Apple Watch. Your PRESTO card is stored on the device, which means Apple does not see when you use it—helping keep your data private and secure.

If you lose your iPhone or Apple Watch, you can use the Find My app to lock and help locate the device and suspend your PRESTO card or remotely erase the device and its cards.

Mobile Syrup reports that you can choose between adding your existing card to your Wallet, or creating a new one.

There are two ways to add a Presto card to Apple Wallet. You can either buy a new card or move your old one over using the Presto app.

That being said, for simplicity’s sake, unless you have a discounted Presto agreement like a student or senior plan, I think most riders will be happy just making a new card in Apple Wallet and loading funds from that app.

As with any digital card or pass, you can use either your iPhone or Apple Watch, but because each generates a unique virtual card number, you need to use the same device at both ends of your journey.

Express Transit feature

To minimize delays, Presto offers Express Transit support. This means that you don’t need to authenticate using Face ID or Touch ID on your iPhone, and you don’t need to double-tap the side button on your Apple Watch. Simply hold your device close to the pad and you’re good (a number of clues are used to detect fraudulent use).

Express Transit also has the advantage that it continues to work in Low Power mode, so you’ll still be able to complete your journey even if your phone or Watch is almost dead.

Image: Presto

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The OnePlus Pad 2 Wants to Be the iPad Air of Android Tablets

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The original OnePlus Pad was a decent all-around Android tablet, but it was not amazing in any one area. Now, OnePlus is back with a new tablet device that packs more power, has a better screen, more speakers, and a higher starting price. OnePlus offers an Android tablet alternative that costs less than the latest iPad Airs, though it seems like it’s hewing very close to the rendition from 2023. 

The OnePlus Pad 2 is a one-size-fits-all 12.1-inch 3K tablet. At $550 for 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, it’s $70 more than the first OnePlus Pad, though it starts with more memory and twice as much internal storage as the first go around’s paltry 128 GB. It’s bigger than the 11.6 LCD on last year’s Pad, though now it’s beefed its resolution to 3K (3000 x 2120) with a stated 600 nits typical and 900 nits peak brightness. It has a variable refresh rate between 30 and 144 Hz, though it’s still an LCD screen, the same as the 2023 OnePlus Pad.

Just like last year’s version, the new Pad supports Dolby Atmos, but it boasts a six-stereo speaker configuration on either side of the device. It may not be as specifically sound-tailored as the Lenovo Tab Plus, but what’s promised is a solid middle ground. 

Last year’s tablet used MediaTek Dimensity 9000 CPU, which was good enough for most applications but not exactly top of its class. The Pad 2 is now powered with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile chip. Gizmodo has already experienced some of the chip’s capabilities in Samsung’s latest foldables, and already it’s very promising. We haven’t yet had the chance to compare a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 tablet to Apple’s latest iPad Air with M2, though on the whole, M2 usually performs better than Qualcomm’s mobile chips in bare benchmark tests. How much that matters depends on what programs you expect to use on your tablet. 

Image: OnePlus

Every device maker thinks they need AI to compete, and OnePlus isn’t an outlier here. There are promised “AI Toolbox” features like AI text-to-speech and recording summaries. The AI Eraser 2.0 will also work like Google’s Magic Eraser to remove unwanted photo elements. 

There’s a new $99 OnePlus Stylo 2 and a $150 Oneplus Smart Keyboard to accompany the new tablet. Despite the size and price difference, there will be many similarities between last year’s and the 2024 model. The Pad 2 has the same 9,510 mAh battery as last year’s, plus the 67W “SUPERVOOC” fast charging. It promises 43 days of standby time, though in our experience, the first Pad’s lifespan and promised “one-month standby life” was far more modest in practice, lasting most of the day before needing a recharge. 

With a bigger screen, the upcoming Pad 2 is slightly heavier than last year’s rendition. It weighs about 1.3 pounds, so it’s exactly between the 11- and 13-inch iPad Airs or slightly more than the base 11-inch Galaxy Tab S9 (and far less than the humongous Tab S9 Ultra). It will be relatively thin at 6.49 mm, but it’s not beating the iPad Air’s 6.1 mm or the iPad Pro 13-inch’s holy grail 5.1 mm.

The first OnePlus Pad didn’t exactly break new ground in any one category, though it did show Android tablets had legs. We’ve seen attempts from Goole and its Pixel Tablet, though that, too, wasn’t the pioneer of Android tablets. A better chip and more speakers do seem promising, though, in its effort to be everything to everyone, we’ll need to see if it manages to stand out in any area.

The OnePlus Pad 2 is now available for preorder. It should be available on the OnePlus website starting July 30 and on Amazon starting August.

 

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