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U.S. to set aside 6,000 guest worker visas for Central Americans

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By Ted Hesson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) –The Biden administration will set aside 6,000 seasonal guest worker visas for people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in the coming months, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Tuesday, a small step toward establishing more legal pathways to the United States from the region.

The 6,000-visa allotment would be part of an additional 22,000 H-2B visas made available to employers in the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, DHS said in a statement.

The increase has been sought by business groups but opposed by labor unions amid high unemployment related to the coronavirus pandemic.

President Joe Biden has grappled in recent months with a rising number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, including families and unaccompanied children. In March, about 85,000 of the 172,000 migrants caught at the border came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Biden officials have urged migrants not to travel to the border while systems are established that allow them to seek asylum from their home countries or come to the United States through other legal pathways.

The extra H-2B visas would be in addition to the annual allotment of 66,000 visas for the fiscal year, a tally that was exhausted in February. The visas are used for landscaping, food processing and hotel work, among other seasonal jobs.

If the 6,000 visas are not used by companies seeking to hire people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, they will go back to the general visa pool sometime before Sept. 30, a DHS official and a second person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The visa carve-out for the so-called Northern Triangle countries “demonstrates DHS’s commitment” to creating more legal avenues for migration from the region, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Ross Colvin and Alistair Bell)

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Husband regrets anti-vaxx stance as wife lies in a coma 800 km from home – CBC.ca

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UPDATE — Oct. 24, 2021: Dwayne Binette said doctors performed a C-section Saturday on his wife, Krystal, who delivered a healthy baby weighing just over three pounds. Krystal remains in an induced coma.  


EARLIER STORY:

A former self-described “anti-vaxxer” says he regrets not listening to the science as his pregnant wife lies in a medically induced coma 800 kilometres from home. 

Now he’s speaking out in the hope he can convince other vaccine-hesitant people to change their minds before it’s too late.

Dwayne Binette, 43, lives in Fort St. John, B.C., with his 39-year-old wife and two children, aged 11 and 3. There, he says, he was surrounded by people who didn’t take the risks of COVID-19 seriously.

Under 60 per cent of eligible people in northeastern British Columbia are fully vaccinated, and patients in need of critical care are being transferred to other parts of the province to reduce stress on local hospitals.

Binette says he and his wife had started talking to their doctor about vaccination when their 11-year-old came home with mild flu-like symptoms on Oct. 4. Soon after, both he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19.

His wife, a member of the Prophet River First Nation who is 27 weeks pregnant, deteriorated and by Oct. 11 had to be taken to hospital. She is now in a medically induced coma in New Westminster, roughly an 800 kilometre flight or 1,200 km drive from Fort St. John.

She is hooked up to an ECMO machine, which replaces lung function in a bid to try to save her life.

Binette says his children, 11 and 3, are having a hard time understanding why their mother isn’t home. (Dwayne Binette)

Binette says doctors are uncertain about the survival chances of his wife or their unborn baby and every day he wakes up hoping they are still alive.

“When you’re away from your wife who’s dying in the hospital and you’re under quarantine and your kids are asking where mom is, I mean, it’s pretty tough,” he said.

Binette spoke to CBC News about why he didn’t believe the science of COVID-19 vaccines and how he hopes other people can have their mind changed. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Dwayne, you said that before all this, you were a pretty open anti-vaxxer. That’s how you described yourself. Can you tell me about that?

Yes, you’re correct, I was. I was pretty much against this thing.

“Is this safe? Is this safe for my pregnant wife?” I was pretty dug in. I was going to wait and see. Obviously, I made the wrong choice.

WATCH | B.C.’s provincial health officer debunks myths about the vaccine and pregnancy:

No risk to pregnant women from COVID vaccine: Dr. Bonnie Henry

1 month ago

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is encouraging people who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 0:58

Why is it that you didn’t believe it when the government said everybody should get vaccinated, and there were news reports saying the safest thing is to get vaccinated — why didn’t that connect with you?

I think in my area there’s a lot of distrust toward the government. We haven’t had a fair shake out here. So I think that plays a part. Also, there’s a large amount of misinformation out there, especially with social media. It seems to play off of that and instead of doing the right thing and talking to the health professionals — doctors and nurses dealing with this pandemic — people seem to want to be able to just believe what they read on the internet, which isn’t a correct way to do things.

I mean, if I could go back and change things, I definitely would. I was pretty set in my ways against getting this vaccination. I had multiple arguments with the family, with people on social media. It turns out that vaccination is a life-saving thing. 

When you talk about not getting a fair shake, what are you talking about?

There’s quite a few things in this region and the north, we seem to be left out. We’re a smaller population than bigger cities, so it doesn’t feel like our opinion counts. So when you have a lot of the decisions being made about our area from a different location, it’s sometimes hard to accept. 

As well, government doesn’t seem to consider how it affects us up here. They seem to want to make decisions without even knowing how that will affect us in this area.

So that just turns into a knee-jerk, you don’t believe anything they tell you?

Exactly.

You’ve changed your mind because of this tragic situation. But there were tragic situations you could have heard about and it didn’t change your mind. So what would have changed your mind aside from your wife getting really, really sick?

I think having so much misinformation out there is a big thing.

I think having government do things in a way that is more comforting to people, so that they can explain things, in a way, and not just come down and order it to be done or else there is going to be consequences. This would make a real big difference. 

You would know people who didn’t believe [COVID] was a problem and, unfortunately, there’s some people who might listen to your story and still not change their mind. They’ll just think it’s another bit of media hype.

I would suggest to them this is a life-saving measure. If you see a speeding truck about to hit one of your family members, you would jump into action and save their life. This is the same thing we have. We have a chance to save our friends’ and families’ lives, and we need to take that opportunity to do that. We need to get vaccinated.

This is for real. This is a life-saving measure. They’re not guaranteeing that you won’t get COVID [after] being vaccinated, but what they’re saying is this will save your life. You won’t end up in such a serious condition as my wife is in. So, if I could go back in months, I would have our whole family vaccinated and her life would be saved right now. I am sure of it.

Listen to the interview below:

Daybreak North7:35‘I was wrong’: Former anti-vaxxer on why he and his wife didn’t believe in getting shots until it was too late

A former self-described anti-vaxxer says he regrets not listening to the science as his pregnant wife lies in a medically-induced coma 1,200 km from home. 7:35

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Canadian military to provide COVID-19 support in Saskatchewan – Global News

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Front-line workers battling the fourth wave of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan are about to get some much-needed help from the Canadian military.

In a tweet Friday night, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair stated the armed forces are on their way to the province to provide the necessary support to fight the pandemic.

Blair added discussions are also underway for additional Canadian Red Cross personnel to deploy to the province, which is suffering the worst weekly death rate in the country.

He said the federal government would have “more to say on the situation in (Saskatchewan) shortly.”

The move comes as Saskatchewan started shipping ICU patients to Ontario to help deal with packed intensive care units.

Leadership from Saskatchewan’s Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) announced on Friday that “roughly” two to four COVID-19 patients are expected to be transferred to Ontario daily, starting next week.

So far, six intensive care unit patients have been transferred to Ontario hospitals and three more are scheduled to transfer between Friday and Sunday.

Read more:
Saskatchewan planning to send 2 to 4 ICU patients daily to Ontario starting next week

Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency president Marlo Pritchard said in a Friday briefing added these transfers are being made to reduce strain on the province’s health-care system.

As of Friday, there are 80 COVID-19 ICU patients in Saskatchewan hospitals.

Pritchard said the provincial emergency operations centre continues to hold meetings with the federal government, including Public Safety Canada. He said good progress has been made so far.

“I expect to have more information soon about having boots on the ground at some point next week,” Pritchard told reporters.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said Friday it may soon activate the next stage of its triage plan due to the stress on the health-care system.


Click to play video: 'Frustration mounts among Saskatchewan health-care workers as ICU transfers continue'



2:02
Frustration mounts among Saskatchewan health-care workers as ICU transfers continue


Frustration mounts among Saskatchewan health-care workers as ICU transfers continue

Derek Miller, the authority’s chief of emergency operations, said a committee made up of doctors and ethicists is set to prepare a formal recommendation to move to the second stage of triage.

The province has been operating under the first stage for several months, which has involved cancelling surgeries to free up bed space and health-care workers to focus on COVID cases.

The second stage involves doctors consulting with ethicists about who and who does not get life-saving care.

Data from the health authority for this month shows Saskatchewan had the most residents in intensive care units per capita than any other province at any point in the pandemic.

Earlier this week, the province released modelling that shows hospitalizations are likely to increase until December, unless restrictions are reintroduced, and health care might not return to sustainable levels until March.

–With files from the Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • Canadians who had allergic reaction to first vaccine dose can safely get second, advisory committee says.

Two provinces are set to ease restrictions on Monday as Canada’s top doctor says nearly 90 per cent of eligible residents in the country have been administered at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Nevertheless, since no vaccine is perfect, post-vaccination cases can be expected,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Sunday on Twitter.

“This is why it is important that vaccines are part of a comprehensive, layered protection strategy that includes other practices and precautions.”

Tam’s comments come as British Columbia and Ontario are set to lift some public health measures starting Monday.

A person has their COVID-19 vaccination status checked before entering a bar in Vancouver on Friday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

B.C. residents in swaths of the province will be allowed to attend events such as hockey games, concerts and weddings without any limits on numbers, but capacity will be capped at 50 per cent in areas where vaccination rates are low, including parts of the Fraser, Northern and Interior health regions.

Attendees at all organized events in B.C. will be required to wear face coverings and show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Ontario on Monday is also lifting capacity limits in a majority of settings where patrons are now required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Those settings include:

  • Restaurants.
  • Bars and other food and drink establishments.
  • Indoor areas of sports and recreational facilities such as gyms and where personal physical fitness trainers provide instruction.
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday that the province plans to lift all COVID-19 restrictions by the end of March.


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Pandemic benefits expire and new programs to begin: 

Pandemic benefits expire and new programs to begin

The Liberal government says several existing pandemic support programs for individuals and businesses will end Saturday, while billions of dollars will be spent transitioning to new ‘targeted measures’ leading into the spring. 4:55

  • P.E.I. launches fund for organizations needing tablets to verify Vax Pass.
  • More establishments to re-open in Yellowknife with capacity limits, appointments.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 243.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a case-tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million.

In Africa, scientists in South Africa are attempting to reverse engineer and replicate the Moderna vaccine amid a global vaccine disparity that has disadvantaged the continent.

PHOTOS | Africa tries to end vaccine inequity by replicating its own vaccine: 

The number of COVID-19 infections recorded so far in eastern Europe surpassed 20 million on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally, as the region grapples with its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and inoculation efforts lag.

In Asia-Pacific, Melbourne, one of the world’s most locked-down cities that emerged from its latest spate of COVID-19 restrictions heading into the weekend, will see more curbs eased later this week when the Australian state of Victoria reaches an 80 per cent full vaccination rate, officials said on Sunday.

In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, says vaccines for kids between the ages of five and 11 will likely be available in the first half of November

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