Local Journalism Initiative
A 24-year-old released in January after contracting COVID-19 at Saskatchewan Penitentiary (Sask. Pen) in Prince Albert described a recent outbreak at the institution as “inevitable.” Former inmate Chastin Hall said he was incarcerated on April 20 for violation of parole and breaching a curfew. Although his warrant expired on July 24 last year he was held on remand because of other matters before the courts and released on Jan. 21, he said. Hall said keeping inmates longer than their original sentence also contributed to crowded conditions at the penitentiary – facilitating the spread of the virus. “I got tested three times at the beginning and I came back negative. After the fourth time, I came back positive for it, because they just kept me on the range, and they didn’t let me leave the range or anything. They just left me there and I got it eventually,” Hall said. “The spread was inevitable because of how many people they have locked up in a small place.” Hall said personal protective equipment (PPE) wasn’t used properly and that inmates testing positive for the virus were not quarantined. He said inmates who had tested positive for the virus were being “moved around” in the general population. Hall said inmates should not have been transferred between institutions while the virus was spreading. “It was only a matter of time because they were still doing transfers when there was COVID. And there wasn’t supposed to be anything like that going on. That’s how it was initially brought to the penitentiary was an inmate transfer coming from Manitoba,” Hall said. “You’re there 24-hours and the guy next to you is only maybe three or four feet away from you so it’s spreading, and the air only circulates the air that’s already inside the jail. So, it just spread through the air.” He said he was made to use the same mask for a month and that inmates were not taught how to properly use face masks and described nurses not changing their PPE when moving from areas where inmates with COVID-19 were being kept. “There’s a specific way that they’re supposed to teach people how to take off their masks and every piece of material that you have on you to dispose of properly. But they never teach anybody that. I didn’t even know that until I got out. They’re not enforcing anybody wearing masks or anything,” Hall said. “You’re supposed to use a new mask after a few uses – only having it for so long. But I had a mask for a whole month because they didn’t give me another one.” Public health declared an outbreak at the Sask. Pen on Dec. 12 that remains listed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority as active. The federal institution followed suit, having announced an outbreak at the penitentiary on Dec. 15. As of Jan. 25, the CSC said that there were no longer any known active cases of COVID-19 among inmates at the institution, signalling an improvement to the situation among inmates and staff. Congress of Aboriginal Peoples national vice-chief Kim Beaudin had pointed to disproportionate numbers of Indigenous people incarcerated at the penitentiary and likened the conditions to a “death sentence” for inmates. He called on the CSC to release all inmates held for non-violent offences and to ensure any infected inmates are given separate living quarters from other inmates. “I also urge that those kept caged in Canada’s colonial federal penitentiaries be given access to the programs, contact with loved ones and volunteers, and supplies required to come out of this crisis alive,” Beaudin said. “Inaction will signal to Indigenous peoples that our lives do not matter, and that the federal government remains unable to move past colonialist legacies.” The rate of Indigenous incarceration within provincial correctional facilities in Saskatchewan hovers around 76 per cent. At the Saskatchewan Penitentiary, which is a federal facility, the number is around 65 per cent. According to data available from the annual report of the office of the correctional investigator (2018-2019), “Indigenous offenders are overrepresented in the number of incidents of attempted suicide, accounting for 39 per cent of all such incidents in the last 10 years.” The latest annual report of the Correctional Investigator of Canada was tabled in parliament on Feb. 18. In his latest report, Correctional Investigator of Canada, Ivan Zinger said problems in the workplace environment and corporate culture of the CSC creates adverse conditions for inmates. Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair’s Press Secretary Mary-Liz Power told the Prince Albert Daily Herald in December that the federal government had implemented a number of protocols to contain the spread of COVID-19 in its facilities. “No segment of society has gone untouched by COVID-19. Our government is focused on protecting and supporting all Canadians, including inmates and correctional staff,” Power said. “We know the unique vulnerabilities facing correctional institutions during this public health crisis. In response to COVID-19 cases in federal institutions, Correctional Services Canada (CSC) has put in place extensive infection prevention and control measures across all institutions, at all security levels.” Those measures include mandatory masks for inmates and staff, physical distancing measures, active health screening of anyone entering an institution, contact tracing and increased and enhanced cleaning and disinfection at sites. Rapid testing is also in use for both staff and inmates, she said. Since the beginning of March, the overall federal custody population has declined by over 1,300 inmates. Those transferring into Saskatchewan Penitentiary are screened for COVID-19. Inmates transferring into the institution are medically isolated for 14 days after arrival, Power said. “They have the support of medical staff as well as unit staff during their isolation. They are housed in a separate unit during their isolation. CSC works closely with local public health experts to guide their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have already strengthened their infection prevention procedures to protect staff, offenders, and the community.” Power said that additional personal protective equipment was also made available for inmates and staff, as needed. Hall said inmates began to lose hope as the virus spread around the penitentiary and because of not being allowed outside for a bit of fresh air during the day while on lockdown. “They’re just keeping guys locked in their cells. Even guys that are recovered already are only getting so much time out of their cell – like a half hour per day. That’s 23 and a half hours locked down in a cell. And the way that they’re treating everybody is they just stopped coming around doing wellness checks,” Hall said. He described the death of a friend from the virus who he said was refused when he requested to be quarantine and said he had to witness multiple suicide attempts by prisoners who became overwhelmed by conditions during the outbreak. “There were a couple guys that killed themselves. When my friend hung himself there was no guard to come and help him or anything and I had to yell for a guard. It took us like 15 minutes, and he was hanging for that long. He survived though. Just barely. “I could see my other friend; he was only about eight cells down from me. He hung himself and the nurses had to come resuscitate him and take him to the hospital,” Hall said. “There’s my one buddy, Charles Francis, he was telling them, ‘I’m really vulnerable, I’m in my 50s.’ He was telling the nurse and he said that ‘I don’t want to catch COVID.’ “He eventually caught COVID after we all caught it and he went to the hospital; he was there for about a month. Then they came by one day and just told us that he passed away. If they’d handled it better, he would have been here still.” Spokesperson Kelly Dae Dash said that CSC provides its own health care to inmates and has “dedicated health care professionals in its institutions, including nurses and doctors, who are closely monitoring everyone in medical isolation.” “The health and safety of our employees, offenders, and the public remains our top priority during this public health pandemic,” Dash said. Dash said inmate movements were kept to a minimum and that CSC modified routines to ensure proper physical distancing and reduce possible transmission within different ranges in order to limit transmission as much as possible. “Given the closed living environment, positive inmates and close contacts are medically isolating in their cells. During the isolation period, inmates have access to health care staff as well as institutional staff,” Dash said. “In addition, health care staff are completing wellness checks throughout the day.” The CSC said that although inmates were self-isolating in their individual cells, they had daily access to telephones, showers, and time out of their cells while physical distancing measures were maintained. Inmates are also able to request telephone visits with Elders and Chaplains, Dash said. “Saskatchewan Penitentiary has also provided inmates with wellness packages that include individual activities and snacks. Meals and medications are being delivered to inmates.” But Hall said the narrative put forward by the federal government and CSC doesn’t reflect his experience at the penitentiary at all. When Hall tested positive, he was kept in the same cell on the same range with healthy inmates. He said he was given a box of juice and an extra granola bar every once in a while, but that staff rarely checked to see how he was doing while he was sick. “They barely came around. Even when I told him that I wasn’t really feeling that great. That I couldn’t really breathe,” Hall said. Hall felt like he was ‘forced’ to contract the virus because he was kept in the same block as sick inmates while he was healthy. The cells are only divided by bars, he said, allowing air to circulate freely between them. When he was finally released after recovering, guards walked him through the general population and out the front door, Hall said. “The way that some people say that they handle things is a lot different than what they really do and it’s putting a lot of lives at risk. It doesn’t matter what that person did, they are still human. I believe that our human rights matter and that nobody should be forced to get COVID or to just suffer and watch your friends pass away because of it.” Hall, who is a member of the Big River First Nation, lamented the high rates of Indigenous inmates at Sask. Pen. He said many have become so used to prison life that they are unable to function outside the system or go back to their home communities and feel safe. He said better programs are needed to reintegrate prisoners into society once released. “All they know is jail, and they feel scared when they come out. So, they want to go back right away because that’s all they know. There’s a lot of guys like that,” Hall said. Hall had some words for the friends he left behind at the penitentiary. “Stay strong, keep your head up. And when you get out make a difference. Instead of making a statistic and ending up back in jail. You can create a better life for yourself.” Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
New website tracks traces of COVID-19 in Calgary's wastewater | News – Daily Hive
There’s a new way to trace the COVID-19 virus in Calgary.
A collaboration between the University of Calgary, City of Calgary, and Alberta Health Services has made data available that tracks traces of the virus found in the city’s wastewater.
This information can be found on the Centre for Health Informatics (CHI) website, and it shows real-time SARS-CoV-2 RNA (the virus responsible for COVID-19) data for Alberta, including any traces in three different wastewater collection zones in Calgary.
The data can help identify to COVID-19 outbreaks early and determine areas of the city where infection rates are high.
Alberta Health Services is looking at this information as an additional tool to understand how the virus is spreading in the community, as high levels of traces of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater are followed by a rise in clinically diagnosed cases.
According to Dr. Michael Parkins, MD, associate professor at the Cumming School of Medicine and section chief for the Division of Infectious Diseases for AHS, “Wastewater data is unbiased and comprehensive.”
“It captures all cases in a defined population, including symptomatic and asymptomatic cases — not just those diagnosed cases,” Parkins continued in a media release.
Wastewater tracing data may even be helpful when government officials are making decisions about what can be reopened safely.
“Policy-makers might be interested to use wastewater tracking in specific locations, where you might be able to pick up on the outbreaks earlier and limit the spread,” says Danielle Southern, senior researcher at CHI.
“The wastewater could give us some predictive tools. Say you’re seeing it in a high school, that means it’s probably out in your community, whereas if it’s in a hospital, those people are likely constrained to that one place.”
Those interested can visit the Centre for Health Informatics online, where they’ll find a map of Calgary that’s been divided up into three areas, based on the collection zones for each City of Calgary water treatment plant.
The map is placed beside a graph with data points tracking any traces of SARS-CoV-2 found in wastewater on a chosen date, going as far as July 2020, when researchers started gathering samples.
“Each data point represents a 24-hour period, where a 100 ml sample is taken every 15 minutes to generate a 10-litre sample,” says Parkins. “We then test to look for evidence of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genetic material.”
The CHI tracks a number of other datasets, including COVID-19 outbreak proportions in Alberta, variants of the virus in the province, and weekly deaths by age group.
This tracking has been expanded over the past 11 months, based on questions the CHI has received from policy-makers and government officials.
“Originally it was, ‘what measures should we put in place?’, and now it’s shifted to, ‘what can we re-open safely?’” says Southern.
Researchers hope to soon be able to share more precise information from location-specific sampling.
“Wastewater testing has tremendous potential to help keep our communities safe, and catch outbreaks before they reach critical mass,” says Parkins. “The further we can take this research, the better.”
News » 4GB GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Coming towards Notebooks – guru3d.com
And they will include support for DLSS and Raytracing. ASUS had a bit of a booboo on their website, as they displayed specifications of one of its new gamer notebooks for 2021; ASUS TUF Dash F15 will have a GPU based on the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti.
Not all shocking, but what is interesting to learn is that DXR and DLSS get supported, meaning there is dedicated hardware onboard in the form of RT and tensor cores. For a low spec and positioned product, that is an interesting observation. Before making an appearance as RTX 3050 Ti, the GPU was codenamed GeForce RTX GN20-P0. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti will be the first to use the GA107 GPU, which will come with 4GB of GDDR6 memory tied towards a 128-bit memory interface.
The aforementioned ASUS TUF Dash F15 notebook will ship with up to 16GB of RAM and one of the following three 11th Gen Intel Core processors: i5-11300H, i7-11370H, or i7 11-375H. Although the model has a Full HD display as standard, customers can choose a version with a Quad HD display (2560 × 1440).
Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti spotted on an upcoming gaming laptop’s spec sheet – PCGamesN
There could be a new budget GPU coming to Nvidia’s RTX 3000 range in the future, slotting just under the RTX 3060, if the specs of a new gaming laptop from Asus are anything to go by. Discovered by leaker Momomo_us, the RTX 3050 Ti is listed as a potential option, showing the card with 4GB of GDDR6, although no other info on the GPU is given.
With the previous Turing generation of graphics cards, the RTX lineup only went as low as a 2060, so this would be the first 50-named Nvidia card since the GTX 1650 and 1650 Super, and the very first to have hardware-accelerated ray tracing capabilities. The RTX 3060 is currently the cheapest Ampere card available, although when considering price to performance, the RTX 3060 Ti is still the best graphics card for a budget PC build.
As it looks like there could be a desktop variant of the 3050 Ti – it was already spotted along with a non-Ti variant on the specs sheet for a prebuilt Lenovo gaming PC back in January – could the budget crown be taken from the 3060 Ti with this new card?
Since the desktop RTX 3050 Ti was spotted with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM rather than the 4GB on this listing, there could be a difference between the mobile and desktop versions of the card. This is a trend we’ve seen a few times already, with laptops including an 8GB RTX 3080 instead of the 10GB desktop variant, and a 6GB RTX 3060 rather than its 12GB counterpart. Things can easily change during development, however, as recent rumours suggest the un-released RTX 3080 Ti has dropped from 20GB of VRAM to 12GB.
— 188号 (@momomo_us) March 5, 2021
With the 3060 having an MSRP of $329, you can expect the 3050 Ti to have a price tag somewhere below $300. Once we get more information on the specs of the GPU and any potential benchmark leaks, we should get a better idea of how the card will perform.
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