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WestJet to lay off 1,700 pilots after coronavirus shutters airline travel

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Apr 16th, 2020

WestJet is planning to lay off up to 1,700 pilots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered commercial airline travel.

The union representing the pilots with WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop says the first 700 layoffs will take effect May 1 with an additional 1,000 layoffs coming June 1.

The layoffs will be done in reverse seniority order, meaning those pilots who were hired most recently will be the first to be furloughed.

“Issuing layoffs, in response to this crisis, has always been a last resort for WestJet; however, the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry is colossal, and WestJet is making difficult but necessary decisions to right-size our airline to weather the crisis,” the airline said in a statement.

WestJet adds that almost three-quarters of its fleet has been grounded due to the dramatic reduction in flying due to COVID-19.

Air Canada said plans to rehire 16,500 laid-off workers via Ottawa’s emergency wage subsidy program after they were let go under a cost reduction program that saw nearly half of the airline’s 36,000 employees lose their jobs.

Air Canada has suspended most international flights until June, while Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines have cancelled all trips until May 31 due to the pandemic.

China delays pandemic warning and ‘Canada Together: In Concert’; In The News for April 16

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 16th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of April 16 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today more financial help for small businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought much of Canada’s economy to a standstill.

It’s likely to involve some changes to the eligibility rules for the Canada Emergency Business Account program that banks and credit unions began delivering last week.

Under the program, the federal government is backing interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for businesses with annual payrolls between $50,000 and $1 million.

One-quarter of each loan will be forgivable if the remainder is paid off by the end of 2022.

Some small and medium-sized businesses with payrolls just under or just over the threshold have complained that they’re not eligible for the loans.

In a motion passed Saturday during an emergency sitting of the House of Commons, the federal government effectively promised to expand the loan program.

It promised to implement additional measures that would be partially refundable and have “the primary objective of maintaining jobs and reducing debt related to fixed costs, while maintaining access to liquidity in the form of loans.”

Also this …

The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping to address a critical shortage of experienced pilots by scooping up some of the hundreds of commercial pilots whose jobs have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Commercial carriers across Canada furloughed hundreds of pilots, technicians and other staff last month as the airline industry struggled with plummeting demand due to travel restrictions and other fallout from the global pandemic.

Airlines such as Air Canada and WestJet have since been able to rehire the majority of their employees with help from federal wage subsidies, but there remains great uncertainty around when staff will actually return to work as most flights remain grounded.

That is where the military wants to make the most of a bad situation.

Even before COVID-19, the Air Force had been reaching out to former military pilots who had left for commercial gigs in recent years in the hopes of enticing them back into uniform as it faced a shortage of more than 200 experienced aviators.

The shortfall, which saw Air Force commanders walking a delicate line between keeping enough seasoned aviators available to train new recruits and lead missions in the air, coincided with significant growth in the global commercial airline sector.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

Citing the coronavirus, Donald Trump is threatening unprecedented action — adjourning both houses of Congress — to entice the Senate to approve more of his nominees.

In recent years, Congress has refused to fully adjourn during most breaks precisely to prevent the president from making recess appointments. Little or no business is conducted in such “pro-forma sessions,” but they give members of both chambers of Congress the chance to go back home without going into recess.

It’s a process lawmakers also employed to thwart President Barack Obama’s nominees.

Trump says he’s had enough and warns that he will seek to adjourn both chambers of Congress if lawmakers don’t formally declare a proper recess. That way, he could appoint some nominees without the Senate’s approval. Trump said, “Perhaps it’s never been done before, nobody’s even sure if it has, but we’re going to do it.”

The Constitution does not spell out a unilateral power for the president to adjourn Congress. It states only that he can decide on adjournment if there is a dispute over it between the House and Senate. Such a disagreement does not now exist, nor is it likely to arise.

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley said on Twitter the Constitution gives a president authority in “extraordinary occasions” to convene or adjourn Congress. However, he said, “This power has never been used and should not be used now.”

COVID-19 around the world …

In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicenter of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began travelling through for Lunar New Year celebrations.

President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, Jan. 20. But by then, more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press and estimates based on retrospective infection data.

The delay from Jan. 14 to Jan. 20 was neither the first mistake made by Chinese officials at all levels in confronting the outbreak, nor the longest lag, as governments around the world have dragged their feet for weeks and even months in addressing the virus.

But the delay by the first country to face the new coronavirus came at a critical time — the beginning of the outbreak. China’s attempt to walk a line between alerting the public and avoiding panic set the stage for a pandemic that has infected almost 2 million people and taken more than 126,000 lives.

“This is tremendous,” said Zuo-Feng Zhang, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If they took action six days earlier, there would have been much fewer patients and medical facilities would have been sufficient.”

However, another epidemiologist, Benjamin Cowley at the University of Hong Kong, noted that it may have been a tricky call. If health officials raise the alarm prematurely, it can damage their credibility — “like crying wolf” — and may cripple their ability to mobilize the public, he said.

COVID-19 in entertainment…

Shania Twain, Lady Antebellum, and Luke Combs are among the headliners set to perform from their homes for a five-night broadcast event next week in support of Canada’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

ET Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Country Music Association and the CCMA Foundation, will present “Canada Together: In Concert.”

The series premieres Monday and will air weeknights on “ET Canada” on Global, turning the entertainment news show into mostly performance-based episodes for the week.

The event will also air simultaneously on Corus country radio stations Country 105, CISN Country 103.9 and Country 104.

All proceeds raised will be donated equally between Food Banks Canada and the Unison Benevolent Fund to support Canadians during the pandemic.

Monday’s episode includes remote performances from Twain with Dallas Smith, Lindsay Ell, and High Valley.

A total of 20 acts are participating through the rest of the week, with others including Brett Kissel, Dean Brody, Gord Bamford, James Barker Band, and MacKenzie Porter.

COVID-19 in sports…

Some golf courses in British Columbia are open or about to open and Alberta golf clubs want to do the same despite the reluctance of provincial health officials to give the green light.

Winter loosening its grip on Alberta has the province’s golf industry lobbying to let courses open with protocols and restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We for sure realize golf is not the most important thing in the world, but we want to be part of the solution,” says Calgary’s Barry Ehlert, owner of six courses in the Windmill Golf Group.

“We do think there are other things coming down the pipe at us like mental health, economic drivers, the forty-two thousand jobs that golf represents.”

The Alberta chapter of National Allied Golf Associations said in a recent letter to its members that “NAGA Alberta will be working closely with the Alberta Government in seeking an exception like the courses in B.C.”

An online petition on change.org calling for Alberta golf courses to be exempt.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health wasn’t ready to give the all-clear to golf, however.

“I would say to golfers the same thing I would say to other Albertans, which is to trust we are looking very closely at our numbers, and that as we get to a point where we can think about easing restrictions, outdoor recreation is certainly on that list of things to be considered,” says Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

“But at this time, we’re not yet at that point yet where we can start easing off.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

RBC Canadian Open cancelled due to the coronavirus

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 16th, 2020

The RBC Canadian Open, one of the jewels of the national sports calendar, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The PGA Tour announced the cancellation of the tournament as part of its revamped 2020 schedule. The four-day competition was scheduled to begin June 11 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto.

The Canadian Open, first contested in 1904, is the third-oldest continuously running tournament on the PGA Tour behind the British Open and the U.S. Open.

It’s the first time the tournament has been cancelled since 1944, when it missed a second straight year due to the Second World War. It was also scrapped from 1915-18 because of the First World War.

The Canadian Open becomes the latest major annual late spring or summer sporting event in Canada to be wiped out or postponed because of COVID-19. The Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal and the Queen’s Plate in Toronto will not run on their scheduled June dates, while the Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament in Montreal, scheduled for August, will not be held in 2020.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy won the title last year at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club. The last Canadian to win the tournament was Pat Fletcher in 1954.

A cancellation seemed increasingly likely in recent weeks as the pandemic worsened. Three regional qualification tournaments set for mid-May were scrapped last month.

Toronto Mayor John Tory recently announced the city was cancelling its permits for all public gatherings up until June 30.

The edict didn’t apply to sporting events held on private property — like MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, the NBA’s Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena, or the Canadian Open itself at St. George’s in the city’s west end.

“Obviously it’s not an easy decision and there’s very valid reasons for things getting cancelled or postponed,” golfer Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., said before the cancellation was official. “It’s an event that I’ve been looking forward to all year, really.

“It’s so much fun to play in front of the Canadian fans, the support’s incredible at the RBC Canadian Open.”

The tournament is scheduled to return to St. George’s in 2024. The venue has hosted the event on five occasions, most recently in 2010.

The city edict cancelled a two-night concert series planned for tournament week. The Chainsmokers and Keith Urban were scheduled to perform at a nearby school.

If the tournament had gone ahead as scheduled, construction on the course would have had to begin later this month, another hurdle for making the Canadian Open’s original start date.

The CP Women’s Open is still on the LPGA Tour schedule. It’s slated for Sept. 3-6 at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver.

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko won last year’s tournament at Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ont.

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., won in 2018 at Regina’s Wascana Country Club. She become the first Canadian to win the tournament since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973.

Limited data on ventilator use for coronavirus patients: respiratory therapist

CAMILLE BAINS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Apr 15th, 2020

Vicki Kap’s family thought she had a cold but less than two days after arriving in hospital she was placed on a ventilator and died of coronavirus.

Her daughter, Jody Brouwer, said Kap, 75, started having trouble breathing before being taken by ambulance to a hospital in Sarnia, Ont., where she would spend a week before dying in the intensive care unit.

“Mom didn’t wish to be on a ventilator for more than four days if she wasn’t making any progress,” Brouwer said, adding her parents had end-of-life conversations because her father has stage-four bowel cancer and was presumed to have the virus.

“We were told with my mom that she’ll be on a breathing apparatus for the rest of her life, she’ll never be able to go home, she’ll be going to a nursing home if they kept her on a ventilator for months.”

Kap’s heart was going into distress before she died on March 29, three days after she would have celebrated her 54th wedding anniversary with her husband Frank, Brouwer said. She was her husband’s sole caregiver at their home while he waited to go into hospice.

She believes her parents contracted the virus after having coffee with friends who had returned from Portugal in early March. The friends were asymptomatic then, but later became sick themselves.

Brouwer’s uncle and his wife from nearby Strathroy had travelled with the couple and also became sick, one of eight people in their circle of family and friends who contracted the virus, Brouwer said.

Her uncle, Martin Postma, died two days before her mother and had also been on a ventilator, his wife said.

Mieke Postma said her family decided to take her husband off the ventilator after nine days because they feared his quality of life would be poor if he survived.

“He didn’t really show much improvement over that time. If anything, it got worse with his kidneys completely failing,” Postma said, adding her husband’s heart was also affected.

Kap had minor chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but was otherwise in good health, said Brouwer, who has questions about what’s being learned about the use of ventilators.

Doctors around the world have little data from limited studies. Much of the research includes patients still on the breathing machines, with no information on long-term outcomes for those who may survive.

Kap ended up in hospital after her nephew, Jeff Cain, spoke with her by phone and realized her breathing was laboured.

Cain, who is a former respiratory therapist, said he dropped off a small device called a pulse oximeter outside Kap’s home so she could place it on her finger to measure the level of oxygen saturation in her blood and go to hospital if the level was too low.

Cain said both of his parents were also diagnosed with COVID-19 and are recovering well.

“I know a gentleman in the same community who came off the ventilator this week,” he said.

“My mom asked, ‘Is this automatically a death sentence?’ I said, ‘No, it depends on what else is going on.’ ”

Thomas Piraino, a respiratory therapist in the intensive care unit at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said patients are placed on ventilators after developing a lung injury called acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Those with a condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as in Kap’s case, have reduced air flow to the lungs and could be provided with non-invasive oxygen therapy depending on the severity of infection from COVID-19 by the time they get to hospital, said Piraino, who oversees the integration of clinical research and the practice of mechanical ventilation at St. Michael’s.

“They could be at an early stage where when you put the tube in, the lungs are very compliant, like a balloon that can inflate very nicely. Or they could be at a stage where they have much more stiff lungs and it’s more challenging to ventilate them,” he said.

By then, the lungs may be akin to a sponge that has hardened, impeding oxygen from flowing to air sacs called alveoli and making it impossible to breathe, Piraino said. A medical coma is induced at that point before a tube is inserted into a patient’s windpipe so a ventilator can deliver oxygen and take over breathing.

“In terms of why (the virus) gets to that point it’s a number of components and we’re still trying to learn about it because it has only been around for a few months.”

Small studies from around the world are showing mixed results about survival rates for COVID-19 patients. They include limited data and involve patients who are still on the machines so it’s not known if they will survive or what their long-term outcome or quality of life will be if they start breathing on their own.

For example, a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association of 1,591 patients across hospitals in Lombardy, Italy, showed 68 per cent were placed on a ventilator and 26 per cent of them died.

It said 58 per cent of the patients remained on a ventilator when the nearly five-week study was completed on March 25.

“Every single study that’s getting published right now is in the midst of it all so it’s helpful to see where people are at but it doesn’t really give us an overall view,” Piraino said, adding concerns range from whether patients should have been ventilated earlier or if intubation happened too soon.

“Most people that go on a ventilator come off a ventilator. With COVID we just don’t know.”

Mortality rates from studies so far are between 26 per cent and 70 per cent, he said.

Dr. Michael Curry, an emergency room doctor at Delta Hospital in the Vancouver area, said he has seen studies citing mortality rates as high as 80 per cent, depending on the data being used.

“Ventilators can be life-saving for some people that are going to die without a ventilator,” he said. “A ventilator can buy them time for the body to fight off infection and they can do well after the ventilator is discontinued. But for a big chunk of people put on a ventilator they’re not ever going to come off it, at least not alive.”

Curry said Canada has about seven or eight ventilators per 100,000 people and there is no shortage of the breathing machines, which require high staffing levels of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists.

“What’s going to happen in the future we don’t know. But we have seen from countries like Spain and Italy that there could be a dramatic demand for ventilators if we don’t get a handle on this disease soon,” he said.

The federal government has announced plans to order 30,000 ventilators.

A look at some of the Canadians who have lost their lives to COVID 19

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Apr 15th, 2020

COVID-19 has sickened thousands of Canadians from coast to coast and killed hundreds.

Here are the stories of some of those who have lost their lives:

Vicki Kap

SARNIA, Ont. — Vicki Kap was known for her love of family, which for her included former refugees she invited into her home for decades before she died from COVID-19.

Jody Brouwer, Kap’s daughter, remembers growing up with a Cambodian couple and their two children living in their basement.

Vicki and Frank Kap opened their hearts and their home to people from around the globe, including Nicaragua, El Salvador and Syria before her death at age 75.

“We’ve got a big extended family from all countries of the world,” Brouwer says.

The woman known for her big smile spent the last four years caring for Frank, who has stage-four bowel cancer and is waiting to go into hospice while grieving for his wife.

The couple would have celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary on March 26, when Kap was on a ventilator. She died three days later.

Family was the focus on her last day, too, as she lay in a medically induced coma.

Brouwer and her brother John Kap were at their mother’s bedside wearing head-to-toe personal protective equipment. Her children shared stories with Kap and videos of her grandchildren.

Martin Postma

STRATHROY, Ont. — Martin Postma’s wife considers the last month with her husband before his death a gift as they spent time enjoying the sights of Portugal.

Mieke Postma says her 74-year-old husband had diabetes but was in otherwise good health before he developed a cough, had the chills and quickly became increasingly weak.

At that point, he barely had enough energy to make it onto the stretcher when an ambulance arrived to take him to their local hospital in Strathroy before he was transferred the next day to University Hospital in nearby London.

Postma was surprised her husband even had the energy to phone her from the emergency department to say doctors were planning to put him on a ventilator.

But she says that last conversation, before his death on March 27 in the intensive care unit, was also a gift from the man she’d married 52 years earlier.

A retired nurse, Postma says she considered the quality-of-life her husband would have had if he had survived as his kidneys shut down on a ventilator and his other organs also began to fail.

Just before the family decided to discontinue treatment on the ventilator, Postma was told her husband’s survival rate would be about 10 per cent, and if he did survive, he would need lifelong care.

“That hit me between the eyes. I thought, ‘That’s not good.’ “

Noble (Butch) Gullacher

REGINA — Noble Gullacher was a family man who loved watching his sons play basketball and his grandchildren play soccer.

Gullacher, known by family and friends as Butch, was a diabetic who was waiting for a kidney transplant when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 19.

The 69-year-old died April 10 in a Regina hospital.

Gullacher was a husband, a father to two sons and a grandfather to their three children.

“He was a good dad, but he was a really wonderful grandfather,” said his wife, Kathleen Gullacher. “He loved his family.”

She said they are a close-knit family which regularly gathers for Sunday night dinners.

Gullacher also loved race cars and trap shooting.

“He liked to be active,” she said. “He loved to be out and doing things.”

Gullacher was retired after being a conductor with CP Rail for 35 years.

Deb Diemer

CALGARY — Mike and Deb Diemer were expecting 2020 to be the best year of their lives.

Then, on March 19 Deb Diemer was diagnosed with COVID-19. She died on March 30.

“My in-laws have lost a daughter, my sisters-in-law have lost a sister, I’ve lost a wife and my daughter has lost her mom,” Diemer said.

Doctors had always followed his wife’s health closely after she was diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension in 1986.

Diemer said she was able to keep the disease in check with medication until late 2001. She was able to get a double-lung transplant months later in 2002.

About six weeks before her death she got a kidney transplant with a donation from her older sister, Kathy Ziegler.

Diemer said his wife only experienced mild COVID-19 symptoms and her doctors recommended she stay home to recover, since she wasn’t having difficulty breathing and could speak in full sentences.

But she deteriorated quickly and went into medical distress at home, he said. Doctors later told him that she had died within hours of the virus attacking her heart.

“My wife is an Irish redhead and she never backed down from a fight,” Diemer said.

“Every time, she didn’t complain. She just faced whatever she had to face and kept going. We thought she was going to beat COVID-19, too.”

Wade Kidd

WINNIPEG — Wade Kidd had an absolute love for life.

His family said in a statement that Kidd started developing flu-like symptoms on March 18 and was admitted to hospital on March 27 where his condition deteriorated quickly.

The grandfather, father and husband died on April 2, about a month before his 55th birthday.

Kidd had some underlying health concerns, however, in general he was healthy and active, his family said.

He could fix anything and enjoyed camping. He was a loving husband and proud father to his two sons. His love for his two young grandchildren knew no bounds, his family said.

“His monster hugs made us feel safe and his easygoing manner kept us calm in stressful times,” his wife wrote.

Kidd was a private person, but the family wanted to share his story. His family said they hope it will convince everyone to stay home so further families don’t have endure what they are facing, mourning without the ability to have a funeral.

“He was a steady ship in a crazy storm, and now he is gone. Now that storm threatens to swallow us whole.”

Shawn Auger

HIGH PRAIRIE, Alta. — Shawn Auger, a father of three, died March 30 at the age of 34.

His wife, Jennifer Auger, says her husband started developing symptoms on March 13 and was diagnosed on March 16. He was hospitalized shortly after and died March 30.

She says he was particularly affected because by the disease he was asthmatic.

“He was also a big guy, like a teddy bear,” she says.

Shawn Auger was involved in youth hockey and worked at the Youth Assessment Centre in High Prairie, Alta., about 370 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. His wife says a position was created especially for him to help youth transition out of the facility.

“That job, he loved it,” she said. “He loved it because he got to meet new people, talk to the youth and mean something to them.”

She says her husband first went to school to become a police officer and served in various placements, including at the Edmonton Institution, before he decided to work with young people.

“He wanted to work with the youth … to make a difference, so they didn’t end up in jail or anything like that.”

She says she and her husband recently bought a house in the High Prairie area to renovate and turn into a group home.

It’s something she plans to continue in his memory.

“Through all this, we did not lose Shawn,” she says. “We gained a fighting, caring, wonderful angel … and he is still working from beyond.”

Alice Grove

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Alice Grove was a 75-year-old widow who lived alone on a farm in west-central Saskatchewan.

Her sister Eleanor Widdowson says Grove, a former nurse’s aide at Saskatchewan Hospital, was having breathing difficulties and collapsed in her home on March 28. She died in hospital the next day.

The sisters last saw each other on March 13 when they met for coffee in nearby North Battleford.

Widdowson believes her sister contracted the virus on one of her many trips into the city.

“We had warned her and warned her and warned her to stay at home,” Widdowson told Saskatoon radio station CKOM. “But she’d get lonely. Anyone would, living out on a farm by themselves.”

Grove’s battle with COVID-19 was hampered by diabetes, says Widdowson. Grove had also survived a battle with cancer.

Ultimately, Widdowson says she made the decision to remove Grove from life support.

“You have to be sensible about it and not take treatment away from a possible 35-year-old that can get better, when you know the 75-year-old lady’s not going to get better.”

Dr. Denis Vincent

NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. — Dr. Denis Vincent is being remembered as a dedicated dentist who made patient care and safety his top priority.

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference, which drew about 15,000 people.

Family lawyer Bettyanne Brownlee says Vincent was diligent in adhering to recommended practices for infection control throughout his more than 40-year career. He was quarantining himself when he died.

She says Vincent cared deeply about people, had a great sense of humour, and his two great loves were skiing and sailing with friends and family.

“He was enormously proud of his sons, who will keep their memories close as they come to terms with the absence of their father from their adult lives,” Brownlee says.

Mariette Tremblay

MONTREAL — Mariette Tremblay’s granddaughter says her 82-year-old grandmother was a caring woman who was loved by all.

In the Facebook post, Bibianne Lavallee says her grandmother had suffered from respiratory problems and, when the virus struck, she was vulnerable. Her death was reported by Quebec health authorities on March 18.

Lavallee says Tremblay took ill before Quebec began taking exceptional measures to combat the spread of the virus.

“Unfortunately, by the time all of the measures were announced and taken, it was too late to spare my grandmother,” Lavallee says. “When her diagnosis was announced, she was already doomed.”

Lavallee urges people to follow recommendations of public health officials.

“We didn’t have a chance to save Grandma. But you have the chance to make a difference now that we know; now that we know the damage caused by this pandemic,” she says.

“Everything must be done to prevent human tragedies like the one we are experiencing from continuing to multiply. We want the death of my grandmother, the first victim in Quebec of COVID-19, to help save lives.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Apr 15th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on April 15, 2020:

There are 27,063 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 14,248 confirmed (including 435 deaths, 2,146 resolved)

_ Ontario: 7,953 confirmed (including 334 deaths, 3,568 resolved)

_ Alberta: 1,870 confirmed (including 48 deaths, 914 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 1,517 confirmed (including 72 deaths, 942 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 517 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 124 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 301 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 187 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 229 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 99 resolved), 17 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 244 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 149 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 116 confirmed (including 75 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 25 confirmed (including 23 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed

_ Yukon: 8 confirmed (including 6 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 27,063 (17 presumptive, 27,046 confirmed including 903 deaths, 8,235 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Second World War commemorations become casualty of COVID-19 pandemic

LEE BERTHIAUME, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 14th, 2020

OTTAWA — Donald White was shaving when his friend ran in excitedly to tell his unit the news: The war was over.

The evening of May 8, 1945, White and his fellow Royal Canadian Dragoons were parked at a bivouac about 30 kilometres from the German port city of Wilhelmshaven. Canada had been at war with Nazi Germany for nearly six years. And now his friend was saying that the BBC was reporting on the wireless radio in their Staghound armoured car that the war was over?

“We thought he was just pulling our legs,” the now-95-year-old White recalls in an interview from his home in Oshawa, Ont. “I was shaving and I was going to drown him in the shaving water for being a smartass. It was maybe five minutes later the officer came in and informed us.”

White was supposed to have been in the Netherlands this week, a guest of honour in a commemoration of the Dragoons’ role in liberating the Dutch city of Leeuwarden exactly 75 years ago on April 15. The trip was to be first of two to the Netherlands, the second planned for early next month to mark Canada’s role in liberating the country.

Instead, White is home in suburban Toronto. Having already devastated lives and livelihoods around the world, COVID-19 is also affecting remembrance efforts by forcing the cancellations of key commemorative events such as the 75th anniversaries of the Liberation of the Netherlands and Victory in Europe Day, when Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies.

“I feel disappointed like everybody,” White said. “We planned for it and looked forward to it and I think probably my biggest disappointment was not only the celebrations, but I’ve gotten to know people over there. It’s like going to meet old friends.”

The federal government was planning to send a large delegation of veterans, family members, current military members and students to the Netherlands for 10 days at the start of May for the two commemorations, but those have since been postponed indefinitely. Other commemorations such as for the Battle of the Atlantic have also been put on hold or cancelled for this year.

“The well-being of veterans and staff is of utmost importance,” Veterans Affairs Canada said in a recent statement. “In line with advice about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) from various health and safety authorities, the government of Canada will not be sending a delegation overseas and will not be hosting commemorative ceremonies in the Netherlands as planned.”

The Department of National Defence sent out its own message this month to active service personnel who were preparing to head to the Netherlands for the events to stand down and focus on preparing to respond to calls for help for COVID-19, a natural disaster or both at once.

The First Canadian Army was responsible for clearing the Netherlands of German forces in the final weeks of the war. The effort is largely overshadowed in Canada by D-Day and other major Second World War battles, but more than 1,300 Canadians were killed and 4,300 were wounded during weeks of grinding fighting as the Germans were pushed back.

In the process, the Canadians saved up to a million Dutch from starvation and sickness, says historian Mark Zuehlke, who wrote a book entitled “On to Victory: The Canadian Liberation of the Netherlands, March 23-May 5, 1945,” and the Canadians earned the Netherlands’ undying gratitude.

The European country has sent tulips — 1.1 million last year — to Canada each year since the war and hosted parades to honour the Canadians who were there. The country has also typically played host to Canada during V-E Day commemorations, which was followed by the surrender of Japan in August 1945, formally ending the Second World War. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was expected to attend this year’s event.

White has previously met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Princess Margriet, who was born in Ottawa in 1943 where the Dutch royal family was staying in exile, at previous commemorations in the Netherlands. This year, his three children were planning to attend with him. Veterans Affairs is still planning to send a delegation of veterans to the Netherlands once the pandemic passes. But when that will be is anyone’s guess.

“How does anybody plan anything until we know when we’re going to be able to deal with this problem we have right now, this infection?” White said.

Zuehlke was working with Veterans Affairs Canada to organize several tours of the Netherlands for Canadians during the commemorations before they were cancelled and said he expects the events to be postponed to next year. Some of the elderly veterans who had planned to go this year won’t be able to make it.

Still, despite his disappointment at not going, White could also see some similarities in how a crisis — whether a world war or a pandemic — can engender faith while bringing a country and society together to face it.

“It’s terrible what’s going on and we’re being inconvenienced and that, but I think we gotta do what we’re told we’re supposed to do, hoping for the best,” he said. “And that’s probably like we did during the war. We hoped for the best, right?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Canadians want serious progress on COVID 19 before returning to work: poll

LAURA OSMAN THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 14th, 2020

OTTAWA — Most Canadians want to see significant progress in the fight against COVID-19 before they would feel comfortable with people being allowed to return to work, a new poll suggests.

The poll says 29 per cent of Canadians believe restrictions on workplace and leisure activities should only be lifted once the country is free of any new cases for at least two weeks.

One-quarter of respondents said they would want to see only sporadic cases being discovered before such restrictions are lifted, and assurance there is no pressure on the health system.

Just over 20 per cent think Canadians should continue to physically isolate and stay away from work until there is a vaccine to protect against the virus.

The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies between April 9 and 12, surveyed 1,508 adult Canadians and 1,012 adult Americans randomly recruited from its online panel. The internet-based survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered random samples.

“We wanted to look at that aspect because we’re now in that phase where people are starting to reconsider when are we going back to normal,” said Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of Leger.

“They seem to be favouring the mid- to long-term more than the short-term,” he said.

Recently released federal projections show that it could be mid-summer, or even late summer, before the first wave of Canada’s epidemic is over, and that is the best-case scenario.

As for a vaccine, that is likely still many months away.

Canadians seem highly dedicated to obeying the rules set out by public health, as 98 per cent of the poll respondents said they abide by social distancing.

Until current restrictions are lifted, 40 per cent say they would report someone whose is not obeying public health rules, with the largest number of would-be snitches in the Atlantic provinces, at 50 per cent, and Quebec, at 48 per cent.

“It’s as if Canadians are saying, not that we’re comfortable … but that we feel it’s the right thing for now and maybe a few weeks more” Bourque said.

Those results show a serious departure from Canada’s neighbours to the south, where 46 per cent say they would not report rule-breakers to the authorities.

The United States has become the new worldwide epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, and has now reported more deaths than any other country.

But attitudes there about physical distancing and public health measures appear more lax than in Canada, according to the poll results.

Pollsters offered a list of public health measures, including staying two meters away from others, and only going out for necessities.

They found the rate of non-compliance with at least one of those measures in the U.S. was 46 per cent, compared to 26 per cent in Canada.

“It probably explains in part why we’re doing so much better than our southern neighbour,” Bourque said.

Sixty-five per cent of Canadians polled were fearful about the impact our southern neighbours could have on the pandemic here.

Americans are decidedly less worried about how the Canadian epidemic is playing out, with only 19 per cent concerned that it will impact their country.

People in the states also appear far less satisfied with measures put in place by President Donald Trump, with only 44 per cent in support. In Canada, the federal government is enjoying 76 per cent support for the measures it’s institutes to right the virus.

Bourque said Canadians’ trust in institutions appears to be helping in Canada.

On Monday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada’s epidemic curve is starting to show positive signs, as the growth of cases begins to slow down.

It is also helping Canada’s Liberal party, which is enjoying growing support for its response to the pandemic, he said.

The pollsters asked who respondents would vote for if an election was held today, compared to responses from January 22, before the COVID-19 crisis hit Canada.

Opposition parties have seen a slight decline in support among decided voters, whereas Liberal support has climbed to 39 per cent from 31 per cent earlier this year.

‘A lifeboat in the ocean:’ Nurses on life inside a downtown Vancouver hospital

AMY SMART, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 14th, 2020

VANCOUVER — As a registered nurse in the emergency department at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Zoe Manarangi Bake-Paterson wonders whether she’ll be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

There’s palpable stress in the department, she says, as she and her colleagues prepare for a surge of cases that may or may not arrive.

“It feels like we’re in a lifeboat in the ocean waiting for the tsunami to arrive,” Manarangi Bake-Paterson says.

“I just wonder how this will change me or change my co-workers in our practice or in our personal lives, because I think it’s a lot that’s going to come our way. I just wonder, when we come through the other side, how different will we be?”

St. Paul’s has long been at the forefront of treating Vancouver’s most vulnerable.

In the 1980s, it was one of the few treatment centres for HIV-positive patients in British Columbia.  Today, many of its patients are residents of the Downtown Eastside, which has been the epicentre of an overdose crisis.

More than a dozen health workers at the hospital agreed to be interviewed by The Canadian Press and described how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting them and their work.

They shared feelings of uncertainty, fear, hopefulness and solidarity.

Even if B.C. is successful at slowing COVID-19’s spread, several nurses say they are bracing for a possible outbreak in the Downtown Eastside where so many are homeless and physical distancing is a challenge.

The hospital is closed to anyone except patients and staff now.

Beds have been vacated and triage has been overhauled so that patients with respiratory symptoms can be isolated immediately.

Staff receive updated directions — sometimes hourly — as new evidence about the outbreak emerges. They rehearse urgent intubations after their shifts and adjust to working in zero pressure rooms.

Potential COVID-19 cases appear in the emergency department in many different ways.

“It kind of looks like pneumonia. They’re short of breath, usually pretty high fevers and they tend to deteriorate pretty quickly, the people who are really not doing well,” says registered nurse Duncan McTavish.

Other patients seem OK, so it’s hard to tell, he says.

In some ways, the novel coronavirus is like a phantom in the emergency department.

Staff don’t typically find out if a patient has COVID-19 after taking swabs. Patients may be sent home with instructions to manage their symptoms or be in intensive care by the time the test results come in.

The spectre that anyone could carry the virus has changed the way nurses think about everything they do.

“Every single action I take I have to think about,” McTavish says. “What kind of mask I need and if I enter the room, swab this person, leave again — I have to make sure I’ve changed my gloves and washed my hands between every single step.

“We do that all the time, but certainly the awareness of that right now is really heightened.”

Nurses wear goggles, suffocating surgical masks and other gear all through their shifts.

“People have been joking about how their skin is already feeling abrasions because of this constant friction with the masks,” says Manarangi Bake-Paterson.

Registered nurse Rachel Mrdeza says she had never really thought about the gear she wears as protection, but now she’s keenly aware that it’s her shield.

Feelings in the hospital swing like a pendulum, she says.

On one side, staff are worried for patients and loved ones. On the other, they’re uplifted by the roaring cheers for health workers that ripple through the city at the same time every night and by the donations of food and other supplies that have been dropped off.

“At those times it feels so incredibly joyous to experience that,” Mrdeza says.

There’s also a feeling of unity among staff.

“Even in the masks where you can’t see people’s smiles and glasses are fogged up and … there is this physical disconnect, it feels like we’re in this together,” Manarangi Bake-Paterson says.

Many have had to make personal sacrifices or have had tough conversations with their families about what would happen if they got sick.

Registered nurse Leah Ventura says she waved hello outside her parents’ window the other day because she couldn’t go in.

Amanda Hickey, a clinical nurse leader, says her mother recently moved to a care home and Hickey hasn’t been able to see her in more than a month.

“That’s been really tough.”

Registered nurse Maria Alonzo says her heart sank when she woke up one day with a body ache, fever and dry throat. One of the physicians she works with contracted the coronavirus and she’s in contact with potential cases every day.

As a single mom who lives with her 73-year-old mother, Alonzo had trouble expressing the relief she felt when she tested negative.

“I actually cried when I got my result,” she says. “Every time I go to work my fear is 200 per cent, because I always think of my son, my mom who lives with me. What would happen if I got sick?”

Still, Alonzo says she’ll continue to work every day alongside thousands of other health workers.

In many ways, the emergency department nurses’ jobs haven’t changed at all. They are still responsible for providing the best care they can and they have a system in place to do so.

Registered nurse Erica Wong urges everyone to keep following public health protocols that will give nurses the best chance at success.

“So far we’re doing OK, but that can change any second. Just continue to be cautiously optimistic. We are all in this together,” she said.

“We just need to keep going.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2020

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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