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Stunning drone footage offer’s bird’s eye view of annual ice marathon across world’s deepest lake

Every winter, dozens of Russians and international visitors lace up their special ice cleats and embark on a remarkable 42.2-kilometre run across Siberia’s Lake Baikal.   

Lake Baikal, located in southeastern Siberia about 4,300 kilometres east of Moscow, is famous for its pristine water, which freezes clear and creates stunning blue ice formations. Baikal is between 20 million and 25 million years old and holds more water than all of North America’s Great Lakes combined.

At more than 1,600 metres deep, including under the marathon route, it is easily the deepest lake in the world.

The Baikal Ice Marathon, organized by local businessman Alexei Nikiforov, has taken place every year for the past 17 years. Even with Russia still gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, Nikiforov says he was determined not to cancel the event. 

This year, 70 runners took part. While much of the route across the lake was over clear ice, blowing snow meant runners had to trudge through knee-deep drifts for the last 10 kilometres to reach the finish line. The winner was former Russian pro-football star Alexei Smertin, 45, who clocked in at three hours and 25 minutes. 

Our CBC Moscow crew visited the lake for this year’s race, which took place Feb. 28.

WATCH | Why runners couldn’t stay away from the Baikal Ice Marathon this year:

Lake Baikal is one of Russia’s natural wonders, and in the middle of a fierce Siberian winter, it’s the site of one of the most extreme sporting events on earth — a marathon on the frozen surface of the world’s deepest lake. 5:36

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CBC | World News

Officials across Canada urge new vigilance as COVID variants spread

The latest:

Alberta’s top doctor is urging people to follow both the “detail and the spirit” of public health measures as the province deals with community spread of a variant of concern first reported in the U.K.

With 1,078 reported cases of the B117 variant reported on a federal tracking site as of Wednesday evening, Alberta trails only one other province — Ontario — in total reported cases of the more transmissible variant.

“The B117 variant is spreading in many different contexts and many different settings,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said at a briefing on Wednesday. “And we’re seeing higher attack rates than we typically do in settings where people are exposed.”

Hinshaw said that so far, the cases the province has seen of the P1 variant (linked to Brazil) and the B1351 variant (first reported in South Africa) have been few in number and linked to travel.

The B117 variant, however, has been established in the community.

“While we are continuing to work hard to slow its spread, it is spreading in all zones of our province.”


Hinshaw said that while vaccination efforts are ramping up, the province is not yet at a point where the vaccination coverage is sufficient to “prevent severe outcomes.”

“For the next couple of months, including spring break, we need to just hold on and protect our communities with our choices.”

Hinshaw highlighted some progress around vaccinations, pointing to the province’s plan to offer first doses to all adults who want one by the end of June.

Alberta is not the only province concerned about the spread of variants of concern. As of Wednesday evening, the Public Health Agency of Canada had reported more than 4,200 cases of the variants, including:

  • 3,946 of the B117 variant.
  • 240 of the B1351 variant.
  • 71 of the P1 variant.

Ontario has seen the highest total number of cases of variants of concern of any province, with 1,134 cases of the B117 variant, 47 of the B1351 variant and 34 of the P1 variant.

In Saskatchewan, there’s growing worry about variants of concern in Regina, which has seen more than 80 per cent of the province’s variant cases.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Twitter that with the increase of variant cases, “maintaining public health measures and individual precautions is crucial to reducing infection rates and avoiding a rapid reacceleration of the epidemic and its severe outcomes.”

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Inside the race to get COVID-19 vaccines to Canadians:

CBC’s David Cochrane goes inside the processes of vaccine delivery and distribution as well as the challenges to deliver on the promise of at least one shot for every Canadian who wants it by July 1. 4:08

As of early Thursday morning, Canada had reported 919,244 cases of COVID-19, with 31,600 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,554.

In Atlantic Canada, there were three cases of COVID-19 reported on Wednesday — two in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick. There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador.

In Quebec, health officials reported 703 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 13 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials also reported a rise in the number intensive care patients, up 16 compared with the prior day, for a total of 107. Total hospitalizations dropped by one, to 532.

Health officials in Ontario reported 1,508 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths on Wednesday. A provincial dashboard listed the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations as 741, with 300 of those patients in the province’s intensive care units.

The top doctors in Ontario’s two main COVID-19 hot spots are preparing for warmer weather. Dr. Eileen de Villa and Dr. Lawrence Loh said they’re seeking to ease some of the restrictions on outdoor activities in Toronto and Peel.

Both medical officers want to keep their communities in the strictest “grey-lockdown” category of Ontario’s colour-coded pandemic framework, but with adjustments that would allow for outdoor dining and fitness.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 96 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and no additional deaths.

The Manitoba government also moved to reduce the minimum age for COVID-19 vaccines by two years — to 53 and up for First Nations people, and 73 and up for others. Those numbers do not include younger age groups with underlying health conditions that are already eligible for vaccination.

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 87 new cases and one additional death on Wednesday. The Saskatchewan Health Authority urged people to be vigilant in the face of variant of concern cases, particularly in the Regina area.

Across the North, Nunavut will now count 12 additional cases of COVID-19, including three deaths, in the territory’s total case count. The new numbers come from Nunavut residents who caught COVID-19 or died from the virus while in Manitoba.

Nunavut Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said it’s been unclear since the start of the pandemic which jurisdiction these numbers would fall under. The cases and deaths occurred between December 2020 and January 2021. Patterson said attribution of cases of COVID-19 acquired outside the territory will continue to occur on a case-by-case basis.

There were no new cases reported in Yukon or the Northwest Territories on Wednesday.

In British Columbia, health officials reported 498 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. A joint statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said no data about variant cases was available Wednesday due to a lab sequencing issue.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

As of early Thursday morning, more than 121.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.6 million.

In Africa, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the suspension of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in some European Union nations hurts efforts to build public confidence and trust in vaccines on the continent of 1.3 billion people.

John Nkengasong said in a briefing Thursday that despite “unfortunate events” in Europe, African nations should continue rolling out the AstraZeneca vaccine, the only shot currently available in many countries that have accessed batches of it through the COVAX initiative.


A nurse prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at Mulago referral hospital in Kampala, on the first day of a vaccination campaign last week. (Badru Katumba/AFP/Getty Images)

Nkengasong said a recent meeting convened by his group concluded that vaccine-related decisions in Africa should not be “based on anything that is subjective.” He said instead there should be continuous monitoring and reporting of any adverse events following inoculations.

At least 22 of Africa’s 54 nations have received more than 14 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine as of March 13, according to the World Health Organization.

The European Medicines Agency, which is expected to update its findings later Thursday, has said there is “no indication” the AstraZeneca shot is responsible for dangerous blood clots in a few recipients. The World Health Organization has also said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks and recommends its continued use. Other European nations are proceeding with vaccinations despite safety worries in countries such as Germany.

In Europe, Italy inaugurated a living monument to its COVID-19 dead Thursday as it marked the anniversary of one of the most haunting moments of the pandemic: when Bergamo’s death toll reached such heights that an army convoy had to transport coffins out because its cemeteries and crematoriums were full.

Premier Mario Draghi visited the northern city on Thursday to commemorate a national day of mourning for Italy’s coronavirus victims. Flags flew at half-mast around the country and public authorities observed a minute of silence.

Draghi laid a wreath at Bergamo’s cemetery and inaugurated a forest named in honour of the more than 100,000 victims in Italy, the first country in the West to be hit by the outbreak.

“This wood doesn’t only contain only the memory of the many victims,” Draghi said. “This place is a symbol of the pain of an entire nation.”

The anniversary came as much of Italy including Bergamo is under new lockdown, with schools and restaurants shuttered, amid a new surge of infections. And it comes as Italy’s halting vaccination campaign has slowed down further because of the suspension of AstraZeneca shots pending review.


A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during home visits to carry out vaccinations in Rome on Wednesday. (Yara Nardi/Reuters)

France is set to announce new coronavirus restrictions on Thursday, including a potential lockdown in the Paris region and in the north of the country, as the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units spikes.

“We will make the decisions we need to make,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday while visiting the hospital of Poissy and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris. He said measures will be “pragmatic, proportionated and targeted.”

Prime Minister Jean Castex is scheduled to detail new restrictions on Thursday. The virus is rapidly spreading in the Paris region, where the rate of infection has reached over 420 per 100,000 inhabitants and ICUs are closed to saturation. France’s nationwide infection rate is about 250 per 100,000.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistani authorities are warning that strict lockdown measures may need to be implemented if the public continues to violate physical-distancing measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Health authorities say a potential lockdown could include closing businesses and restrictions on economic and social activities. The warning was issued Thursday by the National Command and Control Center, which oversees Pakistan’s response to COVID-19.

Amid a third wave of the coronavirus that is gripping Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, and the northern part of the country, Pakistani health and administrative authorities have imposed a partial lockdown in affected areas since last week. Pakistan has reported 615,810 virus cases among 13,717 deaths.

Thailand will procure an additional 100,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine to be used and paid for by businesses, in the first phase of a private sector vaccination scheme.

In the Americas, Paraguayan opposition lawmakers lost a bid to impeach President Mario Abdo over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

The United States is investing $ 12.25 billion on ramping up COVID-19 testing to help schools reopen safely and promote testing equity among high-risk and under-served populations.

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CBC | Health News

Xiaomi Says Its New Product Can Charge a Phone From Across the Room

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Smartphone charging technology has improved dramatically in the last few years with some phones sucking down 65W of power or more. Xiaomi has been one of the companies to push both wired and wireless charging speeds, and now it says you don’t need wires at all. The company’s Mi Air Charge technology can allegedly charge your phone from a distance even while it’s in your pocket. Or so Xiaomi claims — we don’t know for sure because Mi Air Charge is just a tech demo right now.  

Many of the devices we use on a daily basis are limited because of battery capacity. So, the ability to remotely power things without wires could be a transformative technology. Various research teams have experimented with wireless power, but it’s never been practical due to low efficiency and potential hazards for nearby people. Xiaomi developed Mi Air Charge internally, and it claims to have addressed these issues. 

As you can see in the video below, the Mi Air Charge base station is enormous, roughly the size of a large desktop PC tower. There are 144 antennas inside that operate on millimeter wave technology (mmWave), which is the same part of the spectrum where some 5G networks operate. However, Xiaomi is transmitting power instead of data. 

Phones will need a special mmWave module to work with Mi Air Charge, featuring a beacon antenna and an array to collect all those mmWave signals. The beacon helps the base station locate your phone in space, and the 14 antennas in the receiver array convert mmWave signals into power by running them through a rectifier circuit. 

Xiaomi says the end result is a 5W charging rate, which is much slower than all of today’s wired methods. Still, it’s supposed to work at a range of several meters, and obstacles allegedly don’t interfere with the process. 

There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about Mi Air Charge, though. For one, mmWave signals are extremely finicky — they don’t usually pass through obstacles very well, which is why Verizon’s mmWave 5G doesn’t work indoors. The transmitter is probably also using much, much more than 5W of power to charge your phone at that meager rate. Plus, the Mi Air Charge unit is sure to be extremely expensive with an array of 144 mmWave antennas. 

Even though there are numerous reasons this probably isn’t as cool as it seems at first, it’s something we should all want to exist. Imagine if you never had to think about recharging your phone. You could even have devices that didn’t need batteries — they would just connect to your wireless power grid. For now, it’s all science fiction.

Now read:

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ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech

Pro-Trump demonstrations held at statehouses across U.S.

Police and U.S. National Guard troops stood sentry at newly fortified statehouses on Sunday ahead of demonstrations planned for the lead-up to president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, as authorities worked to deter a repeat of the recent riot that overran the U.S. Capitol.

A few protesters were starting to gather in some cities, but streets in many others remained empty.

About two dozen people, several carrying long guns, protested outside the Ohio Statehouse, observed by several of the dozens of state troopers positioned around the building. Several dozen people — some carrying American flags — gathered at South Carolina’s Statehouse. And at Michigan’s Capitol, a small group of demonstrators, some armed, stood near a chain-link fence surrounding the building as state police walked the grounds and National Guard vehicles were parked nearby.

Tall fencing also now surrounds the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where Biden is to be inaugurated on Wednesday, while the National Mall is closed to the general public and the District of Columbia’s mayor asked people not to visit. Some 25,000 National Guard troops from across the country were due in the city in the coming days.

The stepped-up security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when supporters of President Donald Trump swarmed the building while Congress was certifying the electoral college vote to confirm Biden’s election.

The FBI has warned of the potential for armed protests at the nation’s Capitol and all 50 state capitol buildings beginning this weekend. Some social media messages had targeted Sunday for demonstrations, though it remained unclear how many people might show up.


Armed demonstrators protest outside of the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, Mich., on Sunday. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Authorities in some states said they had no specific indication that demonstrations would occur, much less turn violent. Yet many state officials vowed to be prepared, just in case. They said they did not want a repeat of the mob’s assault, which left left a Capitol Police officer and four others dead. In recent days, more than 125 people have been arrested on charges related to the insurrection.

In some locations, a small number of people showed up intending to hold counter-protests, even in places where they had not yet materialized.

One counter-protester came early to greet any demonstrators at the Pennsylvania Capitol, saying he had heard about the possibility of a meet-up of a far-right militant group. But no one else was there.

“I’m fundamentally against the potential protesters coming here to delegitimize the election, and I don’t want to be passive in expressing my disapproval of them coming into this city,” Stephen Rzonca said.

Wisconsin National Guard troops armed with rifles, shields and body armour arrived near the state Capitol on Sunday morning. A man who drove a vehicle up the steps of the Capitol building was arrested overnight for driving while intoxicated.

Governors calls for National Guard

More than a third of governors had called on the National Guard to help protect their state capitols and aid local law enforcement officers. Several governors issued states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden’s inauguration day.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement on Sunday that law enforcement officers “will protect the rights of peaceful demonstrators but will also vigorously resist any violence.”

Some state legislatures also cancelled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week, citing security precautions.


U.S. National Guard members load a vehicle at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Sunday. (Jay LaPrete/The Associated Press)

Even before the violence at the U.S. Capitol, some statehouses had been the target of vandals and angry protesters during the past year.

Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to coronavirus-related lockdowns and were confronted by police.

People angered over the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes, vandalized capitol buildings in several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.


And just last month, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the state Capitol in Salem to protest its closure to the public during a special legislative session on coronavirus measures.

Anticipating the potential for violence in the coming week, the building’s first-floor windows were boarded up and the National Guard has been deployed.

The legislature was scheduled to begin its 2021 session on Tuesday, but much of its initial work has been delayed for at least two days because of warnings about potential violence.

“The state capitol has become a fortress,” said Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat. “I never thought I’d see that; it breaks my heart.”

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CBC | World News

Homeland Security boss resigns as FBI warns of possible armed protests across U.S. before Biden inauguration

As security forces in the United States brace for the possibility of armed protests across the country around president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the acting secretary of homeland security is stepping down.

Chad Wolf, who criticized President Donald Trump over last week’s deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol, said in a message to staff that he would step down as of Monday night. He said Pete Gaynor, who ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency, would become the acting homeland security secretary. 

Wolf had earlier indicated he planned to remain in the job. Last week, Wolf asked Trump and all elected officials to “strongly condemn the violence” that took place at the Capitol. Five people died, including a police officer.

Wolf said he has condemned violence on both sides of the political aisle, specifically directed at law enforcement. He tweeted “we now see some supporters of the President using violence as a means to achieve political ends” and called that unacceptable.


Meanwhile, the FBI is warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

An internal FBI bulletin warned that the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of some extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters on Monday that the Guard is also looking at any issues that may arise across the country.

“We’re keeping a look across the entire country to make sure that we’re monitoring, and that our Guards in every state are in close co-ordination with their local law enforcement agencies to provide any support requested.”

Security forces bolster plans

The head of the National Guard says at least 10,000 troops will be deployed in Washington, D.C., by Saturday, and an additional 5,000 could be requested from other states as officials brace for more, possibly violent protests surrounding president-elect Biden’s inauguration.

The U.S. National Park Service announced Monday it would shut down public access to Washington monument until Jan. 24, citing threats surrounding the inauguration.

The U.S. Secret Service will also begin carrying out its special security arrangements for the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration on Wednesday, almost a week earlier than originally planned. 

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Sunday sent a letter to Wolf saying she is “extremely concerned” about the upcoming inauguration in light of the “unprecedented terrorist attacks on the U.S. Capitol.”


Trump himself is skipping Biden’s inauguration, a decision Biden said was a “good thing,” though Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife plan to attend.

Biden’s team hopes the event will help bring a fractured country back together. The theme will be “America United” — an issue that’s long been a central focus for Biden, but one that’s taken on added weight in the wake of the violence in the Capitol.

WATCH l Assessing the pros and cons of invoking the 25th Amendment:

The CBC’s Carole MacNeil speaks to Thomas Balcerski, associate professor of history at Eastern Connecticut State University, on whether the 25th Amendment could be invoked against U.S. President Donald Trump. 6:59

The presidential inaugural committee said that the theme “reflects the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together and creates a path to a brighter future.”

It will be one of Biden’s first acts as president and a show of bipartisanship at a time when the national divide is on stark display.

The focus on unity has characterized Biden’s presidential run from the start, and he’s said repeatedly since winning the White House he sees unifying the country as one of his top priorities as president. But the scope — and urgency — of the challenge Biden faces became even clearer after Trump inspired a riot at the Capitol last Wednesday, spurred by his repeated attempts to delegitimize Biden’s win.


U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to focus on bringing the country together once he’s sworn in on Jan. 20. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

There are already signs of increased tension outside of Washington, D.C., as state lawmakers return to work. 

In Olympia, Wash., members of the National Guard defended security fencing outside of the capitol building as the 2021 legislative session got underway. There were concerns armed groups might try to occupy the building. Last Wednesday, hours after the siege in Washington, D.C., people broke a gate outside the governor’s mansion in the state of Washington and made it to the porch and front yard.

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How a national response could address an unprecedented COVID-19 surge across Canada

COVID-19 levels are surging across Canada at rates never before seen in the pandemic and showing no signs of slowing down. 

The coronavirus continues to spread like wildfire both in areas that were hit hard in the first wave and those that were practically untouched previously, and the reaction from the federal government has taken a desperate tone.

“I’m imploring the premiers and our mayors to please do the right thing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week. “Act now to protect public health.” 

We’re now averaging 4,000 coronavirus cases per week and 50 deaths per day, with more than 45,000 active cases across the country.

A record of nearly 5,000 cases and 83 deaths were also reported in a single day in Canada this week, and we’re on track to record over 10,000 cases a day by early next month. 

But with a second wave of the pandemic that’s worsening by the day, experts say the federal government may need to do more to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

‘Never too late’ to turn around dire situation

Ontario is now projecting 6,500 new COVID-19 cases per day by mid-December if no further action is taken to address the worsening situation in the province. 

In the face of that ominous prediction and a Toronto Star investigation that found major discrepancies between guidance from experts and thresholds for increased regulations, Ontario changed its guidelines and imposed severe restrictions on five major cities and regions on Friday. 

Across the country, the situation is no less dire. 

Quebec is weighing temporarily closing schools this winter, Manitoba has imposed strict new “code red” restrictions and Alberta is limiting bar hours and activities. Cases in British Columbia are doubling every 13 days, and Saskatchewan is expanding mandatory masking.

But is that enough to curb the worsening second wave?

Experts are divided on what Canada should do next to address the unprecedented surge of COVID-19, but one thing is becoming clear — what we’re doing may not be working.

Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says he feels “stupid and naive” for thinking Canada had adequately prepared for a second wave when cases were low in the summer. 

“We opened up our economy perhaps a bit too early [and then] the numbers were out of control. We were testing non-strategically. We squandered our testing capacity,” he said. “But is it too late? It’s never too late.”

Deonandan estimates that while we’re still at least 12 months from the widespread rollout of a safe and effective vaccine in Canada, how we use that time is still up in the air. 

“How do you spend that year? Do you spend it rolling the dice and letting people die?” he said. “Or do you spend it paying some hard economic costs now, so that you spend most of this year in relatively good economic standing?” 

Could a national response help control Canada’s 2nd wave?

One approach that has been put forth by public health experts is the use of emergency federal powers to co-ordinate our response to the pandemic across the country. 

That can be done either by using the Emergencies Act or through the inherent power the federal government has in times of emergency under the Constitution Act

The Emergencies Act is far-reaching in that it allows the federal government to extend its power over provinces and their health-care systems to deal with the pandemic. 

WATCH | How Canada could regain control of COVID-19:

COVID-19 cases are soaring and lockdowns are returning. After eight months of the pandemic, epidemiologists have a decent playbook. Where did Canada go wrong? And how does it get back on track? 2:01

“It authorizes the federal government to essentially take control over a situation,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

“That’s the nuclear bomb approach.” 

Bogoch said that strategy would be unrealistic to take in the current situation, as the federal government would then be responsible for countless health-care decisions at the provincial level. 

“Canada doesn’t have the capability of micromanaging a health-care system,” he said. “They don’t have the manpower. They don’t have the skill set. They can’t do it.”

The less extreme option is to use the emergency powers in the Constitution Act to enact stricter measures across the country to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

“There’s no real requirement for using it except that the government says there’s an emergency,” said Amir Attaran, a professor in the Faculties of Law and School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa. “That’s it. That’s all they have to do.” 


Attaran favours that approach because he feels the premiers have failed to effectively control the pandemic, save for the success of the four provinces in the Atlantic bubble. 

“The court could be called on to judge whether that’s the case or not,” he said, referring to a potential court challenge of the emergency power. “But find for me a court in this country that’s going to say there’s no emergency.”

“Anyone who says, ‘that would be an illegal overreach,’ doesn’t know, because whether it’s illegal or not comes to a decision that’s in the courts, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the judges of this country would realize, yes, we’re in quite a mess.” 

Measures enacted using Constitution Act

Under this approach, the federal government would not take over provincial health-care decisions but instead could enact measures like national mask mandates, countrywide gathering limits and even cordon off hot zones and restrict travel between regions. 

“It’s not running anything. These are orders of what must and must not happen,” Attaran said of the approach. “Operationalizing it remains in the hands of the provinces.” 

The benefit of this approach is that it would co-ordinate Canada’s response nationally and overrule provinces that may be hesitant to enact stricter measures in the face of a growing number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The drawback is that it would likely bring the ire of premiers who feel they’re handling the situation well and don’t want to be micromanaged. 

“That just wouldn’t fly,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said this week in response to questions about the possibility of increased federal intervention in the pandemic response. 

“That’s not their jurisdiction. We don’t need the nanny state telling us what to do. We understand our provinces, and I’ll tell you, he’d have a kickback like he’d never seen from not just me, from every single premier.” 


Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the possibility of increased federal intervention in the pandemic response ‘wouldn’t fly’ with premiers across the country. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Deonandan said the two main reasons why a national strategy hasn’t been deployed is because of a lack of political will and the complexity of our country’s political makeup. 

“How does a Liberal federal government compel a Conservative government in Alberta to do something that is maybe philosophically problematic to find consensus on?” he said.

The federal carbon tax was a perfect example of this challenge, he said.

“If you can’t find a philosophical consensus, how do you, with a heavy hand, enact homogeneity of policy across the country?” 

Despite this, Attaran said the federal health minister has the power to invoke the Constitution Act to address surging COVID-19 numbers immediately — even without consulting cabinet.

“The great thing about the federal emergencies power is it comes with no substantive requirements,” Attaran said. “The only requirement legally is that an emergency measure be temporary.” 

Trudeau said this week the federal government “doesn’t decide who closes down where and how fast.” But if its emergency powers were enacted, it could ensure thresholds to stop the spread of the virus are being met across the board. 

But Ottawa might also risk alienating provincial leaders — and the Canadian public. 

“Once you take control, provinces can do anything. They can stay engaged. They can take a step back,” Bogoch said. 

“Then you’ve got problems.” 

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Hospital CEO drives across U.S. border to secure medication for ICU patient amid COVID-19

Driving across the border to retrieve medication from Michigan isn’t a typical part of Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj’s job, but desperate times called for desperate measures. 

“You do what you got to do, it’s [an] unprecedented world that we’re living in and again the focus is on the patient,” he told CBC News. 

Musyj says on Sunday, a hospital pharmacist called him and said there was patient who urgently needed medication but the closest place that had the doses the patient needed was the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbour, Mich.

Musyj would not disclose the name of the medication, citing patient privacy, but said there was only one other dose at an Ontario hospital and his hospital needed several.

The pharmacist said they were more than willing to drive to the U.S., personally, but wanted to ensure they would make it back into Canada and asked if they would then have to quarantine, Musyj recounted. 

Normally, a trip like this would be out of the norm for the hospital, but not nearly as uncertain, Musyj said. Border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic had both Musyj and the pharmacist unclear on the rules with a patient in such dire circumstances. 


Musyj said it took him two hours to cross the border, get the medication and end up back on Canadian soil. He noted how “eerie” the border was, with hardly any traffic. (Rob/Gurdebeke)

As a dual citizen Musyj said he knew he’d have less trouble making it through customs — so he volunteered to go instead. 

“The last thing we wanted to do was send someone who gets stopped at the border and gets sent back and we lose valuable time.”

He said he told the pharmacist, “[The] hospital’s going to survive without me physically being there, we need you more than me.” 

In total, Musyj said it took two hours to make the return trip. 

“It was eerie at the United States border,” he said, adding that he had no trouble getting across. But it was when he tried to re-enter Canada that he hit bumps in the road.  

He was stopped and questioned, during which he said he recalled telling the border agents, “You can do whatever you want with me, but this medication has got to get to the hospital.”

They said he’d be allowed to cross into the country, but because he was under quarantine once he got onto Canadian soil, the most he could do was slowly drive by the hospital and have hospital staff grab the medication from his car window. 

He said he did just that and has been in quarantine ever since. 

Quarantine exemptions for medication needed: Musyj

Musyj said the whole experience emphasized the need for him and his staff to be able to make these sorts of trips. 

This is the first time this has happened since the pandemic began — and Musyj said even before COVID-19 it was a rare occurrence — but he wants to make sure they’re prepared in a pinch.

“The fact that it happened once means it can happen again,” he said. 

As a result, Musyj said he’s brought this situation to the attention of Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk so that they can work on getting some type of pre-approval and quarantine exemption should the hospital ever need to do this again. 

At this time, while the federal government’s mandatory isolation rules do contain medical exemptions, the rules don’t explicitly say a person can be exempt from quarantine for bringing medication into Canada. 

Musyj said from the orders he’s read, he believes he would qualify but is in talks with Kusmierczyk to confirm. 

Canadian isolation guidelines mention those who are exempt include people “providing medical care, transporting essential medical equipment supplies or means of treatment, or delivering, maintaining or repairing medically necessary equipment or devices, as long as they do no directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the 14-day period that begins on the day on which the person enters Canada.” 

Kusmierczyk’s office, told CBC staff are working on this “unique situation” and have flagged the case to Minister of Health Patty Hajdu. 

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Jurisdictions across Canada implement or extend tough COVID-19 restrictions as cases spike

The latest:

Jurisdictions across Canada implemented new restrictions while others committed to existing measures to counter a spike in COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

Toronto is moving into the “red” level of Ontario’s colour-coded coronavirus shutdown system and adding stricter measures on top of that as the country’s largest city reported 520 new cases on Tuesday, setting a record for new infections for the second day in a row.

“We need more measures now because we’re seeing spread and risk like we’ve never seen before,” the city’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa told reporters on Tuesday.

Toronto will continue to enforce takeout only dining options; require that meeting and event spaces — including bingo halls, casinos and other establishments — remain closed; and prohibit indoor group fitness classes.

WATCH | Toronto’s top doctor announces stricter pandemic measures:

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has announced stricter measures as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the city. For 28 days, the city is closing indoor dining, indoor group fitness classes, meeting and event spaces and casinos and bingo halls. 2:16

In addition, de Villa is calling on people not to socialize with those outside their households and for businesses to continue to have work-from-home plans.

Tuesday’s move is in contrast to the city’s previous stance, which was that enacting stricter measures on top of the province’s restrictions likely exceeded de Villa’s legal powers.

Asked if municipal medical officers of health are able to trigger a full lockdown if they deem it necessary, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday they can, but “we’ve never taken that approach.” 

“I can’t rule out anything,” Ford said later of possible future lockdowns.

“If it needs to be done, we’ll do it.”

WATCH | Ontario sparing no expense fighting COVID-19, Ford says:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford assured the public Tuesday that the province is doing all it can to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and said it is sparing no expense or resource. 0:54

Manitoba is also imposing new measures and moving to red alert level, prompting business closures and travel restrictions. 

The restrictions call for sweeping closures, including a pause on in-person religious services, the closure of personal service businesses such as hair salons, closure of in-store shopping at non-essential retail and the closure of restaurant dining rooms.

“We are truly at a crossroads in our fight against this pandemic,” Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at the Tuesday morning announcement.

WATCH | ‘Further action is needed,’ says Manitoba’s top doctor:

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, announced new COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, as the entire province is moved to the red, or critical, level on the pandemic response system. 3:26

Other provinces committed to either extending or seeing through existing measures.

Quebec Premier François Legault on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of lifting red-zone restrictions early, with two weeks remaining in the province’s second 28-day partial lockdown. He said the spread of the virus is particularly concerning in certain regions: namely, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Lanaudière, Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec and the Gaspésie.

Additionally, British Columbia extended its provincial state of emergency for another two weeks to ensure B.C. health and emergency officials have the powers they need to respond to the pandemic. The original declaration of the state of emergency was made on March 18 and Tuesday’s extension lasts until Nov. 24.


A gym workers sprays a sanitizing solution on used equipment in Vancouver on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The local announcements come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remarked Tuesday that Canada is “seeing record spikes this morning across the country.”

“I’m imploring the premiers and our mayors to please do the right thing — act now to protect public health,” he said during his regular morning briefing with public health officials.

“If you think something is missing in the support we’re offering for your citizens — tell us.”

WATCH | Pandemic is worsening, says infectious disease specialist:

Despite the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says we need to to double down on efforts to stop the spread of the disease right now.   1:14

Trudeau was asked by reporters to point out the provinces struggling with caseloads now, but he declined.

“I think it’s extremely important to recognize that we are in a resurgence of COVID-19, and there are things that different regions can do to do more to fight COVID-19,” he said.

“Our job as a federal government is to be there to make difficult decisions slightly less difficult.”


What’s happening across Canada

As of 6:45 p.m. ET on Tuesday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 273,037 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 221,279 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,632.


British Columbia recorded 525 new cases and three more deaths as hospitalization numbers reached levels not seen since the spring.

Alberta said it has 8,090 active cases, with 207 people in hospital and 43 in ICU beds — all three record highs.

Ontario reported 1,388 new cases — a new daily high — and 15 more deaths.


People wearing face masks plant Canadian flags in the lawn of the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto on Tuesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Saskatchewan reported 127 new cases, while outbreaks have caused two schools in Regina to close and forced the Big River First Nation into lockdown.

Manitoba reported 384 new cases and five more deaths.

In Quebec, health officials reported 1,162 new cases and 38 additional deaths — including nine reported to have occurred in the last 24 hours.


People wearing face masks are seen at a Montreal park on Tuesday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Neither Newfoundland and Labrador nor New Brunswick reported any new cases.

Nova Scotia recorded three new cases, two of which are connected to a cluster of cases in the Clayton Park area of Halifax.

Prince Edward Island announced one new case in a person who was in close contact with a case announced Friday.

In Yukon, high school students in Grades 10 to 12 in Whitehorse will remain on a modified schedule for the remainder of the school year, Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley also said masks will soon be required in common areas of schools, including hallways, cafeterias, libraries and corridors, along with physical distancing of one metre within the classroom between students.


What’s happening around the world

As of Tuesday, there have been more than 51 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide, with more than 33 million listed as recovered on a coronavirus tracking dashboard maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The number of deaths recorded by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.2 million.

In Asia, Iran imposed a nightly curfew on businesses in Tehran and 30 other cities. Restaurants and non-essential businesses were ordered to close at 6 p.m. for one month, to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and to slow the worsening outbreak.

Iran has set single-day death records 10 times over the past month, a sign of how quickly the virus is spreading. COVID-19 has killed more than 39,000 people in Iran, the highest toll in the Middle East.

In Europe, Moscow authorities announced two-month restrictions in the capital as Russia has been swept by a resurgence of coronavirus cases since September, with daily infections spiking to more than 20,000 this week. 

Cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs have been ordered to close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., and college and university students were ordered to move to online classes. Theatres and cinemas are limited to 25 per cent capacity, and all mass cultural and entertainment events have been halted.   


Police officers wearing protective masks patrol Manezhnaya Square in Moscow on Tuesday. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Americas, the U.S. has surpassed one million cases in just the first 10 days of November, with several states posting new highs on Tuesday — including 12,000 new infections in Illinois and more than 7,000 in Wisconsin.

The U.S. death toll is also soaring and hospitals in several states are at the breaking point.

In Africa, Botswana signed an agreement with the global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization, giving it the option to buy coronavirus vaccines for 20 per cent of its population.

The southern African country has registered a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, around 7,800 with 27 deaths, but its economy has been dealt a severe blow by the pandemic.

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Why COVID-19 cases are surging across Canada and what needs to be done

This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


Six weeks ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country was at a “crossroads” in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now, with cases spiking in regions that were practically untouched by the virus in the first wave, it appears we’ve taken a wrong turn. 

There have been more than 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 and over 1,000 more deaths in this country since Trudeau made those comments.

The percentage of COVID-19 tests across the country that have come back positive has also grown by more than 235 per cent — from 1.4 per cent in mid-September to 4.7 per cent in the past week. 

So where did Canada go wrong? 

Experts say a mix of insufficient public health measures and complacency brought us to where we are today and we need to act quickly to turn things around — or at the very least prevent them from getting worse. 

Canada ‘failed’ to follow lessons 

South Korea taught us that by building up a robust test, trace and isolate system, it’s possible to control the spread of the coronavirus without subjecting your population to large scale lock downs. 

New Zealand locked down quickly, then shifted to a South Korean model focused on building up testing, tracing and isolating cases.  

But Australia learned the hard way in the second wave that, if you let the coronavirus spread unchecked for too long, tough action is needed to keep it under control through further lockdowns and strict public health measures.  

“The lesson across all of the world is that the places that do the best are the ones that act hard and early,” said Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa. 

“That’s where we failed.”

Experts say Canada, comparatively, has seemingly not yet learned these lessons. 

“In Canada, we never set clear goals and so we opened up without having built a solid test, trace isolate strategy,” said Dr. Irfan Dhalla, vice-president of physician quality at Unity Health in Toronto. 

“We didn’t follow the indicators closely enough and now we’re paying the price. The good news is we’re not paying nearly as bad a price as people in some other countries are paying, but it would be a big mistake to compare ourselves to the worst countries in the world.”

Ontario ‘highly unstable’ 

In Ontario, there are currently almost 150 outbreaks in long-term care homes, the seven-day average of cases has grown to nearly 1,000 and the largest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day happened this week. 

“The situation we find ourselves in right now is highly unstable,” said Dhalla, who is also an associate professor at the University of Toronto who sits on provincial and federal committees related to the COVID-19 response. 

“It wouldn’t take much to put us on a path towards the kinds of outcomes we’re seeing in Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, many American states.” 

But with over half of Ontario’s cases with no known link to previous cases and community transmission running rampant, experts say the province doesn’t have a clear enough view of the situation. 

“We don’t understand how many people are infected. We know that it’s a lot, but we really don’t know the magnitude,” said Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network. 

“If this were an iceberg, we don’t know how much is above or below water.” 

Despite this, Ontario is moving to ease restrictions on much of the province, even without hitting its full testing capacity and contact tracing and isolation of cases not functioning in hot spots like Toronto due to the sheer volume. 

“We know in Ontario that 1,000 cases per day is not a sustainable situation. We have too many outbreaks in hospitals, we have too many outbreaks in long-term care homes,” he said. 

“We have to bring the number of cases down from 1,000 a day back down to something like 50 or 100 per day. And when we get back down there, we need to have a test, trace, isolate strategy that works.” 

WATCH | Ontario’s restrictions system under fire:

Ontario has announced a new tiered system for triggering COVID-19 restriction, but critics say the sky-high thresholds won’t stop the virus from spreading across the province. 1:59

Manitoba suffered from ‘complacency’

Manitoba went from one of Canada’s shining examples of how to successfully manage the spread of the coronavirus, to facing its single worst outbreak

“Some of us lost our way, and now COVID is beating us,” Premier Brian Pallister said Monday. “Perhaps we were cursed by our early success.”

It was that early success that caused the province to let its guard down, leaving it vulnerable to a surge in cases when the virus re-entered the community. 

“We had a very good proactive response in early spring. We shut things down very quickly, everybody seemed to be quite on board and cases receded,” said Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor of viral pathogenesis at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and Canada Research Chair of emerging viruses.

“And that, probably, in some ways, fed a complacency across all levels.”

Kindrachuk said that because Manitoba didn’t bear the brunt of COVID-19 that other regions of the country had, it lost focus on the need to prepare for the future. 

“Then everything hit at the perfect time — we had exponential growth, we had community transmission, we likely had superspreading events, we had outbreaks that occurred in long-term care facilities,” he said. 

“The worst of the worst that could have happened, did happen.” 

Alberta faces ‘tipping point’ 

Alberta shattered COVID-19 records on Thursday, recording what health officials described as “about 800” new cases after specific numbers were unavailable due to technical problems with the province’s reporting system. 

It’s another province that saw low case numbers slowly rise after a lull in the summer, but waited to act on imposing stricter restrictions and now faces the prospect of a worsening second wave. 

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious diseases specialist and an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s faculty of medicine, called the situation “profoundly disturbing.” 

“You can have things simmering along, and then it just starts to boil over — there’s a tipping point, and it starts to change,” she said. 

“And when that happens, what we’ve seen across the world, is the actions in that early phase make a really big difference.” 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney rejected the call for stricter public health restrictions this week, the same time a record 171 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 33 of them in ICU, and nine more people died. 

“We’ve seen other jurisdictions implement sweeping lockdowns, indiscriminately violating people’s rights and destroying livelihoods,” Kenney said Friday, rejecting the call for further measures to curb the spread of the virus.

“Nobody wants that to happen here in Alberta.”

Saxinger said Alberta should look at emulating a “circuit breaker” model of controlling the virus from the U.K., focused on brief lockdowns that can interrupt transmission and reverse rising case numbers quickly if rolled out successfully. 

WATCH | Stop gatherings in homes, Kenney urges Albertans:

Premier Jason Kenney is calling on Albertans to not host parties or large family dinners and is expanding the 15-person limit on social gatherings to all communities on the province’s COVID-19 watch list. 2:42

“There’s a certain part of the population that’s just not really paying attention as much anymore,” she said. “So you might need to have that short, sharp, lockdown that’s visible to actually really get the whole population re-engaged.” 

Saxinger said she’s worried Alberta is past the point of “targeted” restrictions due to rising community transmission and inadequate contact tracing and is being “surged under” by new cases and hospitalizations

“I’m really afraid that it could take off in a really bad way,” she said. “A lot of us are very anxious right now and the hospitals are already stressed.”

Record numbers in B.C.

British Columbia was praised for its vigorous test, trace and isolate approach and became a global model for how to effectively control the spread of the virus, but could risk jeopardizing the progress it’s made if it doesn’t regain control of a surge in cases. 

The province hit a record high COVID-19 case numbers two days in a row this week, with 425 on Thursday and 589 on Friday adding to the 3,741 active cases in the province currently. 

Unlike Quebec, which saw its cases surge a month after school started and has been struggling to regain control, B.C. has largely seen outbreaks in community settings.

“Most of the transmissions are through gatherings … superspreader-type events that happen with lots of people in a room,” said Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease specialist and clinical associate professor in pediatrics at the University of British Columbia.

“I think our lack of attention to that, and how we can target where we know those large-scale transmission events happen, was probably not as rigorous as it could have been.” 

Murthy said new public health restrictions focused on limiting the size of gatherings, mandating masks in health-care facilities and threatening businesses with closures for not following guidelines will hopefully drive down the numbers and avoid lockdowns — but it will take time. 

“So far we’ve been able to, with pretty rigorous data collection, follow up and trace and isolate most of the cases in the superspreading events that have happened,” he said. 

“But if there is an increased, unlinked case number in the community that’s unable to be traced and isolated — then obviously large-scale social distancing would be probably the next step.”

Atlantic bubble needs vigilance

The Atlantic bubble, a success story for curbing COVID-19 spread, is another model that other parts of the country can learn from. 

The four Atlantic provinces imposed tight restrictions on points of entry, moved quickly to clamp down on new outbreaks of COVID-19 and focused on aggressive contact tracing and isolating.  

But epidemiologist Susan Kirkland said the recent surge in cases in parts of Canada that weren’t hit as hard in the first wave is a stark reminder of the need for the region to avoid letting its guard down. 

“We have to be constantly vigilant,” said Kirkland, head of public health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “As long as COVID isn’t introduced, we’re OK. But the minute it is, the environment is rife for it to spread very, very quickly.” 

The Atlantic provinces have so far avoided rampant community spread of the virus with unknown origins, but Kirkland says rising numbers across the country show it could happen anywhere — even the North. 

Nunavut confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Friday and while health officials say contact tracing is currently underway in the community, the territory’s rapid response team is “on standby to help manage the situation should it become necessary.”

WATCH | No sign of bubble bursting:

Like an extended family, the four Atlantic provinces have walled themselves in, creating measures to restrict outsiders and COVID-19 cases. So far, it’s worked and there doesn’t seem to be much of a rush to burst the Atlantic bubble. 5:09

Kirkland said Atlantic Canada has much more in common with the North than it does with more populous provinces like Ontario and both regions face an uncertain future. 

“Part of the reason that we’ve done so well is because we are isolated,” she said, adding that they have also benefited from strong public health messaging and a compliant public. 

“But the minute we have community spread, we’re again in that situation where we’re putting ourselves at big risk. So it’s hard to be complacent.”


To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.

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Election day arrives in U.S. as polls open across country

The latest:

After a campaign marked by rancour and fear, the United States on Tuesday will decide between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, selecting a leader to steer a nation battered by a surging pandemic that has killed more than 231,000 people, cost millions their jobs and reshaped daily life.

More than 100 million Americans cast an early vote in the 2020 presidential election ahead of Tuesday’s Election Day, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida. Given that a few states, including Texas, had already exceeded their total 2016 vote count, experts were predicting record turnout this year.

Polls opened across most of the country earlier on Tuesday. In and around polling places across the U.S., voters were greeted by reminders of an election year shaped by a pandemic, civil unrest and bruising political partisanship. Many wore masks to the polls — either by choice or by official mandate — with the coronavirus raging in many parts of the country.

The most closely watched results will start to trickle in after 7 p.m. ET, when polls close in states such as Georgia, though definitive national results could take days if the contest is tight.

Biden entered election day with multiple paths to victory while Trump, playing catch-up in a number of battleground states, had a narrower but still feasible road to clinch 270 electoral college votes.

Control of the Senate is at stake, too — Democrats need to have a net gain of three seats if Biden captures the White House to gain control of all of Washington for the first time in a decade. The House is expected to remain under Democratic control.


U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden talks with supporters in Scranton, Pa., on election day. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Problems occur every election, and Tuesday was no different. There were long lines early in the day and sporadic reports of polling places opening late and equipment issues. This was all expected given past experience, the decentralized nature of voting in the U.S. and last-minute changes due to the pandemic.

Federal authorities were monitoring voting and any threats to the election across the country at an operations centre just outside Washington, D.C., run by the cybersecurity arm of the Department of Homeland Security. Officials there said there were no major problems detected early Tuesday but urged the public to be patient and skeptical in the days ahead.


First lady Melania Trump cast her vote in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

From the centre, U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Christopher Krebs asked people in the U.S. to “treat all sensational and unverified claims with skepticism and remember technology sometimes fails.”

Krebs said there was “some early indication of system disruption,” but he did not elaborate. He said he has “confidence that the vote is secure, the count is secure and the results will be secure.”

Krebs said officials have seen attempts by foreign actors “to interfere in the 2020 election.” But he says officials “have addressed those threats quickly” and “comprehensively.”

Legal battle looms over early votes

Voters braved long lines and the threat of the virus to cast ballots as they chose between two starkly different visions of the country for the next four years.

The record-setting early vote — and legal skirmishing over how it will be counted — drew unsupported allegations of fraud from Trump, who refused to guarantee he would honour the election’s result.

WATCH | U.S. couple living in Canada divided over presidential candidates:

Saying the last four years have been impossible, married couple Jimmy and Kelly Nixon have already voted in this year’s U.S. election, one for Trump and the other for Biden. 7:23

Biden started his day at St. Joseph on the Brandywine, his Roman Catholic church near Wilmington, Del., where he and members of his family spent some time at his son Beau’s grave. Beau died of cancer at age 46 in 2015.

Fighting to the end for every vote, Biden returned to his childhood home in Scranton, Pa. Pennsylvania is key to Biden’s White House hopes; he plans to visit Philadelphia later before awaiting election results in Wilmington.

His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, was visiting Detroit, a heavily Black city in battleground Michigan. Both of their spouses were headed out, too, as the Democrats reached for a clear victory.

WATCH | Fears of voter intimidation, violence ahead of U.S. election:

Municipal authorities in the U.S. have vowed to keep voting safe, but the fears of voter intimidation and even violence at polling stations remain. 2:05

Trump began his day with a call-in appearance on Fox and Friends, where he predicted he will win by a larger electoral margin than he did in 2016. “I think we’ll top it,” Trump said, referencing the number of electoral college votes he won in the 2016 election

Trump said he would declare himself the winner of the election “only when there’s victory.” There has been concern that Trump will declare victory early — before vote counts are definitive. But the Republican president told Fox there’s no reason to “play games.” He said he thinks he has a “very solid chance at winning.”


A woman wearing a face mask waits to cast her ballot at a polling station in Columbus, Ohio. (Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

He also discussed the size of the crowds at his rallies — something Democrats have criticized him for amid the pandemic. Trump planned to visit his campaign headquarters in Virginia, and invited hundreds of supporters to an election night party in the East Room of the White House.

The Republican president threatened legal action to block the counting of ballots received after election day. If Pennsylvania ballot counting takes several days, as is allowed, Trump claimed without evidence that “cheating can happen like you have never seen.”

In fact, there are roughly 20 states that allow mail-in ballots received after election day to be counted — up to nine days and longer in some states. Litigation has centred on just a few where states have made changes in large part due to the coronavirus.

WATCH | A behind-the-scenes look at CBC’s election coverage:

The National’s Adrienne Arsenault takes you into the studio where CBC News will broadcast special live U.S. election coverage on Tuesday night. 2:38

Preparations for unrest

A new anti-scale fence was erected around the White House, and in downtowns ranging from New York City to Denver to Minneapolis, workers boarded up businesses lest the vote lead to unrest of the sort that broke out earlier this year amid protests over racial inequality.

Just a short walk from the White House, for block after block, stores had their windows and doors covered. Some kept just a front door open, hoping to attract a little business.


A woman fills out a ballot in Fayetteville, N.C., as polls opened earlier on Tuesday. (Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups said they were watching closely for signs of voter intimidation, and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said it would deploy staff to 18 states.

The fondness among some Trump supporters to form honking, traffic-jamming caravans of vehicles has spread to New York and beyond, and more such events were planned for Tuesday. Some election security experts worry the caravans could break laws, intimidate voters or spiral into violent confrontations.

At a polling station at a library in Tampa, Fla., Biden supporters had set up a marquee with signs for both their candidate and for Black Lives Matter, the slogan-turned-movement around which protesters massed in cities across the U.S. this year.

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