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Immunization committee to recommend provinces stop giving AstraZeneca vaccine to those under 55: sources

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is expected to recommend today a pause in the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on those under the age of 55 because of safety concerns, sources told CBC News.

The updated guidelines will be issued later today, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The expected change comes following reports of rare blood clots in some immunized patients.

Canada is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of this product from the U.S. on Tuesday.

Officials from NACI will provide an update to reporters at 3:10 p.m. ET. CBCNews.ca will carry the remarks live.

Meanwhile, Health Canada — which approved the vaccine for use in Canada in February — said its regulators would be adding “additional terms and conditions on the authorizations” for AstraZeneca and a biologically identical version of the drug manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, which has been branded Covishield.

The manufacturers will be required to conduct a “detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and sex in the Canadian context,” information that could lead to “additional regulatory actions.”

“This information will support the ongoing evaluation of these rare blood clotting events, and allow Health Canada to determine if there are specific groups of people who may be at higher risk,” the department said in a press release.

The AstraZeneca shot has not been widely used in people under the age of 55 in this country. Some jurisdictions, such as P.E.I., have been using some of their supply to immunize young people who work in public-facing sectors like grocery and convenience stores. In New Brunswick, the shot was made available to first responders and some teachers last week. 

A spokesperson for P.E.I.’s health department confirmed use of the vaccine had been suspended for those 18 to 29 years of age.

Speaking to reporters in Niagara Falls, Ont., Ontario Premier Doug Ford said today that the province would follow NACI’s guidance and reserve the current supply of AstraZeneca for those in the older cohort.

He said there have been reports of blood clots in younger women in other places.

“I won’t hesitate to cancel that in half a heartbeat. If it’s going to put anyone in harm, we just won’t use it, simple as that,” he said, adding he didn’t want to “roll the dice” by using AstraZeneca on a group that may have an outsized chance of developing complications.

“The guidance from the federal government is that it is safe for people over 55,” Ford said. “I’m talking about younger people taking it, 35 years of age and in that range, that’s where the problem is.”

After a review, the European Union’s drug watchdog, the European Medicines Agency, found the vaccine is not linked to an increase in the overall risk of blood clots.

The EMA said, however, that it could not definitively rule out a link between the vaccine and rare types of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia, or low levels of blood platelets.

Specifically, it pointed to 18 cases of an extremely rare type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a condition that is much more common in women than men. Most of the cases occurred within 14 days of receiving the AstraZeneca shot, and the majority were in women under the age of 55.

Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead on Manitoba’s vaccine implementation task force, said that the province also would pause its deployment of the vaccine among people under 55 because of a “very rare subtype, one specific type of blood clot.”

She said that while there have been no complications reported in Canada, “out of an abundance of caution” Manitoba will restrict the shot to people 55 to 64, for now.

Reimer said it’s not known yet how common this rare blood clot side effect is but early data out of Europe suggest it could be an outcome for 1 out of 100,000 AstraZeneca shots deployed, or even more than that — the science isn’t settled, she said.

“This is a pause while we wait for more information to better understand what’s happened in Europe. This is an important and evidence-based change,” she said, adding this sort of shift is a testament to Canada’s robust vaccine monitoring system.

Reimer said it’s “probably” fine to use the vaccine on all groups — but she’s not comfortable with just “probably” and wants to wait to see more data from Europe.

Last week, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it’s “possible” the vaccine may be associated with “very rare but serious cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia.” Health Canada has maintained that the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continue to outweigh the risks.

Health Canada has said it is aware that researchers in Europe have indicated that they have identified a possible cause for these very rare events, but says little information is available about the findings.

“We have been discussing the rare reports of blood clots and low platelet counts with the European Medicines Agency and other regulators,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, Canada’s chief medical adviser, said on Thursday. “Health Canada will make decisions for Canada based on the science and evidence.

“This is just the latest issue the company has faced over the last three months.

Earlier this year, a number of European countries halted vaccinations in response to questions about the AstraZeneca product’s efficacy in people over the age of 65, only to restart them after new evidence emerged.

After Health Canada approved the shot for all adults, NACI recommended the product be used only on people under the age of 65, citing a dearth of clinical trial data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.

NACI changed course earlier this month after reviewing three “real-world studies,” saying the two-dose viral vector vaccine can and should be used on seniors.

Last week, the U.S. Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), which keeps an eye on clinical trials, found “outdated information” may have been reported by the company when it released data on U.S. trials. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the head of the NIAID, said the monitoring board was surprised by the the better-than-expected efficacy results published by AstraZeneca.

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CBC | Health News

Brazil has entered the deadliest phase of the pandemic so far, with the daily death toll exceeding 2,000 on some days this past week. But the government is still downplaying the disaster, and President Jair Bolsonaro has told people to 'stop whining.'

Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to ‘stop whining’ as COVID-19 death toll rises

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Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to 'stop whining' as COVID-19 death toll rises

Brazil has entered the deadliest phase of the pandemic so far, with the daily death toll exceeding 2,000 on some days this past week. But the government is still downplaying the disaster, and President Jair Bolsonaro has told people to ‘stop whining.’

CBC | World News

China, WHO should have acted quicker to stop pandemic: expert panel

A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the UN health agency should have labelled it a pandemic sooner.

In a report issued to the media Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities” to set up basic public health measures as early as possible.

“What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” it said.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying disputed whether China had reacted too slowly.

“As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions,” she said, pointing out that Wuhan — where the first human cases were identified — was locked down within three weeks of the outbreak starting.

“All countries, not only China, but also the U.S., the U.K., Japan or any other countries, should all try to do better,” Hua said.

WHO has ‘no powers to enforce anything’

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Johnson Sirleaf said it was up to countries whether they wanted to overhaul WHO to accord it more authority to stamp out outbreaks, saying the organization was also constrained by its lack of funding.

“The bottom line is WHO has no powers to enforce anything,” she said. “All it can do is ask to be invited in.”

Last week, an international team of WHO-led scientists arrived in Wuhan to research the animal origins of the pandemic after months of political wrangling to secure China’s approval for the probe.

The panel also cited evidence of cases in other countries in late January, saying public health containment measures should have been put in place immediately in any country with a likely case, adding: “They were not.”

The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency — its highest warning for outbreaks — sooner. The UN health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later.

“One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said.

WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic.

WATCH | PM Justin Trudeau reacts to WHO interim report: 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with the CBC’s Tom Parry on Tuesday outside Rideau Cottage. 1:19

As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO’s top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don’t appear to be sick.

The WHO is underpowered and underfunded, and must be reformed to give it the resourcing to be more effective, according to an independent panel reviewing the WHO and the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are not here to assign blame, but to make concrete recommendations to help the world respond faster and better in future,”Johnson Sirleaf, told reporters on a briefing on Tuesday, a day after the panel’s interim report was issued.

“I do believe that WHO is reformable.”

WHO response has faced criticism 

Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Donald Trump slammed the UN health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization.

The UN health agency bowed to the international pressure at the annual assembly of its member states last spring by creating the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The WHO chief appointed Johnson Sirleaf and Clark — who both have previous ties to the UN agency — to lead the team.

Canada’s official response

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government will review the report for how to apply its lesson to Canada’s pandemic response both now and in the future. 

“Obviously there are things looking back that we could have, should have done differently,” he said on Tuesday. “I think one of the most important things, as we move forward is making sure that we learn from this experience for future governments and future administrations.”

Steven Hoffman, director of the Global Strategy Lab at York University in Toronto, said the report’s authors give a scathing assessment of current pandemic response. 

“Every political leader in the world was just hoping that the next pandemic wouldn’t happen on their watch. The results? Deadly consequences,” said Hoffman, a professor of global health, law, and political science. 

Hoffman said he hopes COVID-19 catastrophe will be a rallying cry to ensure governments invest in public health not only to prevent emergencies but also to promote health. Health promotion includes increasing rates of physical activity and cutting down on smoking, which also saves money, he said. 


A COVID-19 field hospital gets ready for patients last spring during the height of the crisis in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them.

Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of lauding countries for their response efforts.

Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response said he warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP.

To date, the pandemic has killed more than two million people worldwide.

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CBC | Health News

China, WHO should have acted quicker to stop pandemic: expert panel

A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the UN health agency should have labelled it a pandemic sooner.

In a report issued to the media Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities” to set up basic public health measures as early as possible.

“What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” it said.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying disputed whether China had reacted too slowly.

“As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions,” she said, pointing out that Wuhan — where the first human cases were identified — was locked down within three weeks of the outbreak starting.

“All countries, not only China, but also the U.S., the U.K., Japan or any other countries, should all try to do better,” Hua said.

WHO has ‘no powers to enforce anything’

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Johnson Sirleaf said it was up to countries whether they wanted to overhaul WHO to accord it more authority to stamp out outbreaks, saying the organization was also constrained by its lack of funding.

“The bottom line is WHO has no powers to enforce anything,” she said. “All it can do is ask to be invited in.”

Last week, an international team of WHO-led scientists arrived in Wuhan to research the animal origins of the pandemic after months of political wrangling to secure China’s approval for the probe.

The panel also cited evidence of cases in other countries in late January, saying public health containment measures should have been put in place immediately in any country with a likely case, adding: “They were not.”

The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency — its highest warning for outbreaks — sooner. The UN health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later.

“One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said.

WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic.

As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO’s top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don’t appear to be sick.

The WHO is underpowered and underfunded, and must be reformed to give it the resourcing to be more effective, according to an independent panel reviewing the WHO and the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are not here to assign blame, but to make concrete recommendations to help the world respond faster and better in future,”Johnson Sirleaf, told reporters on a briefing on Tuesday, a day after the panel’s interim report was issued.

“I do believe that WHO is reformable,” she said.

WHO response has faced criticism 

Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Donald Trump slammed the UN health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization.

The UN health agency bowed to the international pressure at the annual assembly of its member states last spring by creating the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The WHO chief appointed Johnson Sirleaf and Clark — who both have previous ties to the UN agency — to lead the team.


A COVID-19 field hospital gets ready for patients last spring during the height of the crisis in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them.

Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of lauding countries for their response efforts.

Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response said he warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP.

To date, the pandemic has killed more than two million people worldwide.

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CBC | Health News

U.S. federal judge throws out Trump bid to stop Pennsylvania vote certification

U.S. President Donald Trump faced a new setback on Saturday in his desperate bid to overturn the U.S. election as a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by his campaign that sought to throw out millions of mail-in votes in Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann ruled that Trump’s campaign had failed to demonstrate there had been widespread voting fraud in the Nov. 3 election, which Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

“This Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations,” Brann wrote.

Brann added that he “has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens.”


The lawsuit, spearheaded by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, sought to stop officials from certifying Biden’s victory in the state. It argued that some counties wrongly allowed voters to fix errors on their mail ballots.

“I’ve been telling everyone who will listen: these suits are baseless,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said on Twitter following the ruling.


Members of the Allegheny County Return Board process absentee and mail-in ballots in Pittsburgh on Nov. 12. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Trump’s lawyers said they would appeal the ruling, with the hopes of quickly reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. “We are disappointed we did not at least get the opportunity to present our evidence at a hearing. Unfortunately the censorship continues,” Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said in a statement.

Trump team requests recount in Georgia

Trump’s legal team said Saturday that his campaign has requested a recount of votes in the Georgia presidential race after results showed Biden winning the state.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Friday certified the state’s election results, which had Biden beating Trump by 12,670 votes out of about five million cast, or 0.25 per cent. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp then certified the state’s slate of 16 presidential electors.

Georgia law allows a candidate to request a recount if the margin is less than 0.5 per cent. The recount would be done using scanners that read and tabulate the votes. County election workers have already done a complete hand recount of all the votes cast in the presidential race. But that stemmed from a mandatory audit requirement and isn’t considered an official recount under the law.

State law requires that one race be audited by hand to ensure that the machines counted the ballots accurately, and Raffensperger selected the presidential race. Because of the tight margin in that race, a full hand count of ballots was necessary to complete the audit, he said.

Trump has criticized the audit, calling it a “joke” in a tweet that claimed without evidence that “thousands of fraudulent votes have been found.” Twitter has flagged the post as containing disputed information.

Votes that hadn’t previously been counted were found in several counties during the audit, which required recertification of the election results in those counties before state certification of the results.

Dozens of lawsuits across the U.S.

The Pennsylvania lawsuit is one of dozens filed by Trump and his Republican allies in the aftermath of the election. They are also seeking to invalidate or change the results through recounts and direct pressure on lawmakers in several states.

The campaign has not provided evidence for its claims of widespread and co-ordinated electoral fraud.

In Michigan, Republicans on Saturday asked state authorities to wait to certify Biden’s victory for 14 days to allow for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, which includes the majority-Black city of Detroit. The letter cited allegations of “irregularities” that have not been substantiated. Biden won 154,000 more votes than Trump in Michigan.

WATCH | Trump’s Michigan ploy foiled:

CBC News Network’s John Northcott speaks with Roger Fisk, a Democratic strategist who worked on former president Barack Obama’s campaigns, in the wake of Donald Trump’s refusal to concede. 6:11

That effort faces long odds. A spokesperson for Michigan’s top election authority said state law does not allow for audits before the vote is certified, which is due to take place on Monday. Allegations of widespread fraud have been found to be baseless, the spokesperson said.

Two leading Republican Michigan lawmakers who came to Washington at Trump’s behest said after meeting him on Friday that they had no information that would change the outcome of the election in the state.

In Wisconsin, an official said that poorly trained observers for the Trump campaign were slowing a partial recount by challenging every ballot and raising other objections.

“Observers are disruptive. They are asking question after question, telling the tablulators to stop, stop what they’re doing and that is out of line, that’s not acceptable,” Milwaukee County Clerk George Christianson told reporters.

Fraud claims inflame base

Trump’s accusations have continued to inflame his hard-core Republican base.

Hundreds of supporters gathered at the statehouse in Atlanta on Saturday, with video posted online showing speakers denouncing the media for calling Biden the election winner, as well as state Republican leaders for certifying the results.

Police in riot gear were deployed to separate them from counter-protesters who gathered nearby.


An officer in riot gear stands between Trump supporters and counter-protesters outside the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta on Saturday. (Ben Gray/The Associated Press)

The General Services Administration, run by a Trump appointee, has not recognized Biden’s victory, preventing his team from gaining access to government office space and funding normally provided to an incoming administration ahead of Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.

Critics say the delay and Trump’s refusal to concede have serious implications for national security and the fight against the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 255,000 Americans.

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Toronto, Peel move into COVID-19 lockdown Monday as Ontario tries to stop ‘worst-case scenario’

Toronto and Peel Region are moving into “lockdown” effective midnight Monday as Ontario tries to curb a steep rise in COVID-19 cases, Premier Doug Ford announced Friday.

The shutdown will last a minimum of 28 days, equal to two incubation periods for the coronavirus, and the province says it will fine people $ 750 for violating public-health rules.

“Further action is required to prevent the worst-case scenario,” Ford told reporters.

Meanwhile, Durham and Waterloo regions are moving into the red “control” zones while Huron-Perth, Niagara, Simcoe-Muskoka, southwestern Ontario and Windsor are moving to the orange “restrict” zone.

The lockdown restrictions mean:

  • No indoor gatherings with anyone outside a person’s household.
  • Individuals who live alone can have close contact with one other household.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.
  • Restaurants are limited to take-out, drive-through and delivery only.
  • Religious services, funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors.
  • Gyms are closed.
  • Non-essential retail and malls are limited to curbside pickup or delivery only.
  • Personal care services, casinos and bingo halls are closed.
  • Post-secondary institutions move to virtual instruction, with some exceptions, such as clinical training.
  • Pharmacies, doctor and dentist offices, grocery stores, essential services remain open.
  • Schools will also remain open.

Hospitalizations up by 22%, ICU visits by 50%

The measures come as Ontario reports 1,418 more cases of COVID-19. 

Eight more people with COVID-19 have died, the province said Friday, bringing the official death toll to 3,451. So far this month, 315 people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario.

Nearly 80 per cent of cases reported in recent days are from regions in red zones, Ford said. At the same time, hospitalizations have increased by 22 per cent, and intensive care admissions have risen by 50 per cent.

WATCH | Health Minister Christine Elliott on what’s open and closed amid the new restrictions:

Health Minister Christine Elliott explains what will be open and what will be closed in this video. 2:19

Health officials and local politicians in Toronto and Peel have advocated and publicly supported additional, more far-reaching restrictions. Both areas are registering consistently high daily case counts and alarming test positivity rates. Local officials in York have instead pushed for very targeted measures.

The new cases include 393 in Toronto, 400 in Peel Region and 168 in York Region. The province has now seen more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the illness since the first infection was reported in late January. 

The province released an updated version of its COVID-19 framework to highlight what will change during the lockdown.

You can read those changes in the document below:

Also on Friday, the province announced $ 600 million in relief for eligible businesses required to close or significantly reduce their services as a result of the new measures.

Still, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is concerned the lockdown will be “devastating” for small business owners in Toronto and Peel Region and is calling on the government to develop a policy for small businesses to remain open with capacity limits.

“Today’s restrictions once again create an unfair advantage for big box operators like Walmart and Costco, leaving Main Street retailers to shoulder the burden alone,” the federation’s written statement says.

“That large department stores can be open while small retailers are forced to close during the busiest season of the year is a direct punch to the gut of independent businesses.”

COVID-19 still spreading in other parts of the province

The other public health units that reported double-digit case increases today were:

  • Ottawa: 77
  • Durham: 46
  • Windsor: 45
  • Middlesex-London: 37
  • Halton Region: 36
  • Hamilton: 36
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 33
  • Waterloo: 28
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 26
  • Niagara: 21
  • Grey Bruce: 21

The newly confirmed infections Friday push the seven-day average up to 1,373 after three straight days of declines.

They come as Ontario’s labs processed 48,173 tests for the novel coronavirus, the most on a single day since Oct. 8. The province reported a test positivty rate of 3.6 per cent.

Ontario’s testing network currently has capacity for up to 50,000 tests daily. The provincial government has said it hopes to expand capacity to 100,000 tests per day by mid-December.

There are 12,623 confirmed, active COVID-19 infections provincewide, five fewer than yesterday. It was the third straight day that the number of resolved cases outpaced new ones, after reaching a second-wave high of 12,932 active cases on Nov. 17.

The number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness fell to 518, down from 526. Patients being treated in intensive care fell by four to 142, but those on ventilators increased by four to 92. 

Notably, an internal report from Critical Care Services Ontario, shared by sources with CBC Toronto Thursday, put the number of patients in ICUs at 150. Last week, public health officials said that is the threshold before other surgeries and procedures will likely need to be cancelled to accommodate COVID-19 patients.

[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times in the provincial system.]  

Health orders extended to Dec. 21

Meanwhile, the provincial government said Friday that public health orders currently in effect across Ontario will stay in place for at least another month.

The province said the current orders under the Reopening Ontario Act will remain in force until Dec. 21.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said extending the orders will ensure the province can address the health crisis and deliver critical services such as health-care.

WATCH | Restaurant owner discusses how new restrictions could affect business:

With Premier Doug Ford poised to implement tighter restrictions in Toronto, Peel and possibly York, here’s a look back at how the novel coronavirus has surged this fall. 6:24

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Nunavut imposes mandatory 2-week restriction period to stop the spread of COVID-19

The latest:

Nunavut is set to enter a mandatory, territory-wide restriction period for two weeks as it looks to clamp down on a recent spate of coronavirus infections.

With eight new cases reported on Monday, the territory — which only this month reported its first confirmed case of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — has recorded 22 cases in just the past three days. It has now reported a total of 26 cases, with no deaths.

Six of the new cases on Monday were in Arviat, and two were in Rankin Inlet.

The territory’s restrictions to limit the spread of the virus will take effect on Wednesday, said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson. All non-essential services, businesses and organizations will be required to close and, wherever possible, switch to work from home.


A file photo of Arviat, Nunavut, in April 2016. The community reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. (Submitted by Dylan Clark)

Masks will now be strongly recommended in public spaces and when physical distance can’t be maintained. In the Kivalliq region and in Sanikiluaq, masks will remain mandatory.

Arviat Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. spoke with CBC’s As It Happens about how the small hamlet, which is now contending with a total of 20 cases, is coping with the outbreak.

“When the cases in Winnipeg started to rise, which is our close connection to southern Canada, I think it was a matter of time,” he said. Savikataaq called on residents to stay calm and tend to their mental health.

Elsewhere in the North, Yukon and the Northwest Territories reported no new cases on Monday.

Meanwhile, researchers in Canada and around the world have been racing to find therapeutics and vaccines, and on Monday, U.S-based company Moderna announced a significant milestone in its search for a safe and effective vaccine. 

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the United States.

WATCH | Interim analysis suggests COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will work, but final results are necessary to confirm, says epidemiologist:

Interim analysis suggests COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will work, but final results, expected later this year, are necessary to confirm, says epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos.   5:40

Moderna’s vaccine, created with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real vaccination or a dummy shot. It’s very unusual for results to be analyzed and released before a clinical trial is complete.

Despite that, on Sunday, an independent monitoring board examined 95 infections that were recorded starting two weeks after volunteers’ second dose — and discovered all but five illnesses occurred in participants who got the placebo.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well.

Canada, which has already signed deals with several companies to procure vaccine candidates, has an agreement with Moderna to receive up to 56 million doses of its vaccine.

WATCH | Moderna development ‘good news’ but public health measures must continue, says minister:

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu spoke with reporters before question period on Monday. 3:02

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday warned against complacency in the face of increasing COVID-19 numbers, even as vaccine developments allow for what he described as cautious optimism.

“This is a dangerous virus, which can attack every system in the body,” he said. “Those countries that are letting the virus run unchecked are playing with fire.”

There’s “no excuse for inaction,” he said during a briefing from Geneva. “My message is clear: act fast, act now, act decisively.”

WATCH | WHO head urges strong action from countries on COVID-19:

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned countries that letting COVID-19 run unchecked is like ‘playing with fire.’ 2:39

What’s happening across Canada

Canada’s COVID-19 case count — as of 7 p.m. ET — stood at 302,192 with 50,878 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,027.

Several regions in Ontario are moving into the “red zone” on Monday after Premier Doug Ford lowered the thresholds for his colour-coded system of public health restrictions. Hamilton, Halton and York regions moved Monday to the red alert level, joining Toronto and Peel Region.

Ontario on Monday reported 1,487 cases of COVID-19, with 508 in Toronto, 392 in Peel and 170 in York.

There were 10 additional deaths reported on Monday, bringing the provincial death toll to 3,371, according to the province’s public COVID-19 tracking site. Hospitalization numbers were up to 500, with 125 in intensive care.

WATCH | Doctors call on Ottawa for #COVIDzero strategy:

Dr. Samir Sinha is among a group of medical professionals who have taken to social media to urge the Canadian government to implement a #COVIDzero strategy because, they say, measures taken to control COVID-19 have not been effective enough.   6:48

Quebec on Monday reported 1,218 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 new deaths, with six of those deaths reported to have occurred in the previous 24 hours. A provincial dashboard put the number of hospitalizations at 591, with 87 in intensive care.

The province, which has now seen a total of 125,072 cases and 6,651 deaths, announced $ 100 million in new funding for home care over the weekend.

“Home care is what people want, and they want it even more because of the pandemic,” said Health Minister Christian Dubé.

In Manitoba, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin warned “we can’t sustain this number of cases in our health-care system,” as the province announced 392 new cases and 10 more deaths on Monday.

Three of the deaths are linked to an outbreak at Maples Long Term Care Home, where more than 30 people have died.

A record 234 people are in hospital with COVID-19, with a record-high 42 of them in intensive care.

“Our health-care providers are becoming overwhelmed,” Roussin said.

The entire province moved to the red, or critical, level of its pandemic response system last Thursday. Roussin warned that any stores among those allowed to remain open that break capacity rules could be fined and said some people still aren’t following orders, with one person who tested positive last week having 85 contacts.

WATCH | Why COVID-19 is finding its way back into long-term care homes:

A growing number of long-term care homes are again overrun with COVID-19. Familiar and horrific scenes are again playing out. The problem? The virus may move quickly, but there’s no quick fix for problems in the long-term care sector that go back years. 2:32

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported two more cases on Monday, while Newfoundland and Labrador had no new cases to report. 

New Brunswick reported eight new cases on Monday, six of them in the Moncton region and two in the Fredericton region. In a news release, the province also said a new COVID-19 swish-and-gargle test for children is now available at all assessment centres in the province.

Prince Edward Island has not reported any new cases on Monday.

Alberta broke two grim COVID-19 records on Monday as it reported 860 new cases — which took the number of active cases to a provincial record of 10,031 — and 20 new COVID-19 deaths, by far its most ever in a single day.

Across the province, 264 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, including 57 who are in intensive care.

In Edmonton, a leaked email from an executive director of the Royal Alexandra Hospital outlined projections for a major uptick in ICU admissions and outlined some of the steps being taken to get ready.

“We need to be prepared,” said the Saturday email from Donalda Dyjur, an executive director at the hospital.

In Calgary, the chief of the city’s emergency management agency called for people to heed the warnings of physicians on Twitter, saying the second wave of COVID-19 is “large and it may run over our health-care system, our economy, and our mental health and wellness.”

Tom Sampson told CBC Calgary on Sunday that he thinks a so-called circuit-break lockdown is required.

“A hard one — it may be a fairly long one. It could be as long as 28 days,” he said. “But if we did it sooner rather than later, hopefully we’d be back up and have a normal Christmas, and have our normal shopping environment for Christmas.”

WATCH | Hospitals under pressure as COVID-19 cases rise:

In parts of the country the signs of stress on the health care system are already showing. Hospitals are telling patients to wait in their cars, or turning some of them away. And the fear is that COVID-19 is getting worse as the cold and flu season is only just beginning. 1:57

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Premier Scott Moe said Sunday that more measures could be coming to fight COVID-19 in the province in addition to those already slated to take effect this week.

As of Monday, the province’s new public health regulations require people in communities with populations of over 5,000 to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. A growing chorus of health-care professionals and advocates are calling for the mask mandate to be extended provincewide.

British Columbia announced there have been an additional 1,959 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days and nine more deaths from the disease.

The number of patients in hospital continues to reach record highs, with 181 COVID-19 patients in hospital as of Monday, including 57 in critical care, out of 6,279 active cases in the province, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

Over the weekend, the hard-hit Fraser Health region announced three schools are being closed for two weeks because of COVID-19 cases. 

WATCH | B.C. woman on life support after getting COVID-19 while pregnant:

A B.C. woman is fighting for her life, after contracting COVID-19 from an unknown source while pregnant. Her baby was born via emergency C-section, she is in an induced coma, and her husband has a message for everyone: COVID-19 can hit anyone, even those who take every precaution. 1:59

What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

As of Monday evening, more than 54.7 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, with over 35.1 million of those listed as recovered by Johns Hopkins University. The university’s COVID tracking tool put the number of deaths at more than 1.3 million.

In the Americas, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden says the outgoing Trump administration’s failure to share specific plans on combatting the pandemic is stymying American businesses’ abilities to find ways to grow and survive in challenging circumstances.

During a speech Monday in Wilmington, Del., Biden said that “the sooner we have access to the administration’s distribution plan, the sooner this transition will smoothly move forward.”

Specifics the administration has withheld, such as vaccine distribution, could help “small businesses and entrepreneurs that are the backbone of our communities but are teetering on the edge,” he said.

WATCH | COVID-19 on rise in U.S and transition troubles could slow efforts to fight it:

Donald Trump concedes nothing as he appeared to suggest earlier Joe Biden won the election; continued transition intransigence slows down efforts to battle COVID. 1:58

Meanwhile, White House coronavirus response co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said on a call with governors that 27 U.S. states are in the “red zone” for COVID-19 outbreaks and that the current spread has not yet hit its peak.

More than 11 million cases of the coronavirus have now been reported in the U.S., with the most recent million coming in less than a week.

COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly across the U.S. than it has at any time since the pandemic started. Deaths are also on the rise, though not at the record high numbers reached in the spring. The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths was more than 1,080 as of Saturday, more than 30 per cent higher than it was two weeks earlier.

COVID-19 has now killed more than 246,000 people in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s Today on Monday that Moderna’s finding, along with similar results from Pfizer last week for its vaccine candidate, “is something that foretells an impact on this outbreak.”

“So now we have two vaccines that are really quite effective, so I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be about getting control with this outbreak,” Fauci said.

Meanwhile, in Brazil the Health Ministry said it had taken the system used to report COVID-19 case numbers and deaths offline in recent days to protect against a suspected cyberattack.

In the Asia-Pacific region, India has registered 30,548 new coronaviruses cases, the fewest in the last four months but amid growing concerns about the latest surge in the capital, New Delhi.

India has now recorded a total of 8.84 million cases, second behind the U.S.

The Health Ministry said Monday that the country was showing a trend of declining average daily cases over the last two months. The ministry also reported 435 new fatalities, raising the death toll to 130,070.

India’s daily cases have seen a steady decline since the middle of September, but New Delhi is now recording more new infections than any other state.


A man in personal protective equipment sanitizes a temple before it reopens for the public in Mumbai on Sunday. (Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters)

South Korea’s daily coronavirus tally has stayed above 200 for a third consecutive day, as authorities consider raising the country’s physical distancing rules.

From Thursday, New Zealanders will be legally required to wear masks on public transport in Auckland and on planes nationwide. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Virus Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced the new rules on Monday after meeting with senior lawmakers.

The country has been largely successful in eliminating the virus but has experienced several small outbreaks in Auckland, the latest one after a military worker at a hotel where travellers returning from abroad are being quarantined got infected.

In Africa, Algeria will reimpose restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 from Nov. 17, including closing gyms, cultural centres, leisure venues and used car markets.

In the Middle East, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday declared “the general mobilization of the nation and the government” to confront the third wave of the coronavirus. The country has reported more than 775,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 41,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

In Europe, Germany’s federal government and states are considering new measures to halt the rise in infections, such as dramatically reducing the number of people at household gatherings and compulsory mask wearing for school students.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy narrowed on Monday to 27,354, in keeping with weekend dips reflecting lower testing numbers, but the infection rate remained a stubborn 18 per cent. Italy is still struggling to contain a second surge, with more than half of the country on partial lockdown.

Another 504 people died in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry figures, bringing the pandemic total of known deaths to 45,733, second in Europe behind Britain. Hospital admissions rose by nearly 500, while another 70 people were in intensive care.

WATCH | What to do if you’re confused about COVID-19 rules and guidelines:

Doctors answer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic including what to do if you’re confused by the current rules and guidelines in your area. 5:56

Britain said on Monday it will open two new “mega” laboratories in early 2021 for carrying out COVID-19 tests, a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into self-isolation after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

With banners reading “Let us Pray” and “We Want Mass,” Catholic protesters held scattered demonstrations around France on Sunday to demand that authorities relax virus lockdown measures to allow religious services.

In the western city of Nantes, hundreds gathered in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, some kneeling on the rain-soaked pavement, according to local broadcaster France Bleu. Similar gatherings were reported or planned in the eastern city of Strasbourg, in Bordeaux in the southwest, and outside the Saint-Louis Cathedral in Versailles.


Parishioners wearing protective face masks pray at Graslin square during an open air mass in Nantes, France, as public masses are suspended during the second national lockdown as part of the measures to fight a second wave of COVID-19. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

With more confirmed virus cases than any other European country, predominantly Catholic France banned mass and other religious services for the month of November as part of nationwide partial lockdown measures aimed at reining in infections and relieving pressure on hospitals. Churches and other religious sites remain open for individual visitors to come and pray.

France’s interior minister is scheduled to meet with religious leaders on Monday to discuss when and how services could again be permitted, notably amid pressure to allow Christmas ceremonies.

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CBC | Health News

Vatican investigation finds popes, bishops share in failings to stop disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick

A Vatican investigation into ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick has found that a series of bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed reports that he slept with seminarians.

The Vatican took the extraordinary step Tuesday of publishing its two-year, 400-plus-page internal investigation into the American prelate’s rise and fall in a bid to restore credibility to the U.S. and Vatican hierarchies, which have been shattered by the McCarrick scandal.

Ahead of the report’s publication, the Vatican provided journalists with an introduction and executive summary of it, which put the lion’s share of blame on a dead saint: Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000, despite having commissioned an inquiry that confirmed he slept with seminarians. The summary says John Paul II naively believed McCarrick’s last-ditch, handwritten denial.

But the report also charts the alarm bells that sounded — but were ignored — nearly a decade earlier, when in 1993 a series of six anonymous letters were sent to U.S. church officials and the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S. alleging McCarrick was a “pedophile” who would sleep in the same bed with young men and boys. The ambassador destroyed the letters, and the U.S. church had a policy at the time of not taking action based on anonymous reports of abuse — a practice that was recently reversed by the Vatican for the church at large.

Francis defrocked McCarrick, 90, last year after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of allegations that the globe-trotting envoy and successful church fundraiser had sexually molested adults as well as children. The Vatican had reports from authoritative figures dating back to 1999 that McCarrick’s behaviour was problematic, yet he continued to rise to become an influential cardinal, kingmaker and emissary of the Holy See’s “soft diplomacy.”

The findings accused bishops dead and alive of providing the Vatican with incomplete information about McCarrick’s behaviour, and of turning a blind eye to his repeated flouting of informal restrictions ordered up in 2006 after Pope Benedict XVI decided not to investigate or sanction him seriously.


Pope John Paul II greets McCarrick on Jan. 15, 2003 in Vatican City, Italy. According to the report published Tuesday, John Paul II believed McCarrick’s denials of abuse, promoting him to archbishop. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Most significantly, the findings largely gave Francis a pass, saying he never lifted or modified those restrictions, never named McCarrick a “diplomatic agent” for the Holy See and never received any documentation about McCarrick before 2017. It didn’t say if Francis had sought such documentation after one of his ambassadors purportedly told him in 2013 that McCarrick was a predator.

“Pope Francis had heard only that there had been allegations and rumours related to immoral conduct with adults occurring prior to McCarrick’s appointment to Washington,” the summary says. “Believing that the allegations had already been reviewed and rejected by Pope John Paul II, and well aware that McCarrick was active during the papacy of Benedict XVI, Pope Francis did not see the need to alter the approach that had been adopted.”

Francis changed course after a former altar boy came forward in 2017 alleging that McCarrick groped him when he was a teenager during preparations for Christmas Mass in 1971 and 1972 in New York. The allegation was the first solid claim against McCarrick involving a minor and triggered the canonical trial that resulted in his defrocking.

While the summary provided new details about what the Vatican knew and when, it didn’t elaborate on the internal culture that allowed McCarrick’s behaviour to continue unchecked. Catholic cardinals and bishops have long been considered beyond reproach and claims of homosexual behaviour have been used to discredit or blackmail prelates, so often are dismissed as rumours. There has also been a widespread but unspoken tolerance of sexually active men in what is supposed to be a celibate priesthood.

‘He’s destroyed thousands’

The church has long considered sex by priests with other adult men or women as sinful but consensual, with flags only raised in recent years when minors were involved.

But the McCarrick scandal, which erupted during the #MeToo era, has demonstrated that adult seminarians and priests can be sexually victimized by their superiors because of the power imbalance in their relationships. And yet the church’s legal system has had no real way to address that type of abuse of authority.


James Grein poses for a photo at his house in Sterling, Va., on July 26, 2019, holding postcards from Florida and the Vatican sent to him as a boy by McCarrick. Grein said he welcomed the report’s release. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

James Grein, whose testimony that McCarrick abused him for two decades starting when he was 11 was key to McCarrick’s downfall, said he was pleased the report was finally being released. He said he was hopeful it would bring some relief as well as a chance to “clean” up the church.

“There are so many people suffering out there because of one man,” Grein said. “And he thinks that he’s more important than the rest of us. He’s destroyed me and he’s destroyed thousands of other lives.… It’s time that the Catholic Church comes clean with all of its destruction.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state whose office prepared the report, said it will have an impact going forward, especially on how bishops are selected.

“Reading the document will show that all procedures, including the appointment of bishops, depend on the commitment and honesty of the people concerned,” he said. “[It will make] all those involved in such choices more aware of the weight of their decisions or omissions.”

Francis commissioned the report after the retired Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, issued a blistering exposé of the two-decade-long McCarrick coverup in 2018, naming around two dozen U.S. and Vatican officials who knew of his misconduct but failed to effectively sanction him.

Vigano cited former seminarians who had described the harassment and abuse they endured while “Uncle Ted,” as McCarrick liked to call himself, was their bishop in New Jersey, forced to sleep in his bed during weekend trips to his beach house.

Vigano’s most explosive claim was that Francis himself lifted “sanctions” imposed by Benedict and made McCarrick a trusted adviser. Vigano demanded that Francis resign, claiming he had warned the pope in June 2013 that McCarrick had “corrupted generations of seminarians and priests.”

Read the Vatican report:

Several of Vigano’s central assertions were confirmed, but not the ones involving Francis.

“No records support Vigano’s account and evidence as to what he said is sharply disputed,” it said.

The report drew on documents from five Vatican departments, four U.S. dioceses, two U.S. seminaries and the Vatican’s U.S. embassy. Investigators interviewed 90 people, including McCarrick’s victims, former seminarians and priests, officials from U.S. charities and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Vatican ills also alleged in France, Britain

It was released a few days before U.S. bishops gather for their annual fall meeting.

It was also published on the same day the Vatican faced reckonings elsewhere.

The former Vatican ambassador to France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, went on trial Tuesday in Paris, accused of groping and inappropriately touching young men — charges he denies.

As well, an independent inquiry concluded in a report released Tuesday that the Catholic Church in Britain prioritized its own reputation over the welfare of vulnerable children for decades.

The Catholic Church received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sex abuse in England and Wales between 1970 and 2015, and there have been more than 100 reported allegations a year since 2016.

The report criticized the most senior Catholic leader in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, for failing to acknowledge any personal responsibility or show compassion for victims in recent cases examined by the inquiry.

As well, inquiry chair Alexis Jay bemoaned the Church’s lack of co-operation with the inquiry. The Vatican and the Apostolic Nuncio, its ambassador to the United Kingdom, did not provide a witness statement to the inquiry despite repeated requests.

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CBC | World News

Trump campaign sues to stop vote counting in 3 states as Biden wins 2 key battlegrounds

The latest:

  • Biden wins Michigan, Wisconsin, Trump gets 2nd congressional district in Maine.
  • Electoral college vote stands at 253 for Biden, 214 for Trump.
  • Trump says, “As far as I’m concerned, I already won,” despite ongoing vote counts in several states, and neither candidate reaching the required 270 electoral college votes.
  • Trump campaign sues to halt the vote count in 3 states.
  • Biden campaign calls Trump’s claims ‘outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect.’
  • Get all the U.S. election results as they come in.
  • How the electoral college determines who wins the U.S. presidency.
  • What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.

The fate of the U.S. presidency hung in the balance on Wednesday as President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden fought for the final battleground states. Biden was awarded Michigan and Wisconsin Wednesday, while victory remained up for grabs in Pennsylvania, a state that could prove crucial in determining who wins the White House. 

Trump’s campaign announced at various times Wednesday that it would be suing to stop the vote count in three states  — first in Michigan, then Pennsylvania and finally in Georgia toward the end of the day. 

Referring to the Michigan suit, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement that the campaign “has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law.”

WATCH | Is there a case to halt counting in Michigan?

Elections attorney J.C. Planas questioned the Trump campaign’s claim that it had no meaningful access to the counting of Michigan ballots, which is the basis of the lawsuit it filed today. 3:56

The campaign said it was also suing to temporarily stop the vote count in Pennsylvania, claiming lack of “transparency.”

Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement on Wednesday that the campaign is “suing to stop Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers.” He said the campaign wants “to temporarily halt counting until there is meaningful transparency and Republicans can ensure all counting is done above board and by the law.”

There have been no reports of fraud or any type of ballot concerns out of Pennsylvania. The state had more than 3.1 million mail-in ballots that take time to count, and an order allows them to be counted up until Friday if they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he had promised Pennsylvanians they would count every vote and that’s what they’re going to do.

WATCH | Pennsylvania officials say every vote will be counted: 

Saying the results may not be known today, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf assured the public that every vote cast in the U.S. presidential election will be counted and that the process will be free of outside influence.   2:42

Trump’s campaign and the Georgia Republican Party have filed a lawsuit against the Chatham County Board of Elections asking a judge to order the county to secure and account for ballots received after 7 p.m. local time on election day.

State party chairman David Shafer said in a statement Wednesday night that they planned to sue in a dozen counties. The lawsuit alleges that a Republican observer watched a poll worker take unprocessed absentee ballots from a back room and mix them into processed absentee ballots waiting to be tabulated.

Biden takes Michigan, Wisconsin

Biden wins in Wisconsin and Michigan on Wednesday afternoon brought the electoral college vote tally to 253 for Biden and 214 for Trump, with 270 needed to win the presidency.

Biden told reporters a short time later that he would not be declaring himself the winner of the election, but that he was confident when the counting was finished in all states, he would be ahead. 

“Every vote must be counted,” he said from Wilmington, Del. “No one is going to take our democracy away from us.”

And he said his victory would be a victory for democracy. 

“Here, the people rule. Power can’t be taken or asserted,” he said. “It flows from the people. It’s their will that determines who will be the president of the United States and theirs alone.”

WATCH | Biden says he won’t declare his victory, but the vote count will:

Democratic presidential candidate tells reporters the day after the election that every vote must be counted, after the Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Michigan to stop the count. 1:13

Margins remain tight

The margins were exceedingly tight in states across the country, with the candidates trading wins in battlegrounds. Trump held Florida, the largest of the swing states, along with Texas and Ohio.

The unsettled presidential race came as Democrats entered election night confident not only in Biden’s prospects, but also in the party’s chances of taking control of the Senate. However, the Republicans held several seats that were considered vulnerable, including in Iowa, Texas and Kansas. Disappointed Democrats lost House seats but were expected to retain control there.

The high-stakes election was held against the backdrop of a historic pandemic that has killed more than 232,000 Americans and wiped away millions of jobs.

Both candidates spent months pressing dramatically different visions for the nation’s future, including on racial justice, and voters responded in huge numbers, with more than 100 million people casting votes ahead of election day.

Trump, in an extraordinary move from the White House, issued premature claims of victory and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting. It was unclear exactly what legal action he could try to pursue.

WATCH | ‘We did win this election,’ Trump tells supporters:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said as far as he’s concerned he and the Republican Party have won the U.S. election. He said he will go to the U.S. Supreme Court and wants voting to stop. However, several states are still counting votes that have already been cast. 1:12

McConnell discounts Trump’s claim of victory

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discounted the president’s quick claim of victory, saying it would take a while for states to conduct their vote counts. The Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that “claiming you’ve won the election is different from finishing the counting.”

The president stayed out of the public eye, but he took to Twitter to suggest, without evidence, that the election was being tainted by late-counted ballots. Twitter flagged a number of Trump’s tweets, noting some of the information shared was “disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”

Vote tabulations routinely continue beyond election day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end. In presidential elections, a key point is the date in December when presidential electors meet. That’s set by federal law.

WATCH | Protesters try to stop the vote count in one city — and fight for it in another: 

More than two dozen people at a Detroit ballot counting site tried to stop vote counting the day after the U.S. election, while hundreds of New Yorkers marched to demand that all votes be counted. 1:12

Campaigns brace for legal challenges

Trump appeared to suggest those ballots should not be counted, and that he would fight for that outcome in court, but legal experts were dubious of his declaration. Trump has appointed three of the Supreme Court’s nine justices including, most recently, Amy Coney Barrett.

The Trump campaign on Wednesday pushed Republican donors to dig deeper into their pockets to help finance legal challenges. Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel spoke plainly during a donor call: “The fight’s not over. We’re in it.”


U.S. Democratic presidential nominee and former vice-president Joe Biden speaks about voting results from the 2020 U.S. presidential election during an appearance in Wilmington, Del. on Wednesday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, made a pitch on Twitter to supporters to pitch in $ 5 to help pay for a fight that could “stretch on for weeks.”

Democrats typically outperform Republicans in mail voting, while the Republicans look to make up ground in election day turnout. That means the early margins between the candidates could be influenced by which type of votes — early or election day — were being reported by the states.

Throughout the campaign, Trump cast doubt about the integrity of the election and repeatedly suggested that mail-in ballots should not be counted. Both campaigns had teams of lawyers at the ready to move into battleground states if there were legal challenges.

WATCH | Politics professor calls situation ‘a full-blown constitutional crisis’:

Scott Lucas, American politics professor at the University of Birmingham, called Donald Trump’s claim that he has won the U.S. election ‘false’ and explained why he sees this as a ‘constitutional crisis.’ 1:56

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CBC | World News

Microsoft Is Still Forcing Restarts in Windows. Here’s How to Stop It

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More than five years after Windows 10 launched, Microsoft has never managed to curtail one of the operating system’s most annoying features: its willingness to restart the computer while work is being done. For all the company’s claims about how it has optimized this process, it pretends not to understand that users generally hate forced reboots.

As Sean Hollister points out for The Verge, he had actually been in the process of writing about Microsoft’s new habit of force-installing links to the Progressive Web Application (PWA) versions of its Office suite. PWAs are applications that are supposed to behave like a native application despite running in a window. Hollister got up to eat dinner, came back to his desk, and found his own machine had forcibly restarted, leaving him with — you guessed it — the same PWA applications.

Microsoft is once again distributing its software like malware. While I am not accusing Microsoft of shipping a trojan, applications that forcibly install themselves without user consent are, in fact, malware. There’s nothing new about the apps themselves; they’re the same version of Office you could previously use online. The difference is, now they’ve stuffed themselves into the Start Menu so Microsoft can advertise its cloud services to you. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, has made Azure a major part of Microsoft’s business going forward, to the point that the company claims Amazon and Facebook are its major gaming competitors rather than Sony and, to a lesser degree, Nintendo. This is, presumably, part of the effort to shove users into new paradigms of usage.

It’s Your Computer, Not Microsoft’s

Hollister acknowledges that putting web links in the Start Menu is a fairly mild annoyance, but writes:

[T]hey’re the latest proof that Microsoft doesn’t respect your ownership of your own PC, the latest example of Microsoft installing anything it likes in a Windows update up to and including bloatware, and the latest example of Microsoft caring more about the bottom line than whether a few people might lose their work when Windows suddenly shuts down their PC. Luckily, I didn’t lose any work today, but a friend of mine recently did:

Given Microsoft’s ongoing and presumably permanent hostility towards user control, I’d like to take a moment to inform readers of a utility called the Windows Update Blocker (WUB). The Windows Update Blocker does exactly what it says on the tin: It prevents Microsoft from ever rebooting your PC to install updates or installing updates without permission.

There are real reasons not to use this utility. If you activate this utility and do not regularly turn it off to allow the machine to receive security updates, you risk being unprotected when new vulnerabilities appear. It’s a bad idea to turn Windows Update off and then forget to update manually, so if you choose to go this route, you may want to set a periodic alert to remind you to update every few weeks or months. It’s possible for a person to actively want to be updated as soon as patches arrive while refusing to allow Microsoft to reboot their system out from under them.

I disable Windows Update on all testbeds after patching them up because I’ve been burned before by having an update arrive 5-10 days after I configured the system. I’ve been in the middle of 6-8 hour benchmark runs (SPEC Workstation takes a while) and had the system rebooted out from under me, forcing a complete restart of the tests from scratch.

It is not sufficient to define “Active Hours.” It is unreasonable to expect people to keep an exact log of what their Active Hours at all times so they can remember to change them while working late. It is, apparently, too much work for Microsoft to program Windows not to reboot a computer outside of Active Hours if the keyboard is in use, or if the CPU and GPU are both loaded. I can understand why this might be so — the company might be afraid of malware deliberately loading the CPU and GPU as a way to keep Windows Update from running.

But if this is true, the correct way to deal with it is to present the user with a periodic message that says “Windows Update has not rebooted to install patches because you appear to be using the computer. Please schedule a time to reboot or press the ‘Delay’ button to see this prompt again in 4 – 24 hours.” The only thing Microsoft needs to do to fix this problem is bring back a feature that used to be a staple of Windows: The ability to delay a reboot. In Windows 7, if the “A restart is required” prompt popped up, and you didn’t answer it, the machine assumed that it should not restart.

I’m not recommending that people install the Windows Update Blocker, because it’s bad policy to recommend people make their computers less secure, as if this carried no potential downsides. But given Microsoft’s behavior and its significant, negative ongoing impact on end-users, it’s time to talk about solutions, even imperfect ones. Windows Update Blocker won’t prevent Microsoft from eventually installing its malware-ish PWAs, but if you delay the installation until you’re ready to deal with it, you’ll at least know what you’re getting into and where the problems are. PWA installations, incidentally, can be removed in the “Add/Remove Programs” section of Settings or Control Panel.

The correct answer to the question “When is it acceptable to reboot the user’s computer without permission?” is “Never.” Microsoft would like to pretend otherwise. Everyone deserves the right to decide if they want to rent a PC that Microsoft retains control over, or if they prefer owning it themselves. The only time it ought to be permissible to reboot or shut down a computer without the consent of the user is if shutting the machine off is the only way to prevent thermal or electrical damage. In those circumstances, the CPU has far faster reflexes than any human could match. In every other situation, consent should be required.

If Windows can reboot at will through a process I have no opportunity to interrupt, I’m not the person in control of the PC. Until and unless Microsoft wants to start paying me to use one, they’ve got no right to interfere in how it operates.

Edit: As Techutante states below, there’s a different way to do this as well: Windows 10 Pro users can configure gpedit.msc to block automatic reboots. Windows 10 Home users can choose to modify their registry and install gpedit.msc, though we do not recommend screwing around in the registry unless you are certain you know what you’re about. I do not know for certain if WUB and the gpedit.msc method behave identically in all circumstances, but assuming that they do, it’s important to remember to periodically restart your machine if you use this approach.

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