Tag Archives: HE’S

Jordan’s Prince Hamzah says he’s under house arrest amid security crackdown

The half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah said Saturday he has been placed under house arrest by Jordanian authorities and accused the country’s leadership of corruption and incompetence.

In a videotaped statement leaked to the British Broadcasting Corp., Prince Hamzah bin Hussein said he was visited early Saturday by the country’s military chief and told “I was not allowed to go out, to communicate with people or to meet with them.”

He said his security detail was removed, and his phone and internet service had been cut. He said he was speaking over satellite internet, but expected that service to be cut as well. The BBC says it received the statement from Hamzah’s lawyer.

In the statement, Hamzah said he had been informed he was being punished for taking in part in meetings in which the king had been criticized, though he himself was not accused of being a direct critic.

He said he told the army chief: “I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, for the corruption and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has been getting worse by the year. I am not responsible for the lack of faith that people have in their institutions. They are responsible.”

General denies arrest

The country’s top general had earlier denied that Hamzah — a former crown prince stripped of the title in 2004 — was arrested or under house arrest, even as authorities announced the arrests of former senior officials close to the ruling monarchy.

Hamzah was asked to “stop some movements and activities that are being used to target Jordan’s security and stability,” said Gen. Yousef Huneiti, the army chief of staff.

He said an investigation was ongoing and its results would be made public “in a transparent and clear form.”

“No one is above the law and Jordan’s security and stability are above all,” he told the official Petra news agency.

Petra had earlier reported that two senior officials who formerly worked for the palace, along with other suspects, had been arrested for “security reasons,” without providing further details.

The Petra report said Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, a former head of the royal court, were detained. Awadallah, also previously served as planning minister and finance minister and has private business interests throughout the Gulf region.

The agency did not provide further details or name the others who were arrested.

King has ‘our full support,’ says U.S.

“We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support.”

Saudi Arabia’s official news agency said the kingdom “confirmed its full support to Jordan and its king and crown prince in all decisions and procedures to maintain security and stability and defuse any attempt to affect them.”

Abdullah has ruled Jordan since the 1999 death of of his father, King Hussein, who ruled the country for close to a half-century. The king has cultivated close relations with U.S. and other Western leaders over the years, and Jordan was a key ally in the war against the Islamic State group. The country borders Israel, the occupied West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Jordan’s economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. The country, with a population of around 10 million, also hosts more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.

Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994. The countries maintain close security ties, but relations have otherwise been tense in recent years, largely due to differences linked to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Jordan is home to more than 2 million Palestinian refugees, most of whom have Jordanian citizenship.

Stability in Jordan and the status of the king has long been a matter of concern, particularly during the Trump administration, which gave unprecedented support to Israel and sought to isolate the Palestinians, including by slashing funding for Palestinian refugees.

In early 2018, as then-President Donald Trump was threatening to cut aid to countries that did not support U.S. policies, the administration boosted assistance to Jordan by more than $ 1 billion over five years.

Hamzah stripped of crown prince title

Abdullah stripped his half-brother Hamzah of his title as crown prince in 2004, saying he had decided to “free” him from the “constraints of the position” in order to allow him to take on other responsibilities. The move was seen at the time as part of Abdullah’s consolidation of power five years after the succession.

The current crown prince is Abdullah’s oldest son, Hussein, who is 26.

Jordan’s ruling family traces its lineage back to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Abdullah had chosen Hamzah as his crown prince hours after their father died of cancer in February 1999. The designation was out of respect for King Hussein, who was known to have favoured Hamzah the most among his 11 children from four marriages.

Abdullah and Hamzah have not displayed any open rivalry over the years.

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CBC | World News

Canadian star Ryan Reynolds reveals he’s ‘Bruce’ from viral Ottawa Public Health tweet

Ryan Reynolds has a confession to make: He’s “Bruce” the Ottawa Public Health intern who accidentally sent out a tweet on Super Bowl Sunday that congratulated the winner of the big game without removing the placeholder text. 

At least, that’s according to a tweet from the OPH account.

After the Super Bowl this year, the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) twitter account sent out a post congratulating the winner. 

Just one problem, the name of the winning team was missing, and the tweet seemed to imply that an employee named Bruce may have hit send too early.

The post got thousands of likes and interactions from people who believed that Bruce had really messed up. 

The next day, OPH piggybacked on its popularity with a thread explaining that the post wasn’t a mistake — rather it was a deliberate opportunity to discuss how to think critically about information online.

“Btw, we’re so touched by the outpouring of support for dear Bruce (who doesn’t exist, btw). It’s nice to see such kindness out there. Be critical of what you see online. Misinformation has consequences that go far beyond the wellbeing of ‘Bruce,’ ” read the final tweet in the thread. 

Enter Reynolds, the Golden Globe-nominated star of Hollywood blockbusters like Marvel’s Deadpool franchise, and an active, generous Twitter user.

According to an email from OPH, the actor has been following them since before the pandemic and reached out earlier this week to compliment their work. 

They got to talking and OPH pitched him the idea for a video where he admits to being Bruce the intern. He agreed and shot it for free.

In the video, Reynolds suggests he tweets for OPH from time to time, but simply forgot to finish that particular post.

While he said there’s nothing he can do about his mistake now, what people can do is stick to the COVID-19 basics, such as hand-washing, masking, distancing and getting vaccinated when it’s their turn.

“We were, to say the least, delighted when Mr. Reynolds agreed to participate,” OPH said. “We appreciate that Mr. Reynolds took the time out of his busy schedule to help us share this important public health message.”

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CBC | Health News

IOC’s Dick Pound says he’s unsure Tokyo Olympics will go ahead

A senior member of the International Olympic Committee has said he “can’t be certain” the postponed Tokyo Olympics will open in just over six months because of the surging pandemic in Japan and elsewhere.

The comments by Canadian IOC member Richard Pound to British broadcaster the BBC came as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency on Thursday for Tokyo and surrounding prefectures.

“I can’t be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus,” Pound said speaking about the future of the Tokyo Games.

Japan’s emergency order, which is largely voluntary, will be in force until the first week of February.

Tokyo reported a record of 2,447 new cases on Thursday, a 50 per cent increase from the previous day — which was also a record day. Japan has attributed over 3,500 deaths to COVID-19, relatively low for a country of 126 million.

It’s crunch time for Tokyo. Organizers say the Olympics will take place, but they are not expected to reveal concrete plans until spring. That’s about the same time the torch relay begins on March 25 with 10,000 runners crisscrossing the country for four months leading to the opening ceremony on July 23.

Pound also hinted athletes should be a high priority for a vaccine because they serve as “role models.” Pound’s comments seem to contradict IOC President Thomas Bach.

Bach said in a visit to Tokyo in November that athletes should be encouraged to get a vaccine, but would not be required to. He also indicated they should not be a priority. Bach said that nurses, doctors and health care workers should be first in line for a vaccine, ahead of healthy, young athletes.

“Athletes are important role models, and by taking the vaccine they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration for the well being of others in their communities,” Pound said.

Vaccines could come slowly in Japan

Reports suggest that the vaccine rollout in Japan is likely to be slowed by the need for local clinical trials. Some vaccines might not be readily available until May, although Suga said some would be ready in February.

The Japanese public is becoming skeptical. A poll of 1,200 people last month by national broadcaster NHK showed 63 per cent favoured another postponement or cancellation.

The IOC has said the Olympics, first delayed by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, will not be postponed again and would be cancelled this time.

The budget for the Tokyo Olympics is also soaring. The new official budget is $ 15.4 billion US, which is $ 2.8 billion above the previous budget. The new costs are from the delay.

Several audits by the Japanese government have said the costs are closer to at least $ 25 billion US. The University of Oxford in a study published four months ago said these are the most expensive Summer Olympics on record. This was before the cost of the delay was added.

All but $ 6.7 billion US of Olympic funding is public money.

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CBC | Sports News

Trudeau says he’s ‘frustrated’ with the pace of vaccine rollout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s troubled by the slow pace of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and is vowing to raise the lacklustre vaccination numbers with premiers during a conference call later this week.

Canada already has received more than 424,050 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines — but only 35 per cent of those doses have been administered by the provinces, with roughly 148,000 Canadians having received a shot so far. 

Ontario’s vaccination program has been particularly slow: just 50,000 doses have been administered in the province since the inoculation campaign began on Dec. 15. If the province continues to administer an average of just 2,500 shots a day, it will take over a decade to vaccinate all adults in the province.

“I think Canadians, including me, are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms,” Trudeau said. “That’s why we’re going to continue working closely with the provinces both to deliver vaccines to the provinces and to support them as they need it in terms of getting more vaccines out to vulnerable populations and front-line workers as quickly as possible.”

Trudeau said he planned to raise the issue on a planned first ministers’ meeting call.

“Now is the time, with the new year upon us, to really accelerate, and that’s certainly what I’ll be talking with the premiers about on Thursday — how the federal government can support and help [with] getting vaccines even more quickly out to Canadians,” he said.

Ontario vows to ramp up distribution

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged Tuesday there have been some “bumps in the road” — the provincial vaccination campaign was partially paused over the Christmas holidays — but said he is expecting distribution to ramp up significantly over the coming days. The province administered 7,607 doses on Monday.

“Our message to the federal government is, just keep these vaccines coming because we’re going to be running out,” Ford said. “Once our machine gets going, and it’s going … watch out, there is no one who can compete against us.”

Ontario’s vaccination rate is currently among the lowest in the country on a per capita basis.

WATCH: Trudeau outlines frustrations with pace of vaccine rollout:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with the CBC’s Olivia Stefanovich during the first media briefing of the year. 2:39

Alberta, B.C. and P.E.I. have so far administered the most doses per capita among the provinces, and Manitoba has administered the fewest.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said his province has disproportionately more people living in rural and remote areas and it’s been difficult to reach those people with the Pfizer-BioNTech product, which has been largely limited to urban areas because of its cold-storage requirements.

Trudeau said Canada is expected to have roughly one million doses of the vaccine on hand by the end of January — enough to inoculate 500,000 people with the two-dose vaccine regime.

He repeated his pledge to procure enough shots to vaccinate every adult Canadian who wants a shot by the end of September. The country will have to administer roughly 100,000 doses a day for the next 268 days if it’s going to vaccinate every adult in Canada by that time.

‘This is unacceptable’

Canada’s vaccination effort has so far been outpaced by those in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Israel, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates, among others. According to the latest data collated by the University of Oxford-based Our World in Data, Canada has, however, administered more shots per capita than G7 partners like Italy and France and middle-income countries like Argentina and Croatia.

While the U.S. has had logistical troubles of its own in the early days of this vaccination effort, the Americans have vaccinated nearly four times more people per capita than Canada.

More than 4.6 million people in the U.S. have received a shot already. The federal government there has delivered 15.4 million doses to the states, territories and federal agencies.

West Virginia has already vaccinated every resident of a long-term care home while other smaller states, such as Connecticut, plan to finish the first round of doses this week.

Ford said today Ontario expects to have the staff and residents of these facilities in Toronto, Peel and York regions vaccinated with the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna product by Jan. 21.

208,000 doses per week expected for next 3 weeks

Trudeau said the recent spike in outbreaks at Ontario long-term care facilities is “extremely concerning.” According to the latest provincial data, there are 373 active outbreaks at long-term care homes and retirement residences.

“This is unacceptable. Our elders, our parents and grandparents built this country. They raised us and they deserve the best possible care,” Trudeau said.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Canada will receive 208,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine each week for the next three weeks, while 171,000 Moderna shots are expected to arrive on January 11.

“We’re working diligently with manufacturers and federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to ensure a continuous and predictable flow of vaccines. We’re ready for a sustained tempo of vaccines throughout the month of January,” Fortin said.

“While quantities seem limited, we are scaling up. This is a deliberate operation.”

WATCH: Maj.-Gen. Fortin says provinces, territories will scale up vaccine distribution

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says that with more predictable vaccine shipments provinces and territories can add new distribution sites. 1:30

Tam advises against stockpiling

Fortin said his team at the national operations centre will be sending more cold storage equipment — freezers and thermal shippers, among other tools — to help provinces set up more sites to administer the temperature-sensitive Pfizer vaccine. At the start of the vaccination campaign, there were just 14 sites nationwide where people could get the Pfizer shot.

“All of that will facilitate the different jurisdictions to administer the vaccines safely and effectively,” he said.

While all provinces have started delivering shots, most have stockpiled the second dose to ensure they have enough supply on hand.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that because provinces can count on a specific number of doses arriving each week for the foreseeable future, they can start to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“So initially, of course, given … the supply situation and the uncertainties in December, people were holding back that second dose. Now, with a bit more certainty in the supply, I think provinces are looking to not hold back that second dose because they want to more rapidly immunize the population with that first shot,” Tam said.

WATCH: Dr. Tam says Canada is committed to a two-dose vaccine regime

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam assures viewers that two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be given. 1:19

While some countries have floated the idea of simply administering one dose of the two-dose regime, or of administering the second dose well beyond the recommended 21-day timeline between shots, Tam said Canada is committed to following product guidelines from the manufacturers. She added, however, that researchers are studying the effectiveness of a single shot.

The work to distribute the vaccine comes at one of the darkest points of the pandemic. More than 16,000 people in Canada have died after contracting the virus.

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CBC | Health News

Jamal Murray was great, but he’s not the Canadian athlete of the year

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

The person responsible for the Lou Marsh tie has revealed himself

Credit to Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post for admitting he’s the 1 in the 18-18-1 vote that resulted in Alphonso Davies and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif splitting the Canadian Athlete of the Year award. But his argument isn’t great.

Vanstone voted for Jamal Murray, who had a magical but relatively brief scoring run in the NBA playoffs. In a column and a series of tweets explaining his pick, Vanstone seemed most enamoured by Murray’s pair of 50-point games in the first round, pointing out that Kobe Bryant scored 50 only once in the playoffs and such luminaries as Steph Curry, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dr. J never did it.

That’s impressive, and Murray’s hot streak was one of the best performances by a Canadian athlete this year. But it lasted only a month, it didn’t lift his Denver Nuggets to a championship or even to the Finals, and outside of that stretch he didn’t really do anything special this year.

The Lou Marsh is open to interpretation, but none of the roads lead to Murray. If you think the award should go simply to the Canadian who performed the best on the field/court/rink/etc. during the calendar year, that’s Davies. He was one of the best players in two of soccer’s most competitive arenas, winning the Bundesliga rookie-of-the-season award and playing a key role in Bayern Munich’s domestic-Champions League double. When Bayern won the latter, Davies became the first Canadian men’s national-team player ever to capture soccer’s most prestigious club title. Along the way, he earned worldwide acclaim as perhaps the brightest rising star in his sport.

If you believe an athlete’s off-field efforts should count right alongside their athletic accomplishments, Duvernay-Tardif is a fine pick. He was an important cog in the historically great Kansas City offence that won the Super Bowl before turning his attention to treating long-term-care residents during the first wave of the pandemic. He put himself on the front lines of the fight that defined this year.

Murray? He’s terrific. His playoff run was spectacular and he could be headed for more great things very soon — both in the NBA and maybe for the national team in the Olympics. But he’s not the Canadian athlete of the year.

Alphonso Davies and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif were better picks for the Lou Marsh this year. (Getty Images/File)


The Canadian junior hockey team cut 16-year-old phenom Shane Wright. Like Connor McDavid before him, Wright was granted “exceptional player” status that allowed him to play in the OHL as a 15-year-old. He showed he belonged (and then some), leading Kingston in both goals (39) and points (66) in 58 games last season. McDavid was the same age as an OHL rookie and had 25 goals and 66 points in 63 games. But McDavid played in the world juniors during his second OHL season and Wright will not. He was among seven players released from camp today. Read more about the Canadian team’s preparations for the tournament here.

Kawhi Leonard’s wingman is staying put. At the behest of Kawhi, the Los Angeles Clippers traded a boatload of draft picks and players (including promising Canadian guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) to Oklahoma City for Paul George in the summer of 2019. It was the right move for the Clips because it sealed Leonard’s decision to leave Toronto and sign with them — turning L.A. into an instant title contender. But the team flamed out in the second round of the playoffs, and there had to be some anxiety about both stars being able to opt out of their contracts this coming summer. Imagine giving up all that stuff for only two years of George and Kawhi — and maybe coming away with no titles. But the Clippers locked up George today with a four-year extension that doesn’t allow him to opt out until the summer of 2024. Now onto the more important work: convincing Kawhi to follow suit.

The last golf major of the year is underway. Postponed from early June, the U.S. Women’s Open finally teed off today in Houston. Two Canadians are playing. World No. 6 Brooke Henderson was even through seven holes and tied for 25th place at our publish time. 99th-ranked Alena Sharp was one shot behind her through four. See an updated leaderboard here.

And finally…

Remember when Ross Rebagliati’s Olympic gold medal almost went up in smoke?

Twenty-two years ago, snowboarding was still trying to reach mainstream status in the button-down world of the Olympics. So when the sport made its debut at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, you could just picture the Grinchiest gatekeepers looking down from their perch (and up from their Cognac) to ask, “Who are these punks? And what are they doing to our pristine ski slopes?”

So, of course, the most stereotypical thing imaginable happened. After winning the first-ever Olympic snowboard gold medal with a blazing second run in the men’s giant slalom, Canada’s Ross Rebagliati tested positive for weed.

For a bit, it looked like Rebagliati would become a winter version of Ben Johnson and be stripped of his gold. He was even hauled into a Japanese police station for questioning. But it turned out marijuana wasn’t on the Olympics’ list of banned substances. So Rebagliati kept the medal and became an overnight celebrity, including an appearance next to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.

Rebagliati, who still insists the positive test was triggered by second-hand smoke, never appeared in the Olympics again. But he’s parlayed his 15 minutes into a business venture in the age of legalized cannabis. His name is on a line of cannabis-related products and dispensaries in B.C. called — ready? — Ross’ Gold.

Read more about Rebagliati’s highs and lows in Nagano in his own words, and those of some other key figures involved, in the latest edition of CBC Sports’ oral history series.

Tomorrow on CBC Sports

World Cup skeleton: Due to the pandemic, the Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton team decided not to send any athletes to Europe for the first few events of the season. But Elisabeth Maier is currently living in Austria with her husband (a bobsleigh pilot from that country) and their young son, so she’ll compete in Friday’s women’s race in Innsbruck. Watch it live at 8:15 a.m. ET here. And read more about Maier and the challenges athletes face in returning from pregnancy and childbirth in this story by CBC Sports’ Jacqueline Doorey.

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CBC | Sports News

Trump says he’s being released from hospital Monday evening

U.S. President Donald Trump says he’s leaving the hospital Monday evening after a three-day stay to treat symptoms of COVID-19.

The president tweeted: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

Trump announced his discharge from Walter Reed a day after he briefly ventured out while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans.

The White House said that Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, would brief reporters at 3 p.m. ET at Walter Reed. The doctors had not released an update on his condition since Sunday morning.

White House officials said Trump was anxious to be released after three nights at the facility, where doctors revealed on Sunday that his blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. The doctors raised the possibility then that he could be discharged as early as Monday to continue the remainder of his treatment at the White House.

It was not clear how long Trump’s recovery would continue at the White House once he is discharged or how that could safely take place. 

Trump “is ready to get back to a normal work schedule” and was optimistic about a Monday release, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News. He said a determination would be made by his medical team.

Less than one month before election day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, riding past them Sunday in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear.

The move capped a weekend of contradictions that fuelled confusion about Trump’s health. While Trump’s physician offered a rosy prognosis on his condition, his briefings lacked basic information, including the findings of lung scans, or were quickly muddled by more serious assessments of the president’s health by other officials.

WATCH: Learn more about the steroid Trump is taking:

U.S. President Donald Trump has taken various drugs, including the steroid dexamethasone, which respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta says can lead to various neurocognitive side effects such as confusion and agitation. 1:06

In a short video released by the White House on Sunday, Trump insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. But his actions a short time later, by leaving the hospital and sitting inside the SUV with others, suggested otherwise.

Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen tested negative again, the White House said on Monday. Pence is scheduled to debate his Democratic counterpart in the only vice-presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In this image provided by the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a phone call with administration officials at his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. (Tia Dufour/The White House/The Associated Press)

Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus Sunday. The results come five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump. Biden, who has taken a far more cautious approach to in-person events, had two negative tests on Friday.

Biden also said he was willing to debate Trump in the previously scheduled Miami meeting of the candidates on Oct. 15, provided it was safe to do so.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany late Monday morning became the latest person in Trump’s orbit to reveal a positive test. McEnany said that after days of negative tests, she tested positive and will go into quarantine, though it wasn’t clear where that would be or how it would affect the handling of the administration’s communications to reporters.

McEnany spoke briefly with reporters Sunday evening outside the White House without wearing a mask, but said that no members of the press corps spent enough time around her to be considered close contacts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with mild to moderate COVID-19 appear to be contagious up to about 10 days after symptom onset. People with more severe disease likely are contagious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset, according to those guidelines. That means isolation — whether in the hospital or at home — is supposed to last for at least 10 days.

Blood oxygen concerns reported, belatedly

The president sidestepped questions on Sunday about exactly when Trump’s blood oxygen dropped — episodes they neglected to mention in multiple statements the day before — or whether lung scans showed any damage.

The disclosures about Trump’s oxygen levels and steroid treatment suggested the president is enduring more than a mild case of COVID-19.

WATCH l Trump campaign thrown into doubt after positive test:

U.S. President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis has created a lot of uncertainty for his campaign one month before the election with Trump behind Joe Biden in the polls. 2:54

Blood oxygen saturation is a key health marker for COVID-19 patients. A normal reading is between 95 and 100 per cent. Conley said the president had a “high fever” and a blood oxygen level below 94 per cent on Friday and during “another episode” on Saturday.

Conley revealed that Trump was given a dose of the steroid dexamethasone in response.

“There’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern,” Conley said. He declined to outline those “expected findings.”

Trump’s treatment with dexamethasone is in addition to the single dose he was given Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus.

Trump on Friday also began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences antiviral currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus, and remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.

The National Institutes of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines recommend against using dexamethasone in patients who do not require supplemental oxygen. It has only been proven to help in more serious cases. Among the concerns with earlier use is that steroids tamp down certain immune cells, hindering the body’s own ability to fight off infection.

Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications.

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CBC | World News

Nick Cannon Says He’s Taking a Break From Radio Show Following Anti-Semitic Remarks

Nick Cannon Says He’s Taking a Break From Radio Show Following Anti-Semitic Remarks | Entertainment Tonight

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Morgan Wallen Says He’s a ‘Changed Man’ After Welcoming Son Indigo Wilder

Morgan Wallen Says He’s a ‘Changed Man’ After Welcoming Son Indigo Wilder | Entertainment Tonight

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Trump wants schools reopened. He’s getting rare support from virus experts

Donald Trump’s call to reopen schools is winning rare qualified support from a group that’s included some of the U.S. president’s harshest critics: virus experts.

Epidemiologists who have castigated the president’s pandemic handling agree with him that students should be in classrooms this fall.

Several interviewed by CBC News said the evidence favours a safe return to school, though they added caveats about how to do it and about the need to plan it carefully.

They offered that advice while stressing that the president otherwise has little credibility when speaking about COVID-19, which he has repeatedly downplayed, made untrue claims about and promoted unproven treatments for.

On this, they say, he’s got a point.

The debate is of increasingly urgent relevance to parents across the continent, as policy-makers in U.S. states and Canadian provinces weigh different approaches for reopening classrooms in several weeks.

“I’m very, very, very, very, very non-pro-Trump. But this is an issue — it should not be a political thing. It should be based on the science,” said Dr. Michael Silverman, chief of infectious diseases at the Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont.

“And the science says the kids should be going back to school,” said Silverman, who has completed a paper on the topic, now undergoing peer review.

“There is a consensus among the vast majority of us [in this field] that the schools need to open. And they need to open soon.”

The message was similar from two other epidemiologists interviewed by CBC News, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“In general, I still wouldn’t listen to the president on anything having to do with the coronavirus,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

“It just happens to be a coincidence that he might have said something that’s backed by epidemiological data in this case.” 

Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, cautioned that areas with serious outbreaks should delay a return, but she said: “Schools should reopen in the fall. I think it’s a priority.”

Trump’s election message

Even as case totals soar across the southern U.S., Trump seems to be keen to campaign for this November’s election on the idea that life is returning to normal.

He has put schools at the centre of that narrative — this week he tweeted repeatedly and held different White House events about reopening.

“The moms want it. The dads want it. The kids want it. It’s time to do it,” Trump said at a White House event on the topic.

“We’re very much going to put pressure on governors — and everybody else — to open schools.”

In a tweet that puzzled public health experts, Trump has even pressured the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be more gung-ho, and he blasted the agency.

The CDC’s recommendations currently include a nine-page checklist for schools on everything from cleaning to distancing practices. 

It also offers guidelines for different regional scenarios, saying places with some virus spread should space desks two metres apart and cancel field trips, while places with more severe spread may want to consider shuttering schools again.

The CDC suggests mask-wearing when feasible and is releasing additional guidelines in a few days.

U.S. federal immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week that different parts of the country might use different approaches based on their current caseloads. 

But Fauci’s broad message was that the overall damage to children being outside the classroom is outweighing the benefits: “We should try as best as possible to get the children back to school and the schools open.” 

How to reduce risks

Adalja mentioned four things schools can do to reduce the risks of reopening schools: 

  • Have a plan for what to do if cases occur.
  • Allow at-risk school employees with pre-existing medical conditions to work in isolation.
  • Create safer spaces: Open windows and hold classes outdoors when possible; separate desks to the greatest extent possible; and try not to shuffle children between classes. (Tuite suggested using churches or universities to add extra class space.)
  • Make it voluntary: If a family wants children to study at home, let them.

Policy-makers in the U.S. and Canada are examining different approaches for reopening classrooms in several weeks. But many seem to agree that the overall damage to children being outside the classroom is outweighing the benefits. (Jonathon Hayward/The Canadian Press)

There is some disagreement among experts about what to do in the event of a regional spike in cases — a current problem in southern U.S. states.

Adalja said he favours a more aggressive reopening. 

He said he’d be very hesitant to close schools again, even in harder-hit areas. “I was never a major proponent of closing schools because I didn’t think there was strong data to support it.” 

The only reason authorities closed schools this spring, Adalja said, was fear that the virus would act like influenza — dangerous to children and easily spread by them.

But COVID-19 is the opposite, he said. 

Children’s ‘puzzling’ response to COVID-19

There’s no complete consensus yet on children’s low risk of spreading the coronavirus. But Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Wednesday that officials are weighing the evidence.

“From the science, what we know is that certainly young people, children, are less likely to have more severe consequences if they do get infected with the virus,” he said.

“It also appears that in terms of transmission, young children — at least in some of the studies I’ve seen — do not appear to be as efficient or effective in terms of transmitting the virus to others..”

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, pictured on June 25, said Wednesday that officials are weighing the evidence on children’s risk of spreading the coronavirus. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Njoo said that aspect was “at the heart of the debate.” In terms of managing risk, “it is a bit of a social experiment,” he said. 

Adalja said children rarely spread, and are rarely seriously harmed by, COVID-19, based on international evidence from daycares used by the children of essential workers in the U.S.; studies in Taiwan, Finland, Denmark and elsewhere; and states that reopened schools.

Silverman said it’s equally true of Canadian provinces, some of which reopened classrooms in the spring, with flexible rules and regional exceptions.

He said Canada has had more than 8,000 adult deaths and no child deaths from COVID-19.  There is ample evidence that children don’t easily spread the virus, he said.

“We have to educate the public…. Understandably the public is very frightened [about reopening schools],” Silverman said.

“[But] the rationale for continuing to keep kids out of school is misguided. More than that, it’s harmful…. Millions of children are being kept out of school to prevent something extremely rare. We’re doing harm to millions of children.”

Researchers at Brown University in Providence, R.I., attempted to estimate the academic impact of closing U.S. schools this past spring. They published a working paper that said students would lose between 32 and 73 per cent of the likely learning gains in math and reading they would normally have achieved in the 2019-20 school year.

The hardest impact would be on poorer and at-risk students, they said.

Different opinions about what to do in places with spikes

As for places like the U.S. South, with a surge in cases, Silverman said he might take a middle-of-the-road approach. For example, he said, elementary schools might stay mostly open, while high schools could mostly shift back to online learning.

Tuite said she would take a slower approach in areas like the southern U.S. 

“I would suggest deferring [reopening],” she said. 

Graphs showing 3-day moving averages of new cases across the U.S. The redder the background, the bigger the upward trend; the greener the background, the bigger the downward trend. (Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center)

Tuite provided a rule of thumb to help authorities decide whether to shut down: Are officials able to contact trace the individuals spreading an outbreak? 

She said that’s more useful than setting a number of cases as your benchmark for opening or closing, because raw numbers can be deceiving. 

For instance, 10 new cases found randomly in a community is greater cause for alarm than 10 cases traced to one single event, Tuite said.

“[But if tracing is] not happening, I don’t think you could safely reopen schools,” she said.

Teachers’ concerns

Teachers’ unions are expressing concern about safety.

The largest U.S. teachers’ union said the country hasn’t properly funded efforts to supply protective gear and modify classrooms. 

Other education unions in the U.S. also aren’t happy.

In Canada, Ontario’s largest teachers’ federation sent the provincial government a 37-page document with requests, including the need to respect collective agreement rules on workload and safety issues.

Ontario high school and Catholic teachers’ groups have sent similar requests and said the provincial government has not consulted meaningfully. 

Different provinces are planning different approaches this fall.

Teachers’ unions say they worry they won’t get the safety equipment they need when schools reopen. Here, students in Taiwan in March sit at desks equipped with yellow dividers. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan say they’re preparing for a return to near-normal conditions for most age groups. B.C. and New Brunswick envision a hybrid, partial-normal return. Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario say they’re preparing for three scenarios. Ontario and P.E.I. have asked school boards to map out those different scenarios.

Tuite said policy-makers are right to prepare for different scenarios — including for the need to shut down again.

“It’s not going to be a typical school year,” Tuite said. “You’re probably going to have interruptions.”

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