Tag Archives: Rest

Raptors to keep calling Tampa home for rest of season

The Toronto Raptors will play all their home games in Tampa, Fla., this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NBA team said Thursday the team will complete its home schedule at Amalie Arena after initially announcing in November it would play half its home games in Tampa before making a decision on the second half of the season.

The Raptors say the decision was made because of border restrictions and public safety measures in Canada.

The lone NBA team from outside the U.S., the Raptors have joined several Canadian counterparts in having to play south of the border during the pandemic.

Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC (East Hartford, Conn.), CF Montreal (Harrison, N.J.) and Vancouver Whitecaps (Portland) relocated for partial or full seasons in 2020. Major League Rugby’s Toronto Arrows will start their 2021 season in Marietta, Ga.

A schedule release for the second half of the season is expected in the coming days.

City of champions

“Florida has been really welcoming to us and we’re so grateful for the hospitality we’ve found in Tampa and at Amalie — we’re living in a city of champions, and we intend to carry on the tradition of winning for our new friends and fans here,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement.

“But home is where the heart is, and our hearts are in Toronto. We think often of our fans, of our Scotiabank Arena family, and all those we are missing back home, and we can’t wait until we can all be together again.”

The Raptors are 6-5 in their “home” building this season, which they’re sharing with the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa also has the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and the Rays played in the World Series last season.

There have been reports the Blue Jays are considering playing home games in nearby Dunedin, Fla., site of their spring-training complex, this season.

Logistical issue

The Raptors’ decision is hardly unexpected given the state of the pandemic in the U.S. and Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that starting next week any nonessential travellers arriving in Canada by land will need to show a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test or face a fine if they don’t have one.

That wouldn’t be an issue for NBA teams; travelling parties are tested daily, players multiple times a day.

The bigger issue is logistics. The land border already remains closed to nonessential travellers who are not Canadian citizens; Canada requires those entering the country to isolate for 14 days, which wouldn’t be feasible for NBA teams, and the Canadian government has also strongly discouraged nonessential travel for any reason.

Toronto made the move south last fall, knowing Thursday’s decision was a real possibility.

The Raptors tried to simulate the comforts the team has at home in Toronto, at least as much as possible. “We The North” — the team motto — signage is everywhere in the hotel that the Raptors are using as a practice facility in Tampa, from the elevator doors to the ballroom wall behind one of the baskets. The court that the Raptors use for games was shipped down from Toronto. And there’s a 2019 world championship banner swaying from the rafters, alongside the Lightning’s retired jerseys for Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, at the same end of the court as the Raptors’ bench.

“They did a great job,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said earlier this season.

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Ontario education minister to announce at 4 p.m. when rest of schools will reopen

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce is expected to announce on Wednesday afternoon when schools in 16 public health regions in the southern half of the province will reopen for in-person learning.

Lecce indicated on Monday that he would provide parents with “certainty” about reopening dates. The government says he will speak at 4 p.m. ET before taking questions from reporters. CBC News will carry that news confrerence live in this story.

“We want all students in all regions back to class,” Lecce said in a tweet.

Dr. David Willams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, has confirmed to Premier Doug Ford that he would finalize his advice on Wednesday about how schools still closed can reopen safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week’s COVID-19 case counts have been unreliable due to data entry issues, though there has been a decline in the number of cases in the wake of the province’s stay-at-home order. On Wednesday, the province recorded 1,172 new infections and reported 67 more deaths linked to the virus

All elementary and secondary school students began January with online learning as part of a provincial lockdown. Since then, the provincial government has taken a staggered approach to reopening physical classrooms.

Investments needed to make schools safe, NDP says

NDP education critic Marit Stiles, MPP for Davenport, said on Tuesday that the reopening must be accompanied by public health measures to ensure the schools can remain open. She said parents, education workers and students are eagerly awaiting the announcement.

“What I’m looking for, though, is not just clarity about when kids are going to be returning to school,” Stiles told CBC News.

“What I want is the government to spend the dollars that they have been hoarding on action. Small class sizes, paid sick leave, in school testing — anything less is a recipe for future school closures.”

Stiles said the province has not spent the full $ 381 million of COVID-19 relief funds recently received from the federal government.

She said investments are needed to keep schools safe because of high daily case counts and new COVID-19 variants in circulation. Ventilation in schools should be improved and education workers should be vaccinated as front-line workers, she added.

“The success of the announcement really is going to depend on what investment and action this government is willing to take to ensure that our schools are safe when they reopen,” she added. “Anything less than that will be a failure.”

Province has said it will expand testing

On Monday, Lecce said the province plans to expand COVID-19 testing for students and that it will allow school boards to bring in student teachers to fill supply roles as more schools reopen amid the second wave of the pandemic. 

Officials said the targeted testing will be available in all public health units where students have returned to class. They said they expect that Ontario can complete up to 25,000 laboratory-processed and 25,000 on-site, rapid antigen tests per week but offered no timeline on how long it could take to get to that level.

Expansion of the testing program accompanies the injection of another $ 381 million Ottawa recently released as part of Phase 2 of the Federal Safe Return to Class Fund. A previous $ 381 million in federal funds for school reopenings came last August.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Education Minister Stephen Lecce, right, walk in a hallway at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ont. in July 2020. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

On Jan. 11, students resumed in-person learning in all northern Ontario public health units. On Jan. 25, students in some areas of southern Ontario went back to in-person class. 

On Feb. 1, students in four public health units — Eastern Ontario, Middlesex-London, Ottawa and Southwestern — were able to resume in-person learning.

A total of 520,000 students were able to learn in person in Ontario as of Monday, according to the ministry.

Wednesday’s decision will affect schools in the following public health units:

  • Brant County Health Unit.
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health.
  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services.
  • Durham Region Health Department.
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.
  • Halton Region Public Health.
  • Huron Perth Public Health.
  • Lambton Public Health.
  • Niagara Region Public Health.
  • Peel Region Public Health.
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services.
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit.
  • Toronto Public Health.
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.
  • Windsor-Essex County Health.
  • York Region Public Health.

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American Hockey League pulls plug on rest of season due to COVID-19 pandemic

The American Hockey League did the expected Monday, cancelling the remainder of its season and playoffs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AHL made the announcement following a vote by its board of governors.

Outgoing league president and CEO David Andrews said in a statement the NHL’s top minor league simply ran out of time.

“After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions,” Andrews said in a statement.

The AHL paused its schedule March 12, following the NHL’s lead in the aftermath of an NBA player testing positive for COVID-19.

Andrews said last month the league was “pivoting” to the 2020-21 campaign, while adding nothing was official regarding the status of 2019-20.

That changed Monday.

4 Canadian-based teams

The NHL still hopes to salvage its season in some form this summer, but the AHL saw no path forward.

“We are very grateful to the National Hockey League and its teams for their support and leadership in navigating through the challenges faced over the last two months,” Andrews said.

The AHL is made up of 31 franchises either owned by or affiliated with NHL clubs.

There are four teams based in Canada — the Laval Rocket, Belleville Senators, Toronto Marlies and Manitoba Moose.

In operation since 1936, the AHL’s website states that 90 per cent of current NHLers are graduates, and that more than 100 members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time on the circuit.

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said last month the prospect of the AHL cancelling its season and playoffs – denying some of the franchise’s young talent valuable experience — would be a blow to his club’s rebuild efforts at the NHL level.

Admirals top league with 41 victories

“It’s probably the thing that hurts us the most as an organization [during the pandemic],” Dorion said.

The AHL current standings — sorted by points percentage — and statistics as of March 12, are considered final and official, and will serve as the basis for determining league awards for the 2019-20 season.

The Milwaukee Admirals topped the league at 41-14-5-3.

The Canadian Hockey League previously cancelled the rest of the junior season, playoffs and the Memorial Cup amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Most leagues in Europe nixed the remainder of their regular schedules and playoffs earlier this spring, while a number of international tournaments, including the men’s and women’s world championships, were also cancelled.

Andrews, meanwhile, is set to retire after 26 seasons leading the AHL on July 1, with former NHL executive Scott Howson taking over as both president and CEO.

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The lessons Italy has learned about its COVID-19 outbreak could help the rest of the world

For the first time since coronavirus infections exploded in the small town of Lodi, Lombardy, the northern Italian region that would become the epicentre of the European outbreak, a remarkable site has appeared in the hospital there: a few empty beds.

Health-care workers continue to issue strong warnings that Italy is far from being out of the woods, and on Wednesday morning, Italy’s health minister extended the nationwide lockdown to April 13.

But the crushing pressure on northern Italian intensive-care units seems to be finally easing, providing if not a light at the end of the tunnel — deaths in Italy have surpassed 13,000 and still top 700 a day — then a distant flicker of hope.

Only carefully conducted epidemiological studies will bring to light exactly how and why COVID-19 took off in northern Italy with such speed. But in the midst of the emergency, experts say there are already lessons to be gleaned from Italy’s fatal errors — and urgent messages for other parts of the world.

“The biggest mistake we made was to admit patients infected with COVID-19 into hospitals throughout the region,” said Carlo Borghetti, the vice-premier of Lombardy, an economically crucial region with a population of 10 million.

“We should have immediately set up separate structures exclusively for people sick with coronavirus. I recommend the rest of the world do this, to not send COVID patients into health-care facilities that are still uninfected.”

‘Like throwing a lit match onto a haystack’

Already, Italian cities in other regions are doing this, as well as field hospitals in Milan and Bergamo, Lombardy, which are almost complete.

However, the virus was not only spread to “clean” – i.e. infection-free – hospitals by admitting positive patients. In early March, as the number of infected was doubling every few days, authorities allowed overwhelmed hospitals to transfer those who tested positive but weren’t gravely ill into assisted-living facilities for the elderly.


The normally teeming Duomo square in Milan is nearly empty during the current lockdown in Italy. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

“It was like throwing a lit match onto a haystack,” said Borghetti, who spoke out against the directive at the time. “Some facilities refused to take in the positive patients. For those that did [take them in], it was devastating.”

Along with the tragic misstep of putting infected people under the same roof as clusters of the most physically vulnerable, Borghetti and others point to a deeper structural factor that accelerated the outbreak in northern Italy: a highly centralized health-care system with large hospitals as its focus.


(CBC News)

Under normal circumstances, these large hospitals are very effective, with a wide range of expertise under one roof. But as the go-to place for health services, they acted as conductors of infection.

“For the past 20 years, the region invested heavily in hospitals, which are now among the best in Europe,” Borghetti said. “Unfortunately, we did not make the same investment in local health services: health clinics, rehab facilities, community nursing and family doctors. And as a result, we’re drowning [in the epidemic].”

Testing policy ‘was wrong’

Epidemiologists estimate the real number of infected in Italy, now officially more than 110,000, is likely at least 10 times that number. Affected areas in Italy began vast testing of even asymptomatic people in the last week of February, shortly after Patient One was discovered on Feb. 21. A week later, however, they began to comply with the government’s requests to limit testing only to symptomatic cases.

“That policy of testing was wrong,” said Guido Marinoni, president of the Medical Association of Bergamo, the hardest-hit city. “We should have extended testing to the relatives of positive people and the contacts of those relatives, at the very least.”

This same loose grasp on the number of infected also applies to deaths, which researchers and mayors in Italy’s north say could be four to six times higher than the official count.

Comparisons between the number of deaths in the four years prior to 2020 with the same period this year show a dramatic spike in mortality that the official death count of COVID-19 does not seem to adequately account for.


A medical worker wearing a protective mask and suit treats patients suffering from COVID-19 in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Cremona, Italy. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

The gap, say experts, is the result of data being collected only on those who are hospitalized or who die in hospital with a positive test. Yet most people die at home.

“Many have died at home with undiagnosed coronavirus that exacerbated heart and lung complications,” said scientist Luca Foresti, CEO of the Santagostino Medical Centre, Italy’s largest out-patient clinic. Foresti has conducted a study on the mortality rate in four different towns in northern Italy: Nembro, Pesaro, Cernusco sul Naviglio and Bergamo.

“Another factor is that people with other unrelated illnesses, under normal conditions, would call an ambulance and be taken to emergency. But with hospitals overwhelmed, there were no ambulances” or hospital beds available, said Foresti.

He estimates 90 per cent of the additional deaths in northern Italy so far this year are from coronavirus and only 10 per cent due to unrelated illnesses.

Theories about spread don’t bear out

In the early weeks after the virus took off here, many theorized about what was behind Italy’s high case fatality rate (deaths per confirmed infections), a global outlier at a shocking 10 per cent.

Among the explanations were the country’s aged population and a cultural propensity to socialize in groups, often cross-generational, as well as showing affection through touch — compared to Asia, where mask-wearing and social distancing are common even in non-pandemic times.

WATCH | How COVID-19 hit Italy

While expanding the lockdown in Italy until at least April, the country issues a new measure allowing people to go for one daily walk as the infection rate begins to decline. 2:04  

Experts say the full impact of these factors won’t be clear until further studies are carried out.

“Luck is a fundamental determinant of contagion [at the beginning],” said Matteo Villa, a researcher at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies. “A virus can be introduced to a person who has little contact with others, or to a super spreader,” which was the case with Italy’s Patient One.

After it starts to take off, however, it follows the same exponential pattern.

The biggest takeaway from Italy, experts say, is that what happened here can happen anywhere.

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Valerie Harper Laid to Rest In Intimate Funeral In Los Angeles

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Edith Gonzalez Laid to Rest in Intimate Private Funeral in Mexico

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Suspended Nazem Kadri to miss rest of Maple Leafs’ series against Bruins

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60-Day Bed Rest Study Will Test Effects of Weightlessness, Artificial Gravity

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The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA are collaborating on a new experiment that seeks to understand the effects of long-term weightlessness and artificial gravity on the human body. However, this experiment won’t take place in space. Two-dozen brave volunteers will lie down and remain there. Lying around may not seem particularly brave, but the study participants have to stay in bed without sitting up for 60 days and occasionally go for a spin in a giant centrifuge.

Humans evolved on Earth, and our bodies expect gravity. Scientists have long used bed rest to study the effects of weightlessness without sending people into space. Lying around in bed all day causes similar metabolic changes as being in orbit like muscle atrophy and bone loss. That’s why astronauts have to stick to adhere to a strict regimen of exercise that simulates the strain of Earth gravity.

In the new study, the 12 male and 12 female volunteers will take to beds at the German Aerospace Center’s Envihab facility. The participants have to remain stretched out on their beds for the full 60-day study. They can’t sit up and must keep at least one shoulder touching the mattress at all times. As if that wasn’t enough, the bed is tilted down 6 degrees at the head end, causing blood to pool in the head. Just thinking about that makes me want to stretch my legs.

While artificial gravity doesn’t exist yet, there are some only marginally outlandish ways to accomplish that. For example, astronauts could live and work in rotating compartments that use centrifugal force to simulate gravity. To test the effects of such a system, researchers will occasionally pop the test subjects into the Envihab’s short-arm centrifuge (above). The spinning will push blood back down into the extremities, but again, there’s no standing or even sitting up allowed.

Throughout the test, scientists will conduct tests on the subjects’ cognitive abilities, muscle strength, balance, and cardiovascular function. Even after the end of the 60-day bed rest experiment, the volunteers will remain in the German Aerospace Center for additional monitor and testing to track how they recover from the effects of 60 days flat on their backs. The data should help NASA and the ESA better prepare for the effects of long-term weightlessness and the potential for artificial gravity on astronauts.

Now read:

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Tuberculosis rates in the North are 290 times those in the rest of Canada. Here's why.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to apologize for the way the Canadian government treated Inuit patients with tuberculosis in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. In actions reminiscent of the Sixties Scoop, and of the government forcibly sending Indigenous children to residential schools, thousands of Inuit patients were taken from their communities by the government and brought south for treatment.

But many of them died, and no one ever told their families what happened or where they were buried. 

Canadians may think of tuberculosis as a disease of the past. But it is still one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. And it is still a serious disease in this country — especially for people living in the North. 

What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a highly infectious and contagious disease caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that mainly affects the lungs.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include:

  • Coughing for more than three weeks.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Chest pain with breathing or coughing.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Night sweats.
  • Chills.

It can also affect the kidneys, spine and brain.

If it is not diagnosed quickly, it can spread more easily and people wind up with much more advanced cases of the disease.

How do you get it?  

The bacteria that cause tuberculosis spread from one person to another through droplets released into the air — by coughing, sneezing, laughing, spitting, or even just talking.

According to the Canadian Public Health Association, at the time of Confederation in 1867, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in Canada. There was little that doctors could do other than to house patients in sanatoriums for months of rest.

The former Saint John Tuberculosis Hospital, circa 1950. (New Brunswick Museum/Louis Merritt Harrison Collection)

With the discovery of streptomycin in 1946 — the first antibiotic that could kill the TB-causing bacterium — rates of infection finally started to slow. By the 1970s, the number of people in Canada infected with TB had greatly declined.

But with the advent of HIV and AIDS, which suppress the immune system, rates started to climb again in the mid-1980s.

How common is it today?

According to the World Health Organization, there were more than 10 million new cases of TB diagnosed around the world in 2017.

According to Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatric infectious and tropical disease specialist at the University of Toronto, about a third of the world's population has TB, but the infection is latent or dormant, and doesn't cause active disease.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says there were 1,796 active cases diagnosed in this country in 2017, up 2.6 per cent from 2016, when there were 1,750 active cases.

The rate of TB infection is 290 times higher in Canada's North.

A man is tested for tuberculosis in a mobile containment unit in Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut. (Travis Burke/CBC)

In actual numbers, there were 1,684 cases diagnosed in all of southern Canada in 2017. There were 112 in the three far less populated territories, including 101 in Nunavut alone.

According to data from PHAC, the average rate of infection in Canada's ten provinces in 2017 was 4.46 per 100,000 people. 

In Nunavut, it was 265.8. 

The World Health Organization says the rate of infection in the world's poorer nations is between 150 and 400, so Nunavut falls squarely in that range. 

Why are people in the North more vulnerable?

There are several factors that contribute to the much higher rates of infection in the North.

"Many Inuit people live in overcrowded homes that are poorly ventilated … they're very airtight," said Banerji, who has researched respiratory infections in babies in Canada's Arctic for many years. "Also, there is quite a bit of poverty, which can make tuberculosis worse. Malnutrition can exacerbate tuberculosis."

Poor access to health care, or issues of not feeling safe going to an outpost nursing centre or a hospital, can also be factors. 

And there is another possible factor Banerji believes needs further study.

She says Inuit babies have the highest rate of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the world. Banerji says Nunavik, the northernmost region of Quebec, provides the RSV antibody to babies but the government of Nunavut does not.

She wonders if there is a connection between high RSV rates and TB. 

"It's just to say that a lot of respiratory disease is over-represented in Inuit populations," she said. "Babies or people who have scarring or damage to the lungs probably are more susceptible to active tuberculosis."

What about the antibiotics?

Though there are strains of tuberculosis that have become resistant, there are many that can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

But mistrust of Western medicine means too many patients aren't even getting access to the antibiotics that might work. It's a problem rooted in colonialism.

Though tuberculosis has become resistant to some antibiotics, they are still the first line of treatment for the potentially deadly disease. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press)

"Many Inuit people have been impacted by colonialism, some people with residential schools, some people with the Sixties Scoop," Banerji said. "Also, policies that have led to poverty and discrimination as far as employment and funding."

And the treatment takes time, she says. Once you figure out what a patient's TB is resistant to, it often needs to be treated with three or four different antibiotics over a long period of time because it's a slow-growing organism. This can also be harder to do in the North, especially when it involves patients returning to far-away nursing stations or getting the required drugs shipped to remote locations. 

What would it take to bring TB rates down in the North?

While Dr. Banerji believes a national strategy for food security and standards for housing would go a long way, there is another important challenge.

"We're trying to get more medical schools to have Indigenous health as part of their curriculum. A lot of physicians and nurse practitioners are becoming more culturally safe. But some of them haven't had a lot of education experience on Indigenous health."

That's started to change in recent years. In Canada, the University of Toronto, McGill, and the universities of Ottawa and Manitoba have made Indigenous health issues part of their students' med school training. 

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