Thanksgiving in a COVID world, COVID and pregnancy : In The News for Oct. 7

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Oct. 7 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

With Thanksgiving this weekend and Halloween just around the corner, Ontario's chief medical officer of health is set to release his advice on how to safely celebrate.

Dr. Kieran Moore touched on some of his recommendations for Thanksgiving earlier this week, saying celebrating indoors and unmasked with a fully vaccinated group is "absolutely appropriate."

Ontario's gathering limits of 100 outdoors and 25 indoors are still in place.

Moore said attendees may consider keeping masks on indoors if there is a combination of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in the group, particularly for older people or those with chronic medical conditions.

Last year, Ontario recommended kids in the four COVID-19 hot spots at the time, which were Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York regions, should not go trick-or-treating.

At 576, Ontario's average of daily new COVID-19 cases has generally been declining since early September, while last year at this time it was a bit higher, but on the rise.


Also this ...

Jennifer Rosebluff-Thomas was about 29 weeks pregnant with her ninth child when she died of COVID-19 last month. 

The 35-year-old Edmonton woman was also unvaccinated when she contracted the more dangerous Delta variant.

Her sister said doctors explained to her that an emergency C-section was necessary to help the single, stay-at-home mother get more oxygen into her lungs, confirming at the same time that she wasn't vaccinated and that it was preventable.

"That was the most hurtful part, when they told me it was preventable," Carol Charles said, adding she had no idea her sister did not get vaccinated.

Rosebluff-Thomas delivered a baby girl in late August. The baby survived, but her mother died a few days later.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, recently stressed that pregnant people are at a high risk of severe outcomes due to COVID-19.

And while it is too late to save her sister, Charles said she hopes her story will encourage other pregnant women to get immunized. 

“ (COVID-19 vaccines) aren’t guaranteed, but it helps,” Charles said. “It might not stop you from getting sick, but it will help you get through it.”


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are falling and the number of new cases per day is about to dip below 100,000 for the first time in two months — encouraging signs that the summer surge is waning. 

In the meantime, government leaders and employers who don't want to lose momentum are looking at strengthening and expanding vaccine mandates. 

Los Angeles enacted one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates on Wednesday, requiring vaccination for everyone entering a bar, restaurant, nail salon or gym. New York City and San Francisco have similar rules. 

And Minnesota’s governor is calling for new vaccine and testing requirements for teachers and long-term care workers. 

Across the U.S., deaths per day have dropped by nearly 15 per cent since mid-September and are now averaging about 1,750. New cases have fallen to just over 103,000 per day on average, a 40 per cent decline over the past three weeks. The number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 has declined by about one-quarter since its most recent peak of almost 94,000 a month ago.

“What we’re seeing is what we’ve seen in the prior three surges,” said Dr. Marybeth Sexton, an infectious-disease specialist at Emory University school of medicine. “What we need to remember is when we see these numbers go down, it’s not a signal to let up. It’s a signal to push harder."

If people give up masks and physical distancing and stop getting vaccinated, “we could be right back here in the winter with surge five,” she said.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

TAIPEI, Taiwan — With record numbers of military flights near Taiwan over the last week, China has been stepping up its harassment of the island it claims as its own and asserting its territorial ambitions in the region. 

The U.S. has called China’s latest actions “risky” and “destabilizing,” and at the same time has stepped up naval manoeuvres in the Indo-Pacific with its allies, challenging Beijing’s claims in critical waterways.

Taiwan, meanwhile, has been left pleading for more global support. 

China's People's Liberation Army flew 56 planes off the southwest coast of Taiwan on Monday, setting a record and capping four days of sustained pressure involving 149 flights. All were in international airspace, but prompted Taiwanese defense forces to scramble in response and raised fears that any misstep could provoke an unintended escalation.

Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told legislators Wednesday that the situation “is the most severe in the 40 years since I’ve enlisted.”

While most agree that war is not imminent, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen warned that more is at stake if Beijing makes good on past threats to seize the island.

“If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system,” she wrote in an impassioned op-ed in Foreign Affairs magazine published Tuesday. “It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy.”


On this day in 1825 ...

The great Miramichi fire killed nearly 200 people and destroyed more than 15,000 square kilometres. It laid waste to Newcastle and Douglastown and most of the other settlements in the region, now part of New Brunswick.


In entertainment ...

Actors Keanu Reeves and Graham Greene as well as musician Bruce Cockburn are among the inductees to Canada's Walk of Fame for 2021.

Singer-songwriter Jully Black, late blues artist Salome Bey, wrestling star Bret (The Hitman) Hart, retired Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, and decathlete Damian Warner were also announced.

The list of 10 is rounded out by Cargojet CEO Ajay Virmani and the University of Toronto scientists who discovered insulin: Frederick Banting, Charles Best, John Macleod and James Collip.

The Dec. 4 Walk of Fame gala at Beanfield Centre in Toronto will also give out two special awards: the Allan Slaight Music Impact Honour to musician Serena Ryder and the Allan Slaight Music Impact Honour to Super Bowl-winning football player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

Each year, Canada's Walk of Fame celebrates Canadian excellence and achievement in the areas of arts and entertainment; entrepreneurship and philanthropy; humanitarianism; science, technology and innovation; and sports and athletics.

The newest additions bring the total number of inductees to 200. 



SILVER SPRING, Md.— Google Flights now tells users which aircraft journeys in a search result have lower carbon emissions. 

Flights with significantly lower emissions are highlighted in green indicating what percentage below the median they are for that route. Users can search for flights based on carbon impact, and the results will list the greenest flights at the top of the list. 

The new flight feature and others are part of a sustainability initiative Google CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted in a blog post.

Google said the estimates are a combination of data from the European Environmental Agency and flight-specific information it gets from airlines and other providers. That data could include an aircraft's age, model and configuration, the speed and altitude it flies at and the distance between the flight's origin and destination.

Some flights may not have estimates because of a lack of data on certain aircraft or other missing information, Google said. The company added that the estimates don't yet take into account what direction the plane is heading — a potentially significant factor if flying into or with the jet stream, or whether the flight is using biofuels or other alternatives.

The new emissions tool follows Google's introduction last month of a way for people to find “eco-certified” hotels. Also on Wednesday, Google introduced technology that allows drivers to find more fuel-efficient routes on Google Maps and from Google's Nest thermostat, upgrades that will help people find energy from the power grid during times of day when its sources are cleaner, such as from wind and solar.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2021

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