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In today's Morning Brief, we look at violations of COVID-19 infection protocols and control measures that are still occurring at long-term care homes in Ontario.

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Ontario long-term care homes continue breaking COVID-19 safety rules

Ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, inspectors were still catching Ontario long-term care homes violating crucial infection prevention and control measures.

A CBC News data investigation has found that 1 in 12 long-term care facilities in the province were caught breaking COVID-specific government directives between June 2020 and January 2021. Many infractions occurred during or after outbreaks.

Improper screening was a frequent issue at homes. Many were cited for not asking staff members or visitors questions or taking their temperatures, and failing to ensure they were wearing masks as they entered or left the premises. 

WATCH | Multiple Ontario nursing homes broke safety rules meant to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks:

Multiple Ontario nursing homes broke safety rules meant to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks

The National

2 months ago
2:50

 

"To have egregious infractions in terms of not following standard operating procedure for things like infection prevention and control, these operators need to be held to account," said Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

The COVID-19 death toll in Ontario's long-term care homes was 3,743 residents as of Feb. 26, 2021, according to the province. Of those deaths, 1,848 occurred before Aug. 31, 2020, which means the second spike in long-term care homes was even deadlier than the first. Read more on this story here.

These trans women of colour say the pandemic has left their community isolated and hurting

(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The pandemic has cut many people off from the communities they rely on, but for transgender women of colour, the isolation and lack of support networks have made the past 11 months an especially dark and difficult time. CBC News met with three transgender women of colour  — from left, Mariana Cortes, Mona Lisa and Vanessa Carter  —  in Toronto recently, all of whom immigrated to Canada in the past decade because their sexual orientation and gender identity was not accepted in their birth countries. Before COVID-19, they said, their lives were busy and rewarding, but pandemic restrictions put all that on pause. Read more of their stories here.

In brief

B.C.'s provincial health officer is fending off criticism of the province's decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccines, telling the public she is "so confident" in a plan she says is based on science and data. Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed comments from Canada's chief science adviser criticizing B.C.'s decision to leave a four-month gap between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Mona Nemer on Monday described that plan as a "population-level experiment" that does not reflect the current science. Henry called that an "unfortunate" comment and pointed out that Nemer was not involved in the evaluation that led B.C. to make a decision tailored to its current case level. "I am so confident that the decision we made over the past weekend to extend that interval is the best one based on the science and data that we have to maximize the benefit to everyone in B.C.," Henry said. Read more of B.C.'s defence of its approach

Canadians now have a third option to protect against COVID-19 after Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine last Friday, but questions remain about whether it should be used in people aged 65 and older. The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) on Monday recommended against using the vaccine in that age group, even though Health Canada has authorized it to be used in adults of all ages. The NACI said there isn't enough clinical trial data available to determine how effective the vaccine is in preventing COVID-19 infection among people in this older cohort. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said Tuesday the NACI is prepared to update its guidance as more data becomes available. "Don't read their recommendations as sort of static," Tam said. "But this is what they've recommended at this point." Read more about the recently approved vaccine.

WATCH | Guidance for AstraZeneca vaccine varies:

Guidance for AstraZeneca vaccine varies

News

2 months ago
4:47


Michael Widner's death in March 2017 left a lot of questions unanswered — and not just for the investigators tasked with solving the targeted killing of a Hells Angels prospect. Widner's wife learned the man she wed in 2008 had also maintained a long-term "marriage-like relationship" with another woman. The parts of each week he had claimed to be working in a different part of Vancouver Island were actually spent living with his other family, which included two children. The "who" and the "why" of Widner's killing remain unsolved, but a B.C. Supreme Court judge this week answered one of the other mysteries sparked by his death: provincial law allows for both of the dead man's partners to be considered spouses despite a criminal prohibition against polygamy. Read more on Widner's double life.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a struggle for Alicia-Ann Pauld, who has muscular dystrophy, to get to Concordia University's campus in downtown Montreal, especially during the winter. "If I fall, I can very seriously injure myself and I can't get back [up] on my own," said Pauld. "I've been in situations in the past where there's a snowstorm the day of an exam and I have to go outside and literally put my life in danger." But now, with campuses shut down and lectures being delivered via Zoom, she no longer has to choose between her health and her education. While the shift to the virtual world has been a source of distress for university students in general, it has been a revelation for many students living with disabilities and chronic illnesses. However, with universities saying they are preparing for some form of in-class instruction in the fall, many students living with disabilities wonder what the future holds. Read more on this story here.

The Toronto Raptors will be missing five players when they take on the Detroit Pistons tonight. Due to the NBA's health and safety protocols, starters Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are out, as are Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn. Jalen Harris and Donta Hall have been called up from the team's G League affiliate, Raptors 905. The game against the Pistons was already postponed by a day due to what the league called "positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization." Toronto's game this past Sunday against the Chicago Bulls was also postponed. Read more on the players forced to sit out tonight.

Now for some good news to start your Wednesday: Myrtle MacDonald, 99, and Jaelyn Bjornerud-Brown, 17, have formed an unlikely friendship. Pandemic isolation prompted MacDonald to sign up to be one of 53 seniors in Chilliwack, B.C., matched by a local program with 47 young people. The two were paired up over a shared interest in nursing. MacDonald, a former nurse, spent much of her life teaching and living in other parts of the world helping vulnerable people. She lived in India for more than a decade, worked in a refugee camp in Thailand, was involved in public health in Pakistan and South Africa, and had assignments in six provinces in Canada. The stories are inspiring to Bjornerud-Brown, who wants to become a nurse. Now, she also has dreams of seeing other countries. Read more on the pair here

Front Burner: Inside the bloody fight for Myanmar's democracy

One month after a military coup in Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of protesters continue to defy the army and risk their lives to fight for democracy in the streets.

On Sunday, according to the United Nations, at least 18 people were killed and 30 injured when the military fired into crowds in several cities across the country. There have also been mass arrests.

Today on Front Burner, we hear from a student protester in Yangon who is spending her waking hours dodging security forces and tear gas canisters, with her blood type and identification written on her body in case she is wounded or killed.

“Now we have no choice. We have to fight back.” Today we hear from a young pro-democracy activist in Myanmar who is risking her life on the streets of Yangon to fight back against the military coup. 21:05

Today in history: March 3

1847: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, is born in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

1920: The Montreal Canadiens set the NHL record for goals in one game, routing the Quebec Bulldogs 16-3.

1962: Cairine Wilson, Canada's first woman senator, dies at age 77. She was named to the Upper House in 1930, after the British Privy Council ruled that women are persons under the Constitution. In 1949, Wilson became Canada's first woman delegate to the United Nations.

2008: Ed Stelmach leads Alberta's Progressive Conservatives to their 11th straight majority government since 1971, winning 72 of 83 ridings with 53 per cent of the popular vote.

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With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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