Omicron COVID-19 variant likely to re-infect 'over and over again,' experts say

Dr.Isaac Bogoch, Infectious diseases expert gives his diagnosis on the COVID situation in Canada and previews what the summer could look like ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend.

Although COVID-19 cases are declining across the country, chances of getting re-infected with the virus are still possible — especially from the omicron variant — experts say.

“As long as it’s transmitting in the community, there’s always a possibility,” Stephen Hoption Cann, clinical professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of population and public health, told Global News.

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Getting Omicron more than once also seems more likely than with other variants.

“The Omicron variant, in particular, seems to be one that will re-infect people over and over again,” Kelly McNagny, professor of medical genetics at the University of British Columbia’s school for biomedical engineering, told Global News.

“It’s a little bit more like the common cold virus that tends to infect the upper airways, which is a place where you tend not to develop strong immunity easily.”

Unlike Omicron, other variants of the virus tend to infect someone deeper in the airways, according to McNagny. “I think that gave you a bit more protection,” he said.

Lisa Glover, assistant director of Alberta Health, also says “reinfections have increased since Omicron has become the dominant variant.”

“The risk of reinfection from Omicron is much higher than any other previous variant,” Glover told Global News.

“A major factor that increases the likelihood of reinfection is the waning immunity from a previous infection or not being fully up-to-date with COVID-19 immunization, including additional doses,” she said.

Regardless of the variant, McNagny says being vaccinated will give a higher level of protection against reinfection. Aside from vaccination, bringing back mask mandates could also mean fewer people will be re-infected with the virus.

“That’s pretty clear,” McNagny said. “As soon as we started throwing the masks away, infection rates started going right back up again.”

In places where many public health measures have been removed, COVID-19 transmission rates rebounded, and so have cases of the flu, Canada’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Theresa Tam, told reporters Friday during a virtual news conference.

“Personal protective habits help reduce the spread of COVID-19 as well as other risky transactions during diseases,” she said. “This is a reminder that our efforts are still needed.”

Read more:

As COVID-19 begins to diminish, more Canadians are getting sick with the flu

“Now, because we don’t have masks, you see this huge increase of flu in the population,” Horacio Bach, clinical assistant professor affiliated with the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine, told Global News.

“Masks are definitely the first line of defence,” Bach said, also noting the return of mask mandates would reduce the likelihood of re-infection. “I’m double-masked everywhere,” he said. “It’s my protection.”

Even celebrities like comedian Jimmy Kimmel have tested positive for the virus more than once.

In a Twitter update on May 17, Kimmel wrote, “I’m such a positive person, I tested positive AGAIN.” But, added that he was “feeling fine.”

Most provinces that responded to Global News including Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec were unable to provide reinfection data. Between May 8 to 14 in Ontario, there were 415 re-infection cases of COVID-19 reported in the province.

A spokesperson for the Northwest Territories also confirmed individuals have experienced re-infections there.

“COVID-19 re-infections have been identified during the Omicron wave, with the majority of previous infections having occurred during the Delta wave,” the spokesperson told Global News in an email.

As of May 20, the seven-day average of daily lab-confirmed cases in Canada sits just above 3,564, down more than 60 per cent from the rate seen a month ago.

The number of Canadians seeking treatment in hospital for COVID-19 sits at 4,880 patients, down more than 20 per cent from two weeks ago. That includes 349 people being treated in intensive care units, a number that has now stabilized after falling through the first half of April.

The country is currently experiencing an average of 63 deaths per day. The rate has stayed steady throughout early May after steadily rising over the course of April. However, newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases have brought the national total to over 3.84 million cases and more than 40,600 deaths.

As of May 19, more than 84,952,660 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada.

Read more:

Worldwide COVID-19 deaths dropping, but cases rising: WHO

So far, nearly 35 million Canadians have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, while over 31 million Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19 with two doses.

Since they were authorized in September 2021, 18,610,469 “booster” doses have been administered, according to available provincial and territorial data, meaning 48.7 per cent of the Canadian population has received three doses.

As of May 19, 90.4 per cent of eligible Canadians aged five and up have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 86.2 per cent are fully vaccinated with two shots. Vaccinations for children aged five to 11 were approved by Health Canada last November.

— With files from Sean Boynton

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Power still out for some Londoners 24 hours after big storm

Some Londoners are still without power a day after a major thunderstorm swept through the city and southern Ontario.

According to London Hydro’s outage map, there were 52 outages as of early Sunday afternoon, impacting over a dozen neighbourhoods.

Two of the most severe power outages are located downtown, between Adelaide Street North and Egerton Street, and between Central Avenue and Dundas Street.

Read more:

At least 5 dead, thousands without power after severe storm sweeps Ontario, Quebec

Over 1,000 customers are impacted downtown, according to the map.

“Crews have been working through the night, but the core is still impacted,” read a tweet from Ward 13 councillor John Fyfe-Millar.

“Thanks to everyone who lent a helping hand to friends and neighbours. We’re not quite there yet,” the tweet continued.

Read more:

Power out, trees down as London, Ont. hit by storm

Impacted neighbourhoods include Huron Heights, Sharon Creek, Oakridge, Airport, West London, East London, Masonville, North London, Lambeth, Highland, Carling, Woodfield, Old East Village, South London, Glen Cairn, Central London, Hamilton Road and Southcrest.

It’s unclear when power will be restored.

Meanwhile, Londoners are also dealing with fallen trees and street closures.

Across Ontario and Quebec, at least seven people have died as a result of the storm.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

2 more deaths confirmed following Ontario storm: police

RELATED: At least two people are dead after a severe thunderstorm moved through parts of southern Ontario, with the weather system also hitting the Ottawa area. One of the hardest hit areas is the Township of Uxbridge, an hour northeast of Toronto, which has declared a local state of emergency after the storm wrought significant damage. Morganne Campbell reports.

Police in Ontario have reported two further deaths after a deadly storm ripped through the province and into Quebec on Saturday.

Ontario Province Police (OPP) reported deaths in Northumberland and Peterborough County as a result of fallen trees caused by the severe thunderstorm.

In a press release, OPP said a 74-year-old woman in Port Hope died after a tree fell on her around 2:11 p.m. on Saturday. The force also confirmed a 64-year-old woman died in North Kawartha Township after she was also struck by a tree.

Both women were pronounced dead at the scene.

Read more:

GTA, Southern Ontario feeling effects of severe thunder storm

“Members of the public are advised to avoid close proximity to any trees that may have been damaged by the storm, even if there is no visible sign of damage,” OPP said.

The deaths were confirmed after at least four other Ontario fatalities were reported by police.

OPP said a 44-year-old man was killed in Greater Madawaska, west of Ottawa, after reportedly being struck by a falling tree, while police in Ottawa said one person died in the city’s west end but didn’t release any further details.

Pierre Poirier, Ottawa’s paramedic chief, said there have been several “critical injuries” across the city.

“We’ve been very busy,” he said.

Read more:

Ontario storm: Brampton woman in her 70s dead after hit by a tree

One person died near Brantford and two others were injured after a tree fell on a trailer, while a woman in her 70s died while out walking in Brampton Saturday afternoon.

The Town of Uxbridge also declared a state of emergency Saturday.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

1st Canadian rare earth mine starts shipping minerals critical to greener economy

WATCH: Anorthosite: The rare mineral geologists say is key to solving the climate crisis

Canada has begun supplying the world with minerals critical to a greener economy with the country’s first rare earth mine delivering concentrated ore.

“Canada and its allies are gaining independence from the rare earth supply chain from China,” said David Connelly of Cheetah Resources, which owns the Nechalacho Mine southwest of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.

Rare earths are a series of exotically named elements such as ytterbium, lanthanum and gadolinium. They are crucial to computers, LED displays, wind turbines, electric cars and many other products essential to a low-carbon world.

Some industry analysts predict the rare earth market will grow from $6.8 billion in 2021 to more than $12 billion by 2026.

Almost 60 per cent of the world’s supply of these vital materials is produced in China and much of the rest is owned by Chinese companies. Until now.

“(Nechalacho) is the only rare earths mine in North America that doesn’t supply China,” Connelly said.

The deposit, which holds 15 different rare earth elements, was discovered in 1983. A proposal to develop the mine went before regulators more than a decade ago.

That project involved extensive water use and would have generated large tailings ponds. The N.W.T.’s environmental regulator approved the plan, but noted it would have created significant impacts requiring mitigation.

The new mine uses no water. Instead, raw ore is crushed to gravel-sized pieces and run past a sensor.

“It’s a big X-ray machine on a conveyor belt and it separates the white quartz from the much heavier and denser rare earth ore,” Connelly said.

That concentrate is then barged down Great Slave Lake to Hay River, N.W.T. From there, rail links take it to Saskatoon, where Vital Metals, the company that owns Cheetah, has built a facility to refine the concentrate for market.It’s also where the provincial government is developing a rare earth refining and research hub. The first shipments are on their way and expected in June.

Nechalacho’s refined product is going to a customer in Norway, where the individual minerals will be separated from each other and processed into metallic bars.

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By 2025, Nechalacho hopes to be producing 25,000 tonnes of concentrate a year. There’s enough ore there for decades to come, Connelly said.

“It’s multiple generations.”

At full production, Connelly said the mine is to employ about 150 people in the N.W.T. and another 40 in Saskatoon. Those aren’t huge numbers in mining, but Connelly said they will make a big difference to the northern economy because most of the workers will be based there.

More than 40 of the mine’s current 50 employees live in the North, said Connelly. About 70 per cent are Indigenous and Cheetah has contracted with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to conduct the actual mining on the site.

READ MORE: Ontario puts $250K toward proposed EV battery production lines

Eventually, said Connelly, Cheetah hopes to work out an equity share for Indigenous groups in the area.

But Nechalacho isn’t just important to the N.W.T., Connelly said.

A domestic source for minerals vital to electric motors would help preserve the country’s auto sector, he said. It would make it easier for Canada to achieve its climate goals and increase national security by providing a secure source of crucial materials, he added.

Canada has 13 active rare earth projects, the federal government says. Most are in Saskatchewan and Quebec, where the only other mine near production _ the Kipawa project, owned by the same Australian company that owns Cheetah _ is located.

“Canada has some of the largest known reserves and resources (measured and indicated) of rare earths in the world,” says a document from Natural Resources Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Motorcycle driver killed in Nova Scotia crash near Englishtown

A Sydney, N.S., man has died following a collision near Englishtown on Saturday.

RCMP said they were called to the scene on Hwy. 105 on Kelly’s Mountain at around 4:45 p.m.

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Local fire and EHS also responded to the collision, which was between a car and motorcycle.

The motorcyclist — a 53-year-old man — was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The four occupants of the car did not appear injured,” RCMP said in a news release.

The section of highway was closed for several hours as officers investigated the cause of the crash.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Severe thunderstorm warnings and watches in effect for parts of New Brunswick

Environment Canada has upgraded the alerts in two New Brunswick counties from severe thunderstorm watches to warnings.

Fredericton and Southern York County, as well as Stanley-Doaktown-Blackville Area, are now under the warnings.

“At 1:17 p.m. ADT, Environment Canada meteorologists are tracking a severe thunderstorm capable of producing strong wind gusts, up to nickel size hail and heavy rain,” the update from Environment Canada read.

“Strong clusters of thunderstorms are currently detected between Nackawic, Cardigan, Nashwaak, and Holtville. The motion of individual thunderstorms is northeast at 30 km/h.”

The warnings went on to say people should take cover immediately if threatening weather approaches.

The national forecaster issued severe thunderstorm watches for the western parts of New Brunswick on Sunday afternoon.

The alerts, which were issued at 11:39 a.m., cover Campbellton and Restigouche, Edmundston and Madawaska, Fredericton and Southern York, Grand Falls and Victoria, Mount Carleton-Renous, Oromocto and Sunbury, St. Stephen and Northern Charlotte, Stanley-Doaktown-Blackville Area, and Woodstock and Carleton counties.

Read more:

At least 5 dead, thousands without power after severe storm sweeps Ontario, Quebec

According to Environment Canada, conditions are “favourable for the development of dangerous thunderstorms that may be capable of producing damaging wind gusts, damaging hail and torrential rain.”

“There is also a risk of a tornado,” the forecaster said.

The alert noted that large hail can damage property and cause serious injury, and that strong winds can down trees and blow large vehicles of the roads.

People are asked to continue monitoring alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

On Saturday, a severe thunderstorm swept through Ontario and Quebec, killing at least five people. That system left a wake of damage and resulted in power outages for thousands of customers.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Winnipeg Ice take Game 2 against Edmonton Oil Kings 5-1

Mikey Milne wasted no time turning heartbreak into extra hustle on Saturday, scoring three goals and leading his Winnipeg ICE to a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League playoffs.

The ICE, 5-4 overtime losers at Wayne Fleming Arena on Friday, scored three power-play goals and an empty-netter in the third period Saturday to snap a 1-1 tie and even their best-of-seven Eastern Conference final series at one game apiece.

Read more:

Edmonton Oil Kings prevail against Winnipeg Ice in Game 1 with 5-4 OT win

Owen Pederson and Maximilian Streule also scored for Winnipeg. Logan Dowhaniuk had the lone Edmonton goal. The Oil Kings outshot the ICE 36-23, but Winnipeg received solid netminding Gage Alexander. Game 3 is Monday in Edmonton.

Meanwhile in Kamloops, B.C., the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Kamloops Blazers 4-1 to earn a split on the road in their Western Conference final series. Kamloops won Friday’s series opener 5-2 at the Sandman Centre.

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Conner Roulette scored twice for Seattle – including an empty-net goal late in the game – with singles chipped in by Lucas Ciona and Sam Oremba. Logan Stankoven replied for the Blazers, who outshot the Thunderbirds 41-27.

Game 3 in the series is Tuesday in Seattle.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Buffalo mass shooting exposes 'blind spots' over white terrorism: expert

WATCH ABOVE: Buffalo mass shooting exposes 'blind spots' over white terrorism, says extremism researcher

The Buffalo supermarket mass shooting by an apparent white supremacist lays bare what one expert is calling the “blind spots” in how authorities treat white and far-right terrorism.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Queen’s University assistant professor Amarnath Amarasingam said researchers studying violent extremism, like him, are learning from the plethora of records the alleged shooter left behind on how he prepared for the deadly attack.

“I can guarantee you, if this was a young Muslim or a young person of colour walking around a grocery store, taking pictures and drawing out a map of what the inside of the grocery store looks like, it would have resulted in a lot more than a security guard kind of wagging his finger at him,” Amarasingam said.

“I think some of our blind spots of what white terrorism looks like, what far-right terrorism looks like, it needs to be reassessed. And that’s why I think the Buffalo attack is quite interesting or important for future counterterrorism.”

Read more:

Canada must be ‘vigilant’ about race replacement conspiracy threat: minister

Amarasingam, who is one of the leading Canadian researchers on radicalization and violent extremism, described the records left behind by the attacker, now in police custody, as “quite unique.”

They include not only a so-called manifesto outlining his professed reasons for attacking the supermarket and killing 13 people, the majority of them Black, but also roughly 700 pages worth of what Amarasingam described as a sort of “diary” of daily postings on the gaming platform Discord.

Those postings describe killing a cat, surveilling the Tops grocery store that the shooter allegedly later attacked, and his user account being flagged by Discord when he tried to upload the manifesto of the far-right extremist behind the deadly Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shootings.

Read more:

What is white replacement theory? Police probe conspiracy’s role in Buffalo shooting

Police in the U.S. have described the supermarket attack as “racially motivated” and it is now being investigated as a federal hate crime. The Associated Press reported the alleged shooter had spent time on websites propagating the “great replacement” or “white replacement” conspiracy theory. That’s the baseless conspiracy theory that governments in countries where white people have held political and demographic power are deliberately trying to displace white people by bringing in non-white immigrants.

Read more:

Buffalo mass shooting was act of domestic terrorism, attorney for victim’s family says

Long relegated to the fringe corners of the internet, the conspiracy is spreading online and gaining mainstream attention as far-right figures on cable and social media platforms spread it to their audiences.

Amarasingam said the theory’s new prominence comes amid “a current of this kind of populist anxiety or demographic panic around what increased immigration means.”

And Canada is not immune, he noted, adding the Quebec City mosque attack and the attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont., were influenced by similar rhetoric. One of the prominent figures in the Ottawa blockade earlier this year, Pat King, had also posted similarly-themed content.

“So this idea that kind of far-right presence doesn’t exist in Canada, I think is a result of willful blindness or at least amnesia,” he said.

Read more:

Canada’s spy service boosts attention to ‘ideological’ domestic extremism

Race replacement theory is part of the spectrum of far-right conspiracies raising growing concern among police and national security agencies, prompting them to focus on the threat posed by ideologically motivated violent extremism.

The term, often shortened to IMVE, refers to a broad swath of anti-immigrant, anti-government, antisemitic, and anti-women extremist ideologies with overlapping and deep roots in white supremacy.

IMVE is a major concern for Canadian national security authorities.

Global News reported in March that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service now spends as much time monitoring domestic ideological extremism as it does the threat posed by religious terrorist groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Your Saskatchewan photo of the day: May 2022

As spring continues to bloom in Saskatchewan, people are snapping stunning pictures of the beauty the province has to offer.

Each day, Global Saskatoon and Global Regina feature a viewer-submitted photo for the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day.

Read more:

Your Saskatchewan photo of the day: April 2022

It is also highlighted on Global News Morning, Global News at 5, Global News at 6 and Global News at 10.

Please email us if you have a picture to submit for Your Saskatchewan. Photos should be at least 920 pixels wide and in jpeg format.

Here is the Your Saskatchewan photo gallery for May:

The May 1 Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Micheal Lam in Regina.

The May 1 Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Micheal Lam in Regina.

Micheal Lam / Viewer Submitted
Monday's Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was captured by Brenda Gawluk near Saskatoon.

Monday's Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was captured by Brenda Gawluk near Saskatoon.

Brenda Gawluk / Viewer Submitted
Tuesday’s Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Gordon Malinowski at the BMX Track in Saskatoon.

Tuesday’s Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Gordon Malinowski at the BMX Track in Saskatoon.

Cathy Wall took the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 4 in Regina.

Cathy Wall took the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 4 in Regina.

Cathy Wall / Viewer Submitted
The May 5 Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Dwight Dirk of a Mountain Bluebird near Saskatoon.

The May 5 Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Dwight Dirk of a Mountain Bluebird near Saskatoon.

Dwight Dirk / Viewer Submitted
your saskatchewan may 6

The Your Saskatchewan photo for May 6 was taken by Bozena Kon at Buffalo Pound Lake.

Bozena Kon / Viewer Submitted
your saskatchewan

Brenda Reifferscheid took the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 7 of Sandhill Cranes near Humboldt.

Brenda Reifferscheid / Viewer Submitted
your saskatchewan lynn junk annaheim

Lynn Junk took this photo of three 3-Year-Old Cousins in Annaheim for the May 8 Your Saskatchewan photo of the day.

Lynn Junk / Viewer Submitted
Your Saskatchewan Brenda Gawluk Saskatoon

Monday, May 9 Your Saskatchewan Photo of the Day was taken by Brenda Gawluk pigeons in Saskatoon.

Viewer submitted/Brenda Gawluk
The Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for Tuesday, May 10 was snapped by Sarah Hunter at Paradise Beach, Sask.

The Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for Tuesday, May 10 was snapped by Sarah Hunter at Paradise Beach, Sask.

Sarah Hunter / Viewer Submitted
your saskatchewan may 11

Cathy Wall's photo of an American Avocet in Regina is the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 11.

Cathy Wall / Viewer Submitted
The Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 12 was taken by Bob Ferguson in Saskatoon.

The Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 12 was taken by Bob Ferguson in Saskatoon.

Bob Ferguson / Viewer Submitted
ryan shordee your saskatchewan photo

The May 13 Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Ryan Shordee of Qu'Appelle River in Fort Qu'Appelle.

Ryan Shordee / Viewer Submitted
your saskatchewan photo donna dohms

The Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 14 was taken by Donna Dohms in Melville.

Donna Dohms / Viewer Submitted
sandhill crane

Judy Jordan took the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 15 of a Sandhill Crane near Canwood.

Judy Jordan / Viewer Submitted
Monday's Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was captured by Nicole Lacey near Carmichael, Sask.

Monday's Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was captured by Nicole Lacey near Carmichael, Sask.

Nicole Lacey / Viewer Submitted
This photo, taken by Gunjan Sinha in Saskatoon, is the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 17.

This photo, taken by Gunjan Sinha in Saskatoon, is the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 17.

Gunjan Sinha / Viewer Submitted
saskatchewan legislature scenic photo

The Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 18 was taken by Cheryl Keil in Regina.

Cheryl Keil / Viewer Submitted
your saskatchewan michelle pittet

Michelle Pittet took the Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 19 near Saskatoon.

Michelle Pittet / Viewer Submitted
your saskatchewan sunset lisa boychuk

The Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Lisa Boychuk in Canora.

Lisa Boychuk / Viewer Submitted
duck your saskatchewan brenda gawluk

The Your Saskatchewan photo of the day for May 21 was taken by Brenda Gawluk in Saskatoon.

Brenda Gawluk / Viewer Submitted
Flowers blooming

The May 22 Your Saskatchewan photo of the day was taken by Bozena Kon at Buffalo Pound Lake.

Bozena Kon / Viewer Submitted

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19 vaccine rules, equalization 'derailed' support for Kenney: Smith

Alberta's Kenney 'miscalculated' UCP grassroots backlash: Smith

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney‘s imposition of COVID-19 vaccine mandate and other public health measures, along with the province’s desire for equalization changes, are what “derailed” his leadership, suggests leadership rival Danielle Smith.

In an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Smith said Kenney’s decisions to put in place public health measures as COVID-19 spiked were a miscalculation that led younger voters who normally vote conservative to draw “a line in the sand.”

“That brought out a lot of mums and dads in their 30s and 40s who said, ‘We’ve got to do something different here.’ And I think the premier maybe miscalculated when he brought in vaccine passports after saying he wasn’t going to,” Smith said.

She added she believes many Albertans feel he also hasn’t taken the referendum to push for changes to the equalization formula seriously enough.

Read more:

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney intends to step down as UCP leader after narrow leadership win

When asked about Kenney’s decision to bring in vaccine mandates, which public health experts had recommended at the time, she claimed: “We saw very early on the vaccination wears off” and that people “could still get and transmit, get very sick even if you were vaccinated.”

That is inaccurate.

The variant currently circulating is Omicron, and a subvariant of that known as BA.2. These variants are better at evading the immune systems of people who are vaccinated, so the vaccines protect less against infection — that’s why there’s been a rise in what’s known as breakthrough cases in vaccinated people.

However, the Public Health Agency of Canada said as recently as this month that even the original two doses of vaccine still have “good effectiveness” against severe outcomes from all variants. With a booster, the effectiveness of vaccines against severe outcomes rises to over 90 per cent.

Vaccine mandates and the broad swaths of public health measures put in place during the pandemic all share the same goals: to reduce the risk of overloading the health-care system, which is what happened in many areas such as Italy and New York City during earlier waves of COVID-19.

In Canada, 81.6 per cent of the total population has received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. That rises to 86 per cent for the population that is actually eligible for a shot — meaning people over the age of five years old.

Smith said she believes people who have gotten COVID-19 should be allowed to go to restaurants and get on planes because they have been exposed to the virus already. She added she thinks the province should have taken a similar approach to U.S. states like Florida, Texas or South Dakota.

In Alberta, 87 per cent of residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, representing 77 per cent of the total population of the province, which has seen a total of 4,452 deaths due to COVID-19.

In Florida, 67 per cent of the total population is fully vaccinated with two doses, while that stands at 61.2 per cent in Texas and 61.8 per cent in South Dakota, according to the Mayo Clinic.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 74,329 deaths due to COVID-19 in Florida since Jan. 21, 2020. That number is 86,750 in Texas for the same time period and 2,919 in South Dakota.

The latter has a population of 879,336 compared to Alberta’s 4.4 million yet has seen one in roughly 303 residents die from COVID-19, while the population death rate in Alberta is one in 100.7.

When COVID-19 deaths stood at roughly 900,000 during the Omicron surge in February, an NBC News tally of state vaccination rates and virus deaths showed states with low vaccination rates were seeing surging deaths attributed to the virus.

Four of the five states that had led the tally at the time had vaccination rates under 60 per cent.

On May 12, the U.S. marked one million deaths as a result of COVID-19.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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