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B.C. urges preparedness and strategy to fight extreme climate events

B.C. urges preparedness and strategy to fight extreme climate events

By Canadian Press

Jun 20, 2022 | 3:35 PM

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government has released its new strategy to get the province ready to fight extreme weather that sets off heat, wildfires and flooding. 

Environment Minister George Heyman says the plan includes enhanced roles for the BC Wildfire Service to prepare and prevent fires. 

He highlighted the success of the community of Logan Lake, southwest of Kamloops, in its preparation that helped it avoid being overrun by an aggressive wildfire last August. 

Logan Lake Mayor Robin Smith says the community had 18 years to prepare for such a fire, and her advice is that it’s important just to start somewhere and take the first step to protect properties and communities. 

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Marin urges COVID-19 precautions at end-of-school-year events

Marin urges COVID-19 precautions at end-of-school-year events

Faced with an uptick in school-related COVID-19 outbreaks, Marin public health officials issued new safety guidelines Thursday for high school proms, graduations and other large end-of-year gatherings.

The officials sent a letter to schools attributing the “significant increase” in infections in part to “post-spring break exposures and attendance at indoor events and gatherings without masks.”

School officials who hold gatherings of more than 50 people are now “advised to consider” requiring proof of vaccination, proof of a negative rapid at-home antigen test and masks if the events are held indoors, said the letter, which was issued by Dr. Matt Willis, the county’s public health officer, and his deputy, Dr. Lisa Santora.

Most recently, 54 Redwood High School students tested positive after the school’s senior prom at San Francisco City Hall on April 16, Santora said.

“We estimate that more than 50% attended the prom,” she said.

Santora said the county “hasn’t done a comprehensive contact tracing for all of the cases,” but said that the school is complying with all notifications and other protocols.

About 1,000 students attended the event, where no masks or pre-event testing were required.

“If you have 1,000 kids gathering together in close proximity in one space, there is a likelihood that someone could be infectious,” Willis said Wednesday. “We want to make it as safe as possible.”

The Redwood outbreak came just a few weeks after more than 50 Marin middle school students tested positive after a spring break trip to Washington, D.C.

“We had a 57% attack rate” of COVID-19 for the students who went on the trip, Willis said.

In addition, at least two Marin elementary schools — Bacich in Kentfield and Coleman in San Rafael — experienced outbreaks before or after spring break. Coleman was forced to reinstate its indoor mask mandate for a few weeks.

“End-of-year school events and gatherings, including proms and graduation ceremonies, are significant and important life events for students and their families and friends,” the letter states. “But attending a large event or gathering of greater than 50 people — especially indoors and unmasked — increases the risk of COVID-19 exposure.”

“When COVID-19 community transmission levels are high, there is a 50% chance that at least one COVID-19 positive individual will be present at the event,” the letter said.

On a countywide level, Marin’s COVID-19 positive case count has doubled in the last three weeks, rising to an average of about 75 cases per day, Willis said. He said the county is now in the “high” transmission status, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the vaccination rate for Marin teens is about 90%, and at least half of that population has been boosted, Willis said

“We also know that with the BA.2 subvariant, we’re not seeing a lot of hospitalizations,” he said, referring to the omicron mutation that is the now the dominant strain present in most virus infection cases.

Marin school officials said they have already planned to implement the precautions.

Tara Taupier, superintendent of the Tamalpais Union High School District, said students at Archie Williams High School in San Anselmo who attend the senior prom on April 30 at Regency Ballroom in San Francisco will be given at-home test kits to use the day of the event.

Willis said he understands that a student who tests positive on the day of the prom, for example, might be “heartbroken” because he or she would need to stay home.

“But it’s better than having a super-spreader event,” Willis said. “This is a good use for the home test — to make sure no one who is present is actively infectious.”

Leslie Benjamin, spokesperson for the Novato Unified School District, said officials at Novato and San Marin high schools will implement safety protocols prior to the proms in late May. Novato schools have already seen a bump in COVID cases, she said.

“We are following Marin public health guidelines in asking exposed students to wear a mask for five days,” Benjamin said. “In a couple of situations where more than two to three cases occurred in a classroom or cohort, we are strongly recommending that students wear a mask for five days.”

San Rafael and Terra Linda high schools also will have proms in May, and will add safety precautions, said Christina Perrino, spokesperson for San Rafael City Schools.

All students who attend a large gathering, especially indoors, should test before the event, according to the letter sent Thursday.

“Students and staff should complete a same-day, rapid antigen COVID-19 test prior to attending a large indoor event or gathering,” the letter states. “If they test positive (regardless of symptoms), they should stay home and isolate.”

After the event, they should monitor for symptoms and test five days later — or sooner if they develop symptoms.

In addition, after the event, “they should limit their contact with and wear a mask around persons who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness until they test negative five days after attending the event,” the letter states.

Willis and Santora also recommend that students get vaccinated and boosted prior to attending large school gatherings.

“Parents or guardians should consider getting a second booster for adolescents 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised,” they wrote. “Household members who are over 50 years old and immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness should get a second booster.”

Willis said he is not advising high schools to cancel proms or other events — just to reduce risk when possible.

The new Marin guidelines come as at least one other Bay Area school — San Mateo High School — reported more than 90 positive COVID-19 cases after about 600 students attended a prom April 9 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Masks were “strongly recommended,” but many students chose not to wear them, a San Mateo Union High School District spokesperson told the Associated Press.

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Stop comparing the Holocaust to other events in history, Israeli leader Naftali Bennett urges

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his wife (left) stand together with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife during a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Israeli leader has called on the world to stop comparing the Holocaust to other events in history.

Naftali Bennett, the prime minister, ushered in Holocaust memorial day in Jerusalem at Yad Vashem, the official memorial to victims, as his country came to a standstill in an annual ritual commemorating the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Mr Bennett said: “As the years go by, there is more and more discourse in the world that compares other difficult events to the Holocaust, but no.

“No event in history, cruel as it may have been, is comparable to the extermination of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators.”

Both Ukraine and Russia have compared their ongoing war to the genocide committed during the Second World War.

As sirens marking the beginning of a two-minute silence rang out across Israel, drivers got out of their cars and pedestrians halted in their tracks as they bowed their heads in respect.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his wife (left) stand together with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife during a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day
Naftali Bennett and his wife (left) at the ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

Israel is home to around 165,000 Holocaust survivors.

Mr Bennett also warned Israelis against allowing their deep differences to tear the country apart.

“My brothers and sisters, we cannot – we simply cannot – allow the same dangerous gene of factionalism [to] dismantle Israel from within,” Mr Bennett said.

Mr Bennett’s comments came after his family received a letter with a live bullet and a death threat on Tuesday.

Israelis stand next to their cars as a two-minute siren sounds in memory of victims of the Holocaust in Tel Aviv. Pic: AP
Roads came to a standstill in Tel Aviv. Pic: AP
People stand still in Jerusalem as a two-minute siren sounds
The siren rang while one man was crossing the road

Israeli authorities have tightened security around the premier and his family and are investigating.

Restaurants and entertainment venues across the country shut for Holocaust memorial day, while radios played sombre music and TV stations showed Holocaust documentaries.

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IOC urges sports federations to cancel events in Russia and Belarus – will Ironman and Challenge do that? – Triathlon Magazine Canada

IOC urges sports federations to cancel events in Russia and Belarus - will Ironman and Challenge do that? - Triathlon Magazine Canada

Ironman and Challenge Family both have events slated to take place in Russia this summer – Ironman 70.3 St. Petersburg was announced in Dec., 2019, but the race hasn’t yet taken place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is slated for July 17 this year. Challenge Family announced Challenge Moscow last March, but that race also didn’t take place last year. It’s scheduled for June 26, 2022.

We reached out to both Ironman and Challenge Family today to find out what might be happening to the events in Russia based on that country’s invasion of Ukraine over the last two days. We are waiting for a statement from Ironman and will update this story once it is available. A Challenge Family source said that they were monitoring the events in Russia and Ukraine closely, but wouldn’t be making an official statement before the weekend.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has strongly condemned “the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government and the government of Belarus through its support in this.” The Olympic Truce, which was supported by consensus of all 193 UN Member States, was to begin seven days before the start of the Olympic Games and end seven days after the closing of the Paralympic Games. The IOC is now urging all International Sports Federations “to relocate or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus. In addition, the IOC EB (executive board) urges that no Russian or Belarussian national flag be displayed and no Russian or Belarussian anthem be played in international sports events which are not already part of the respective World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sanctions for Russia.”

World Triathlon has already sanctioned Russia because of the doping issues that have plagued the country’s sport system for years. Part of that sanction means the Russian Triathlon Federation can’t host any World Triathlon events, but presumably that didn’t preclude organizations like Ironman and Challenge from putting events on in the country. The IOC doesn’t have any events planned in either country, either.

With the many western nations working together on economic sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, one would imagine there will be some pressure on both Ironman and Challenge Family to cancel its events in Russia yet again.

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Sport-IOC urges federations to move or cancel events in Russia, Belarus

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International sports federations should either move or cancel sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday, a day after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Russian troops entered Ukraine through Belarus when the invasion began on Thursday. Ukraine’s chief of staff said on Friday that the Russians were now using an airfield in Belarus to line up troops to assault Kyiv.

“The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee reiterated today the IOC’s strong condemnation of the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government and the government of Belarus through its support in this,” the IOC said in a statement.

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It said international sports federations “should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarusian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes absolute priority.”

The IOC’s executive also said that Russian and Belarusian national flags should not be displayed at international sports events.

Russian athletes at the Beijing Games did not compete under their flag and their anthem was not played at any ceremonies, following sanctions imposed for the widespread doping across many sports exposed after the 2014 Sochi Games.

The invasion of Ukraine led to Russia losing the Champions League final, the Formula One Russian Grand Prix and skiing World Cup events among many others. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Tomasz Janowski)