Impact of Manitoba’s most recent coronavirus wave not felt equally
The Manitoba government had previously released race-based data, but Monday’s new report illustrated a widening gap created by the pandemic’s impact on white and non-white residents this spring.
The numbers are stark: the infection rate among southeast Asians — including ethnic Vietnamese, Lao, Thai and Cambodian people — was a staggering 21.7 times greater than the rate for white people from March 31 to June 7 of this year.
African Manitobans had infection rates 8.7 times the rate of white Manitobans during the same time span, while south Asians — people originally from India and Pakistan — had eight times the infection rate.
The province acknowledged Monday it would alter any future vaccination strategy. The reliance on an age-based rollout was detrimental to protecting BIPOC people, the government report stated.
“They treated everybody else like the white person who lived in the suburbs of the city by basing it on ages,” said Abdikheir Ahmed, former director of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg.
At one point in the winter, Ahmed reckoned, he knew of about 200 people who had contracted COVID-19.
Louise Simbandumwe, a member of the Immigration Matters in Canada coalition, said she’s at least encouraged with the province communicating the ways it can improve.
But, it’s clear from the report that if “vaccinations had been available based on those risk factors [affecting people of colour], that would have reduced the inequities that we saw around who got COVID,” she said.
Fortunately, Simbandumwe said, the province recognized the risk factors facing First Nations peoples months ago and made each of them eligible for a vaccine at the same time as Manitobans 20 years their senior.
From The National
Calgary votes to rescind mask bylaw weeks earlier than planned
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says it would be politically difficult, but not impossible, to reimpose a mask bylaw if the city is hit with a fourth coronavirus wave.
The mayor’s comments came Monday as Calgary city council voted to rescind, effective immediately, its mandatory COVID-19 mask bylaw, which had been in effect since Aug. 1, 2020. Revoking the bylaw brings the city in line with most other municipalities across Alberta, as well as new provincial rules.
The city’s administration, which had previously recommended keeping the mandatory mask rule in place until July 31, asked council Monday to rescind it immediately.
“The debate has been characterized like it’s an incredible clash of dark and light, and really we’re talking about the difference between July 5 and July 30,” said Nenshi. “Ultimately, I’m comfortable with our administration’s recommendations that the numbers are looking good enough — we’ll probably get to 50 per cent second dose this week — that July 5 is not that much worse than July 30.”
Four councillors voted to keep the bylaw intact, with some expressing some concern due to the Calgary Stampede, set to run July 9-18 after being scrapped last year.
“If we eliminate the mask bylaw too early and a spike occurs after the Calgary Stampede, my council colleagues and I would be at least partly responsible for not exercising caution,” said Coun. George Chahal.
Nenshi said businesses in the city are also welcome to maintain their own mask policy and urged Calgarians to respect those decisions without rancour. In addition, per a provincial edict, a mask mandate is still in effect for public transport such as taxis, ride shares and municipal transit systems.
Where mask-wearing becomes optional, stores and customers adapt to patchwork of policy
While Calgary’s mayor is encouraging residents to respect the masking guidelines of individual businesses, storekeepers in Vancouver are trying a variety of approaches as the pandemic continues but vaccination progress means more individuals are better protected from the virus.
A Vancouver liquor store manager has changed her mask policy from “mandatory” to “highly recommended” after staff reported an increase in aggressive confrontations with customers who refused to wear them over the weekend.
Bimini’s Liquor Store initially kept the store’s mandatory mask policy in place, but decided to change it Monday because of added pressure on employees since B.C. lifted its mandate July 1.
“Without the backup of a [mask mandate], it’s just not worth the fight,” said Barb Whyte, who manages two liquor stores in Vancouver, including Bimini’s in Kitsilano.
Moe Suzuki works at La Ruota Pizza, where masks are mandatory only for staff. She’s noticed most customers have continued to wear a mask, but not all of them.
“I feel a little uncomfortable,” she said. “[I got] used to everyone wearing a mask.”
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommended last week the wearing of masks “in those indoor settings where we’re around people we don’t know and when we’re not fully protected.”
The World Health Organization also urged people to continue wearing masks as it discussed the spread of the more transmissible delta variant during a June 25 news conference.
Special COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Northern Ontario limit ‘sensory overload’
Public health units in Sudbury and Timmins are hosting sensory-friendly COVID-19 vaccine clinics for people in the northern Ontario cities who struggle with conventional clinics.
They’re designed to be less overwhelming for people with developmental disabilities, autism or other issues with sensitivity like light or noise. Individuals may also use the clinics if they’re fearful of needles, crowds or have social anxiety.
“If people have been to other clinics, they know they’re hopping places,” said Sherry Price, a health promoter in the health equity department at Public Health Sudbury and Districts. “We try to limit that, so we have less lanes; we try to lower the lights. We try to keep it as quiet as we can.”
The clinics will have dimmer lights, fewer people, quieter noise levels and a slower pace. They’re meant for anyone aged 12 and up.
Anyone attending those clinics is allowed to bring items that may help with their comfort, like a fidget spinner, a stress ball, a weighted blanket, headphones or an iPad.
“If we can limit the sensory overload for those people, it’s helpful,” Price said.
Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.
Still standing, in a pandemic
Jonny Harris says his slice of Canadiana, Still Standing, has allowed viewers “vicarious travel through your TV set.”
Although the show made for perfect pandemic viewing, Harris recently told CBC’s St. John’s Morning Show that the logistics of filming the show under COVID-19 restrictions proved difficult.
To make sure that the live performances were safe and ventilated, the film crew used outdoor performance tents rather than indoor venues. During daytime dress rehearsals, the crew would cover the tent in black felt to mimic the darkness of an indoor theatre.
“People will maybe spy these episodes because of the few people in the audience wearing tuques, which is a first for Still Standing,” Harris said.
The live shows are usually packed but capacity rules forced the production team to limit audiences to 25 people.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to look awful. It’s not going to look like the community is there,'” Harris said. His fears were eased when he saw an episode of The Tonight Show, in which Jimmy Fallon performed for an empty theatre.
“I thought, OK, if he can sort of eat some dirt during this weird time, maybe I should, too,” Harris said.
The crew is currently completing the seventh season of Still Standing, while Harris is in Ontario with his “other” job, as a cast member of Murdoch Mysteries.
A start date for the new season of Still Standing hasn’t been set, but Harris is hoping for a January premiere.
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