Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday July 29, 2020
NHL returns after months-long hiatus due to coronavirus pandemic
May 15, 2020
NHL hockey returns Tuesday after a months-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Montreal Canadiens are in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers meet the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place as part of Tuesday’s three-game exhibition schedule that kicks off Phase 4 of the league’s return-to-play plan.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers square off in Toronto in Tuesday’s other game.
Edmonton and Toronto are serving as hub cities for the 24 NHL teams that are returning to action, though the Canadiens and Flames are listed as the home teams Tuesday night.
Each team will play an exhibition game at Scotiabank Arena or Rogers Place between Tuesday and Thursday before the playoff qualification round begin on Saturday.
The NHL suspended its season March 12 due to the spreading global pandemic and announced its four-stage return plan May 26. (Global)
I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to be on the “Trust in Science” team.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday July 21, 2020
US scientists rebuke Trump over coronavirus response and other affronts
More than 1,200 members of the US National Academy of Sciences have rebuked Donald Trump’s “denigration of scientific expertise”, an unusual move for a community which has historically avoided the political sphere.
May 12, 2020
The co-organizers of an open letter seeking to “restore science-based policy in government” say they have rapidly gained signatures during the coronavirus pandemic.
Scientists have watched the Trump administration downplay the crisis and ignore expert advice, including the need to wear masks and the dangers of using unproven drugs.
In the latest affront to the scientific world, the White House is reportedly seeking to block funding for testing and tracing, which scientists widely agree is critical to slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
On Sunday, Trump called the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, a “little bit of an alarmist”.
April 23, 2020
The open letter began as a response to Trump’s refusal to accept and act on warnings from climate scientists. In September 2016, 378 academy members wrote that withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement would “have negative consequences for the world’s climate system and for US leadership and credibility”.
In April 2018, more than 1,000 scientists signed a version of the letter which warned that Trump’s “dismissal of scientific evidence in policy formulation has affected wide areas of the social, biological, environmental and physical sciences”.
The three organizers have since invited members who joined NAS in 2019 and 2020 to sign on to the letter. More than 62% did, bringing the total to 1,220 out of a membership of about 2,900. Some of the signatories work in government or have federal grants but felt compelled to add their names despite professional risks.
April 7, 2020
Benjamin Santer, a climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a co-organizer, said the administration has changedwhat it means to be a scientist in America.
“We no longer have the luxury, in my opinion, of retreating to our offices and closing the door and hoping bad stuff will go away,” he said. “That’s a singularly poor survival strategy when you’re facing a global pandemic or global climate change. Bad stuff isn’t going to go away.”
March 26, 2020
The academy – which was formed during the civil war – exists to provide independent, objective advice to the nation. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding research contributions. About 500 current and deceased members have won Nobel Prizes.
Charles Manski, the second co-organizer, an economist at Northwestern University, acknowledged that some might view the letter as political but said the scientists do not. They just want policy to be informed by the best possible information.
“It’s one thing for the political establishment not to respond very well to a crisis that happens around the world,” Manski said. “It’s quite another thing to be actively denigrating the science and making things up routinely.”
Trump has recently attacked guidelines for school reopening from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calling them expensive and impractical. (The Guardian)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday April 24, 2020
Federal COVID-19 testing program will determine how far coronavirus has really spread
The Trudeau government committed more than $1 billion to COVID-19 research Thursday, including a proposal for widespread testing to better understand the coronavirus that led to the pandemic and to chart a recovery course for the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada needs research to respond to the pandemic in the best way possible.
“The better we understand this virus, its spread and its impact on different people, the better we can fight it and eventually defeat it,” he said.
The funding includes $40 million to do viral sequencing to track the virus and its different strains, $23 million for vaccine research, $600 million for private sector trials of drug treatments and vaccines, $114 million to the Canadian Institutes of Health research for research into measures that could reduce the spread, and a host of smaller initiatives.
The government is also setting up a “immunity task force” that will do widespread blood testing to determine just how far the virus has spread.
Unlike the current testing using nose and throat swabs, this wider testing using blood samples will be able to track people who may have had the virus, but had little or no symptoms and have now recovered.
Dr. David Naylor, a former dean of medicine and president of the University of Toronto, with an extensive background in epidemiology, who also chaired the national advisory committee on SARS, is on the task force.
He said there are likely many people walking around who have fought off the virus without even knowing they had it. Those people are believed to be immune and knowing how many there are can help the government make decisions on easing restrictions following the national lockdown that’s been in effect to fight the pandemic.
“The level of background immunity gives us some sense of how fast we can move on easing some of these restrictions,” he said. “If a lot of people are immune then this will be an easier lockdown to lift. If they aren’t we have to be a lot more careful.”
Widespread blood testing will be required to determine the prevalence of the virus. While it’s expected to take months to get a full picture, early results should give a sense of the scale of the disease, Naylor said.
“I would not be surprised if there is going to be a bit of a range within Canada. We can’t test every Canadian. We can’t test everyone everywhere, but we will test a sample across the country.”
Naylor said even when the immunity testing is completed, there will still be a need to quickly test and trace people who get sick. He said once people are out of social distancing it will be harder to test outbreaks of the virus, which is why Canada has to be prepared to move quickly.
“Immunity testing alone is not the answer, you still have to have the firefighting,” he said. “As soon as we get very active intermingling again then it is going to be much harder to fight the flare-ups and we have to have our ‘A’ game in testing and tracing.”
As of Thursday, Canada had tested 620,000 people for the virus and reported more than 41,500 cases, including 2,141 deaths. (National Post)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 28, 2020
If the coronavirus hits America, who’s responsible for protecting Americans?
The outbreak of the coronavirus — and Covid-19, the disease it causes — in mainland China has provoked a response the likes of which the world has never seen. Hundreds of millions of people in the country have had their travel restricted; many have not even been allowed to leave their homes. All of this is aided by the vast Chinese surveillance state.
Meanwhile, though the number of new cases in China dropped to 406 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 78,000, China is ramping up capacity to treat tens of thousands of sick people, with new hospitals going up nearly overnight. Many people still haven’t returned to work, though some of the restrictions are being eased.
Draconian restrictions on movement and the intensive tracking of people potentially exposed to the virus are just some of the ways China — a centralized, authoritarian state — has responded to its outbreak.
April 30, 2009
What would have happened if the outbreak had started in the US — or if it comes here next?
The number of confirmed cases in the US is small: just 14, and 12 are related to travel. An additional 45 people who were sickened with Covid-19 abroad have returned to the US for treatment. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shifted its message on the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading in the United States. “Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a press call. She said it’s a matter of “when,” not “if,” and that “disruption to everyday life might be severe.”
October 14, 2014
There’s still a lot we don’t about the virus. It’s a novel, fast-spreading disease to which people have no known immunity. So far, no vaccines or drugs to treat it exist, though both are being developed. That said, many of the cases of Covid-19 are mild, as Vox’s Julia Belluz reports. The fatality rate — which remains an early estimate that could change — is hovering around 2 percent. A virus of these parameters could spread very quickly.
While there’s much we don’t know about how this could play out with regard to how many people will get sick and how sick they’ll get, what we do know is the United States has dealt with outbreaks — polio, tuberculosis, and H1N1 flu, for starters — before, and many health officials have been anticipating a new one. There are lots of professionals at the federal and local levels who stand ready to try to stymie the spread of coronavirus in the United States.
August 3, 2016
That’s not to say our system is perfect, or even necessarily prepared for this incoming novel virus. But it’s worth thinking through what responses are possible in the United States and how they might become politicized. There are a few really important things to know.
The biggest one: Public health is a power that’s largely left up to the states, which introduces flexibility into our system. But it also introduces inconsistencies, local politics, and laws, with varying protections for civil liberties. The biggest question remains: Can our health care infrastructure handle an influx of thousands of new patients? (Continued: Vox)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 10, 2019
To reduce global warming, people need to eat less meat: UN report
Global meat consumption must fall to curb global warming, reduce growing strains on land and water and improve food security, health and biodiversity, a United Nations report on the effects of climate change concluded.
Although the report stopped short of explicitly advocating going meat free, it called for big changes to farming and eating habits to limit the impact of population growth and changing consumption patterns on stretched land and water resources.
Plant-based foods and sustainable animal-sourced food could free up several million square kilometres of land by 2050 and cut 0.7-8.0 gigatonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said.
“There are certain kinds of diets that have a lower carbon footprint and put less pressure on land,” Jim Skea, professor at London’s Imperial College, said on Thursday.
The IPCC met this week in Geneva, Switzerland to finalize its report which should help to guide governments meeting this year in Chile on ways to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“The IPCC does not recommend people’s diets … Dietary choices are very often shaped or influenced by local production practices and cultural habits,” Skea, who is one of the report’s authors, told reporters in Geneva. (National Post)