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Alberta confirms AstraZenca death, Moderna doses arrive early: In The News for May 5

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 5 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 5 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

An Alberta woman in her 50s has died from a rare blood clot disorder after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the fatality is the second case of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia and only death related to VITT out of more than 253,000 doses of AstraZeneca that have been administered in Alberta to date.

Meanwhile, a court ruling is expected today on whether Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination rollout was discriminatory.

The constitutional challenge turns on whether vulnerable people -- including people with disabilities, homebound seniors, residents of hot-spot neighbourhoods and the homeless --  have had fair access to the vaccine.

The application wants the government to ensure public health units make equity central, and to give them necessary resources.

The ruling comes as Canada receives a shipment of Moderna vaccine a week earlier than expected.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says as of this morning, a million Moderna doses are on the ground in Canada.


Also this ...

The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota prompted scores of concerned Canadians to write to the federal government, urging the Liberals to address police mistreatment of Black and Indigenous people.

Hundreds of pages of correspondence disclosed through the Access to Information Act reveal deep mistrust of the RCMP and other police services, along with suggestions on how to make things better.

Many of the emails, from May 25 to July 1 of last year, were addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though they all wound up in the inbox of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, the cabinet member responsible for the Mounties.

The House of Commons public safety committee is preparing to release a report on systemic racism in policing.

In last fall's throne speech, the Liberal government promised legislation and money to address systemic inequities in all phases of the criminal justice system. 

It pledged action on issues ranging from sentencing and rehabilitation to improved civilian oversight of the RCMP and standards on police use of force. 


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new vaccination goal to deliver at least one shot to 70 per cent of adult Americans by July Fourth set by President Joe Biden comes as he tackles the vexing problem of winning over those unmotivated to get inoculated.

Demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their available doses unordered. Biden called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and he will direct many pharmacies to do likewise.

His administration for the first time also is moving to shift doses from states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the shots.

"You do need to get vaccinated,” Biden said from the White House. “Even if your chance of getting seriously ill is low, why take the risk? It could save your life or the lives of somebody you love.”

Biden’s goal equates to delivering at least the first shot to 181 million adults and fully vaccinating 160 million. It's a tacit acknowledgment of the declining interest in shots.

Already more than 56 per cent of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated. The U.S. is currently administering first doses at a rate of about 965,000 per day — half the rate of three weeks ago, but almost twice as fast as needed to meet Biden's target.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

MEXICO CITY – Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum says initial analysis pointed to a “presumed structural failure” in the deadly collapse of an overpass on the Mexico City metro.

The death toll rose to 24 on Tuesday as crews untangled train carriages from the steel and concrete wreckage that fell onto a roadway.

Sheinbaum promised a thorough and independent inquiry, adding that a Norwegian firm had been hired to investigate.

“I did not have any report nor alert of any problem that could have led us to this situation,” she said.

Another 27 people remained hospitalized of the more than 70 injured when the support beams collapsed about 10:30 p.m. as a train passed along the elevated section,  Sheinbaum said.

The Mexico City Metro has had at least three serious accidents since its inauguration half a century ago. 

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake in 2017 exposed dangerous construction defects in the elevated line near where Monday’s accident occurred. Authorities at the time had done patchwork repairs on the columns and horizontal beams.

Julio Yañez, a 67-year-old lawyer whose apartment overlooks the collapsed metro line, was working at his computer when he heard a loud noise and felt his building shake. He saw a cloud of dust and falling debris followed by an eerie silence until emergency vehicles began arriving. Helicopters landed at a nearby Walmart to ferry the injured to hospitals.

The scene shook him because he had exited the metro at that same station earlier in the day.

“That part there was already declared bad ... in the earthquake, and the authorities didn’t pay attention,” Yañez said, noting similar problems were reported at another nearby station, but nothing was done. “They are time bombs.”


On this day in 1950 ...

Waves caused by 80-km/h winds broke through dikes surrounding Winnipeg. The water inundated the Manitoba capital, forcing one-third of the population to leave their homes. The flooding left one person dead and caused $100 million in damage.


In entertainment ...

LOS ANGELES – Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is releasing her first children’s book, which grew out of a poem she wrote for Prince Harry for their first Father’s Day after the birth of their son, Archie.

Random House Children’s Books announced Tuesday that "The Bench" will be released June 8.

It is illustrated by award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson and Meghan will narrate the audiobook edition. The book features a diverse group of fathers and sons and moments they share, says a statement announcing the release that mentions the poem.

“That poem became this story," Meghan said. "Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations that capture the warmth, joy and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens.”

The book is one of several projects that Meghan and Harry have announced since stepping away from royal duties in early 2020. 

Archie turns two on Thursday. Meghan and Harry are expecting their second child, a girl, later this year.

Robinson wrote and illustrated “Another" and "You Matter," and won Caldecott and Coretta Scott King honours for his art in "Last Stop on Market Street."



MONTREAL – Desjardins has dropped liability and property damage coverage related to communicable diseases, a move insurance experts expect others to follow because of COVID-19.

In an undated letter to clients, the company said it will not cover them if they are sued for spreading a communicable disease, nor will it cover decontamination or property damage costs related to those diseases.

Desjardins public relations adviser Jessica Spina said the change came after the reinsurance market started using communicable disease exclusions.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada, which represents the country's insurance agencies, said the international reinsurance market has added the exclusions with Canadian insurers because pandemic risk is too widespread to reasonably insure.

Insurance experts say they expect others to introduce similar exclusions to their coverage, depending on the level of risk they're willing to take on.

"The name of the game in the insurance industry is to try and accurately estimate risk," said Ian Lee, an associate professor with a background in insurance at Carleton University.

"It’s very difficult right now to estimate aggregate risk when the pandemic is mutating and coming up with different versions, and there’s different opinions from public health about how to deal with it."


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May, 5, 2021

The Canadian Press