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4 injured in College and Lansdowne crash

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

Four people, believed to be in their teens, are injured after a crash in the city’s west end early Wednesday morning.

The crash happened near College and Lansdowne streets around 3 a.m.

Two young males were taken to hospital with possible life-threatening injuries. Two other young people are being treated for minor injuries.

Police have not yet released the ages of those injured.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

Pence-Harris debate to unfold as Trump recovers from virus

STEVE PEOPLES, KATHLEEN RONAYNE AND JILL COLVIN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

Vice-President Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger, California Sen. Kamala Harris, are poised to meet Wednesday for a debate that will offer starkly different visions for a country confronting escalating crises.

The faceoff in Salt Lake City is the most highly anticipated vice-presidential debate in recent memory. It will unfold while President Donald Trump recovers at the White House after testing positive last week for the coronavirus and spending several days in the hospital, a serious setback for his campaign that adds pressure on Pence to defend the administration’s handling of the pandemic.

For Harris, the debate is her highest-profile opportunity to vocalize how the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, would stabilize the U.S., especially when it comes to resolving the pandemic and addressing racial injustice. She will be able to explain her views on law enforcement, an area in which she’s viewed warily by some progressives, given her past as a prosecutor.

Ultimately, the debate is a chance for voters to decide whether Pence and Harris are in a position to step into the presidency at a moment’s notice. It’s hardly a theoretical question as the 74-year-old Trump combats the virus, and Biden, at 77, would become the oldest person to become president if he’s elected.

While the debate will likely cover a range of topics, the virus will be at the forefront.

Pence and Harris will appear on stage exactly 12.25 feet (3.7 metres) apart separated by plexiglass barriers. Anyone in the small audience who refuses to wear a mask will be asked to leave.

Pence, who was with Trump and others last week who have since tested positive, has faced questions about whether he should be at the debate at all. The vice-president has repeatedly tested negative for the virus, and his staff and doctors insist he does not need to quarantine under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The CDC defines risky “close contact” as being within 6 feet (1.8 metres) of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before the onset of symptoms or a positive test.

Pence’s team objected to Harris’ request for plexiglass barriers, arguing it was medically unnecessary. But the Commission on Presidential Debates had already agreed to the barriers, and Pence’s aides said their presence wouldn’t dissuade him from attending the event.

Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said there is “zero risk” of the vice-president pulling out of the debate over the plexiglass spat. He said Pence “will be there” because it’s “too important for the American people.”

“The hesitancy seems to be on other side,” he added.

Sabrina Singh, a spokesperson for Harris, said the senator “will be at the debate, respecting the protections that the Cleveland Clinic has put in place to promote safety for all concerned.” The Cleveland Clinic serves as a health adviser to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Despite the early sparring, the debate is unlikely to be a repeat of the chaotic debate between Trump and Biden last week.

Pence is eager to seize on Harris and Biden’s liberal policies, but it may be difficult to shift the conversation away from the Republican administration’s uneven handling of the pandemic. Pence serves as chair of the president’s coronavirus task force, which has failed to implement a comprehensive national strategy even as Trump himself recovers from the disease and the national death toll surges past 210,000 with no clear end in sight.

The vice-president is a 61-year-old former Indiana governor and ex-radio host, an evangelical Christian known for his folksy charm and unwavering loyalty to Trump.

Harris is a 55-year-old California senator, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother. She is also a former prosecutor whose pointed questioning of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees and cool charm on the campaign trail made her a Democratic star.

She will make history as the first Black woman to appear in a vice-presidential debate. Democrats hope the historic nature of her candidacy will help energize key groups of likely Democratic voters — African Americans and young people, in particular — who have shown less excitement for Biden.

It’s unclear how aggressive the candidates will be with each other.

Both have adopted a cautious approach on the trail, keeping in line with past running mates who, above all, are tasked with not hurting their party’s ticket.

Some Harris allies fear that a conservative approach will prevent her from shining.

“Overly scripting Kamala Harris is tantamount to removing five bullets out of her gun before you walk into a gun fight,” said Nathan Barankin, who served as Harris’ chief of staff in the Senate and when she was California attorney general.

While some Democrats have set high expectations for the debate, Harris and her allies have been trying to keep them low. Last month, when California’s state Senate president told Harris on a Zoom call that home state fans were excited to watch her debate, Harris quickly interjected.

“He’s a good debater,” she said, laughing. “I’m just, I’m so concerned, like I can only disappoint.”

Gender will likely play a role in the debate, Hillary Clinton, the first woman to lead a presidential ticket, said during a recent fundraiser.

She suggested Pence would try to paint Harris as “the inexperienced woman candidate.” Harris will have to be mindful of the double standard for women in politics as she responds, Clinton said.

“She’s got to be firm and effective in rebutting any implication that comes from the other side, but to do it in a way that doesn’t, you know, scare or alienate voters,” Clinton said.

Harris has been preparing for the debate in Salt Lake City since Saturday. Karen Dunn, a Washington lawyer who helped prepare Clinton for her 2016 debates against Trump, is leading Harris’ debate preparations.

Harris plans to focus on failures of leadership by the Trump-Pence administration but avoid personal attacks against Trump, as Biden has done since the president was hospitalized for the virus, according to a campaign aide who wasn’t authorized to discuss debate planning publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pence’s team has been reluctant to discuss his strategy in debate preparations except to note that he is “thorough” in everything he does.

Pence has spent the last four years defending the president on a near-daily basis and mastered the art of turning Trump’s chaotic rhetoric into more palatable, middle-of-the-road commentary.

Aides note that Pence’s criticism has focused almost exclusively on Biden and his record instead of Harris. It’s likely to stay that way Wednesday, but he has not completely ignored Harris.

In an interview with a conservative talk show host in Iowa last week, the vice-president cast the California senator as a left-wing extremist. Pence also said he was “counting the days to the debate.”

“In Kamala Harris, you have someone who actually was the most liberal member of the United States Senate in 2019,” Pence said.

“While I’m going to go there and make our case to the American people, and I’m going to take the fight to Joe Biden and his agenda, we’re also going to make sure people know the record of his running mate, and the positions that she’s taken.”

___

Peoples reported from New York. Colvin reported from Washington.

Steve Peoples, Kathleen Ronayne And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Byfield becomes highest drafted Black player in NHL history

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

Quinton Byfield became the highest drafted Black player in NHL history on Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Kings selected him with the second pick.

“Being in the record books for anything is definitely super special, but that especially,” Byfield said. “My dad and mom didn’t play hockey or didn’t have too much knowledge about that. Kind of just growing the game together. I think it just shows that there’s a lot of opportunity for everyone in the world and that you can play every sport and be successful in it.”

Byfield was immediately congratulated by San Jose’s Evander Kane and hopes to one day help hockey’s diversity initiatives.

“The league is doing a really a really good job with all the inclusivity and just the awareness that they’re getting out,” Byfield said. “I think it would be really nice if I got involved with that and spread the positivity and just be a positive role model.”

The 6-foot-5 centre from Newmarket who played in the Ontario Hockey League might be able to start sooner than later. He believes he could play in the NHL next season.

“I’m pretty confident guy,” Byfield said. “I definitely think I could step into the NHL next year, but I know it’s a really big jump from the OHL and really challenging.”

Over 320 TDSB elementary schools to lose at least 1 in-person teacher in reorganization

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Oct 7th, 2020

Over 320 Toronto District School Board elementary schools will be losing at least one in-person teacher as the board reorganizes their staff two weeks into the school year.

In a letter sent home to parents, the TDSB says most of the teachers will be moved to virtual school due to the significant number of students, 66,000, who have chosen online learning.

The reorganization will see 12 schools gain one or two teachers, 161 schools lose one teacher, 97 schools will lose up to 2 teachers and 57 schools will lose between two and four teachers. Another nine schools will lose more than four teachers.

Parents whose students are affected by the reorganization will be informed directly from their school. The letter said the majority of schools will not experience significant changes.

The TDSB says these reorganization are typical in a school year and happen within two weeks to meet class size limits, but were delayed due to the year beginning on Sept. 15. The reorganizations will be completed by Oct. 13.

The board added any changes to class size will not exceed their original limits which are 24 students for kindergarten classes, 20 students per Grade 1 to 3 classes and 27 students for a Grade 4 to 8 class.

Schools in communities that are at a higher risk for COVID-19 have a limit of 15 students per kindergarten class and 30 students between Grade 1 to 8 classes.

There are have been a total of 611 cases of COVID-19 in 347 of Ontario’s more than 4,800 schools, the government said on its website for tracking school and child care cases. Of the cases, 141 were reported more than 14 days ago.

One school, Mason Road Junior Public School, was closed last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Toronto home sales surged 42 per cent to set new September record

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

TORONTO — It was the best September on record for Toronto home sales, with 42.3 per cent more sales closing last month than in September 2019.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board says 11,083 existing homes were sold in September, at an average price of $960,772.

The board says the 14 per cent year-over-year price jump was led by low-rise housing, while the condo market was slower.

Board president Lisa Patel says extremely low borrowing costs contributed to the record-breaking sales figures, as did built-up demand left over from the stunted spring season.

The real estate market has been playing catch up after sales plunged in the spring, when COVID-19 lockdowns prevented home showings.

As of the end of September, the board says home sales for the year were one per cent higher than in the first nine months of 2019.

Outdoor classroom pilot project gaining popularity in Toronto

TINA YAZDANI AND VICTORIA REVAY | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

“It’s exciting,” says Lauren Hazelton, a grade 4 student at Father Serra Catholic School in Etobicoke about her reimagined physical education class, being held in a tent outside in her school’s yard.

For weeks now, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has been running a pilot project in ten of its schools, trying to see if this new environment is a feasible option to create more spaces for kids to learn in and at the same time, try and curb the spread of COVID-19.  And it’s not a bad way to get some fresh air, either.

“So far, everybody seems to be enjoying it,” says school principal Dolores Rios. “Teachers want to get in there and test it out.”

And it seems the idea is gaining traction.

Ward two Etobicoke Centre trustee Markus de Domenico says there are eight more schools currently planning to roll out the pilot. The board is requesting additional funding so it can be done across the city.

“I’d love to see all of the schools get something outside,” he said. “Most of our schools in Central Etobicoke have a lot of land, so if we can fit it in, we should do it.”

With COVID-19 infection cases rising in the province, and many schools experiencing outbreaks themselves, spending more time outside may become more of a necessity than an option.

With 63,000 students in the board, around 70 per cent of elementary students and nearly three-quarters of high schoolers have opted for in-person learning. Many of these students also live in COVID-19 hotspots.

Learning spaces are also tight indoors and even with social distancing, many parents have been concerned about kids’ safety.

The tents being naturally aerated allow for more than one cohort to use the space.  As for the colder that’s to come? The principal says heaters and other furniture are being considered so the kids can come to school and enjoy their outdoor time.

“The cooler air is going to present challenges at [the] best of times. But we’re encouraging the kids to be prepared for the colder months,” she says.

As for using the tents for classes other than physical education and music, superintendent of education Flora Cifelli says that option is being looked at, but the safety of students and staff is the priority.

“The tents are a pilot project and we are working on guidelines to make sure they are being properly used,” she says.

Each tent costs the board anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 for a one-time installation fee and four months of use. The TCDSB says it used $100,000 of government funding towards the project.

Trump pumps fist as he walks out of hospital, remains contagious

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

United States President Donald Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday night.

Stepping gingerly, Trump walked out of the hospital where he has been receiving an unprecedented level of care for COVID-19, immediately igniting a new controversy by declaring that despite his illness the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

Back at the White House, he climbed the South Portico steps, removed his mask and declared, “I feel good.” He gave a double thumbs-up to the departing helicopter from the portico terrace, where aides had arranged American flags for the occasion.

Minutes earlier, the president left the hospital, pumping his fist as he made his way to a waiting SUV that carried him to Marine One for the short helicopter flight back to the White House.

Trump’s doctor, Navy Cdr. Sean Conley, said the president would not be fully “out of the woods” for another week but that Trump had met or exceeded standards for discharge from the hospital. Trump is expected to continue his recovery at the White House, where the reach of the outbreak that has infected the highest levels of the U.S. government is still being uncovered.

Still Trump, who remains contagious, indicated he won’t be kept from campaigning for long, tweeting before leaving the hospital, “Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!”

Trump made a point of sounding confident earlier. He tweeted, “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. … I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

However, that message alarmed infectious disease experts and suggested the president’s own illness had not caused him to rethink his often cavalier attitude toward the disease, which has also infected the first lady and several White House aides, including new cases revealed on Monday.

“We have to be realistic in this: COVID is a complete threat to the American population,” said Dr. David Nace of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, an expert on infections in older adults.

“Most of the people aren’t so lucky as the president,” with an in-house medical unit and access to experimental treatments, Nace added.

“It’s an unconscionable message,” agreed Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “I would go so far as to say that it may precipitate or worsen spread.”

There was political pushback to Trump’s attitude toward the virus, as well.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told the Houston Chronicle editorial board that Trump had “let his guard down” in his effort to show that the country was moving beyond the virus and had created “confusion” about how to stay safe.

Conley said that because of Trump’s unusual level of treatment so early after discovery of his illness he was in “uncharted territory.” But the doctor also was upbeat at an afternoon briefing and said the president could resume his normal schedule once “there is no evidence of live virus still present.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can be contagious for as many as — and should isolate for at least — 10 days.

Trump’s expected discharge raised new questions about how the administration was going to protect other officials from a disease that remains rampant in the president’s body. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she had tested positive for the virus Monday morning and was entering quarantine.

Both Nace and Khan expressed fear Trump won’t properly stay isolated at the White House and that he hasn’t learned his lesson about wearing a mask.

“We know he hates the mask, we know he hates to be restricted, we know he’s unpredictable,” Nace said. “The rest of the American people are held accountable to a 10-day isolation period.”

There were also lingering questions about potential long term effects to the president — and even when he first came down with the virus

Conley repeatedly declined to share results of medical scans of Trump’s lungs, saying he was not at liberty to discuss the information because Trump did not waive doctor-patient confidentiality on the subject.

COVID-19 has been known to cause significant damage to the lungs of some patients. Conley also declined to share the date of Trump’s most recent negative test for the virus — a critical point for contact tracing and understanding where Trump was in the course of the disease.

Trump’s nonchalant message about not fearing the virus comes as his own administration has encouraged Americans to be very careful and take precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the disease as cases continue to spike across the country.

For more than eight months, Trump’s efforts to play down the threat of the virus in hopes of propping up the economy ahead of the election have drawn bipartisan criticism.

Only a day earlier, Trump suggested he had finally grasped the true nature of the virus, saying in a video, “I get it.” But then on Sunday afternoon, Trump briefly ventured out of the hospital while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus.

White House officials said Trump was anxious to be released after three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where doctors revealed that his blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick.

Trump’s experience with the disease has been dramatically different from most Americans, who do not have access to the same kind of monitoring and care. While most must cope with their symptoms — and fear of whether they’ll take a turn for the worse — at home and alone, Trump has been staying in the presidential suite of one of the nation’s best hospitals and has been given experimental drugs not readily available to the public. He returns to the White House where there is a team of doctors on call with 24-hour monitoring.

Trump was leaving the hospital after receiving a fourth dose of the antiviral drug Remdesivir Monday evening, Conley said. He will receive the fifth and final dose Tuesday at the White House.

Less than one month before Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness and to press his campaign effort across the country.

Vice-President Mike Pence returned to the campaign trail moments after Trump announced he would soon leave the hospital. The vice-president boarded Air Force Two to fly to Salt Lake City, where he is to face off against Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus Sunday. The results came five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump.

McEnany, who announced Monday that she had contracted the virus, spoke briefly with reporters on Sunday evening without wearing a mask, but said that no members of the White House press corps spent enough time around her to be considered close contacts.

Even before Trump’s motorcade outing on Sunday, some Secret Service agents had expressed concern about the lackadaisical attitude toward masks and social distancing inside the White House, but there isn’t much they can do, according to agents and officials who spoke to The Associated Press. This close to the election, thousands of agents are engaged on protective duty so they can be subbed out quickly should someone test positive.

Trump’s aggressive course of treatment included the steroid dexamethasone and the single dose he was given Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus.

Trump on Friday also began a five-day course of Remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus, and Remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.

 

Ontario begins appointment-based COVID-19 testing system

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2020

Ontario will begins COVID-19 testing by appointment only this morning.

Premier Doug Ford has said the shift to the new system was done to prepare the province’s 155 assessment centres for winter.

The government has faced criticism over the long lines at assessment centres where people have had to wait for hours for a COVID-19 test.

The province has also changed its screening guidance, now saying that only symptomatic people or those in high-risk groups should seek out a test.

Testing centres began to close Sunday to prepare for the new model that is being launched today.

The province is facing a testing backlog of approximately 68,000 tests.

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