A flock divided: As some snowbirds brace for their first Canadian winter in years, others are sitting poolside in Florida

Normally at this time of year, Jeff Read and his wife, Dollie, would be at their vacation home in a gated community on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

The snowbirds from Cornwall, Ont., typically spend their days at the pool or the beach. Read enjoys riding his Harley with a motorcycle club.

“It’s easy living,” says the 68-year-old retiree.

But when the Star caught up with Read this week, he was still in Ontario, staring out at a snow-covered driveway and seemingly resigned to the fact that the couple would be staying put this winter.

It is, after all, the year of COVID-19.

In the same way Canadians coast to coast are having to wrestle with whether to book flights to see loved ones in other parts of the country this holiday season, snowbirds who escape to warmer destinations every winter are having to make tough choices: Do they visit the winter homes they’ve poured their retirement savings into or stay put and brave a Canadian winter?

The Canadian Snowbird Association estimates that 70 per cent of its 110,000 members will hunker down. The federal government has urged Canadians to avoid non-essential travel.

Read cited the ongoing closure of the land border as a big factor in their decision. He and Dollie usually like to drive down with their two dogs. Plus, he was worried about the pandemic.

According to U.S. media reports, the number of coronavirus cases per week in the state has tripled since Gov. Ron DeSantis reopened Florida in late September, lifting all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses and banning local fines against people who refuse to wear masks.

Florida now has the third-highest number of confirmed cases in the U.S. after Texas and California.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t like to be told what to do mask-wise,” Read said. “I don’t really feel like getting sick because somebody doesn’t want to wear a mask down there.”

So, he’d just purchased a whole assortment of winter essentials: a snowblower, snowbrush, boots, crampons, gloves and antifreeze windshield-washer.

Scroll through recent posts on a snowbirds Facebook group and it doesn’t take long to see the contrast in choices. While some members have been posting pictures of themselves on sun-drenched beaches and patios — “I am sitting in my lanai in Florida drinking my favourite wine for $10 at 10 p.m. in my shorts,” one snowbird posted recently — others have shared pictures of their snow-covered yards.

“I just bought a snow shovel … after 12 years,” Jarmila Pitterman, 76, of Kitchener, Ont., wrote, followed by two sad-faced, teary-eyed emojis.

Bob Slack also counts himself among those getting re-acquainted with snow gear.

Slack, past president of the Canadian Snowbird Association, and his wife normally spend their winters in Winter Haven, Fla., where they own a property on a golf course.

This will be their first winter in Canada in 23 years.

Slack, 78, of Athens, Ont., said he recently got snow tires and boots. His wife bought a new winter coat.

“We went to Canadian Tire today and bought a new shovel,” he said.

Like Read, Slack cited the land border closure and pandemic as key reasons for their decision.

“We get a report everyday from Florida with the number of cases in the state and in our county. Not looking great at all. If you get sick and the hospitals are full, what do you do?” he said.

While they’ll miss Euchre nights and Friday night fish fries at the clubhouse, Slack said he has regained an appreciation of the beauty of freshly fallen snow.

“The big thing we’re worried about is getting used to the driving again. When you haven’t driven on snow and ice in many years, you’re timid to go out.”

That’s exactly the reason Bruce Murray believes he and his wife, Heather Dodge, made the right call to flee Halifax for Largo, Fla., earlier this month.

“If you’re down here enjoying the sunshine, it’s healthier for you than shovelling snow or driving in winter … or depression or loneliness,” he said.

Murray, 57, said he and his wife never had any doubts about going south for the winter.

Before booking their flights, the couple, who purchased a mobile home in Largo last year, contacted friends in the area whom they trust and were satisfied it was safe to come down.

“We decided that we’d be healthier and just as well here as we would be in Nova Scotia,” he said, noting that, in recent days, COVID-19 numbers have climbed in the Atlantic region, as they have in other parts of Canada. (On Wednesday, Pinellas County, where Largo is located, topped 300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the second consecutive day. By comparison, Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases.)

Murray said they mostly cook at home but will occasionally do takeout from restaurants. Anytime they’ve ventured into a public space, such as Home Depot, people are masked, he said. Even people attending outdoor yard sales are masked, for the most part.

There is little congestion at the beaches or parks where they like to roller blade, bike and bird watch, he said. And when he had to go to the DMV to pick up licence plates for the used car he had purchased, it was by appointment only and the place was virtually empty.

Murray said the riskiest activity he and his wife engage in is probably pickleball, but they are careful about not touching their faces after handling the balls.

“We haven’t seen anything that’s scared us yet,” he said.



“Every morning we get up, the sun is shining, the birds are singing. If you don’t watch the news, we wouldn’t know COVID existed here, except for the masks.”

Brian Hoffman and his wife, Lesley, of Lake Temagami, Ont., say they have no regrets after travelling to their vacation home in Punta Gorda, Fla.

Brian Hoffman, 50 and newly retired, said he and his wife, Lesley, similarly have no regrets after coming down to their vacation home in Punta Gorda about a week ago.

“Cheap gas, cheap alcohol. Lots of sun,” he said.

The couple, of Lake Temagami, Ont., started coming to Florida four or five years ago. At first, they weren’t sure whether they’d make it down this year, but when they heard there was a creative way to get themselves — and their car — across the border, they jumped.

They hired a company to ship their car across the border to Detroit and then hopped on a short charter flight from London, Ont., to Detroit where they reunited with their car.

During their runs to Costco or Wal-Mart for supplies, most people are masked and there’s plenty of social distancing, he said. Even though the state is pretty much “wide open,” most restaurants in their area seem have chosen to limit seating or do takeout only.

For the most part, they stick to their home.

“Usually we keep the pool at 85 and we’re floating and watching birds.”

Asked what advice he has for those sitting on the fence, Hoffman noted there are some parts of Florida, such as Miami-Dade County, that have far higher rates of infection than others. (On Wednesday, Miami-Dade County reported 2,120 new confirmed cases of COVID-19).

That said, “If they’re healthy and able to get insurance and able to come down responsibly and isolate appropriately and take the same precautions as they are taking at home, we haven’t seen a big difference. I would invite them to come down,” he said.

“You should live your life, as long as you’re responsible doing it.”

If snowbirds do decide to travel, they need to protect themselves, said Evan Rachkovsky, the snowbird association spokesperson.

“This includes purchasing sufficient travel medical insurance, with COVID-19 coverage, prior to their departure,” he said.

“There are several insurance providers placing $200,000 caps on COVID-19-related claims. This level of coverage, particularly when travelling to the United States, is inadequate. Snowbirds who choose to travel also need to follow quarantine requirements as well as health and safety protocols at the federal, state and local levels.”

Late Wednesday, Read notified the Star that he and his wife had had a change of heart.

They decided to book a flight for Florida for next month, after all.

The “cold” and “dampness” from spending part of the day shovelling and snowblowing may have been a contributing factor, he said.

The trip won’t be entirely for pleasure. They plan to put their home in Port St. Lucie up for sale. While they would like to have gotten another five years out of it, it was “costing me a small bundle to keep that place empty,” he said.

Read said he and his wife are now thinking of spending future winters down in Mexico, Cuba or Jamaica.

Asked about the worsening COVID-19 situation in Florida, Read said they have every intention of following the same precautions they’ve been following in Canada down in Florida.

“Grab the groceries and get out.”

With files from The Associated Press



Have your plans for the winter changed because of COVID? What do you think about snowbirds who are still flying south?

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Source link

9 Poems for a Tough Winter


One of my forever favorites is Karl Shapiro’s “California Winter,” a marvelous ode to the land of the oldest living things, / trees that were young when Pharoahs ruled the world, / trees whose new leaves are only just unfurled. I like best to read it through the eyes of Joan Didion, who writes about California like no one else, and who mentions Shapiro’s poem in The White Album. She rightly points out that its last stanza possesses the rare and quiet power of a prayer.

— Adrienne LaFrance, executive editor


When I was a kid, my mom taught me Mandarin by having me recite classical poetry. I understood little and memorized a lot, and two decades on, I find I remember most of what I learned. But I now revisit these verses with an added layer of nostalgia: The lonely sail, a faraway shadow, against an endless blue / I only see the Yangtze flowing into the horizon, goes one. The permutations of translation are infinite, frustrating, time-consuming (this one is mine; I’m no scholar and no poet). This pandemic winter, go memorize some stuff as an exercise. Translate, if you can, for fun, and for no one but yourself.

— Shan Wang, senior editor


Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” is my ultimate comfort poem; I go back to it again and again when I’m feeling despondent or defeated. You could argue this isn’t the right moment for the first line—You do not have to be good. (You do have to be good! Cancel Thanksgiving!) But the poem doesn’t feel indulgent to me as much as it feels merciful: Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. / Meanwhile the world goes on. It reminds me that this long pandemic winter will be only a blip in the vast span of the Earth’s history.

— Faith Hill, assistant editor who helps select our Atlantic weekly poem


In a social and political moment in which more people are discussing what role, if any, prisons and police should have in our society, I find that art can help us move our thinking away from what we believe is possible, and toward what we believe we deserve. Kyle Carrero Lopez’s poem “After Abolition” helps me dream of what it might mean to build the sort of country in which the instruments of our carceral state are pushed toward obsolescence. I will be rereading it for years to come.

— Clint Smith, staff writer and the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent


I raise the blinds. I lower the blinds. I raise. I lower. My son and I rise; my son and I set. I run school, I work, I single parent. I think of my single mother’s thankless hours; I call: What did I know, what did I know / of love’s austere and lonely offices? As days shorten, how do we keep going? Hayden’s poem of winter mornings seems bleak, yet his last line answers: love.

—Jennifer Adams, associate director of production

Source link

How to beat the winter blues and stay productive all winter

Winter is coming. As it gets darker and colder, the desire to snuggle up on your couch in your well-worn yoga pants and sweatshirt is stronger than it was at the start of the pandemic.

This is where the pandemic blues merge with the winter blues and you watch your motivation and productivity plummet with the temperature.

It’s time to stoke the fire.

Here are four things you can do to combat the winter doldrums and stay productive this winter.

Use a 15-minute list

When the last thing you want to do on a cold winter morning is draft the PowerPoint presentation for Thursday’s product review meeting, turn to your 15-minute list.

A 15-minute list is a list of tasks that you can do in 15 minutes or less. For example, call and schedule your dog’s annual check-up at the vet, prepare an agenda for your meeting with your direct report, or brainstorm topics for the monthly newsletter. These are easy, quick tasks that you can complete with minimum effort and brainpower.

As you quickly cross items off your 15-minute list, it jump-starts your mojo and productivity. Feeling the warm glow of getting things done, you are now ready to move onto the product review meeting PowerPoint.

And, as a bonus, you can also use this list to capitalize on those micro-segments of your day when you are waiting for the Zoom meeting to start or the tech help desk to answer your call to get work done.

The next time procrastination strikes or you are waiting for a Zoom call to start, open your 15-minute list and check a few tasks off the list.

Work in vacation mode

Think back to your last vacation. I get it. It feels like a lifetime ago. Dig deep and remember. Now, think about what happened in the week prior to you sitting on a sunny beach with an umbrella drink in your hand. Did you complete a significant amount of work at warp speed?

We all have this mode of work. When you have a hard deadline, your productivity amplifies, so you can hit the road. You do not check the fridge a fourth time or linger on your Zoom calls discussing documentaries to watch.

Set mini-vacation deadlines, like turning off your computer at 5:30 instead of 6:30 and watch your productivity soar. And, give yourself a reason to leave work early. Take the earlier streaming yoga class, read a new book, or have a virtual wine date with a friend.

Shorten your workday with a self-imposed mini-vacation (something that makes you smile) and leave.

Winterize your task list

Tasks list can take on a life of their own and grow unchecked exponentially. Now is the time to winterize your task list and remove tasks.

Open your task list. Remove tasks that do not:

  • Align with why your company hired you
  • Leverage and highlight your unique strengths, skills, and experiences
  • Bring you meaning, joy, and purpose
  • Support the obtainment of a team or company goal
  • Generate revenue
  • Support revenue generation
  • Serve customers

Remember the Pareto Principle or the Law of the Vital Few: 80% of the results are generated by 20% of the effort. Focus your time and energy on high ROI tasks.


The work must be completed. However, you don’t have to do it all. Identify the tasks that have become so routine you can basically do them in your sleep and automate these first. Next, pinpoint the tasks that don’t require human finesse, but are components of a complex process. Even though the entire process cannot be automated, there may be pieces that can be outsourced which will still save you time and energy.

Now you are ready to leverage powerful automation tools. Here are two of the best:

Zapier is a powerful integration tool that easily connects the other web apps you use in order to automate tasks. With Zapier, you can connect Evernote to task management apps like Asana and Trello, as well as, to your Google calendar. Or you can save your PayPal sales to a Google spreadsheet or post new BaseCamp activity to Slack.

IfThisThenThat is a web service that allows you to plug information from one app to another, allowing you to create custom tasks to mirror a specific workflow: “If [this things happens on one service], then [do that on another service].” For example, “If I post a new photo to Instagram, then download it to Dropbox. You can also use “recipes,” which are simply prebuilt tasks made by other users that you can add to your own IFTTT account

The next time the pull of your sofa is stronger than your computer, use a 15-minute list, work in vacation mode, winterize your task list, and automate to increase your productivity this winter and beyond.

Carson Tate is the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc., and the author of Own It. Love It. Make It Work.: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job.

Source link

Coronavirus Australia live news: US faces dark winter as country records another day with more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases

Testing push for Hume and Wyndham




Deputy CHO Allen Cheng is now talking.


He said 515 historic cases have been reclassified from unknown to known cases. They are mostly from July and August.


These were reclassified due to an algorithm developed to mine the data to find whether there were any.


“It’s about as good as it can get,” Dr Cheng said.


He said it was unlikely that the cases that are known would have been passed on, but authorites are still concerned over unknown chains of transmission.


There will be a testing push for Hume and Wyndham, just to make sure that all cases are picked up in those areas, Dr Cheng said.

Source link

Australia shouldn’t ‘shy away’ from boycotting Beijing Winter Olympics after China trade sanctions

The founder of a global coalition of politicians pushing for Beijing to be stripped of the Winter Olympics says Australia shouldn’t “shy away” from boycotting the games out of fear of further upsetting China.

British MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith told 7.30 China’s “appalling” treatment of Australia is even more reason for the Federal Government to take a stance against Beijing being the 2022 host.

“What Australia has gone through is appalling,” he said, referring to China’s recent trade sanctions.

“But then you have to ask yourself the question — if countries shy away now because of that treatment, then who has won this process?

The co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China is calling on governments around the world to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics as punishment for China’s human rights abuses which he said included the detention of Uyghurs in “re-education” camps and its crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

“We’re dealing with a government of intolerance, dictatorial, brooks no dissent, arrests people at a drop of a hat,” he said.

“I think there’s a very strong case to be made that China should not be rewarded for its astonishingly bad behaviour.”

China ‘unsafe’ for Australian athletes

David Morris rejects claims the Beijing event will be dangerous for athletes.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

Crossbench senator Rex Patrick told 7.30 he supported a boycott of the games not only because of China’s human rights record but also over safety fears for athletes who attend.

“It’s unsafe for Australians to go to China,” Mr Patrick said.

“I can’t see a change occurring any time soon and indeed people need to consider that in the context of a decision to send athletes to China for the Beijing Olympics.”

But three-time Winter Olympian and coach of Australia’s aerial ski team David Morris said it wouldn’t be the first time athletes have competed amid safety concerns, citing the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

“If I think back to Sochi there were also some issues with security around that but at no point did any athletes feel any danger,” Morris told 7.30.

“The Olympics are a safe environment, they do everything they can and if that changes closer to an event we will of course listen to the sporting committees to advise us on the right decisions because that’s their job to make that sort of call.”

Boycott pressure ‘unfair’ on athletes

A woman holds a pair of skiis over her shoulder
Olympic skier turned politician Zali Steggall has sided with the Australian Olympic Committee against the boycott.(AAP: Alan Porritt)

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) strongly opposes a boycott.

Chief executive officer Matt Carroll told 7.30 politics should be kept out of sport.

Winter Olympian turned independent MP Zali Steggall has sided firmly with the AOC and athletes in the debate.

“I don’t support the calls some of my colleagues have made for the Australian team to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympic Games,” Ms Steggall told 7.30.

“I think that’s unfairly putting pressure on athletes for something the Government actually needs to show leadership on.”

Sir Iain told 7.30 he could understand why the Australian Government might be reluctant to further ignite tensions with China.

He said other governments, including his own, could do more to support Australia over China’s trade sanctions.

“We are the guilty parties in this in failing to stand with Australia,” he said.

Source link

Game two ratings likely to force NRL back to winter schedule

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys last week told The Herald he wanted to wait until after the series was finished before making a decision, however the opening games of the series have yielded the worst two television audiences for an Origin game since national figures became available in 2003.

V’landys’ main consideration is trying to preserve the integrity of the NRL competition, which is often diluted in the middle of the season because of the brutal impact the Origin series has on the players involved.

“I’m not too disappointed,” V’landys said after game one. “I will wait until next Wednesday and then make a judgement. To compare it just to this game would be premature. There’s no need to hit the panic button at this stage. It was only one game and there was a US election.

“You have to remember why we played it at the end of the season, and that was to protect the integrity of the NRL competition. If you had it mid-season in a competition with less rounds, it would have really disadvantaged those teams that had the good players. Also, one of the reasons we did was to have crowds. If we did it mid-year we wouldn’t have had crowds.”

Top 10 highest rating Origin matches

  1. Game 3, 2013: 4.19 million
  2. Game 2, 2014: 4.16 million
  3. Game 1, 2014: 4.06 million
  4. Game 3, 2012: 4.04 million
  5. Game 1, 2012: 3.96 million
  6. Game 1, 2016: 3.95 million
  7. Game 1. 2013: 3.95 million
  8. Game 2, 2015: 3.93 million
  9. Game 2, 2012: 3.87 million
  10. Game 3, 2011: 3.79 million

“Once we look at all three games, then we will make a judgement. You have to wait and see the audience now the people realise it will be competitive and not a whitewash. We’re not going to base judgement on one game. We’re waiting on all three.”


Source link

SHELL: Joe Biden issues mask mandate as he warns Americans of ‘dark winter’


Even as hopes of a vaccine lifted stocks, Biden said Monday another 200,000 lives could be lost before it is widely available.


He implored Americans that masks were necessary and not a political statement.


“I implore you, wear a mask. Do it for yourself. Do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement,” Biden said, adding that he would spare no effort to turn the pandemic around once he is sworn in.


Biden said he would be guided by science in laying out the framework of a pandemic response, starting with members of a task force to prepare for his administration’s transition to overseeing it.


“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said in a statement.


He and vice-president elect Kamala Harris were earlier being briefed virtually on the coronavirus pandemic by a task force of experts their transition team announced only hours earlier.


The Democratic president-elect and vice president-elect sat at separate, individual socially distanced tables and took notes as the members introduced themselves on Monday.


The first to speak during the briefing was former Food Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler. He is co-chairing the task force with former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University associate professor and associate dean whose research focuses on promoting health care equality for marginalised populations.


Also part of the group is Rick Bright, a whistleblower who was demoted after criticizing the Trump administration’s pandemic response. Bright had been head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.


Journalists could watch only about two minutes of the proceedings and heard only the participants introducing themselves.

Source link

Tesco barricades ‘non-essential’ winter coats and children’s clothes in Streatham store

Tesco has barred shoppers from buying winter coats and children’s clothes by barricading items deemed ‘non-essential’ at one of its London stores. 

A photo taken in the store, in Streatham, South London, showed metal barricades blocking off the coats and clothes, among other items. 

The scene echoed those seen across Wales last month after the Welsh government ordered supermarkets to only sell goods which they deemed ‘essential’. 

The measures had prompted one man to tear off plastic sheets which were covering ‘non-essential’ goods in a Tesco store in Bangor, while another man ran into a store in Newport wearing only his boxer shorts. 

The photo in the Streatham store was taken by an angry shopper who posted on Twitter. It came after the England last week went back into a national lockdown. 

Tesco has barred shoppers from buying winter coats and children’s clothes by barricading items deemed ‘non-essential’ at one of its London stores. A photo taken in the store, in Streatham, South London, showed metal barricades blocking off the coats and clothes, among other items

The scene echoed those seen across Wales last month after the Welsh government ordered supermarkets to only sell goods which they deemed 'essential'. The measures had prompted one man to tear off plastic sheets which were covering 'non-essential' goods in a Tesco store in Bangor

The scene echoed those seen across Wales last month after the Welsh government ordered supermarkets to only sell goods which they deemed ‘essential’. The measures had prompted one man to tear off plastic sheets which were covering ‘non-essential’ goods in a Tesco store in Bangor

The shopper wrote: ‘Disappointed to see after the uproar of blocking off clothing, toys, homeware etc sections in one of your stores in Wales, you’ve now done this in your Streatham Extra store.

 ‘I can buy booze, but, not a kettle or underwear.’ 

A Tesco spokesman replied on Twitter: ‘In line with new Government guidance in England which requires the closure of separate floors selling non-food items, we have closed the Clothing and General Merchandise departments in our stores that sell these products from a separate mezzanine level.’

The Government’s guidance, released on November 5, says: ‘Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the disease to spread.

The shopper wrote: 'Disappointed to see after the uproar of blocking off clothing, toys, homeware etc sections in one of your stores in Wales, you've now done this in your Streatham Extra store. I can buy booze, but, not a kettle or underwear'

The shopper wrote: ‘Disappointed to see after the uproar of blocking off clothing, toys, homeware etc sections in one of your stores in Wales, you’ve now done this in your Streatham Extra store. I can buy booze, but, not a kettle or underwear’

A Tesco spokesman replied on Twitter: 'In line with new Government guidance in England which requires the closure of separate floors selling non-food items, we have closed the Clothing and General Merchandise departments in our stores that sell these products from a separate mezzanine level

A Tesco spokesman replied on Twitter: ‘In line with new Government guidance in England which requires the closure of separate floors selling non-food items, we have closed the Clothing and General Merchandise departments in our stores that sell these products from a separate mezzanine level

‘For example a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close.’

The photo came after the Welsh Government’s similar measures provoked uproar across the country.   

A 28-year-old man was charged with criminal damage and breaching coronavirus regulations after plastic sheets were torn off ‘non-essential’ goods in a Tesco store in Bangor. 

A video posted on social media showed the man, who was not wearing a mask, shouting: ‘Since when have clothes been exempt?, rip the f***ers off… kids’ f***ing clothes, it is a disgrace.’

The photo came after the Welsh Government's similar measures provoked uproar across the country. Pictured: Clothes which were taped off at an Asda store in Cardiff last month

The photo came after the Welsh Government’s similar measures provoked uproar across the country. Pictured: Clothes which were taped off at an Asda store in Cardiff last month

Bedding was also apparently considered a luxury item as duvets and sheets were seen taped off at a Tesco store in Pontypool during Wales's lockdown

Bedding was also apparently considered a luxury item as duvets and sheets were seen taped off at a Tesco store in Pontypool during Wales’s lockdown

What are the rules for shops in England’s new lockdown?

Shops that can stay open:

  • Food shops
  • Supermarkets – but those with ‘sufficiently distinct parts’ should close areas selling non-essential items
  • Garden centres 
  • Retailers providing essential goods and services 

Shops that must shut (including but not limited to): 

  • Clothing
  • Electronics stores 
  • Vehicle showrooms 
  • Travel agents 
  • Betting shops
  • Auction houses
  • Tailors 
  • Car washes 
  • Tobacco and vape shops  

A security staff member approached him and he replied: ‘Since when has clothing not been essential.’

The store worker, who was wearing a face covering, confronted him over an F&F label stall while the cameraman ran away from another employee. 

A day later, a father attempted to shop at a Tesco store in Newport, Gwent, dressed only in his boxer shorts and a face mask.    

He was stopped by security staff as he tried to push his trolley the store.

His furious wife Dawn, 33, filmed him as he tried to access the store, demanding: ‘Clothes are non essential – let him in.’

Dawn told the workers: ‘Clothes are deemed now non-essential. Your stores policy says clothes are non essential.

‘Let him in to buy some clothes.

‘This is beyond a joke. There are children out there growing that need clothes.’

But a security guards says: ‘He’s not appropriately dressed. Go and take it up with the government.’

‘You can’t come in dressed like that.’

When the staff say they won’t let him in, Dawn repeated: ‘So clothes are essential to day-to-day life?’

The worker replied: ‘Of course they are.’

The couple were turned away but Dawn later posted the video online saying: ‘Please note that no lockdown rules were broken, nobody was put at risk, this non essentials list is beyond a joke! Clothes aren’t essential are they Mr Drakefold.’

Dad Chris Noden, 38

Dad Chris Noden, 38

Chris Noden, 38, was stopped by security staff as he tried to push his trolley into the Tesco store in Newport, south Wales wearing just his boxers and a face mask

Source link

Coronavirus: ‘Too late’ to find nurses needed for ‘extremely challenging’ winter – with 40,000 vacancies | UK News

It is too late to find the nurses needed to meet the demands of an “extremely challenging” winter – with 40,000 vacancies in England alone, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned.

The union now called on the government to “be honest” about the risks a lack of staff could pose to patient safety.

It comes after NHS England moved its highest alert level to deal with COVID-19 cases after the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals rose to more than 11,000.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

NHS England moves to highest alert level

The RCN said it has “grave concerns” about how services will be safely staffed in winter as “it’s too late to find the nurses to meet the likely demand”.

“The government must be honest about widespread nursing vacancies and what steps need to be taken to keep patients and staff safe despite a depleted workforce,” the union said.

“When COVID-19 sickness absence is also considered, these gaps in the workforce put enormous responsibility on the nursing staff left working and an intolerable pressure on senior nursing leaders.

“The RCN is deeply concerned these few staff could ‘burn out’ this winter unless local staffing plans proposed by NHS England prioritise the safest, highest quality care.”

RCN England director Mike Adams said the NHS “faces the prospect of an extremely challenging winter” and frontline nurses in hospitals, communities and care homes are “under huge strain”.

He said the union has heard that nurses are “becoming increasingly thinly spread on the ground” in some hospitals.

“The government says nurses have been given extra training to provide more critical care staff to treat COVID-19 patients, but there simply aren’t enough to go around,” Mr Adams added.

“There are around 40,000 registered nursing vacancies across the NHS in England alone.

“It is essential that learning is applied to planning for this winter, including what service can be delivered safely with the workforce available.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Virus ‘second wave’ stressing hospitals

Earlier this week, NHS England’s chief executive warned of a “serious situation ahead”, saying there were “22 hospitals’ worth” of COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the country.

Sir Simon Stevens appeared alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a news conference during which he assured sceptics that the second wave of the pandemic “is real and serious”.

:: Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Sir Simon said around 30,000 staff in the health service were either off with coronavirus or having to self-isolate, and “that has an impact”.

The government has said there were 13,500 more nurses working in the NHS in England in the year to April 2020 than the previous 12 months.

Last year it pledged to recruit more than 50,000 nurses by 2025.

Source link

Winter will help COVID-19 spread more easily, experts say — here’s what they suggest you do about it

Canada is heading into its first winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some experts say the change in seasons will serve the coronavirus that causes the illness well.

Cold weather affects viruses themselves in two major ways: through temperature and humidity, said Dr. Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of information.

When a virus is exhaled, it begins to break down right away, Furness said. But the colder it gets, the slower that process is.

“Instead of dying, perhaps, in minutes on a hot summer day, in freezing temperatures, it will last essentially — as far as we know — indefinitely,” Furness said. “It goes from being quick-dying to being immortal, based on temperature.”

Winter weather can also help the virus stay aloft longer and travel farther, he said — because of the drier air that typically comes with lower temperatures, and how that affects the respiratory droplets we exhale.

“When the droplet you exhale comes out in humid weather … it gets bigger. It attracts water and falls to the ground,” Furness said. “But in really dry, cold air, the opposite happens. The droplet evaporates, it gets lighter, and that happens very fast.”

WATCH | Doctors answer questions about what places are higher risk for COVID-19:

Two infectious disease doctors answer viewer questions about high-risk settings for COVID-19 transmission and how data about transmission could help people make decisions about how to live their lives. 6:11

Then there’s the effect the weather has on people.

Cold weather pushes people indoors, Furness said. It also means we don’t have our windows open, meaning our living spaces are won’t be as well ventilated as they other at other times of year.

“If you have enough people in a poorly enough ventilated space, [like] holiday time in the winter … that’s sort of the perfect storm for virus transmission,” he said.

“It pushes people exactly to where the virus moves very, very well — between people in close quarters.”

The dry air also makes our bodies more vulnerable to pathogens, such as the new coronavirus, by drying out the protective mucus membrane that lines our respiratory tracts, said Dr. Dasantila Golemi-Kotra, an expert on microbial infections.

“This mucus membrane actually traps these pathogens, and as the air moves out, these pathogens are expelled,” said Golemi-Kotra, who is also an associate professor in York University’s biology department.

“At low humidity, this membrane becomes dry … so it’s much easier, now, for the pathogens to get access to the respiratory tract and infect us.”

That’s the bad news. Here’s what these experts suggest you can do about it.

Mind your mittens

“First of all, avoid touching your face with mittens,” Golemi-Kotra said.

Your gloves or mittens could come into contact with a lot of high-touch surfaces as you go about your day, so be careful with them. Gauge your daily activities and treat your mitts or gloves accordingly, she advised.

Cold weather pushes people into spaces that are often crowded and poorly ventilated — environments where ‘the virus moves very, very well,’ says Dr. Colin Furness. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

If you don’t wear them long or contact many high-touch surfaces, it’s enough to let them sit for several hours in a safe area before re-wearing, she said. Studies show the virus’s stability in porous materials like cotton is low, she said — around three hours. If your mittens are wet, the effect of drying out has also been shown to reduce the virus’s stability.

But if you’re wearing gloves or mitts for long stretches of time or coming in contact with many high-touch surfaces — if you work outside, for example, or have a long commute on public transit — you should wash them daily, she said.

You could also throw winter gear in the dryer, Furness suggested. He argues it’s unnecessary to go the full washing route, since a dryer’s heat can kill most or all of the virus.

If you’re certain your gloves are all natural fibres, you could even stick them in the microwave, he added.

“You need to make sure there’s no synthetics in there,” Furness said. “Mittens don’t come with a label that says ‘microwave safe.’ But if you know, for example, that they’re all wool … then the microwave would be great.”

Get your flu shot

If you’ve never gotten a flu shot before, Furness said this is the year. to start It’s a critical tool to help contain flu season and keep pressure off health systems — plus, getting sick from the flu could make your body more vulnerable to COVID-19.

To keep yourself healthy, Golemi-Kotra also recommends using a humidifier in your home or office to help counteract the effect of dry winter air on your mucus membrane and boost your immune defence.

A needle and syringe used to administer the flu shot in shown in Virgil, Ont., ON Oct. 5. Getting the flu could make your body more vulnerable to COVID-19, according to some experts. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)

Not all experts are confident consumer humidifiers will make much of a difference. Dr. Christopher Labos, an epidemiologist and cardiologist, told CBC News earlier this month the positive effect may not be significant, although he said it’s not likely to have a significant negative effect, either.

“This virus is very contagious, and we are looking at any measures that can sort of reduce the transmission or reduce the exposure,” Golemi-Kotra said.

Scarves likely OK over masks, but wet masks not effective

If you’re wearing a mask and a scarf at the same time, Furness said it should be fine to let your scarf cover the mask. But he stopped short of saying a scarf could stand in for a mask, even if worn correctly.

“There are scarves you can see through and there are scarves that are heavy knit,” he said. “The answer … will depend entirely on how the scarf is made.”

There’s still a lot scientists don’t know about how homemade masks will perform in winter, Furness said. 

Some research suggests a wet mask may be less effective, Golemi-Kotra said, so condensation from your breath outdoors could be an issue. Outside, physical distancing should lower your risk even without a mask’s protection, she said, but being mindful of a wet mask is something to keep in mind if you’re at a crowded bus stop, for example. Make sure you stay two metres apart from others.

Until the data on masks in winter comes in, Furness seconded the advice for extra caution.

“I think, ultimately, what the second wave is going to look like is going to be very much dependent on how effective masks are as temperatures drop,” he said.

“I think until we have more data, I would like to urge everyone to be just really cautious, you know, to take that extra couple of feet, step back when you’re hanging around outdoors — to not assume that what was safe in the summer is safe in the winter.”

Source link