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Made with fungi, mycelium hits market as green substitute for leather, plastic

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This past week, British fashion designer Stella McCartney unveiled a black ‘leather’ bustier top and pants made not from cow hide, but mycelium, which is grown from fungi. Here’s a closer look at the potential uses of mycelium.

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Premier Doug Ford isolating after close staffer tests positive for COVID-19

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford is in isolation after a member of his staff who had been in close contact with him tested positive for COVID-19. Mr. Ford tested negative for the virus on Tuesday, but he will remain in isolation in Toronto, his office said. “Immediately upon learning that this staff member was even at…

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford is in isolation after a member of his staff who had been in close contact with him tested positive for COVID-19.

Mr. Ford tested negative for the virus on Tuesday, but he will remain in isolation in Toronto, his office said.

“Immediately upon learning that this staff member was even at risk of exposure, the Premier left the legislature to be tested. While his test results have returned negative, the Premier will follow all public health advice for close contacts of positive cases, including isolating. He will do so in Toronto,” said a statement on Tuesday night from Ivana Yelich, Mr. Ford’s director of media relations.

The statement said members of the Premier’s office staff who were close contacts of the person who tested positive will also isolate.

The office is seeking additional guidance from Toronto Public Health on all precautions the Premier and other staff must follow, Ms. Yelich said. The guidance is to self-isolate for 14 days, she added.

“The Premier will continue leading this government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic while in isolation, including briefings with officials and communicating with the public,” Ms. Yelich said.

Mr. Ford, who has not spoken publicly since Friday or appeared in Question Period this week, has faced a backlash since announcing a series of new COVID-19 measures last week that baffled experts. They warned that the government was doing too little to stop the virus from growing exponentially and overwhelming hospital intensive-care units.

The province also said Wednesday it will present a paid sick-leave program for essential workers in a matter of days, following repeated calls for it to act on the issue. Government House Leader Paul Calandra says the province hopes to address “gaps” in a federal benefit including eligibility, reducing wait times for receiving funds, the amount of funding available and time off to get vaccinated. The government rejected Opposition motions on paid sick leave earlier this week and said it was waiting to see if Monday’s federal budget included any changes to the program.

The Premier received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a Toronto pharmacy on April 9.

Ontario is reporting 4,212 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 32 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 1,249 new cases in Toronto, 771 in Peel Region, and 386 in York Region. She also says there are 276 new cases in Hamilton and 214 in Durham Region.

The Ministry of Health says 2,335 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus. It reports 790 people are in intensive care and 566 are on a ventilator.Ontario reports that 136,695 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Tuesday’s daily update.

– With a file from The Canadian Press

Health columnist André Picard answers reader questions about COVID-19 variants, how effective the various vaccines are and the impact of on-again, off-again lockdowns. The Globe and Mail

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Some front-line hospital workers still haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19

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Staff provide medical care in the ICU at the Humber River Hospital in Toronto on April 13, 2021. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press Despite greater access to COVID-19 vaccines, some front-line hospital workers across Canada have still not gotten immunized as the variant-driven third wave threatens to overwhelm the health care system. Vaccination rates range from…

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Staff provide medical care in the ICU at the Humber River Hospital in Toronto on April 13, 2021.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Despite greater access to COVID-19 vaccines, some front-line hospital workers across Canada have still not gotten immunized as the variant-driven third wave threatens to overwhelm the health care system.

Vaccination rates range from about 50 per cent of all health care workers in acute-care facilities in Alberta, where eligibility was restricted until recently, to an estimated 90 per cent of those who interact with patients in some Ontario hospitals, according to a Globe and Mail survey.

Less-than-optimal inoculation rates mean that thousands of hospital staff across Canada have not been vaccinated – which could potentially put patients at risk.

Sicker and younger: Toronto ICU copes with pressure during third wave of pandemic

Coronavirus tracker: How many COVID-19 cases are there in Canada and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

Experts say there are varied and complex reasons why a small minority of health care workers have so far opted not to get jabbed, including scheduling issues, concerns about the second-dose delay, a desire to wait and see, vaccine hesitancy and outright opposition.

“Just because you’re a health care worker does not mean you are inoculated against misinformation,” said Sajjad Fazel, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Calgary who researches COVID-19 misinformation. “Yes, a health care worker is less likely to believe in misinformation … but at the end of the day, we are all human beings.”

Unlike the Italian government, which recently issued a decree requiring health workers to be vaccinated, provincial governments have said they do not intend to make COVID-19 shots mandatory in health care. However, Quebec recently began requiring personnel in certain units to provide proof of immunization or else face repeated testing, possible reassignment or even unpaid leave.

Four months after vaccines first became available to health care workers, officials are using a range of strategies to boost uptake, including information sessions, hotlines, one-on-one conversations and easy access to appointments.

At Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, where more than 70 per cent of health care workers who interact with patients have been immunized, the holdouts must either get vaccinated by the end of the month or watch an educational video and sign a form stating they are declining. The approach, which the hospital also uses for flu shots, is designed to force staff to make a decision about immunization, rather than letting it slide. (Individuals can also demonstrate they are medically exempt.)

“What we have found is this is actually a really effective nudge towards the vaccine option,” said Jerome Leis, the hospital’s medical director of infection prevention and control.

Since Sunnybrook announced the policy at the beginning of April, more than 500 additional workers have booked appointments for their COVID-19 shots. Doctors have the highest immunization rate, at 91 per cent, while cleaners are among the lowest, said Dr. Leis, who added that the figures are not adjusted to exclude staff who are on leave.

In a recent letter urging staff to get vaccinated, Kevin Smith, president of Toronto’s University Health Network, said 4,000 people working on site had not yet gotten shots, with rates below 50 per cent in unspecified areas and programs. He cited “rumours about the vaccines” and said “vaccine ambassadors” would be available to answer questions.

“We have the privilege and the inordinate responsibility of caring for Canada’s sickest citizens. Nowhere more than here must we see maximal uptake of these safe and effective vaccines,” he wrote on March 22, noting UHN is the country’s largest research hospital.

Since the letter, another 2,300 workers have gotten their shots, according to a spokeswoman, for an estimated vaccination rate of 90 to 95 per cent among those who interact with patients.

The Globe and Mail contacted several large hospitals, health authorities and provincial governments for vaccination rates among hospital-based health care workers and found significant variations, incomplete data and aggregated figures.

For example, several Ontario hospitals said they could only provide estimates of workers’ immunization rates based on registration because there is no requirement to report COVID-19 vaccination to employers.

More than half of Unity Health Toronto’s eligible staff and physicians have been vaccinated at the network’s own sites, but the figure is likely an underestimate because it doesn’t include workers who got jabbed elsewhere, according to a spokeswoman.

While “a significant number” of staff, doctors and volunteers at William Osler Health System in the Greater Toronto Area have been vaccinated, “specific data is not yet available at this time,” spokeswoman Emma Murphy said.

Having accurate vaccination data for health care workers is crucial so institutions can work to increase rates, especially given the higher risk posed by the variants, said Kumanan Wilson, a physician scientist at the Ottawa Hospital who is an expert on vaccine policy.

If there are still holdouts among staff who work directly with patients, Dr. Wilson said hospitals would have to “seriously consider policies” requiring immunization as long as clear evidence emerges that vaccination prevents transmission of the virus to others.

In Alberta, approximately 50 per cent of health care workers in acute-care facilities had been immunized based on individual circumstances, including age and underlying health conditions, as of April 8, an Alberta Health Services spokeswoman said. The province expanded vaccine eligibility to more health care workers on April 12.

In Montreal, 80 per cent of eligible health care workers at McGill University Health Centre have been vaccinated, a spokeswoman said. At the Jewish General Hospital, 40 per cent of all staff have been immunized, according to a spokesman, who added that many are not yet eligible.

In Nova Scotia, 94 per cent of all health care workers – including those in hospital as well as homecare workers, paramedics and even dentists – have received at least their first dose, a government spokeswoman said.

In Manitoba, 75 per cent of health care workers who work in hospitals, long-term care homes and home care have been vaccinated, according to a provincial spokesman.

In Saskatchewan, 69 per cent of eligible workers, including those based in hospitals, long-term care, seniors’ homes and home care, have gotten at least their first vaccine dose, the government said.

The British Columbia government did not provide a vaccination rate but said more than 88,000 eligible acute care staff and physicians had received a first dose as of April 12.

Several hospitals, including Ontario’s Humber River Hospital, Windsor Regional Hospital and Scarborough Health Network, did not respond to multiple requests for immunization rates.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says more doses of COVID-19 vaccines are coming soon from Pfizer-BioNTech. He says the federal government will deploy the Canadian Red Cross to help Ontario with their mobile vaccination teams. The Canadian Press

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Canada’s new climate change target will exceed 40% cut in emissions: Radio-Canada sources

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The Trudeau government is expected to announce a new target for greenhouse gas emissions — at least a 40 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.

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Cda USA Meeting 20210223

The Trudeau government is expected to announce a new target for greenhouse gas emissions — at least a 40 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.


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