Some restaurants, pubs in Kelowna temporarily closed because of positive COVID-19 tests

Just weeks after getting the green light to reopen, some restaurants and pubs in Kelowna have temporarily closed because of positive COVID-19 tests.

The closures come as confirmed COVID-19 cases climb in B.C., with the Interior Health region having by far and away the most daily new cases.

On Tuesday, for example, Interior Health had 95 cases. Next was Fraser Health at 32 cases, then Vancouver Coastal at 17.

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It was the same on Monday, with Interior Health at 78 cases, followed by Fraser Health at 26 and Vancouver Coastal at 11.

Businesses that posted on social media they were shutting down because of COVID-19 included the Kelowna Yacht Club’s member lounge, Central Bar and Kitchen, BNA Brewing, Rusty’s Sports Lounge, the Train Station Pub and Mid-Town Station Kitchen and Drink.

A winery has also closed its doors, Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery in West Kelowna, after a staff member tested positive.

On its Facebook page, the winery said, “honesty is the best policy, and we feel as though closing our doors until further notice ensures we are doing our part in curbing the spread throughout our staff and community.”

The yacht club said two colleagues within the member lounge team tested positive with COVID-19.

“Neither of these colleagues have been in our building since Thursday, July 22,” the yacht club said on its website, “however, in an abundance of caution, we believe that closing the member lounge is the only way we can remove any possibility of spread.”

Those comments were also echoed by the other establishments.

“We have always believed in full transparency with our community and feel it only appropriate that we are open and honest,” Central Bar and Kitchen said on its Facebook page.

“As per information from Interior Health, we have become aware that several restaurants, bars and nightclubs are experiencing outbreaks.

“We feel it our social responsibility to close for a short period of time to ensure we are doing our part in curbing the spread throughout our neighbourhood.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Saskatchewan children 6-11 with autism now eligible for up to $6,000 a year

WATCH: A Saskatoon organization has found creative ways to let kids stay connected and even improve social skills thanks to technology.

Starting Tuesday, older children with autism will get some money from the Saskatchewan government to cover services they need.

Children between six and eleven with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can now qualify for Autism Individualized Funding.

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The money was allocated in the 2021-2022 budget. Kids between six and 11 with ASD can now get up to $6,000 a year, while children under six with ASD can receive up to $8,000 annually.

“This funding gives parents and caregivers flexibility to choose from a range of eligible therapeutic interventions and family support that best suits their child’s individual needs,” said health minister Paul Merriman.

Merriman said the money can go toward services and programs that help improve the child’s functional abilities, such as receiving mental health help like psychologists or psychiatrists, to physical therapy and speech language pathology, and even respite care to help the family.

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“Each child is unique and the supports they may need will also be unique to them,” said social services minister Lori Carr.

“Individualized funding allows parents and caregivers to choose the programing supports that best suit their child’s individual needs.”

Autism Services of Saskatoon said it’s important for services and programs to be customized around each individual child, and this funding will help parents do that more easily.

While they said it is a great move, they noted more is needed for older kids and young adults.

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“Once they become an adult they don’t stop having autism,” said development coordinator Carol Tebay.

Tebay said they moved services to group sessions because there’s so much need.

“We just could not do specific, individualized service to every single child every single term. We had to break that up a bit to try and serve as many people as we possibly can,” she said.

In an emailed statement, the province said it expects this expansion will help around 1,000 families in Saskatchewan.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Winnipeg Jets complete another trade to acquire Nate Schmidt from Canucks

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has never been very active in the trade market, preferring to build his team through the draft-and-develop model, but that was until 24 hours ago.

The Jets made a trade to bolster their blue line for the second straight day as they acquired another stud defenceman in Nate Schmidt in a deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

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The Jets only surrendered a single draft pick to obtain Schmidt, giving up a third rounder in the 2022 NHL Draft to get the blue-liner.

The Jets once again got the benefit of a team needing space under the salary cap with the Canucks shedding Schmidt’s big contract that carries an average cap hit of $5.95 million per season for the next four years.

Schmidt, 30, played only one season with the Canucks. He notched five markers and 10 assists in 54 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

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Winnipeg Jets sign Paul Stastny, trade for defenceman

He played the previous three campaigns for the Vegas Golden Knights after breaking into the league with the Washington Capitals in 2013. He has 450 games of NHL experience.

Vancouver also acquired him for a third round pick from Vegas just a year ago.

The trade comes just a day after the Jets picked up defenceman Brenden Dillon from the Capitals for a pair of picks.

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In the last 24 hours, the Jets not only signed pending unrestricted free agent forward Paul Stastny, but they also acquired two top-four defencemen, all for the price of two second round draft selections and a third round pick.

Suddenly the Jets have a glut of talent on their backend. The Jets now have $22 million committed to seven defencemen, and restricted free agents Neal Pionk and Logan Stanley still need new contracts as well.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

LGL health unit warns about 'escalating crisis' of overdoses in region

WATCH: The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is warning the public of an overdose crisis in the region, with multiple fatal overdoses in the past two weeks.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is reporting a significant uptick in overdoses since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started, which has continued to escalate into 2021.

In the first six months of this year, the health unit received 195 overdose reports, which includes fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

Compared to 165 reports for the total of 2020, this means that halfway through 2021, overdose reports have already surpassed the entirety of the previous year.

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Harm Reduction Coordinator for the health unit, Jennifer Adams, says that the region is reaching a crisis point.

“A lot of people think that this is just an urban problem. And I think, you know, absolutely urban, but rural we really, really struggle to manage the situation,” says Adams.

“We don’t have access to as many resources as people do in the urban centres. We’re really a small handful of people dealing with an escalating crisis.”

She says that while this is a problem in multiple regions, for them, a lack of resources makes things even more difficult.

“We can’t be reliant to try and send people to Ottawa or into Kingston to get help, because people don’t want to go to Ottawa or Kingston to get help. They want help within their own community, but we just don’t have the resources to offer people,” she says.

“Our community looks towards myself and my handful of colleagues that I work with as the experts, but we don’t, we’re out of answers at this point,” Adams says. “We don’t know where to go next with this.

“And what can we do in such a rural area where there’s very little resources, very little capacity on workers to manage this.”

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The health unit says the illicit drug supply in the region is contaminated with ingredients that naloxone overdose kits will not work on, making the situation even more dire.

“We’re tired. The families are tired, the community is tired, the front-line workers are tired.”

Adams wants to remind people that calling 911 is the most important step to saving someone’s life, and is often overlooked or forgotten in these circumstances.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Northern Saskatchewan First Nations seeing COVID-19 outbreaks

WATCH: One northern First Nation has seen more than 10 per cent of its residents test positive for COVID-19 following evacuations caused by a wildfire.

Two First Nations communities are being hit hard with COVID-19 outbreaks in northern Saskatchewan.

Buffalo River Dene Nation is reporting over 70 active cases as of Tuesday morning. With fewer than 700 people living on reserve, it has officials concerned.

“We made sure that everyone who was returning was negative but, at that time, there was already an outbreak occurring in the community that created some challenges,” said Daryl Wright, an emergency response plan coordinator at Meadow Lake Tribal Council.

And they’re not the only ones struggling to fight the spread, Black Lake Denesuline First Nation has put lockdown measures in place.

“We’re not going to let any outsiders into our community and our community members are not supposed to leave either,” Black Lake Chief Archie Robillard said.

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The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling on the Saskatchewan government to reintroduce public health measures to protect communities.

Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said the regional medical health officer can notify the province’s top doctor to ask for additional measures.

“But the best thing we can do in the short term and the long term is getting vaccinated and adhering to handwashing, making sure that you minimize your contact … especially if there’s an outbreak in a specific area,” Merriman said.

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On Tuesday, the provincial government said Saskatchewan’s active COVID-19 cases have increased and now sit at 362. The far north west zone — within which Buffalo River is located — leads with 119 of the province’s active cases. Black Lake is in the far north central zone and has 16.

Health officials in northern communities said there has been vaccine skepticism and hesitancy and said they’re working on educating the public.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Edmonton Elks offence using final week of camp to iron out the kinks

You can count the remaining training camp sessions on one hand for the Edmonton Elks, who returned to The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesday following an off day.

The last time the Elks were on the field was for Sunday’s scrimmage, an event that didn’t make head coach Jamie Elizondo overly happy from an offensive standpoint.

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So, did he see better from his group on Tuesday? Again, it was mixed results.

“I told the whole group I thought that we practised, but we didn’t practise with the urgency and intensity that has been custom of what we’ve seen in the first 11 practices,” Elizondo said.

“A little disappointed in that regard, but I’m always going to be honest with the team, and we just didn’t have the urgency that we needed. That being said, we installed some new things so there was more thinking going on. I thought the defence had a good day. They were flying around and set the tone. We just didn’t execute that well on offence.”

The first team offence saw a lot more reps on Tuesday, which will be the case for the rest of the week.

Getting the timing down is important for receiver Derel Walker, who was a late arrival to camp and didn’t see the field until last week after going through COVID protocols. He says Tuesday’s practice was the best he’s felt since arriving in Edmonton. Hearing the criticism from Elizondo about the offence is humbling, he said.

“It’s a bittersweet moment because you know there are things that you need to work on,” Walker said.

“At the same time, you want to be further along, but at least we know what we need to fix and get better at. We know the next day we have to come in and be better and work out the kinks that we messed up in the scrimmage. We had too many turnovers and too many bust plays for the (number) of plays that we repped and that’s unacceptable for any game. Fifty plays and three interceptions — that’s unacceptable.”

Elks quarterback Trevor Harris says receiving more reps will only help the offence as the Aug. 7 season opener against the Ottawa Redblacks gets closer. Harris says the key for the offence now in camp is being able to sustain their conditioning during a drive.

“There are certain times when the receivers are running a clear out down the field, and the next play, they’re the number one receiver on a progression, and the next time, they’re a number two crossing the field, and that’s just wind and certain stuff that happens in a game that you can’t control, and that’s the stuff we have to do to get in shape,” Harris said.

“When I’m looking to throw and scrambling outside the pocket, I’ve got to come back and be able to do the exact same thing again. That’s what we’re implementing right now, is being able to feel that long drive and be able to sustain it.”

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Linebacker Brian Walker returned Tuesday after missing the last two practices. Offensive linemen SirVincent Rogers and Kyle Saxelid along with receiver Tevaun Smith remained on the sidelines.

The Elks practise on Wednesday morning.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Bloom Sunflower Festival to shine in Armstrong, B.C.

Sunny days are ahead for Armstrong, B.C., now that the Bloom Sunflower Festival will be put on by the Szareks, the couple famous for the Abbotsford Tulip Festival in the Lower Mainland.

The Bloom Sunflower Festival is almost ready for ticket holders to enjoy, on a four-acre plot of land.

“We have planted three-acres of the Solano variety which is about a five- to six-foot variety with a nice yellow head and that is the majority of the field,” said Marc Szarek, Bloom Flower Festivals operations manager.

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Of the 80,000 seeds, they have planted to create the spectacle they will also have red sunflower varieties.

Since 2016, the Szareks hosted the Abbotsford Tulip Festival on their 10 acres of land, an event that will be moved to Armstrong next year. However in August of this year, they will be adding a sunflower festival to their annual lineup.

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“Once these guys grow a little taller, then we are going to mow a fun pathway throughout the field so that people can walk through and then we have a bunch of really fun photo props where people can get their perfect selfies or great group shot,” said Alexis Szarek, Bloom Flower Festivals owner.

Now all there is to do is wait for the sunflowers to sprout up in time to host thousands of people at the two-week-long festival.

“Some of them are shorter some of them are taller we do have some American Giants that are supposed to grow between 18 and 15 feet tall,” said Marc.

The Bloom Sunflower Festival will take place from Aug. 18 to Aug. 31 in Armstrong. For more information, visit www.bloom.myzonetickets.com

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Independent MP Derek Sloan announces plans to start new political party

WATCH: (Jan. 20, 2021) Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole vowed to ban Derek Sloan from running for the party again and said he would seek his ejection from the Conservative caucus earlier this week.

Independent MP Derek Sloan has revealed that he’s working to establish a new political party.

Sloan made the announcement at a rally in Calgary this past weekend to a crowd of roughly 1,000 people.

A video shared on Twitter shows some of the speech made by the Hastings, Lennox and Addington representative as he teased further information to come.

“I can’t tell you everything, I can’t even tell you the name unfortunately publicly, although you’ll love it,” says Sloan.

He goes on to say that he is only weeks away from approval and currently working on organizing.

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This announcement comes shortly after Sloan was temporarily suspended from Twitter earlier this month for violating their policy on spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.

After repeated attempts to speak with Sloan about his plans, he has yet to be reached for comment.

MP Sloan has a number of further appearances as he continues a tour of western Canada, most recently appearing Tuesday evening in front of a crowd in Strathmore, Alta.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

71 COVID-19 cases linked to Calgary Stampede — but expert says that may be an underestimate

The Calgary Stampede and Alberta Health said Tuesday that 71 people contracted COVID-19 at the 2021 event — but that may be an underestimate, according to the province’s former top doctor.

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This represents about seven cases per day or a total of 0.01 per cent of 528,998 attendees, the Stampede said.

“This year, our community celebration was the first step in the safe return of live events for our city and our country,” said interim CEO Dana Peers in a news release.

“We believe Stampede 2021 was a success.

“We committed to operating safely, and these results show the effectiveness of the enhanced safety measures that were put in place,” including rapid testing and reduced park capacity.

Crowds build during the Calgary Stampede on Friday, July 9, 2021.

Crowds build during the Calgary Stampede on Friday, July 9, 2021.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Dr. Jia Hu, a public health physician advising the Stampede, said the festival went “above and beyond” with safety measures.

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“In context, over the past two weeks, 749 cases were reported across Alberta. The low number of cases associated with the Stampede is not unexpected and reinforces the safe operating measures put in place along with the effectiveness of vaccines,” she said in the news release.

Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications at Alberta Health, echoed Hu’s comments about vaccines and the “diligent way” organizers applied public health measures.

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“While a small number of cases were identified, the Calgary Stampede so far does not appear to have been a significant driver of rising COVID-19 cases in the province,” he said via email.

‘Likely an underestimate’

But Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health says we haven’t seen the spike in cases yet. Dr. James Talbot presumes the 71 cases were from people who were tested and contact traced.

“Since we know some people are asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic and unlikely to have been tested, it is likely an underestimate — not to mention that activities associated with the Stampede, like bar hopping, would still cause cases but would not be traced as ‘was at the Stampede,'” Talbot said via email.

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The Stampede ran July 9-18.

“Cases tend to show up about two weeks after the exposure. The first would have started showing up on July 23 and the end was July 19, so those would continue to show up until Aug. 2,” Talbot said.

“After that, cases will continue to rise as the people exposed to those people get infected.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: KFL&A Public Health push for those aged 12-17 to get vaccinated this week

WATCH: Public health is aiming for 90% first dose vaccination by start of September school year.

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health is encouraging those within the 12 to 17 age group to get vaccinated this week.

“If we get more of the 12- to 17-year-olds vaccinated this week to get a first dose, we have more opportunity to get them fully vaccinated before the start of school,” says Amanda Posadowski of the KFL&A Public Health Preventable Disease Vaccine Team.

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Currently, 73 per cent of those aged 12 to 17 have received their first vaccination, and 44 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Posadowski says public health would like to see 90 per cent of that age group with at least one dose by the start of the school year in September.

“We want to prevent outbreaks in schools because we want to keep kids in school,” she says. “Keep them learning and not out of school.”

Students like Tianna and Ellora Outwater stood in line for their second shots, eager to return to in-class learning.

“Online school is terrible. I do not like it,” says 16-year-old Tianna. “I’d rather just be in school, see everybody, learn like normal. I don’t know, I want it to be normal again.”

“I just want to go to school and see my friends and actually play on the climber at recess,” continues her 12-year-old sister, Ellora.

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The push to increase vaccinations this week comes as some of the larger vaccination centres in the area are set to wind down their operations.

“Our mass clinic at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee and the Mass clinic at the Invista Centre Arena are closing as of Aug. 2,” says Posadowski.

Clinics will continue at the Beechgrove complex, Kingston Community Health Centre, as well as public health offices in Napanee and on Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston.

KFL&A Public Health will also be organizing smaller mobile clinics at various locations starting in August.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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