Saskatchewan reports 2 new COVID-19 deaths; active cases over 500

Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 numbers continue to rise as the provincial government announced the deaths of two more residents who tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

Data from the government’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the province’s total death count now at 581.

Saskatchewan is also reporting 56 new cases, which sets the total infection count in the province at 50,251. There are 48 new recoveries, increasing the total recovery count to 49,167.

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New cases are located in the following regions:

  • 5 – far northwest
  • 2 – far north central
  • 2 – far northeast
  • 2 – northwest
  • 2 – north central
  • 17 – Saskatoon
  • 2 – Regina
  • 2 – central west
  • 2 – southwest
  • 2 – south central
  • 15 – southeast

Active cases are at 503, which marks the first time the province has recorded more than 500 active COVID-19 cases since June 27. The seven-day average of new daily cases is at 51, up from 50 on Wednesday.

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Hospitalizations went down to 53 after there were 56 on Wednesday. 42 patients are receiving inpatient care while 11 are in intensive care.

The province adds there were 1,764 COVID-19 tests performed on Wednesday. Total tests completed in Saskatchewan is now at 968,564.

On the vaccine front, 3,861 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered, bringing the provincial total to 1,422,820 doses. At least 658,751 Saskatchewan residents are now fully vaccinated.

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

BC SPCA warning about unusual strain of kennel cough showing up in dogs

The BC SPCA is warning dog owners about what appears to be an unusual strain of kennel cough showing up in many dogs in the province, especially in the Kamloops region.

Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA said they first started seeing cases in July and despite immediately testing the dogs who were showing symptoms, the tests kept coming back negative.

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“After consulting with specialists, we believe the cause could be a virus that isn’t detected by commercially available tests,” Gordon added in a release. She said the BC SPCA has seen 24 cases in its facilities, with more reports coming in.

“Because the causative agent is unknown we want to make sure that people are vigilant in isolating their dogs immediately if they start coughing,” Gordon said. She notes that in addition to coughing, a small percentage of the infected dogs had eye or nasal discharge.

“None of the dogs have become seriously ill and all are recovering, but the concerning aspect of these cases is how aggressively the disease has spread between dogs, even if they weren’t in close contact.”

Gordon said most affected dogs were vaccinated so they are still recommending for all pet owners to get the vaccine but there is now concern that they are seeing a virus that is not part of the current vaccine.

The BC SPCA urges dog owners to isolate their pets immediately if they begin coughing and to seek veterinary advice. In the meantime, the SPCA has collected samples as part of the outbreak investigation and is teaming up with specialists and diagnostic laboratories to pursue the cause of the outbreak.

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

Ottawa adds 11 new COVID-19 cases, 2 people in hospital

Ottawa Public Health reported an uptick in some key COVID-19 metrics in the city on Thursday, including a double-digit increase in the number of coronavirus infections locally.

OPH reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday as the number of active cases rose to 52, up by nine in the past day.

A new coronavirus outbreak was added to OPH’s COVID-19 dashboard on Thursday, breaking the city’s streak of nearly two weeks without an outbreak.

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The new outbreak affects the La Maisonnee program at the Grandir Ensemble child-care centre, where two children have tested positive for the virus.

Ottawa’s hospitals are also no longer empty of COVID-19 patients, as two people are now hospitalized locally with the virus, according to OPH.

OPH’s mid-week vaccination update, which arrived late on Wednesday, showed little movement in the percentage of Ottawans vaccinated against COVID-19.

A total of 5,880 vaccine doses were administered locally on Monday and Tuesday, but first-dose vaccination rates held steady at 83 per cent and the proportion of eligible residents aged 12 and older with two doses remained at 72 per cent as of Wednesday morning.

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

33K COVID-19 vaccine doses given on 'Walk-in Wednesday' as B.C. aims to boost immunizations

WATCH: With COVID-19 cases surging in B.C., the first 'Walk-in Wednesday' was held in communities across the province Aug. 4.

More than 33,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in British Columbia on “Walk-in Wednesday” as health officials continue to seek ways to boost immunization rates in the province.

Vaccine clinics across B.C. offered doses of COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment on Wednesday.

A total of 33,277 doses were administered on Aug. 4, 16,505 of which were walk-ins that did not require a prior booking. Wednesday’s total was 3,773 higher than the 29,504 shots that were reported the day prior.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said 37.6 per cent of the drop-in appointments were first doses, making Wednesday one of the busiest days for first doses since June.

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The walk-in clinics were offered the same day the province recorded the highest daily total COVID-19 cases since May. Health officials reported 342 new infections on Wednesday, half of which were in the Interior Health region.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that 95 per cent of people across B.C. who are infected with COVID-19 are either not immunized or have received just one dose.

Dix encouraged British Columbians who are not fully immunized to register for an appointment. For first doses, all clinics offer the possibility of dropping in during their hours of operation.

He noted pop-up vaccination clinics were taking place at Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal on Thursday as well as other locations across the province.

Other drop-in clinic locations are listed at the Vax for BC website.

Dix said Thursday that 81.7 per cent of eligible people aged 12 and older have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine while 68.4 per cent have received two doses.

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

Another 15 COVID-19 cases reported in Waterloo Region as total number of cases reaches 18,461

Canada's top doctor says discussion on COVID-19 booster shots still 'evolving'

Waterloo Public Health reported another 15 positive tests for the coronavirus on Thursday, lifting the total number of COVID-19 cases in the region to 18,461.

This drops the rolling seven-day average number of new cases back down to 17.3. A week ago, the average totalled 15.9.

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Another 20 people were also cleared of the virus, pushing the total number of resolved cases up to 18,020.

After a new COVID-19-related death was reported on Wednesday, none were reported on Thursday, leaving the death toll in the area at 283, including one over the first five days of August. There were 17 deaths in the area last month.

The region now has 143 active COVID-19 cases, including 15 in area hospitals, 10 of which are intensive care. The region was down to 119 active cases just last Thursday.

The area is back up to 10 active COVID-19 outbreaks after new ones were declared at a restaurant involving three people and at an undisclosed retail location involving two people.

The region’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force reported there have now been 776,426 vaccinations done in the area, 3,190 more than announced Wednesday.

It also said 365,561 residents have now been vaccinated, which is 2,650 above what was reported Wednesday.

That means 62.08 per cent of Waterloo Region residents are now fully vaccinated while 71.8 per cent of the population has now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

These numbers jump to 83.38 per cent and 72.09 per cent when you just include people over the age of 11 who are eligible to be vaccinated.

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Ontario reports more than 200 new COVID-19 cases, 14 deaths with 12 due to data cleanup

Elsewhere, Ontario reported 213 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, as the daily case count jumps back above 200. The provincial case total now stands at 551,338.

Although the last three days saw daily cases below 200, Thursday’s data shows more tests were processed and the test positivity remains the same.

According to Thursday’s report, 44 cases were recorded in Toronto, 31 in Peel Region, 18 each in Hamilton and York Region, 17 in Windsor-Essex, 14 in Waterloo, 11 in Halton Region and 10 in Middlesex-London.

All other local public health units reported fewer than 10 new cases in the provincial report.

The death toll in the province has risen to 9,374 as 14 more deaths were recorded. However, the Ministry of Health indicated 12 of those deaths occurred between February and May 2021 and were included due to a data cleanup.

—With files from Global News’ Gabby Rodrigues

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

Hamilton firefighters knock down residential blaze in Mount Hope

Hamilton fire officials say they are still assessing damage after flames spread through the kitchen of home in Port Hope on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the service said the blaze started just before 1 p.m. at a residence on Homestead Drive between Airport Road and Upper James Street.

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“First arriving crews discovered a fire in the kitchen on the main floor that had spread into the walls,” assistant deputy chief Shawn De Jager told Global News.

De Jager said the cause has not yet been determined and that there were no injuries.

Fire crews said no one was in the home when they arrived.

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

Man locked up, drugged for 2 years in Hawaii case of mistaken identity

Joshua Spriestersbach spent two years living a nightmare at a mental hospital in Hawaii, where he was pumped full of drugs and ignored every time he tried to tell the doctors the truth: that they’d locked up the wrong man.

Spriestersbach had somehow been mistaken for Thomas Castleberry, a man wanted on a warrant in Hawaii for violating his probation in a 2006 drug case. He was arrested in 2017 and locked up at the Hawaii State Hospital, where he repeatedly tried and failed to convince anyone — including his own public defenders — that he was innocent.

One psychiatrist eventually looked into his claims and found that they were true, but that was not the end of the story for Spriestersbach. Instead, Hawaii officials allegedly tried to cover up their mistake and quietly released him without a dollar to his name — and without correcting the record on his arrest.

The Hawaii Innocence Project is now trying to set the matter straight, with a petition filed on Monday to vacate Spriestersbach’s arrest and correct his criminal record.

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The filing lays out how Spriestersbach was first arrested in 2017, after a police officer mistook him for Castleberry on the streets of Honolulu.

Spriestersbach, who is homeless, had been waiting in line for food outside a shelter when he fell asleep in the hot sun, according to the Hawaii Innocence Project. The officer woke him up and arrested him on the spot.

Spriestersbach assumed he was being arrested for violating a law against sitting or laying on the sidewalk. But he was wrong.

It’s unclear how the mix-up occurred, but Spriestersbach was somehow deemed to be one of Castleberry’s aliases, and authorities proceeded as though that were true. The Hawaii Innocence Project argues that the police likely did not check photos or fingerprints to confirm their suspicions, because doing so would have quickly shown that Spriestersbach and Castleberry were two different men.

“Instead of taking five minutes to just get the photograph, or Google the real Castleberry, they would have found out that the real Thomas Castleberry’s been locked up in Alaska since 2015. He’s still in prison now,” Hawaii Innocence Project co-founder Ken Lawson told KITV.

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“The more Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr. Castleberry, the more he was declared delusional and psychotic by the H.S.H. staff and doctors and heavily medicated,” the petition said.

“It was understandable that Mr. Spriestersbach was in an agitated state when he was being wrongfully incarcerated for Mr. Castleberry’s crime and despite his continual denial of being Mr. Castleberry and providing all of his relevant identification and places where he was located during Mr. Castleberry’s court appearances, no one would believe him or take any meaningful steps to verify his identity and determine that Mr. Spriestersbach was telling the truth — he was not Mr. Castleberry.”

The petition credits a lone psychiatrist at the hospital with figuring out the mistake, though it came two years and eight months after his arrest. The psychiatrist listened to Spriestersbach’s claims, then made a few phone calls and checked the internet to confirm his story.

Ultimately, the psychiatrist found that there was no way Castleberry could be at the hospital in Hawaii, because he’d been locked up in an Alaskan prison since 2016.

Hospital staff confirmed the mistake through fingerprints and photos, then moved to release Spriestersbach in January 2020, the petition said.

“A secret meeting was held with all of the parties, except Mr. Spriestersbach, present. There is no court record of this meeting or no public court record of this meeting. No entry or order reflects this miscarriage of justice that occurred or a finding that Mr. Spriestersbach is not Thomas Castleberry,” the court document said.

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Police, the state public defender’s office, the state attorney general and the hospital “share in the blame for this gross miscarriage of justice,” the petition said.

“I think that they were hoping because he struggles with mental health disabilities, because he’s houseless, no one would believe his story,” Lawson said.

Castleberry’s public defender in Alaska declined to comment to the Associated Press. Hawaii Public Defender James Tabe, Gary Yamashiroya, special assistant to the attorney general and Matt Dvonch, a spokesman for the Honolulu prosecuting attorney’s office, also declined to comment.

Spriestersbach, now 50, is currently staying with his sister in Vermont, where he is living in fear that he will be dragged back to the hospital. He reportedly will not leave the property.

“He’s so afraid that they’re going to take him again,” his sister, Vedanta Griffith, told the AP.

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Griffith says she spent nearly 16 years caring for her brother, but he disappeared in 2003 after he moved with her and her husband to Oahu. She said he was suffering mental health issues at the time.

“Part of what they used against him was his own argument: ‘I’m not Thomas Castleberry. I didn’t commit these crimes. … This isn’t me,'” she told the Associated Press. “So they used that as saying he was delusional, as justification for keeping him.”

She added that she only learned about his ordeal after his release, when a homeless shelter reached out on his behalf.

“And then when light is shown on it, what do they do? They don’t even put it on the record. They don’t make it part of the case,” Griffith said. “And then they don’t come to him and say, ‘We are so sorry’ or, how about even ‘Gee, this wasn’t you. You were right all along.'”

With files from the Associated Press

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

Toronto-based Score Media and Gaming sold to Penn National in US$2 billion deal

Toronto-based Score Media and Gaming Inc. is being acquired by U.S.-based Penn National Gaming Inc. in a US$2-billion cash and stock deal.

The deal announced Thursday will bring together Score Media’s popular theScore mobile sports news app, as well as its betting services in four U.S. states, with Penn National’s dozens of gaming and racing properties across 20 states.

The acquisition of Score Media and Gaming adds to Penn National’s holdings in sports media after it bought a 36 per cent stake in Barstool Sports Inc. in 2020.

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“We are thrilled to be acquiring theScore, which is the number one sports app in Canada and the third most popular sports app in all of North America,” said “Jay Snowden, chief executive of Penn in a release. ”TheScore’s unique media platform and modern, state-of-the art technology is a powerful complement to the reach of Barstool Sports and its popular personalities and content.”

The deal will see Score Media and Gaming shareholders getting US$17 a share in cash plus 0.2398 of a Penn National stock for each theScore share, making the deal roughly half in cash.

News of the deal sent Score’s share price up more than 80 per cent, or $14.69, to $32.83 in mid-afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

John Levy, chief executive of theScore, said in a statement that the timing was right to join with a company of Penn National’s resources and scale.

“This deal brings together two companies that share a vision for how media and gaming intersect,” said Levy. “With Penn’s support, we will continue to invest in building our Canadian operations, growing our footprint and expanding our workforce.”

Penn National says it plans to operate theScore as a stand-alone business that will remain headquartered in a Toronto-office.

The deal comes as Canada moves toward legalized single event sports betting after the Senate passed Bill C-218 in June.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says it expects there to be an internet gaming market in the province by the end of the year.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

'She helped a lot of us': Canadian golf legend Jocelyne Bourassa dead at 74

What Alena Sharp will remember most about Canadian golf legend Jocelyne Bourassa is how she was always there for younger players.

Sharp spoke about Bourassa’s impact on her career and on Canadian golf as a whole on Thursday shortly after coming off the course at the Tokyo Olympics. Sharp’s remarks came a few hours after Golf Canada announced that Bourassa had died at the age of 74.

“We’re lucky in Canada that we have a lot of legends that like to give back and they’re just so positive and very supportive,” said Sharp. “I think that’s the best thing you can have as a kid is having someone behind you that wants to see you do well.

“I think that’s what she did, she helped a lot of us. She was always there to lend a helping hand and gave her time back to the younger generation.”

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Bourassa, from Shawinigan, Que., first distinguished herself as an amateur, winning three Quebec Junior Championships (1963, 1964 and 1965) and four Quebec Amateur Championships (1963, 1969, 1970 and 1971).

She also won the Canadian Women’s Amateur in 1965 and again in 1971 and then turned professional the following year.

She joined the LPGA Tour in 1972 and won their Rookie of the Year award.

That helped her garner the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award that year as The Canadian Press’s best female athlete. She was also named to the Order of Canada in 1972.

“She’s an icon and a legend in Canadian women’s golf so she’s going to be missed by a lot of us,” said Sharp. “I hope her legend lives on with the younger generations.”

Her biggest professional victory came the following year when she captured the inaugural La Canadienne at the Municipal Golf Club in Montreal.

No other Canadian was able to win the Canadian Women’s Open until Brooke Henderson’s victory 45 years later in Regina.

Henderson, who is also playing at the Tokyo Olympics, said that Bourassa had reached out to her after she won the CP Women’s Open in 2018 and that they stayed in regular contact although they had only met in person once.

“She’s been a legend for Canadian golf and somebody that I’ve looked up to,” said Henderson, adding she has kept a photo of their one meeting with her on her iPad. “It’s very sad and I’ll be praying and keeping her family in my thoughts and prayers.”

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Bourassa’s eight-year LPGA Tour career was cut short by injuries but she began a second career immediately by becoming the du Maurier Classic’s executive director.

“I wouldn’t be here and able to talk about my career without Jocelyne,” Lorie Kane, an inductee of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 2016, said in a statement issued through Golf Canada.

“When I decided to turn pro in 1993 she was working with du Maurier to establish the du Maurier series so I was able to learn how to be a pro from one of the best.”

Bourassa was inducted into the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Quebec Golf Hall of Fame in 1996 and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

New geothermal heating and cooling system to be built at Forks

A new environmentally friendly heating and cooling system is being introduced at a new development at The Forks, thanks to support from all three levels of government announced Thursday.

Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal said the Forks Renewal Corporation will receive $1.8 million in funds to build a geothermal system for its downtown Winnipeg buildings — including Railside at The Forks, a mixed-use neighbourhood development planned for the site.

Vandal said it’s a step toward addressing the impacts of climate change that are already being felt in Manitoba.

“Today’s announcement highlights some of the important work led by Canadian businesses such as the Forks Renewal Corporation to build a cleaner and healthier future,” he said.

“Leadership on strategic projects like the one announced today will make sure Canada exceeds its target and achieves net-zero emissions by 2050.”

On top of the $1.8 million in federal funds, the City of Winnipeg and province of Manitoba are each chipping in under $8 million in tax increment financing.

The new, greener system is designed to allow future expansion to other buildings and developments at the historic meeting place of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.

According to the federal government, the Forks Renewal Corporation is expected to save the equivalent of 11 million litres of gasoline — or a reduction of 26,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions — over the lifetime of the project.

The mixed-use Railside project is the first-ever development planned for The Forks that will include residential use, and is intended to focus on environmental, economic and social sustainability, as well as celebrating the unique history and culture of the site.

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“Railside at The Forks is an important project full of big ideas and amazing public spaces,” said Sara Stasiuk of the Forks North Portage Partnership.

“It will also create employment opportunities, add a variety of additional housing, provide economic return, celebrate culture and more.

“The district geothermal system was key to the vision for Railside as a green development and as part of our overall Target Zero goals.”

 

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

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