Year in review: A look at news events in April 2020

By The Canadian Press

A look at news events in April 2020:

1 – Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a $71-billion price tag on the Liberal wage subsidy program for large and small businesses. That’s expected to offset the cost of emergency benefits for workers, and reduce spending on those benefits to $24 billion.

1 – Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the federal government likely did not have enough protective equipment in its emergency stockpile to meet needs. She stated that governments around the globe have not been spending enough money on public-health preparedness. Hajdu said the federal government is working hard to procure scarce equipment at a time when governments around the world are doing the same thing.

3 – A regional government near Toronto apologized after revealing it mistakenly mailed more than a dozen letters advising recipients their COVID-19 tests were negative when they were actually positive. The Region of Peel’s top medical official Dr. Lawrence Loh said his team was working to notify the 16 people involved.

3 – Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada is reviewing new studies that found people without symptoms are able to transmit COVID-19.

5 – Canada’s leading doctor announced that hospitals should not throw out used face masks and other protective equipment. Dr. Theresa Tam said public health officers are looking at whether it’s possible to disinfect and re-use them. She stated that figuring out how to de-contaminate equipment looks very promising to ensure front-line health workers have the personal protection they need.

6 – Applications opened for the new federal emergency aid benefit for Canadians who lost their income because of COVID-19. More than two million Canadians lost their jobs in the last half of March as businesses across the country were forced to close or reduce their operations.

6 – Canada’s top doctor changed her tune about wearing masks as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Theresa Tam said wearing masks made of cloth and other alternative materials is a way for people who might have COVID-19 without realizing it to keep from spreading the illness. She said people who wear masks must keep up other measures against COVID-19, including physical distancing and regular handwashing. Tam stressed that medical masks still need to be preserved for front-line health workers.

6 – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted and moved to intensive care in a London hospital after his COVID-19 symptoms worsened. Johnson’s office said he was conscious and did not require ventilation.

6 – American manufacturer 3M said it reached an agreement with the White House to allow it to continue to send N95 respirators to Canada. The Minnesota-based company said it worked with the Trump administration to make sure it could meet American demand for the masks without sacrificing its ability to provide the life-saving equipment to customers in Canada and Latin America.

7 – A woman in her 70s became the first person in Nova Scotia whose death was linked to COVID-19. Health officials said the woman had underlying medical conditions and died in a hospital in the eastern part of the province. Premier Stephen McNeil offered his condolences to the woman’s family and friends, saying he had hoped this day would never come.

7 – Canada’s chief medical officer clarified how wearing non-surgical face masks could protect others from contracting COVID-19. Dr. Theresa Tam said that while wearing face coverings could prevent an asymptomatic person from spreading the virus unknowingly, not everyone should be wearing them.

7 – Singer-songwriter John Prine, the musician behind the hit as “Angel from Montgomery,” died from complications from COVID-19. He was 73. Prine received a lifetime achievement Grammy earlier in the year. In 2017, Rolling Stone proclaimed him “The Mark Twain of American songwriting.”

9 – Statistics Canada reported the economy lost a staggering 1,011,000 jobs in March, marking the worst single-month change in more than 40 years. The jobless rate shot up from 5.6 per cent in February to 7.8 per cent as the COVID-19 crisis began to take hold. Most of the losses were in the private sector, with the greatest employment declines in the 15-to-24 age group.

10 – The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus hit 100,000.

10 – Los Angeles prosecutors said they have charged Harvey Weinstein with an additional count of felony sexual battery by restraint. The charge was filed over allegations the former movie mogul sexually assaulted a woman at a Beverly Hills hotel in May 2010. Weinstein was convicted of rape earlier in the year in New York.

11 – Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave died. The 25-year-old suffered a brain bleed earlier in the week, and was placed in a medically induced coma at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.

11 – Opposition parties agreed to support the Liberal government’s massive $73-billion wage subsidy program. The House of Commons held an emergency sitting in order to pass the legislation, which was assured after Conservatives dropped their attempt to tie the bill to the longer-term question of how Parliament should function in the midst of a national health crisis.

12 – Joe Biden won the Alaska Democrats’ party-run presidential primary, beating Sen. Bernie Sanders by more than 10 percentage points.

12 – The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed Italy’s as the highest in the world.

12 – In his first public statement since being moved out of intensive care at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he owes his life to staff at the National Health Service who treated him for COVID-19.

12 – The Quebec coroner’s office said it would investigate the deaths of 31 seniors at a private long-term care facility west of Montreal. The province’s Health Department and police had already launched probes into the dozens of deaths at the Residence Herron in Dorval since March 13.

13 – A former aide to Joe Biden accused the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of sexually assaulting her during the early 1990s when he was a senator. Tara Reade alleged the assault occurred in the basement of a Capital Hill office building in the spring of 1993. Biden’s campaign denied the charges.

13 – Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. The two former rivals made a joint online appearance in which Sanders urged all Americans to come together to support Biden’s candidacy.

14 – Chip Ganassi Racing fired driver Kyle Larson for using a racial slur during a live stream of a virtual race. The star driver had been competing in an iRacing virtual event when he appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter and used the N-word.

14 – U.S. President Donald Trump said he would halt payments to the World Health Organization pending a review of its warnings about the coronavirus and China.

15 – Internal documents obtained by The Associated Press showed that top Chinese officials secretly determined they were likely facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus in mid-January, ordering preparations even as they downplayed it in public.

15 – Canada’s latest report on greenhouse-gas emissions showed they soared to 729 million tonnes in 2018. Two-thirds of the increase came from road transportation, oil and gas extraction and manufacturing. Canada’s emissions totalled 730 million tonnes in 2005 and the country has committed to reducing emissions to 70 per cent of that level by 2030.

15 – The Bank of Canada confirmed that the economic downturn tied to COVID-19 will be the worst on record. Preliminary data from Statistics Canada today showed economic activity collapsed in March, dropping a record nine per cent.

15 – The number of Canadians dead from COVID-19 surpassed the 1,000 mark.

16 – The PGA Tour cancelled this year’s RBC Canadian Open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-day tournament was set to begin June 11 in Toronto.

16 – Even though he was still 17 when he shot and killed four people and injured seven others, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled lower courts were right in sentencing Randan Dakota Fontaine as an adult. The high court decided it would not hear an appeal from the young man who devastated the Dene community of La Loche, Sask., four years ago. The teen pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

16 – Actor Brian Dennehy died at 81. Known for his burly frame, booming voice and ability to portray both good guys and bad guys, Dennehy won two Tony Awards and a Golden Globe and was nominated for six Emmys.

16 – Canada’s COVID-19 caseload pushed past the 30,000 mark. Canada’s chief public health officer said more than 90 per cent of those victims were over the age of 60, and half of them lived in long-term care homes.

17 – An 88-year-old Holocaust survivor became Israel’s first victim of COVID-19. Arie Even was infected at an assisted living facility in Jerusalem. He had a limited funeral because of public gathering restrictions.

17 – The San Diego Comic-Con was cancelled for the first time in its 50-year-history. The event attracts major stars and major money, as more than 135,000 people flock to the fan convention every year.

17 – The federal government announced a slew of new programs to help the struggling economy. The $4-billion package includes help for the oil and gas sector, arts and culture industries, companies in rural areas and early-stage startups.

18 – Researchers in the U.S. said they found a gender gap in COVID-19 patients. One doctor at Johns Hopkins said that while women were being tested more often, there are more positive results among men. Scientists suggest one reason could be the fact that far more men than women are smokers, or that their immune systems work differently.

18 – The wife of Tony Award-nominated Canadian actor Nick Cordero said he would have his right leg amputated due to complications from COVID-19. The Hamilton-born Cordero was admitted to hospital March 31.

18 – Allan Gotlieb, a longtime public servant who was Canada’s ambassador to the United States during the Reagan administration, died at 92. A death notice said Gotlieb died of cancer and Parkinson’s disease at his home in Toronto.

19 – A tiny community in rural Nova Scotia was torn apart by the worst mass murder in modern Canadian history. The shooting and police chase began the previous night in Portapique and stretched into the morning. In the end, 22 people were killed, including an RCMP officer, a teacher, two nurses and two correctional officers, who were killed in their home 50 kilometres away. The attacker, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, was shot and killed by police after being intercepted at a gas station. Police said he had worn what looked like a police uniform and drove a vehicle resembling an RCMP cruiser.

19 – Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil condemned the mass shooting as one of the ”most senseless acts of violence” in the history of the province. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country mourns with the families of the victims.

20 – A few countries started to ease restrictions and allow some businesses to reopen, but health experts warned the steps must be gradual to avoid a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Germany allowed some small stores to reopen, but New Zealand extended its lockdown another week.

20 – Researchers said they found a possible new symptom of COVID-19. Doctors in Italy published a series of cases indicating skin conditions in COVID-19 patients. The conditions range from a rash to skin discoloration resembling frostbite.

21 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 test that lets people collect their own sample at home.

21 – Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the province’s emergency alert system wasn’t used during the mass shooting because no request was received at the Emergency Management Office from the RCMP.

21 – Quebec passed the grim milestone of more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19.

21 – A new study showed a malaria drug widely touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19 had no benefits against the virus. Researchers report there were more than twice as many deaths among patients getting hydroxychloroquine than usual care.

22 – U.S. President Donald Trump announced a temporary suspension of immigration. Trump said the 60-day pause on the issuance of green cards would limit competition for jobs in an economy wrecked by the coronavirus.

22 – Nova Scotia court records confirmed the gunman who killed 22 people was ordered to undergo counselling for anger management after he pleaded guilty to assaulting another man in the Halifax area in 2001. As part of his sentence, Gabriel Wortman was prohibited from owning or possessing a weapon, ammunition or explosive substances.

22 – After weeks of resisting calls for widespread testing of asymptomatic people, Ontario health officials expanded COVID-19 testing to every resident and worker in long-term care homes.

22 – Canada’s COVID-19 caseload surpassed 40,000.

23 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised the military would help Ontario and Quebec deal with severe COVID-19 outbreaks sweeping long-term care facilities. He told people who work, live and have relatives in the facilities that they have a right to be angry, frustrated and scared by what’s happening.

23 – Canada’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 2,000.

23 – The board of directors for the Calgary Stampede announced the event would be called off this year. The Stampede was held during the Great Depression, the Second World War and a massive flood seven years ago.

24 – U.S. President Donald Trump faced criticism after asking if disinfectants could be injected into COVID-19 patients to treat them. Health experts and disinfectant producers issued warnings that cleaning chemicals are highly toxic and should not be injected or ingested under any circumstances.

24 – The United States cleared the way for a long-awaited trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to go into effect July 1. The U.S. said it had finished the domestic housekeeping work called for in the agreement.

25 – British Columbia reported its first COVID-19-related death in a First Nation, as the provincewide death toll rose to 100.

28 – Britain’s Paediatric Intensive Care Society said there had been an increase in the number of children with inflammatory problems requiring intensive care in the past three weeks. Doctors in Britain, Italy and Spain had been warned to look out for a rare inflammatory condition in children that is possibly linked to COVID-19.

28 – Hillary Clinton endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. Her backing continued the Democrats’ efforts to unite ahead of a fall campaign against U.S. President Donald Trump. Clinton announced her support in a virtual town hall with Biden.

29 – German pharmaceutical company BioNTech said it had begun testing a potential vaccine for COVID-19. The company, which is working with U.S.-based Pfizer, said 12 participants of a clinical trial had received doses of the vaccine candidate on April 23.

29 – Veteran character actor Irrfan Khan, best known for his Bollywood movies and as one of India’s most recognizable exports to Hollywood, died at age 54 after being admitted to a Mumbai hospital with a colon infection.

29 – The U.S. National Institutes of Health reported an experimental drug had proven effective against COVID-19, shortening the time it takes for patients to recover by four days on average. The NIH tested remdesivir versus usual care in more than 1,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients around the world.

29 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed a Canadian military helicopter taking part in a NATO mission went missing off the coast of Greece. Greek state TV said the helicopter crashed into the sea between Greece and Italy, killing at least one person.

30 – The number of Canadians killed by COVID-19 rose above 3,000.

30 – The Canadian Armed Forces identified the five service members missing in a helicopter crash off the coast of Greece, and said the body of one sailor — Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough of Nova Scotia — had been recovered.

30 – Douglas Anakin, who helped Canada win Olympic bobsled gold in 1964, died at age 89. Anakin, Peter Kirby and brothers John and Vic Emery won Canada’s lone Olympic gold medal of the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, and the country’s first in bobsled. The teammates were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame that year.

30 – A member of Bollywood’s famous Kapoor family died of leukemia. Rishi Kapoor was 67.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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