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Security camera footage shows Naya Rivera boarding boat in hours before disappearance – Fox News

July 9th, 2020

The Ventura County Sheriff’s office has released security footage featuring former “Glee” star Naya Rivera renting and boarding a pontoon boat at Lake Piru near Los Angeles on Wednesday in the hours before her disappearance.

About a minute into the footage, the actress, 33, can be seen parking her car and taking her 4-year-old son Josey to rent a pontoon boat. The two are then escorted to a boat before departing the dock.

According to previous reports, the rental took place around 1 p.m. and the boat was due back to shore about 3 hours later.

FORMER ‘GLEE’ ACTRESS NAYA RIVERA MISSING, PRESUMED DEAD AFTER DAY ON CALIFORNIA LAKE: REPORTS

Authorities aren’t entirely sure what occurred during that time, but hours later, Josey was found alone on the boat and said he and his mother went swimming and she never reboarded.

The investigation is ongoing, but Rivera is presumed to be dead.

An extensive search remains underway for the actress, which has become a “slow process” due to “difficult conditions” such as low visibility in the lake, said the sheriff’s office in a press release on Thursday.

Approximately 100 people are involved in the search, including divers and air teams, and Rivera had previous experience boating on the lake, according to authorities.

SEARCH CONTINUES FOR NAYA RIVERA; ‘RECOVERY’ IS A ‘SLOW PROCESS’ DUE TO ‘DIFFICULT CONDITIONS’: AUTHORITIES

In the release on Thursday, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said, “Investigators believe Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident.”

Josey, who is also son to Rivera’s ex-husband actor Ryan Dorsey is safe and “in good health,” authorities say.

Naya Rivera is presumed to be dead after disappearing while boating at Lake Piru in Southern California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Naya Rivera is presumed to be dead after disappearing while boating at Lake Piru in Southern California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

“The family is going through a very traumatic time right now,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Buschow told the Los Angeles Times.

Rivera starred as Santana Lopez in all six seasons of “Glee.” She also released the song “Sorry” in 2013 with rapper Big Sean.

A handful of the actress’ “Glee” co-stars have voiced their concern online, including Demi Lovato, who guest-starred on the show, playing a love interest for Rivera’s character.

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“Please pray for @nayarivera to be found safe and sound,” said a message on her Instagram story alongside a picture of a burning candle.

She later shared a second message reading: “Pray for Naya, nothing is impossible with God.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Possible coronavirus case at Kamp Kanakuk in Taney County – KY3

July 9th, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) –

More unanswered questions revolving around Camp Kanakuk and COVID cases.

KY3 told you there were 82 cases at their K2 Lampe location. There may be at least one case at the Kanakuk camp in Taney County.

Camp officials at Kanakuk tell me at the beginning of the summer they created a clear plan on how to prevent COVID, what to do if they got any positive cases, and they are now having to put that plan into place.

Kanakuk summer camp is a staple in the Branson and Lampe communities, with kids of all ages, from all over the country looking to have fun. But, this year things have been different from the pandemic stretching across the nation, especially here in the Ozarks. Missouri government officials have been in favor of camps opening.

“School is incredibly important for young people, we also think camps should are important, I was a boy scout, an eagle scout,” said Dr. Randall Williams.

But they also encouraged places like Kanakuk to have a safety plan in place in case COVID-19 cases starting popping up, which has happened. There has been 82 cases linked to their high school k-2 camp location in Lampe just days ago. It’s now been shut down.

“They are planning to open an abbreviated session once they have isolated those staffers and gotten their tests back negative,” said Dr. Williams.

But a mother whose son was the K-1 camp in Taney County told NBC News an email went to parents late Monday night that K-1 also had a confirmed coronavirus case.

The mother said the camp was now ending the session midterm and sending both campers and counselors home.

KY3′s Christine Morton showed up today at the K-1 camp to ask about this possible new case. She says he could hear children laughing and it didn’t seem closed. She tried asking the communications director, Jeff Mason questions, he refused to do an on-camera interview and told us not to stay on the property.

She asked if he could confirm the case at the Taney County location, he wouldn’t. Mason just said they have had 34 positive cases from people tested at the camps. When KY3 tried to clarify if the 34 were part of those 82 from earlier this week, Mason would only say 34 people have tested positive from the camps.

The Taney County Health Department wouldn’t interview either and wouldn’t even confirm tonight if there had been a new case at this other camp.

Camp Kanakuk did release a full statement:

Kanakuk Statement re: COVID-19 Cases

Kanakuk created an exhaustive COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan in preparation for this summer. As of this date, that plan has allowed Kanakuk to successfully operate 37 camp weeks COVID-19 free across our six camp facilities. This summer, over 5,000 campers and staff have enjoyed a fun, safe and wholesome Kanakuk summer camp experience in the sunshine and fresh air of the beautiful Ozarks.

To date, Kanakuk has received 34 positive results for COVID-19 tests performed onsite, with additional positive results reported to us from tests performed off site from campers and staff who have returned home. When COVID-19 initially presented at camp, Kanakuk’s Health Task Force immediately began implementing its plan for isolation, contact tracing and communication to camp families. The Kanakuk team has been working closely with Stone and Taney County Health Departments to create and execute a plan that exceeds guidelines set forth by the CDC, State and Local Health Departments.

Upon the event that other positive cases arise, we will work to notify parents and send campers home in a safe and timely manner and with the recommendation to quarantine their household for 14 days.

Attribution of Statement: Jeff Mason Kanakuk Communications Director

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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After WE Charity fallout, students, non-profits await fate of $900M grant program – CTV News

July 9th, 2020

TORONTO — Nathaniel Black was hoping to benefit from a government grant program this summer aimed at providing pandemic income and helping struggling students earn money through volunteering. But now he’s worried that opportunity will fall through.

“In a tough economy, we can’t find jobs at cafes, jobs at bookstores, so we’re going to be turning to volunteer jobs more and more increasingly,” said Black.

The uncertain fate of the Canada Student Services Grant, a $900-million student volunteering program tangled in controversy, has left students and non-profit groups who use or hope to use the program hanging and frustrated.

Announced back in April, the grant pays students aged 30 and under $1,000 for every 100 hours volunteered up to $5,000. It was supposed to be administered by WE Charity, but that agreement was cancelled last week following conflict of interest allegations involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ties to the organization.

The controversy escalated on Thursday after it was revealed that Trudeau’s family were paid a total of nearly $300,000 over the last four years to speak at events hosted by WE Charity, previously known as Free the Children, and founded by Marc and Craig Kielburger.

The government says it is working on a solution and Trudeau indicated that public servants would administer the grants. As postponements continue to plague the roll-out, more than 35,000 applicants are left waiting, along with non-profit organizations who were looking forward to bringing on summer students during a challenging time. Unsure when those positions will be filled, some are now scrambling to find alternatives to fill those vacancies.

“The individuals who are hurt are the students looking for opportunities and organizations like myself,” said Christopher Sutton, chief executive of Wavefront Centre, a charity aimed at reducing hearing-related communication barriers.

With the summer already in full swing, however, some student organizations are in favour of cancelling the program altogether.

“Money should be given to the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit instead of this program,” said Nicole Brayiannis, the national deputy chairperson at the Canadian Federation of Students.

“It’s so late in the summer that students wouldn’t be able to access the benefits of the program.”

Trudeau had previously said that WE Charity was the only organization capable of running a program of this size and said that the charity was not making any profits off the administration of the grant program. But charity experts have questioned whether WE was equipped to manage such a large government program.

“This entire debacle really shows students that the promises are half-empty,” said Black.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Help wanted! Clinical trials launched to test COVID-19 vaccines – WCVB Boston

July 9th, 2020

The National Institutes of Health is looking for help from thousands of Americans to participate in a new clinical trial testing a variety of vaccines and antibodies intended to protect people from COVID-19. Since the coronavirus pandemic emerged, most hopes for a return to normalcy have been pinned to the development of a vaccine that could greatly reduce the risk of infection and therefore help stop the spread of the virus. Federal officials have set up an online registry to enroll people from different age groups, races and health backgrounds to test potential vaccines. “Phase 3 trials is where you find out if the vaccine is effective, and safe in large numbers,” South Shore Health’s Dr. Todd Ellerin said. “Having a safe and effective medical countermeasure to prevent COVID-19 would enable us to not only save lives but also help end the global pandemic,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “Centralizing our clinical research efforts into a single trials network will expand the resources and expertise needed to efficiently identify safe and effective vaccines and other prevention strategies against COVID-19.”More than 100 clinical trial sites across the United States and internationally will be launched. The network has developed an extensive community engagement framework to reach out to potential research volunteers and explain the specific details involved in participating in a vaccine or monoclonal antibody clinical study. People also can learn more about the different stages of vaccine research and the new network’s COVID-19 vaccine and monoclonal antibody studies by visiting the COVPN’s website. The COVPN website features a customized data collection platform to securely identify potential trial participants. Interested individuals can sign up for a rolling clinical trial participant registry on the website, which features security-enhanced protections. Clinical study staff will use the registry to contact and screen potential study volunteers.The request for American’s help to find a vaccine comes as a new survey designed by a group at Tufts University found that just 57% of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if one were available today.The national survey designed and analyzed by Tufts University’s Research Group on Equity in Health, Wealth and Civic Engagement, about 42% of respondents said they either would not get vaccinated (18%) or were unsure if they would get vaccinated (24%). “It’s really concerning that only 57% of our respondents said they would get vaccinated. It’s evident that we need to begin working on a national vaccine strategy and education campaign right now — even before we have the vaccine in hand,” Jennifer Allen, a Tufts professor and co-leader of the study, said.Tufts said that the results revealed divides in vaccination acceptance among various demographic groups.

The National Institutes of Health is looking for help from thousands of Americans to participate in a new clinical trial testing a variety of vaccines and antibodies intended to protect people from COVID-19.

Since the coronavirus pandemic emerged, most hopes for a return to normalcy have been pinned to the development of a vaccine that could greatly reduce the risk of infection and therefore help stop the spread of the virus.

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Federal officials have set up an online registry to enroll people from different age groups, races and health backgrounds to test potential vaccines.

“Phase 3 trials is where you find out if the vaccine is effective, and safe in large numbers,” South Shore Health’s Dr. Todd Ellerin said.

“Having a safe and effective medical countermeasure to prevent COVID-19 would enable us to not only save lives but also help end the global pandemic,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “Centralizing our clinical research efforts into a single trials network will expand the resources and expertise needed to efficiently identify safe and effective vaccines and other prevention strategies against COVID-19.”

More than 100 clinical trial sites across the United States and internationally will be launched.

The network has developed an extensive community engagement framework to reach out to potential research volunteers and explain the specific details involved in participating in a vaccine or monoclonal antibody clinical study.

People also can learn more about the different stages of vaccine research and the new network’s COVID-19 vaccine and monoclonal antibody studies by visiting the COVPN’s website.

The COVPN website features a customized data collection platform to securely identify potential trial participants. Interested individuals can sign up for a rolling clinical trial participant registry on the website, which features security-enhanced protections.

Clinical study staff will use the registry to contact and screen potential study volunteers.

The request for American’s help to find a vaccine comes as a new survey designed by a group at Tufts University found that just 57% of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if one were available today.

The national survey designed and analyzed by Tufts University’s Research Group on Equity in Health, Wealth and Civic Engagement, about 42% of respondents said they either would not get vaccinated (18%) or were unsure if they would get vaccinated (24%).

“It’s really concerning that only 57% of our respondents said they would get vaccinated. It’s evident that we need to begin working on a national vaccine strategy and education campaign right now — even before we have the vaccine in hand,” Jennifer Allen, a Tufts professor and co-leader of the study, said.

Tufts said that the results revealed divides in vaccination acceptance among various demographic groups.

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Coronavirus airborne spread: WHO calls for more evidence on COVID-19 transmission – CNET

July 9th, 2020
gettyimages-1254574481
Aurelien Meunier/Getty
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

An open letter, signed by 239 researchers from 32 countries, sent to public health bodies, including the World Health Organization, on Monday argues there’s significant evidence the coronavirus can persist in the air and spread in tiny, airborne particles from person to person. The letter, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on Monday, advocates for “the use of preventative measures to mitigate this route of airborne transmission” and suggests re-examining the role of different transmission routes in the spread of disease.

The existence of the open letter was first reported by The New York Times and Los Angeles Times on Saturday, describing the WHO as an organization “out of step with science” on the matter. On Thursday, the WHO responded by updating its scientific brief on how the coronavirus is spread. 

It notes the science isnt yet settled on whether SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, spreads effectively and causes disease via the air. And it appears it’s not a yes or no equation. Like many aspects of the pandemic, it’s a puzzle that remains unsolved.

“It’s possible and even likely that airborne transmission occurs for SARS-CoV-2 sometimes,” Babak Javid, an infectious diseases physician at the Tsinghua University School of Medicine, said in a statement. “It’s not at all clear how common this is.”

The WHO’s official guidance on the matter is the virus moves from person to person via “small droplets” that are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to travel great distances, sinking quickly to the ground. In addition, it states the virus can be picked up from surfaces. That’s why hand-washing and social distancing are important to help curb the spread.

But the signatories in the open letter argue SARS-CoV-2 lingers in the air, and this may play a role in transmission. They believe when a person with COVID-19 expels virus, the particles remain aloft and can travel great distances on air currents, particularly where ventilation is poor. “It is understood that there is not as yet universal acceptance of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV2; but in our collective assessment there is more than enough supporting evidence so that the precautionary principle should apply,” they write. 

To mitigate the risk of airborne transmission, they propose two major measures should be implemented: Better ventilation in public buildings and reducing overcrowding. It also calls for the WHO to recognize this potential route of transmission and more effectively communicate the risks associated with it. 

“We are concerned that the lack of recognition of the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 and the lack of clear recommendations on the control measures against the airborne virus will have significant consequences,” the researchers write. The WHO has been reticent to provide additional advice highlighting the risks, citing a lack of evidence.

Some scientists voiced concerns over the letter suggesting the concerns over airborne transmission may be overblown.

“I’m a bit shocked this came up,” says Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases researcher at the University of Toronto. “There is no new data, just a signed letter that makes headlines.”

Over the air

The debate is centered on interpretation of transmission modes, and this confusion extends to the public’s perception of how the disease spreads.

“A problem here is the potential conflict between the technical notion of airborne transmission and the perception of the general public about this term,” said Jose Vazquez-Boland, chair of infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh.  

The academic kerfuffle essentially pits “droplets” — the heavy particles that fall to the ground within six feet — against “aerosols” — light viral particles that remain suspended in the air. The key difference is the size of the particles.

“The size of [a] droplet is going to be really important, because all effectively have mass or weigh something,” explains Bruce Thompson, a respiratory expert at Swinburne University in Australia. The bigger respiratory droplets from something like a sneeze don’t stick around in the air long; they’re airborne, but they drop to the ground quickly because of gravity. Aerosols are different.

“If it’s an aerosol, it’s potentially going to be floating around the air more,” Thompson says.

These technical distinctions can make it hard for the general public to understand what it means for a virus to be “airborne.”

“For the public, it may be difficult to differentiate between the different situations and technical definitions,” Vazquez-Boland said. 

You might immediately think just going for a jog or spending time outside could result in infection as COVID-19 particles make their way into your lungs, but it’s more likely the “airborne” route occurs in densely packed, indoors settings with poor ventilation. Whether you can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 is likely context-specific, and many factors will play a role. Some of this nuance is being lost in the academic to and fro and causing some of the public’s confusion over the spread of the disease.

“There is a bit of a false dichotomy between droplet and airborne transmission,” Bogoch said. “It’s more of a spectrum rather than silos.

“COVID-19 falls closer to the droplet end of the spectrum,” Bogoch said. 

Even if the risk is understated or under-acknowledged by the WHO, it may not have a dramatic effect on combating the spread. The organization does recommend avoiding crowded places as part of their official guidance on protecting yourself from COVID-19. It also advises those who feel sick to stay home or wear a mask when leaving the house, another factor limiting the risk of airborne transmission. 

For now, whether coronavirus is airborne, the guidance remains mostly the same. Avoid crowded indoor locations, or if you must be indoors, try to spend less time there. The virus may accumulate in poorly ventilated spaces, increasing the risk of infection. 

You should continue to maintain social distancing measures. When you’re out, put on a mask. Wash your hands. And keep listening to advice from local health authorities with the caveat that information can — and will — change based on new evidence.

WHO comments

During a press briefing on Tuesday, journalists questioned the WHO about the New York Times report and the open letter, giving the organization a chance to speak publicly on the matter. 

“We acknowledge there is emerging evidence in this field,” said Benedetta Allegranzi, a WHO technical lead in infection prevention and control. “We believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission.”

“As we’ve said previously, we welcome the interaction from scientists all over the world,” added Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are also looking at the role of airborne transmission in other settings where you have poor ventilation,” she noted. Van Kerkhove noted the WHO had been working on a “brief” regarding transmission for several weeks. The organization released the brief on Thursday, July 9, which is an update on the “modes of transmission” statement from March 29.

The WHO now acknowledges the emerging evidence of airborne transmission provided by the open letter, but the organization’s new brief states patients with COVID-19 “primarily” infect others through droplets and close contact. The WHO hasn’t “reversed” its guidance, as some claim, but rather added to it based on new evidence (and the open letter), while acknowledging the evidence for airborne transmission remains slim and “transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by this type of aerosol route has not been demonstrated.”

How important this route is for spreading COVID-19 is still up for debate and the WHO’s updated brief states “urgent high-quality research is needed to elucidate the relative importance of different transmission routes.”

Updated July 7: Added WHO briefing comments.
Updated July 9: Adds WHO scientific brief publication and comments, updated headline.

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Google reveals its new Nest smart speaker – Engadget

July 9th, 2020

Coronavirus airborne spread: What we know about COVID-19 transmission – CNET

July 9th, 2020
gettyimages-1254574481
Aurelien Meunier/Getty
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

An open letter, signed by 239 researchers from 32 countries, sent to public health bodies, including the World Health Organization, on Monday argues there’s significant evidence the coronavirus can persist in the air and spread in tiny, airborne particles from person to person. The letter, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on Monday, advocates for “the use of preventative measures to mitigate this route of airborne transmission” and suggests re-examining the role of different transmission routes in the spread of disease.

The existence of the open letter was first reported by The New York Times and Los Angeles Times on Saturday, describing the WHO as an organization “out of step with science” on the matter. On Thursday, the WHO responded by updating its scientific brief on how the coronavirus is spread. 

It notes the science isnt yet settled on whether SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, spreads effectively and causes disease via the air. And it appears it’s not a yes or no equation. Like many aspects of the pandemic, it’s a puzzle that remains unsolved.

“It’s possible and even likely that airborne transmission occurs for SARS-CoV-2 sometimes,” Babak Javid, an infectious diseases physician at the Tsinghua University School of Medicine, said in a statement. “It’s not at all clear how common this is.”

The WHO’s official guidance on the matter is the virus moves from person to person via “small droplets” that are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to travel great distances, sinking quickly to the ground. In addition, it states the virus can be picked up from surfaces. That’s why hand-washing and social distancing are important to help curb the spread.

But the signatories in the open letter argue SARS-CoV-2 lingers in the air, and this may play a role in transmission. They believe when a person with COVID-19 expels virus, the particles remain aloft and can travel great distances on air currents, particularly where ventilation is poor. “It is understood that there is not as yet universal acceptance of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV2; but in our collective assessment there is more than enough supporting evidence so that the precautionary principle should apply,” they write. 

To mitigate the risk of airborne transmission, they propose two major measures should be implemented: Better ventilation in public buildings and reducing overcrowding. It also calls for the WHO to recognize this potential route of transmission and more effectively communicate the risks associated with it. 

“We are concerned that the lack of recognition of the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 and the lack of clear recommendations on the control measures against the airborne virus will have significant consequences,” the researchers write. The WHO has been reticent to provide additional advice highlighting the risks, citing a lack of evidence.

Some scientists voiced concerns over the letter suggesting the concerns over airborne transmission may be overblown.

“I’m a bit shocked this came up,” says Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases researcher at the University of Toronto. “There is no new data, just a signed letter that makes headlines.”

Over the air

The debate is centered on interpretation of transmission modes, and this confusion extends to the public’s perception of how the disease spreads.

“A problem here is the potential conflict between the technical notion of airborne transmission and the perception of the general public about this term,” said Jose Vazquez-Boland, chair of infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh.  

The academic kerfuffle essentially pits “droplets” — the heavy particles that fall to the ground within six feet — against “aerosols” — light viral particles that remain suspended in the air. The key difference is the size of the particles.

“The size of [a] droplet is going to be really important, because all effectively have mass or weigh something,” explains Bruce Thompson, a respiratory expert at Swinburne University in Australia. The bigger respiratory droplets from something like a sneeze don’t stick around in the air long; they’re airborne, but they drop to the ground quickly because of gravity. Aerosols are different.

“If it’s an aerosol, it’s potentially going to be floating around the air more,” Thompson says.

These technical distinctions can make it hard for the general public to understand what it means for a virus to be “airborne.”

“For the public, it may be difficult to differentiate between the different situations and technical definitions,” Vazquez-Boland said. 

You might immediately think just going for a jog or spending time outside could result in infection as COVID-19 particles make their way into your lungs, but it’s more likely the “airborne” route occurs in densely packed, indoors settings with poor ventilation. Whether you can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 is likely context-specific, and many factors will play a role. Some of this nuance is being lost in the academic to and fro and causing some of the public’s confusion over the spread of the disease.

“There is a bit of a false dichotomy between droplet and airborne transmission,” Bogoch said. “It’s more of a spectrum rather than silos.

“COVID-19 falls closer to the droplet end of the spectrum,” Bogoch said. 

Even if the risk is understated or under-acknowledged by the WHO, it may not have a dramatic effect on combating the spread. The organization does recommend avoiding crowded places as part of their official guidance on protecting yourself from COVID-19. It also advises those who feel sick to stay home or wear a mask when leaving the house, another factor limiting the risk of airborne transmission. 

For now, whether coronavirus is airborne, the guidance remains mostly the same. Avoid crowded indoor locations, or if you must be indoors, try to spend less time there. The virus may accumulate in poorly ventilated spaces, increasing the risk of infection. 

You should continue to maintain social distancing measures. When you’re out, put on a mask. Wash your hands. And keep listening to advice from local health authorities with the caveat that information can — and will — change based on new evidence.

WHO comments

During a press briefing on Tuesday, journalists questioned the WHO about the New York Times report and the open letter, giving the organization a chance to speak publicly on the matter. 

“We acknowledge there is emerging evidence in this field,” said Benedetta Allegranzi, a WHO technical lead in infection prevention and control. “We believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission.”

“As we’ve said previously, we welcome the interaction from scientists all over the world,” added Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are also looking at the role of airborne transmission in other settings where you have poor ventilation,” she noted. Van Kerkhove noted the WHO had been working on a “brief” regarding transmission for several weeks. The organization released the brief on Thursday, July 9, which is an update on the “modes of transmission” statement from March 29.

The WHO now acknowledges the emerging evidence of airborne transmission provided by the open letter, but the organization’s new brief states patients with COVID-19 “primarily” infect others through droplets and close contact. The WHO hasn’t “reversed” its guidance, as some claim, but rather added to it based on new evidence (and the open letter), while acknowledging the evidence for airborne transmission remains slim and “transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by this type of aerosol route has not been demonstrated.”

How important this route is for spreading COVID-19 is still up for debate and the WHO’s updated brief states “urgent high-quality research is needed to elucidate the relative importance of different transmission routes.”

Updated July 7: Added WHO briefing comments.
Updated July 9: Adds WHO scientific brief publication and comments.

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Google confirms new Nest smart speaker with official photo and video – The Verge

July 9th, 2020

Trudeau Faces Ethics Questions on Family Ties to Charity Given Government Contract – The New York Times

July 9th, 2020

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mother and brother were paid more than $200,000 over four years by a charity recently awarded a no-bid contract to disburse hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to student volunteers, officials confirmed Thursday.

The revelation raised ethical questions anew for Mr. Trudeau, who has faced earlier conflict-of-interest complaints along with a high-profile ethics investigation that had once threatened to derail his tenure.

Last week, the country’s ethics commissioner opened an investigation into whether the prime minister had breached conflict-of-interest rules by awarding the aid contract to an organization, known as the WE Charity, with which he has close personal ties.

Facing an uproar, the government reconsidered and said it would run the aid program instead, known as the Canada Student Service Grant.

But questions were revived on Thursday when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the charity had paid Mr. Trudeau’s mother and brother a total of $207,000, about 282,000 Canadian dollars, for speaking engagements. The charity confirmed the information to The New York Times.

“The prime minister personally intervened to direct a billion-dollar program to a group that had paid his family almost $300k. Not in Venezuela. Not in Zimbabwe. In Canada,” tweeted Pierre Poilievre, a member of Parliament from the opposition Conservatives, demanding an emergency session to address the issue.

The episode threatens to tarnish Mr. Trudeau, who has only recently started to rebuild his image. His party narrowly won re-election last year after he was accused in an ethics investigation of trying to improperly influence a high-profile corporate criminal case.

ImageFans lining the red carpet at WE Day Toronto in 2018. WE Charity is an international development organization known for hosting large-scale youth events.
Fans lining the red carpet at WE Day Toronto in 2018. WE Charity is an international development organization known for hosting large-scale youth events.Credit…Christopher Katsarov/CP, via Associated Press

In a statement, Mr. Trudeau’s office said the “prime minister’s relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord.” It urged Canadians to focus on the aid program, not on its administration.

“The Canada Student Service Grant program is about giving young people opportunities to contribute to their communities, not about benefits to anyone else,” Alex Wellstead, the prime minister’s press secretary, said in an email.

Mr. Trudeau has spoken at WE Charity events. His wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, has hosted a podcast connected to the charity about mental health, called WE Well-Being.

The charity’s press office said in an email that the prime minister and his wife had volunteered their time and were not paid, with one exception in 2012, when Ms. Gregoire Trudeau received about $1,000 for a speaking engagement. Mr. Trudeau was not prime minister at the time.

The award of the student aid contract to WE Charity, an organization best known for hosting large youth events, had already stirred criticism, not only from opposition parties but also from some Canadians in the nonprofit sector.

In response, the government announced last week that it would instead administer the aid program, established to cushion some student costs during a weakened economy by awarding them with up to $5,000 in grants for doing volunteer work.

In addition, the charity’s founding brothers, Craig and Mark Kieburger, said the organization would waive all the administrative costs incurred in setting up the program and would return government funds already received to the government.

The charity had been slated to receive a total of $14 million for overseeing the program.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Mr. Trudeau, onstage at WE Day U.N. in New York in 2018.Credit…Bryan Bedder/Getty Images For We Day

The latest revelations played to an image of a prime minister who already suffered from “the whiff of entitlement,” said Shachi Kurl, the executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, a Canadian nonprofit polling firm based in Vancouver.

“The question is whether this will further stick to the bottom of his shoe,” Ms. Kurl said.

In August of last year, Canada’s federal ethics commissioner found that Mr. Trudeau had violated an ethics law when he used his office “to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit” the former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The commissioner said Mr. Trudeau had improperly pressured her to seek a civil penalty against SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal-based engineering company, rather than a criminal conviction. But while the scandal haunted him, Mr. Trudeau nevertheless went on to win a second term late last year, albeit with a minority government.

And in December 2017, Canada’s conflict-of-interest and ethics commissioner ruled that a vacation by the Trudeau family on a private Caribbean island owned by a billionaire philanthropist — and two other trips made by him or members of his family — broke four sections of Canada’s conflict-of-interest law.

Those episodes took the sheen off Mr. Trudeau, who first came to power in 2015, fashioning himself as a liberal change-maker with a strong moral compass.

Since last year’s hard-fought re-election campaign, Mr. Trudeau has worked hard to rebuild his brand and, in recent months, it has been burnished by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He managed the crisis for some time from his home study, with three children underfoot and his wife suffering from the virus in bed.

Catherine Porter reported from Toronto, and Dan Bilesky from Montreal.

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Margaret Trudeau, Alexandre Trudeau Paid Thousands To Speak At WE Charity Events – HuffPost Canada

July 9th, 2020

Christopher Katsarov/CP

Margaret Trudeau speaks to the audience at fans at the We Day event in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2018.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mother and brother have each been paid tens of thousands of dollars over last four years to speak at events organized by WE Charity, the organization originally tapped to administer a $900-million government aid program.

WE Charity confirmed details of Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau’s speaking fees Thursday, which were first reported by Canadaland and CBC News.

The developments add a new layer to a growing controversy over the prime minister’s personal ties to the Toronto-based international charity, which is now at the heart of an investigation by the federal ethics commissioner.

Watch: Trudeau draw big cheers at 2017 WE Day UN event in New York

WE Charity told HuffPost Canada in an emailed statement Thursday that Margaret Trudeau received honorariums to participate in “WE Day” events, where speakers address thousands of young people.

“Margaret Trudeau had her speaking fees sponsored by ME to WE Social Enterprise, and was paid via Spotlight Speakers’ Bureau,” the organization said. ME to WE Social Enterprise is the WE organization’s separate, for-profit entity.

“Margaret Trudeau spoke to the students primarily on the topic of mental health. During 2016-2020, Margaret Trudeau spoke at approximately 28 events and has received a total of approximately $250,000 in speaking honorariums via Speakers Spotlight (approximately $312,000 in total payments to the speakers’ bureau, minus a 20 per cent commission to the bureau),” the statement reads.

Alexandre Trudeau received $32,000 for speaking at eight events “during the 2017-2018 academic year,” minus a 20 per cent commission of $8,000 to the Spotlight Speakers’ Bureau, the charity said.

However, in what the group has called an “error in billing/payment” that was discovered after an internal review process, WE Charity paid Spotlight Speakers’ Bureau directly for a number of Margaret Trudeau’s speeches and was “reimbursed by ME to WE Social Enterprise for their sponsorship of the speeches.”

“The amount paid from the charity to Speakers Spotlight was approximately $64,000,” the statement reads. “This was an error and corrected by accounting. All speeches by Alexandre Trudeau were paid by ME to WE Social Enterprise.”

The organization said “Justin Trudeau has never been paid by WE Charity or ME to WE Social Enterprise for any speeches or other matters.”

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the prime minister’s wife, “has participated in six WE Day events over eight years,” the organization said, and has spoken at more than a dozen other youth events. 

WE Charity said Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who serves as an “ambassador” for the organization, is not paid for the WE Well-Being podcast she hosts with Leysa Cerswell Kielburger, the wife of WE co-founder Craig Kielburger.

“Other than the reimbursement of expenses, the only payment that Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has ever received from WE Charity or ME to WE Social Enterprise was in 2012,” the organization said. “It was a one-time speaking honorarium of $1,400 for her participation at a youth event.”

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion announced Friday he will investigate if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act when the government awarded WE Charity a sole-sourced contract in June to administer a $912-million program placing post-secondary students and recent graduates with paid volunteer opportunities. 

PM didn’t recuse himself from WE decision

The group and the government ended the partnership last week amid questions about the Trudeau family’s links to charity and accusations of cronyism from opposition MPs. WE Charity stood to receive $19.5 million to run the program.

The prime minister confirmed at a press conference Wednesday that he did not recuse himself from the cabinet decision to give WE Charity the since-scrapped contract.

“No, I did not,” he told reporters. “I had long worked on youth issues both before I got into politics and since I’ve been in politics as youth critic, getting young people involved in serving their country, recognizing their desire to build a better Canada, particularly through this time of crisis is something I believe in deeply.”

In an emailed statement to HuffPost Canada Thursday, Trudeau spokesperson Chantal Gagnon said the “prime minister’s relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord. 

“What is important to remember here is that this is about a charity supporting students. The Canada Student Service Grant program is about giving young people opportunities to contribute to their communities, not about benefits to anyone else.”

Recall Parliament, Tories demand

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett called the revelations scandalous.

“We know now that Justin Trudeau handed almost a billion-dollar contract to a charity that not only had close ties to the Liberal Party, but which paid his family almost $300,000,” Barrett said.

“Parliament must immediately be recalled so that we can get to the bottom of this. All of the documents related to the contract must be made public. Every single cabinet minister needs to come clean about whether or not they knew that the prime minister’s family had a financial relationship with WE Charity when they approved this massive contract.”

Barrett also called on the ethics watchdog to “accelerate his investigation,” and asked the auditor general and procurement ombudsman to launch their own probes. Tories wrote to the federal procurement watchdog last week to review other smaller, sole-sourced contracts between the Liberal government and WE Charity.

The ethics investigation is Trudeau’s third since becoming prime minister in late 2015. Last year, Mario Dion found the prime minister improperly pressured his former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. In 2017, then-ethics watchdog Mary Dawson found Trudeau breached conflict rules when he accepted family vacations on the Aga Khan’s private island.

With files from Althia Raj

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