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Alberta

Weird. Wonderful. Mesmerizing. Fantastic.

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Weird. Wonderful. Mesmerizing. Fantastic.

Each of those words can be applied — and probably will be, for many years — to the first round of the best-of-seven NHL playoffs in a season already shaken, but not broken, by COVID-19.

It can be guaranteed that the five overtime periods needed before the Tampa Bay Lightning could stun the Columbus Blue Jackets will be in the record books for years. Brayden Point’s winning goal in the marathon victory will be forgotten long after other details are etched in sports history.

That’s the way it happens when a game in a “hub community” lasts more than six hours, total shots on goal reach record levels and another scheduled playoff game is delayed for almost a full day.

When the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes were ordered to reschedule Game One of their quarter-final showdown, it was not the first official delay of a playoff game — just the first time that the only available ice surface was already in use

Boston and Carolina were installed as the first act in a run of five consecutive series openers on Wednesday. Fortunately, the Lightning and Blue Jackets will have a full day off, as will the Calgary Flames, who edged Dallas 3-2 in the only other match completed on Tuesday.

Columbus vs. Tampa Bay was in many ways.a classical matchup: power against finesse, labour against sheer talent. Joonas Korpisalo faced a few dozen more shots than winning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy but the buzzing Blue Jackets defeated every challenge except Point’s ultimate point (pun intended).

It had been expected that the Lightning might win easily. Assured of a berth among the final 16 teams, they cruised through an unimportant round-robin series while the Blue Devils were fighting for their playoff lives in a bitter five-game elimination war with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

For Tampa Bay, the victory was essential in the organization’s bid to shake off their miserable 2019 playoff, when they bowed in the first round after running away from all opposition.

The Calgary Flames went through similar miseries at the same time, dominant for most of last season before they won only a single playoff game and headed meekly to the golf course.

This year, the Flames survived at least one major problem: head coach Bill Peters resigned after an ugly racial incident was exposed. Individual on-ice performances faded, too, amid growing claims that the team was made up of casual performers quite content to win the easy ones.

Well, there was nothing easy in beating the Winnipeg Jets to qualify for the final 16 and nothing came easily in the 3-2 victory over Dallas on Tuesday. The Flames have flaws — every team has flaws — but these guys proved again that lack of character is not one of them.

Was the quick evolution of Draisaitl from prospect to standout THE biggest on-ice element in this positive building project?

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Alberta

B.C. defends plan to delay second dose as Ontario, Alberta consider following suit

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VANCOUVER — British Columbia health officials say their plan to delay the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to four months is based on scientific evidence and real-world experience, as Ontario and Alberta consider following the province’s lead.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, responded Tuesday to criticism from Canada’s chief science adviser. Henry said the decision was made in the context of limited supply and based on strong local and international data.

“This makes sense for us, knowing that it is a critical time right now with the limited amount of vaccines that we have in the coming weeks, to be able to provide that protection … to everybody here,” Henry said at a COVID-19 briefing.

“That is why we made the decision that we did.”

Chief science adviser Mona Nemer told the CBC on Monday that B.C.’s plan amounts to a “population-level experiment” and that the data provided so far by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech is based on an interval of three to four weeks between doses.

Henry said the manufacturers structured their clinical trials that way to get the vaccines to market as quickly as possible, but research in B.C., Quebec, Israel and the United Kingdom has shown that first doses are highly effective.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control examined the effects of a single dose on long-term care residents and health-care workers and found that it reduced the risk of the virus by up to 90 per cent within two to three weeks, Henry said.

“It is a little bit unfortunate that the national science adviser … obviously was not involved in some of these discussions and decision-making and perhaps did not understand the context that this decision was made in,” Henry said.

Dr. Danuta Skowronski, a B.C. Centre for Disease Control epidemiology lead whose work underpinned the province’s plan, said Pfizer-BioNTech underestimated the efficacy of its first dose in its submissions to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Skowronski said the company included data from the first two weeks after trial participants received the shot, a time when vaccines typically aren’t effective. When she and her colleagues adjusted the data, they found it was 92 per cent effective, similar to the Moderna vaccine.

She said B.C.’s plan was based on the basic principles of vaccine science. The protection from a first dose of vaccine does not suddenly disappear, it gradually wanes over time, and scientists are typically more concerned about providing a second dose too soon rather than too late, she said.

“I think if the public had a chance to hear and to understand that, they would say, ‘OK, this is not messing around. This is really managing risk in a way that maximizes protection to as many Canadians as possible.'”

B.C. has administered 283,182 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to date, including more than 86,000 second doses. The province reported 438 new cases of the virus on Tuesday and two more deaths, pushing the death toll in B.C. to 1,365.

Henry said she expects a statement soon from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization aligning with the province’s decision, while Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday she wanted to wait for such a recommendation.

Elliott said extending the interval between doses would allow the province to get some level of protection to more people.

“This would be a considerable change,” she said.

“With the variants of concern out there, this could make a significant difference for Ontario in reducing hospitalizations and deaths. So, we are anxiously awaiting NACI’s review of this to determine what they have to say in their recommendations.”

Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the national committee, said in an email the group is expected to issue a statement on extending the dose interval on Wednesday, but she did not confirm it would align with B.C.’s plan.

Alberta’s health minister said a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision on whether to follow B.C.’s lead is coming.

“There’s fantastic evidence that’s coming out,” Tyler Shandro said Tuesday.

“What the exact period of time (between doses) is going to be is still to be decided. We’ll be announcing it soon, but we will be looking at having that length of time between first and second extended.”

Alberto Martin, a University of Toronto immunology professor, said there is “obviously some concern” about B.C.’s plan because he is not aware of any clinical trial that examined a four-month gap between Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna doses.

However, he said difficult times — when the vaccine supply is so limited — require drastic measures.

“It’s a difficult decision to make. I don’t know whether I’d like to be in that position, but I think it’s understandable why they’re doing this.”

Daniel Coombs, a University of British Columbia mathematician who has done COVID-19 modelling, said Nemer was right that B.C. was conducting an “experiment,” but it seemed to be a necessary one.

He added that the province may also be anticipating the approval of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot.

Michael Houghton, director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute at the University of Alberta, said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine data shows that one shot conveys 76 per cent protection for the next 12 weeks.

Houghton said he is more concerned about extending the dose interval to 16 weeks for the other two approved vaccines.

“These make vaccinologists nervous since, usually, we use in the real world what was tested in the clinic, but given the vaccine shortage, perhaps desperate times warrant such calculated gambles.”

— With files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter in Toronto and Sylvia Strojek in Edmonton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.

Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press

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Business

Downtown Business Spotlight: Petrichor Massage Therapy

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This week’s Business Spotlight shines on Petrichor Massage Therapy! This unique business is located within Paris Aesthetic in the Bunn Building (#2-4820 Gaetz ave, Red Deer)

What is your business?

Registered Massage Therapy.

When did your business open?

February 15th, 2021 (brand new, baby!)

What makes your business unique?

I don’t have different “types” of massage that you must choose between for your treatment (relaxation, Swedish, therapeutic, deep tissue, etc), instead I only book by the time slot. This is means every massage session is perfectly tailored to your needs and goals! My favorite thing to do is scalp and neck massage, you’ve got to get on my table and experience it!

 

What are some products/services that you offer?

60/90/120 minute massage therapy services

Why did you choose Downtown Red Deer?

You can’t beat the convenience of the location.

What do you think makes Downtown vibrant?

All of the different kinds of businesses all smashed together in such a small location! I also love all the programs centered around the downtown location, there’s a definite sense of community.

I love Downtown Red Deer because…

It’s got an undeniable “cool” vibe, it feels so fresh to be involved with a part of my community that’s so vibrant and hip.

Facebook: Petrichor Massage Therapy | Facebook

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march, 2021

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