Vaccines are widely available in the US and Canada for walk-in service at medical providers and pharmacies. Many areas are still operating dedicated immunization clinics. Vaccines are safe and effective.
Canada border crossings reopened to vaccinated and tested Americans on 9 August 2021. Testing is required within 72 hours of arrival and must be presented through the ArriveCAN online system. Only PCR tests are accepted.
US border crossings will reopen to vaccinated Canadians on 8 November. Proof of vaccination is required. A “mixed dose” of US or WHO approved vaccines are acceptable. COVID testing is not required for entry to the US by land, but is still required for air travel.
A lunar eclipse greeted early risers on 26 May 2021. Earth’s shadow totally covered the moon for a few minutes at about 1119 UT. This was about the time the moon was setting over North America, and was after sunrise in the far north of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In 2003, a humble cargo pallet set off a 17-year battle that struck at the heart of the Canadian identity. Larvae of the Asian Longhorn Beetle had emerged from their slumber deep inside the cheap timber and found their way into maple trees in Vaughan, Ontario, just a short distance from Toronto, the home of the Maple Leafs.
Dr. Amanda Roe is a researcher in molecular and functional ecology at Natural Resources Canada’s Great Lakes Forestry Centre, and a part-time lecturer at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Dr. Roe lectured on 3 March during Algoma U Research Week 2021 on the work scientists around the world are doing to control the spread of the Asian Longhorn Beetle, a species native to Asia that is a pest in Europe and North America.
Though Asian Longhorn Beetles are seldom seen on the bark of trees, the distinctive holes they make as they burrow through the tree, plus their fairly large size (~35mm) and their speckled body colour makes their presence fairly easy to spot. The beetle populations are also reasonably slow-moving, reproducing only once per year. This allows the relevant authorities – in this case, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Natural Resources Canada – to simply ban firewood movement in the area, identify affected trees, then cut down and burn any nearby tree the beetle might inhabit.
But where, precisely, are these beetles coming from? Molecular ecology makes it possible to go a step farther, and identify the home area that invasive species may have come from. Scientists do this by looking at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Unlike nuclear DNA, mitochondrial DNA does not change due to an individual’s parents, but mtDNA does accumulate distinctive variations that can identify members of the same extended family or region.
Scientists have collected an mtDNA database of Asian Longhorn Beetles across their home range in China and Korea, a database that shows distinct geographic variations. So, when the same mtDNA tests are done on a captured beetle from an invasive infestation, the tests can help identify which general region the invader is from. The infestation in Vaughan likely originated from coastal regions of northeastern China or Korea.
Perhaps more importantly, it can help researchers pick up the pieces when initial control measures were ineffective. After the Vaughan invasion had been largely controlled, there was another outbreak of ALB in Mississauga. mtDNA tests showed that the second site was a satellite of the original invasion from Vaughan.
Following a generation-long struggle that concluded with five years of carefully looking through trees in Toronto and Mississauga for any re-emergence of the pest, CFIA finally declared Ontario to be free of the Asian Longhorn Beetle in June 2020. Early detection makes all the difference in preventing future outbreaks of any invasive species, and members of the public can always help by sharing photos and samples of strange insects they find with agricultural extensions, forestry agencies, or research biologists.
At 0230Z 03 Feb 2021, SkyWest 4472 landed in Winnipeg, closing the book on international flights to YWG during the pandemic. Later in the day on 03 February, new restrictions by the government of Canada took effect in order to limit the spread of more contagious variants of COVID-19.
The move echoes Canada’s measures earlier in the pandemic that limited most overseas passengers to landing in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montréal. US flights, though not originally limited in the same way, were still rapidly dropped as US carriers reduced service. With the new measures in force, US flights cannot return to Regina or Saskatoon for the forseeable future.
Alberta’s measures to contain the virus now include up to 24 days of quarantine, with 14 days of quarantine for everyone in the household, following 10 days of home isolation for any confirmed positive case. Measures are even stricter at Calgary Airport, with all arriving passengers getting an additional COVID test, a police escort to a quarantine hotel for at least 3 days of isolation, a $2000 fee, and only then, if released, entering into a 14+ day home quarantine.
Governor General Julie Payette, famously in past years a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, resigned today following an investigation into her workplace behaviour at the Office of the Governor General. Also departing is Payette’s secretary, Assunta Di Lorenzo, who also engaged in mistreatment of employees. The mistreatment included verbal abuse and public shaming for minor issues.
Following publicized problems interacting with staff members, an independent panel investigated for Prime Minister Trudeau. Payette resigned when it became clear the report established that her leadership and behaviour was incompatible with the dignity and storied history of Rideau Hall.
Payette was selected as a CSA astronaut in 1992 and trained at NASA starting in 1996. She flew on two Space Shuttle missions (STS-96 and STS-127) in 1999 and 2009, and was one of the most prominent francophone science and technology leaders in Canada. The PM may have rushed to make such a stellar candidate the viceroy, missing concerning incidents with co-workers during Payette’s stints at the Montréal Science Centre and Canadian Olympic Committee.
Payette’s storied career may still be an example for aspiring young pilots and engineers to follow, but it is a reminder that the skills to survive on the flight line may not be the same as are needed to lead an office workspace, let alone a multicultural nation. The role of Governor General is an important position that requires a regal composure, deep patience, and tact. Payette, for her part, has taken the effort to leave with dignity.
This is not to say that all astronauts make bad managers, even to Canadian sentiments; Trudeau’s recent cabinet shuffle gave MP and former astronaut Marc Garneau the high-profile role of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Pfizer’s plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan shipped operational doses of a COVID-19 vaccine across the United States on 13 December 2020. UPS and FedEx are carrying the shipments across the United States. Healthcare workers will be among the first to receive the doses.
This follows the FDA’s emergency use approval for the vaccine on the 12th, shortly following Health Canada’s approval on the 9th. The earliest shipments will provide enough doses to vaccinate 124,500 Canadians and 1.5 million Americans. In this phase, health care workers receiving the vaccine will be receiving it nearly immediately. Though procedures will vary, for the moment states and provinces will receive doses, then send out smaller shipments to health facilities. Those facilities have already pre-designated their most at-risk individuals to get the shot as soon as possible, and one additional follow-up dose a few weeks later.
Though the Pfizer vaccine must be shipped and warehoused at -70 C, the temperature of dry ice or specialized medical or scientific ultracold freezers, it has sufficient stability at standard temperatures to still allow for robust distribution options. These issues will not be a problem in the earliest stages of vaccine distribution. As this and other vaccines become more widely available, they will be offered to additional people based on local distribution plans. It will be at this stage that the Pfizer vaccine’s shelf life of a few days at standard -20 C and 4 C refrigeration temperatures is put to a real-world test.
Though work continues on other vaccines, the moment 18-wheelers and airplanes departed West Michigan represents a climactic moment in a banner year for biotechnology, as well as a triumph for science and industry in the Midwest.
Here is a list of recent aviation safety incidents in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northwest Ontario that were reported to the Transportation Safety Board through 15 August 2020:
17 Jul 2020 – C-FHBS gear up landing at Olds-Didsbury AB 17 Jul 2020 – C-GDUK load jettison near Slave Lake AB 18 Jul 2020 – C-GUSD emergency landing near Winnipeg-St.Andrews 21 Jul 2020 – C-FFVS load jettison north of Red Lake ON 21 Jul 2020 – C-FVIY landing gear issue at Lethbridge 21 Jul 2020 – C-GQNS wire strike at Medstead SK 23 Jul 2020 – C-GRGO equipment failure near Calgary 24 Jul 2020 – C-FBRG damaged on landing at Chapleau ON 27 Jul 2020 – C-GEDF damaged on takeoff near Calmar AB 28 Jul 2020 – N370JA, N53134 loss of separation at Fort McMurray 29 Jul 2020 – AMT200 gear up landing at Regina 30 Jul 2020 – Learjet bird strike on takeoff at Thunder Bay 31 Jul 2020 – C-GKGA cowling separation incident at Regina 01 Aug 2020 – C-FSCT damaged on landing near Sault Ste. Marie ON 04 Aug 2020 – C-FCJZ icing incident at Regina 04 Aug 2020 – C-FHZB damaged on landing at Springbank AB 04 Aug 2020 – C-FSPN control issues at Leaf Rapids ON 04 Aug 2020 – C-GKIB damaged on landing at CFR7 (AB) 08 Aug 2020 – C-GQIF fuel spill at Estevan 11 Aug 2020 – C-FAJR hit by drone at Winnipeg-St.Andrews
Here is a list of recent aviation safety incidents in the Dakotas, Iowa, upper and western Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, as reported to the Federal Aviation Administration through 14 August 2020:
17 Jul 2020 – N1962N damaged on landing at Osceola WI 20 Jul 2020 – N47T gear up landing at Burlington WI 20 Jul 2020 – N570WH wire strike near Dickeyville WI 21 Jul 2020 – N208MP damaged on landing at Thompson Falls MT 21 Jul 2020 – N2943C damaged on landing at Cambridge MN 25 Jul 2020 – N327WB crashed near Imperial NE 25 Jul 2020 – N502KJ fatal crash near Grant NE 27 Jul 2020 – N9278G emergency landing at Hartington NE 27 Jul 2020 – N53163 fatal crash near Corsica SD 27 Jul 2020 – N570WH collision on landing at Dakota WI 27 Jul 2020 – N771GB emergency landing at Hebron NE 29 Jul 2020 – N22709 emergency landing near Watertown SD 30 Jul 2020 – N4388T emergency landing near Powell WY 30 Jul 2020 – N337V fatal crash in Madison County MT 31 Jul 2020 – N16810 wire strike at Hubbard NE 01 Aug 2020 – N58B emergency landing near Helena 03 Aug 2020 – N45303 downdraft crash near Jackson Hole 03 Aug 2020 – N185GK runway excursion on landing at Kalispell 03 Aug 2020 – N67CD gear up landing at Sioux City 08 Aug 2020 – N5580W runway excursion on landing at Sparta WI 09 Aug 2020 – N89LA crashed near Logan IA 09 Aug 2020 – N6849B crashed in residential area near Burlington WI 10 Aug 2020 – N298WY crashed near Grover WY 12 Aug 2020 – N6299R emergency landing at Mosinee WI
United Express regional airline ExpressJet is shutting down. The metro Atlanta-based airline announced the move in an e-mail notice to staff on 30 July 2020. Most ExpressJet staff have already been laid off, and have now lost their jobs.
CommutAir, another United Express regional airline based in metro Cleveland, will now operate the aircraft and destinations previously used by ExpressJet.
The move affects the United Airlines network at all remaining ExpressJet destinations, including Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Peoria. In October 2019, before the pandemic reduced demand for airline tickets, ExpressJet was serving Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fargo, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Lincoln, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Omaha, Peoria, Rochester, and Winnipeg.