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Border closure and talking to kids about COVID-19; In The News for March 19


In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 19 ...

COVID-19 in Canada ...

OTTAWA — Closure of the world's longest undefended border will begin in earnest today as Canada and the United States work out the details of banning non-essential travel between the two countries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump announced the ban Wednesday, intended to help curtail the rapid spread of COVID-19 without disrupting the flow of essential goods and services on which Canadians and Americans depend.

But details remained to be worked out, including the precise moment the ban is to go formally into effect and how border agents are to distinguish between essential and non-essential travellers.

Some of those details may become clearer today when Trudeau is to speak again outside his door at 11 a.m.

Canadians may also get a clearer sense of how quickly Parliament can approve legislation needed to free up the flow of $82 billion in promised financial aid and tax deferrals to help individuals and businesses weather the COVID-19 crisis, which has shut down much of the country's normal economic activity.

The government aims to briefly recall Parliament, adjourned last week until April 20, sometime next week.


Also this ...

OTTAWA — At least 77 Canadians are among the more than 1,400 people on board a trans-Atlantic cruise ship that has several COVID-19 cases among its passengers.

Global Affairs Canada says it is standing ready to provide consular assistance to the Canadians on board Costa Luminosa, which is heading for the French Mediterranean port of Marseille.

French authorities say the ship will arrive in Marseille port waters today, but it's not known if passengers will be allowed off, given the current stringent anti-virus movement rules imposed in France.

The ship was allowed to stop in Tenerife, Spain, on Sunday to offload three people who needed to be hospitalized, but the rest of the passengers were barred from disembarking in the Spanish Canary Islands.


COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump is turning to a generations-old law amid the coronavirus outbreak to give the government more power to steer production by private companies.

An immediate goal is to overcome shortages in masks, ventilators and other supplies desperately needed as more and more people become sick.

Invoking the 70-year-old Defence Production Act is just one in a series of extraordinary steps Trump is undertaking to steady a nation in the grip of the novel virus.

Federal officials are focusing on the Trump administration's $1-trillion plan to stabilize a national economy reeling from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The pandemic endangering the health of untold millions of Americans is also threatening financial ruin for individuals and businesses.

The plan's centrepiece is $500 billion to start issuing direct payments to Americans by early next month. The plan would also funnel cash to businesses to help keep workers on payroll.


COVID-19 around the world ...

BEIJING — Last month, Wuhan was overwhelmed with thousands of new cases of coronavirus each day.

But in a dramatic development that underscores just how much the pandemic has pivoted toward Europe and the United States, Chinese authorities said Wuhan and its surrounding province had no new cases to report.

The news offered a rare glimmer of hope as the world battles the virus, and perhaps a lesson in the strict measures needed to halt its spread.

It came as U.S. President Donald Trump likened the fight to "a war" and invoked emergency powers that allow him to compel manufacturers to deal with the pandemic.


Talking to kids about COVID-19 ...

The COVID-19 pandemic that led to school closures across the country may also be causing children stuck at home to wonder why their world is suddenly changing.

And while an expert in child psychology says parents should do their best to answer those questions, they should also be selective with the information they choose to share.

"They need to know that they should be extremely cautious about touching things, that they should be washing their hands and using proper sanitization, that they shouldn't be too close in proximity to people not in their immediate family," psychotherapist Alice Wiafe says. 

"They don't need to know that a thousand more people died over the weekend. It does nothing for them to know that."

Wiafe says being able to entertain children becomes even more of a challenge with parents working from home.

But there are plenty of ways to ensure children get the interaction and playtime they need. Writing, creative art, going for a drive even to just get out of the house are all doable, she says.

Wiafe acknowledges that parents may be fearful of the spreading coronavirus, but being mindful of how they're presenting that anxiety is important.

"We have to be able not to project our own fears onto our children, not checking the news every three minutes like 'honey, another three people have died,'" she said. "You definitely have to be cautious and sensitive to the type of children you have. ... If you have highly sensitive children, you have to be even more sensitive to that."


COVID-19 in fashion ...

VICTORIA — A British Columbia clothing maker says it has seen a surge in demand for a dress Alberta's chief medical officer wore during a COVID-19 briefing this week.

Smoking Lily owner Trish Tacoma says her company's inbox has been teeming since Deena Hinshaw was seen on TV wearing the charcoal grey half-sleeve dress emblazoned with the periodic table of elements on Tuesday.

Tacoma says the Point Grey Periodic Table dress was sold for seven years before it was taken offline about six months ago.

Now, Smoking Lily is scrambling to ramp up production again at a time when everyone is being advised to keep their distance from one another in the face of the virus.

She says Smoking Lily is giving 10 per cent of the proceeds to the Mustard Seed Street Church in Victoria.

Tacoma says the printer, cutter and seamstress can all do their jobs in isolation from one another, but that means it will take a few weeks for the dresses to make their way to customers.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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