Canada anti-mandate protests escalate, and half of all travel destinations are high risk

Here’s your COVID-19 news for today, Feb. 14, 2022.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers Monday to quell the protests by truck drivers and others who have paralyzed Ottawa and blocked border crossings in anger over the country’s COVID-19 restrictions.

In invoking Canada’s Emergencies Act, which gives the federal government broad powers to restore order, Trudeau ruled out using the military.

His government instead threatened to tow away vehicles to keep essential services running; freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts; and take further action to strike at their livelihoods and the sources of their financial support.

When nurse Julia Buffo was told by her Montana hospital that she had to be vaccinated against COVID-19, she responded by filling out paperwork declaring that the shots run afoul of her religious beliefs.

She cited various Old and New Testament verses including a passage from Revelation that vaccine opponents often quote to liken the shots to the “Mark of the Beast.” She told her managers that God is the “ultimate guardian of health” and that accepting the vaccine would make her “complicit with evil.”

Religious exemptions like the one Buffo obtained are increasingly becoming a workaround for unvaccinated hospital and nursing home workers who want to keep their jobs in the face of federal mandates that are going into effect nationwide this week.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated a half dozen new places “very high” risk for travel on Monday, including South Korea and French Polynesia.

The six new additions to the “very high” risk Level 4 category are a far-flung bunch: Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea; Belarus, located in a presently very tense spot bordering Russia and Ukraine; Comoros, an archipelago off Africa’s east coast; French Polynesia in the South Pacific; Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a French archipelago south of Canada’s Newfoundland; and South Korea.

Level 4, the CDC’s highest risk level, has now swelled to almost 140 places, illustrating the rapid surge of the Omicron variant around the world. In early January, there were around 80 destinations listed there.

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