P.E.I. entry-level cooks program back in the kitchen after COVID-19 pause

More than a dozen cook trainees on P.E.I. are back in the kitchen after COVID-19 forced a six-month pause to their education. 

The free entry-level cook training program is offered by the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island and the Culinary Institute of Canada, with funding from Skills P.E.I. 

The goal is to train cooks to work in Island kitchens and help restaurants fill their labour gaps.

“Not a two-year graduate, not a chef, but someone who can come in at a very entry level,” said Austin Clement, program manager at the Culinary Institute. “Someone who understands food safety, somebody who understands the sense of urgency, preparation of small little sandwiches, soup, salads — that sort of thing.” 

Demand from restaurants

Clement said the program was launched in 2019 at the request of the food service industry on P.E.I., which was struggling to find enough staff. “In the past, certainly, there have been challenges with working conditions and wages, but that’s improved somewhat over the course of time,” Clement said. “The explosion we’ve had here as Canada’s Food Island, we’ve seen more restaurants, very good restaurants, built a reputation for food. We’re filling a need as volume increases.”

The first training program in 2019 had 16 participants, and five of them have continued their training at the Culinary Institute. 

This year’s program has 14 cooks in training, and all but four were in the program when the pandemic shut it down in March.

“It was a little disappointing. We missed out probably on a few important events that we were supposed to do now due to COVID,” said Kirsten Fisher-Compton, who travels to and from Lennox Island every day.

Fisher-Compton heard about the entry-level cook training program from her boss at Tyne Valley Teas Cafe, where she has worked for a couple of years. “Cooking really interests me. I’ve been really trying to get experience in every aspect I can,” Fisher-Compton said.

“I worked doing bakery and salad, sandwich things and now I’m trying the bistro side of things, so we’ll see how that goes.”

The participants do five weeks of on-the-job training and Fisher-Compton is hoping for a position with a “high-end” restaurant, somewhere in the Summerside area.

Fisher-Compton has applied to attend the Culinary Institute next year, with the ultimate goal of having her own food truck. 

‘It’s not easy’

Ryan Sankar was also signed up for the entry-level cook training program in February, after moving to P.E.I. from Trinidad and Tobago.

When the program was put on pause, Sankar spent the summer working under instructor Kyle Panton, getting his first taste of life in a kitchen.

“My biggest lesson I’ve learned is ‘don’t let the pressure get to you,'” Sankar said.

“This isn’t the place to come and just expect it to be easy. It’s not easy.” 

Sankar said the training program is also a chance for participants to find out what they think of the restaurant industry. 

“This course gives you an opportunity

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Wife of Trump’s labor secretary, who was at Barrett Rose Garden event, tests positive for Covid-19

Trish Scalia, the wife of President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, has tested positive for Covid-19, the Labor Department said Tuesday night.

The agency said in a statement that doctors performed the test Tuesday afternoon. She has “mild symptoms but [is] doing well,” the statement said.

Eugene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, tested negative Friday night, according to the Labor Department. He has experienced no symptoms.

“The Secretary and Mrs. Scalia will follow the advice of health professionals for Trish’s recovery and the health of those around them. For the time being, the Secretary will work from home while continuing to carry out the mission of the Department and the President’s agenda,” the agency said in the statement.

The secretary and his wife attended the Rose Garden ceremony last month where Trump officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett’s confirmation hearing began this week.

Trish Scalia, in blue, sits behind first lady Melania Trump at Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s introduction as President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee at a White House event on Sept. 26.Al Drago / Redux Pictures file

Scalia sat behind first lady Melania Trump and next to former senior presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, both of whom have contracted the virus.

Trish Scalia is the latest high-profile person — which includes White House staffers, members of Congress and Trump campaign staff members — to have tested positive for the virus. More than a dozen people connected to the administration, Congress or Trump’s campaign were infected, including the first lady and the president, who has since recovered.

The Trump administration has been sharply criticized for its response to the virus, and public health experts have called the ceremony at the White House a “superspreader” event. The disease, which has shuttered businesses nationwide and sent the economy into a tailspin, has killed more than 200,000 people since the end of February. There have been nearly 8 million confirmed cases in the U.S.

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Labor Secretary Scalia’s Wife Is Latest Rose Garden Guest With COVID-19

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia’s wife has tested positive for COVID-19—becoming at least the 13th person who attended a largely mask-free White House Rose Garden event to contract the coronavirus.



Eugene Scalia et al. standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Chip Somodevilla/Getty


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Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Trish Scalia was seated next to Kellyanne Conway at the Sept. 26 ceremony to announce President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, and right behind Melania Trump.

Conway and the first lady also got infected with COVID-19, along with the president, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two of her underlings, and Sens, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, along with several others.

In addition, other members of Trump’s inner circle, like adviser Hope Hicks, who were not at the event also tested positive in the White House outbreak, which put the president in the hospital.

The Labor Department said Secretary Scalia—whose father, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was a mentor to Barrett—tested negative but will work from home. His wife “is experiencing mild symptoms but is doing well,” the statement said.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: White House Embraces ‘Herd Immunity’ Declaration

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists arguing that authorities should allow the coronavirus to spread among young healthy people while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable — an approach that would rely on arriving at “herd immunity” through infections rather than a vaccine.

Many experts say “herd immunity” — the point at which a disease stops spreading because nearly everyone in a population has contracted it — is still very far off. Leading experts have concluded, using different scientific methods, that about 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to the coronavirus.

On a call convened Monday by the White House, two senior administration officials, both speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to give their names, cited an October 4 petition entitled The Great Barrington Declaration, which argues against lockdowns and calls for a reopening of businesses and schools.

“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the declaration states, adding, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.”

The declaration has more than 9,000 signatories from all over the world, its website says, though most of the names are not public. The document grew out of a meeting hosted by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian-leaning research organization.

Its lead authors include Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at Stanford University, academic home of Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s science adviser. Dr. Atlas has also espoused herd immunity.

The declaration’s architects include Sunetra Gupta and Gabriela Gomes, two scientists who have proposed that societies may achieve herd immunity when 10 to 20 percent of their populations have been infected with the virus, a position most epidemiologists disagree with.

Last month, at the request of The New York Times, three epidemiological teams calculated the percentage of the country that is infected. What they found runs strongly counter to the theory being promoted in influential circles that the United States has either already achieved herd immunity or is close to doing so, and that the pandemic is all but over. That conclusion would imply that businesses, schools and restaurants could safely reopen, and that masks and other distancing measures could be abandoned.

“The idea that herd immunity will happen at 10 or 20 percent is just nonsense,” said Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which produced the epidemic model frequently cited during White House news briefings as the epidemic hit hard in the spring.

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Georgia House candidates clash over health care, COVID-19

ATLANTA (AP) — Candidates in two closely contested suburban Atlanta U.S. House districts continued to clash Tuesday over their views on health care, the pandemic response and the size of government.

Those disagreements were aired in two debates sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club. One was between 6th Congressional District incumbent Lucy McBath, a Democrat, and Republican Karen Handel, the woman McBath unseated in a narrow 2018 victory. Slightly less sharp was a debate between candidates in the neighboring 7th District, where Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux is trying to claim an open seat after falling just short of beating Republican incumbent Rob Woodall in 2018. With Woodall stepping down, Republican Rich McCormick is trying to hold the seat for his party.

Both races are among the most competitive in the nation, with Democrats gaining ground in what was once reliably Republican turf. The 6th District, Georgia’s most affluent, stretches across parts of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties. The rapidly diversifying 7th District includes parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.


McBath labeled Handel as a threat to health care access, saying it’s not a “privilege” but a “right as an American.”

“Your record on health care is absolutely dismal,” McBath told Handel. “You have supported bills that would drive up the cost of health care for people that have pre-existing conditions, not only their treatment, their care and prescription drugs.”

Handel said that portrayal was unfair, and said McBath herself could have done more in Congress to protect people from suffering insurance consequences because of earlier disease or infirmity.

Handel attacked McBath, saying it was the Democrats’ fault that Congress hadn’t been able to approve a new bill for COVID-19 relief

“There is nothing preventing Democrats like you and Speaker Pelosi from getting to the table on that COVID relief package. You don’t want to pass it because you want to pack it full of controversial proposals,” Handel said. “You could get it done if you had the will.”

McBath, though, said she was “proud that the House is still trying to work with the Senate” on additional spending.

McBath sidestepped a question from Handel asking whether McBath would favor adding more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. She instead criticized Republicans for pushing through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

″I’m very concerned about Judge Barrett’s policy agenda, wanting to possibly dismantle the Affordable Care Act that millions of Americans are dependent on, and also her stance on choice,” McBath said, saying she wanted to protect abortion rights.

For her part, Handel said “it’s no secret I’m pro life” and backed Barrett’s confirmation. “A president is elected for four years, not three-and-a-half years or three years and nine months,” Handel said.

The attacks were somewhat less sharp in the 7th District debate, where Bourdeaux continued to argue for expanded health care and blamed Republicans for mismanaging the COVID-19 outbreak, while McCormick again argued that the district needs a low-tax, low-regulation approach.

“Politicians and regulations are not the solution to the

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Silver Lake apartment garden brings COVID-19 relief

When Jamie Renee Williams wanted to learn more about soil and permaculture, she volunteered at several urban farms throughout Los Angeles: Cottonwood Urban Farm in Panorama City, Huarache Farms in Sierra Madre and Farm L.A., located in Elysian Valley. When she wanted to implement what she was learning in the community, she began working with a community-led compost pick-up service to expand its reach. And when the coronavirus outbreak forced her to shelter in place, she transformed a tiny stretch of dirt next to her apartment into an edible garden.

“I thought for many years that it would be amazing to work on restoring it in some way,” Williams, 37, said of the garden in Silver Lake that she planted in March. “I had been reading books on permaculture such as “The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming,” and when I started going to a bunch of different farms they were all doing something different. I was afraid of growing food. I have killed plenty of plants. But the pandemic and quarantine pushed me to do it. I figured I have all this time and nothing to lose.”

Before the pandemic, Williams juggled UX design work, volunteering and helping broaden the Compostable pickup service. But with more free time on her hands — and like so many who have struggled with isolation while sheltering in place — the garden offered her an opportunity to navigate her way through the pandemic.

“I felt like I had a partner through this pandemic,” she said. “It’s been really rewarding. I have learned that plants, like people, need to be together in a community.”

For Williams, who will be offering a guided virtual tour of the garden on Thursday as part of this week’s annual LA Design Festival, the garden is “reclaimed space for everyone.”

“Jamie embodies that special something that makes L.A. so interesting,” said festival director Haily Zaki. “She’s a creative multi-hyphenate doing her own unique thing, her way, that kind of cannot be defined in any sort of cut and dry way, kind of like L.A.”

We spoke with Williams about the value of gardening and composting and issues of food waste. She also touches on how gardening, and being outdoors, has helped her to better understand the world in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in May.

 Jamie Williams searches for bush beans in her tiny  garden next to her apartment complex.

Jamie Renee Williams searches for bush beans in the tiny garden next to her apartment complex.

(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

You do a lot of different things. How would you describe yourself?

To be completely honest, I have an aversion to labels. I am curious. I follow things that energize me. I like to try and learn new things. That’s my guiding philosophy. It has brought so many interesting things into my perspective. It’s probably because my childhood was very unusual.

How so?

I was born in the United States but my father was in the military so we traveled a lot. I lived in Japan from the ages of

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Trump tests negative for COVID-19, is not infectious

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has tested negative for COVID-19 and he is not infectious to others, the White House physician said on Monday, 10 days after Trump announced he had contracted the coronavirus.

In a memo released by the White House just hours before Trump was due to resume holding campaign rallies, Dr. Sean Conley said the president had tested negative on consecutive days using an Abbott Laboratories <ABT.N> BinaxNOW antigen card.

Conley said the negative tests and other clinical and laboratory data “indicate a lack of detectable viral replication.”

Trump’s medical team had determined that based on the data and guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “the president is not infectious to others,” Conley said.

Trump returns to the campaign trail on Monday night with a rally in Sanford, Florida, his first since he disclosed on Oct. 2 that he tested positive for COVID-19.

Critics fault Trump for failing to encourage supporters at campaign events, and even White House staff, to wear protective masks and abide by social-distancing guidelines. At least 11 close Trump aides have tested positive for the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot)

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Argentina surpasses 900,000 COVID-19 cases, virus spreads to the interior

FILE PHOTO: Men recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) donate convalescent plasma, at the Hemotherapy Institute in La Plata, Argentina October 5, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina surpassed 900,000 cases of coronavirus on Monday, with strong growth of infections in large populated centers in the interior of the country after months of the virus’ being concentrated in Buenos Aires and its suburbs.

The government late last week tightened restrictions on the movement of people in 18 provinces for two weeks due to the growth of COVID-19 cases. On Monday, the Health Ministry said the death toll reached 24,186 and the number of infections totaled 903,730. During the previous 24 hours, 318 deaths and 9,524 new cases were reported.

As an example of the virus’ spreading outside of Buenos Aires, in areas untouched by the virus in the early days of the pandemic, more than 90% of the intensive-care beds at the Centenario hospital in the city of Rosario, 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires, are occupied by COVID-19 patients, hospital staff told Reuters.

Rosario is the main ports hub carrying agricultural commodities from the Pampas farm belt to export markets. Argentina is a major global soybean, corn and wheat supplier.

“Hopefully we continue as we are, with 95% to 97% occupancy (of ICU beds) and that narrow margin will allow us to have a reasonable turn-over of beds,” Rosario intensive care doctor Juan Pendino, 62, told Reuters.

Over the last week Argentina registered almost 100,000 new cases, with a positive rate of 72.5% as of Sunday, one of the highest levels in the world.

“We are not going to have normalcy again – neither in the short- nor medium-term – until we have a high rate of immunization of the population, either naturally or through a vaccine,” Gerardo Laube, an infectious disease doctor at the Muniz Hospital in Buenos Aires, told local radio on Monday.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Juan Bustamante; writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Leslie Adler

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Trump Holds Florida Rally After White House Physician Reports Negative COVID-19 Tests

On Monday, White House physician Sean Conley said that President Trump had registered consecutive days in which he’s tested negative for COVID-19. The news came on the same date that Trump headed to a packed campaign rally in Sanford, Florida. 

“In response to your inquiry regarding the President’s most recent COVID-19 tests, I can share with you that he has tested NEGATIVE, on consecutive days, using the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen card,” said Conley. He added that those tests occurred “in context with additional clinical and laboratory data.”

Speaking of this data, Conley wrote that it was made up of “viral load, subgenomic RNA and PCR cycle threshold measurements, as well as ongoing assessment of viral culture data.”

The letter concluded that the president is “not infectious to others,” which echoes a similar message that Conley issued on Saturday. He also stated, on Saturday, that the president is cleared for an “active schedule.” 

CNN adds that it’s not clear what consecutive days Trump tested positive, while also noting that the Abbott BinaxNOW test he reportedly took may lack precision, as it’s only proven accurate in people being tested within the first week of their symptoms starting to show. The FDA has also said they’re not certain of how accurate Abbott BinaxNOW results are. 

Trump’s positive test was first announced on Thursday, October 1. The White House has not said when the president last tested negative prior to that announcement. 

As for that aforementioned rally, a large crowd gathered for the event. The campaign was issuing temperature checks and distributed masks/hand sanitizer, but social distancing remained absent. 

Trump also claimed to be “immune” and offered to kiss anyone in the crowd daring enough to chance it:

On a related note, this all comes on the same day that Dr. Anthony Fauci said that holding large rallies “was asking for trouble” due to the virus’s surge in several states. 

“We know that that is asking for trouble when you do that,” Fauci said of Trump’s decision to re-up a full campaign rallying schedule, according to The New York Times. “We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are

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Has Trump Recovered From COVID-19? White House Physician Gives Assessment

President Donald Trump has tested negative for COVID-19 “on consecutive days,” White House physician Dr. Sean Conley stated Monday in a written note. The memo was released just hours before Trump planned to appear in Sanford, Florida.

Trump’s negative diagnosis came from using the Abbott antigen test. Conley said Trump is not contagious to others. 

Trump announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2, along with first lady Melania Trump. He then spent a weekend at Walter Reed Medical Center following the diagnosis, where he received multiple treatments for the virus.

Trump has been treated with an antibody cocktail from Regeneron and remdesivir. He was also treated with the steroid dexamethasone.

Trump has said contracting COVID-19 was a “blessing from God.” He also recently told Americans to not let COVID-19 “dominate your life.”

Trump has told his campaign to hold events every day until the election on Nov. 3. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, said Trump’s rallies are “asking for trouble” as attendees often do not wear masks or social distance.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden has criticized Trump, saying he bears some responsibility for his COVID-19 infection. At the same time, the former vice president has said he is praying for Trump’s recovery. 

Multiple other figures in the Trump campaign and administration have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, campaign manager Bill Stepien, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and three Republican senators are a few high-profile individuals to have been infected by the virus. 

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