New Zealand protesters set fires as police break up camp : NPR


A demonstrator is arrested at a protest opposing coronavirus vaccine mandates in Wellington, New Zealand, on Wednesday.

Mark Mitchell/AP


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Mark Mitchell/AP


A demonstrator is arrested at a protest opposing coronavirus vaccine mandates in Wellington, New Zealand, on Wednesday.

Mark Mitchell/AP

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Thick black smoke billowed throughout the grounds of New Zealand’s Parliament and sirens blared on Wednesday as retreating protesters set fireplace to tents, mattresses and chairs.

It seemed to be a remaining act of defiance as police broke up the camp that protesters first arrange greater than three weeks in the past. Police retook management of the Parliament grounds though dozens of protesters remained in close by streets, some hurling objects at police. Parliament’s as soon as fastidiously manicured grounds have been left scarred, a kids’s slide in ruins.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern mentioned that in planning the operation, police had anticipated hostility, resistance and violence — but it surely was one other factor fully to witness it.

“I used to be each indignant and in addition deeply saddened. To see the Parliament — your Parliament, our Parliament — desecrated in that approach, and a kids’s playground destroyed, by a small group of unlawful protesters,” Ardern mentioned. “However, as I say, it isn’t one thing that can outline New Zealand’s response to this pandemic.”

Earlier, police carrying riot gear and utilizing pepper spray had moved in on a whole lot of protesters who had been occupying the grounds and surrounding streets. Police efforts within the morning centered on the periphery of the protest earlier than turning to the primary camp within the afternoon.

It was probably the most vital use of pressure to this point by authorities towards the protesters, who oppose coronavirus vaccine mandates. Because the protesters retreated within the afternoon, they tossed objects onto a number of fires, which police ultimately doused with water hoses.

The operation started at daybreak, when police began telling protesters over loudspeakers they have been trespassing and wanted to depart, whereas officers tore down tents in peripheral areas and a police helicopter circled overhead. Some protesters confronted police and used milk to try to clear their eyes from pepper spray.

Police additionally towed a number of the 300 or so vehicles, vans and vans that protesters have used to dam streets. The convoy protest was impressed by comparable protests in Canada and has sparked different protests round New Zealand.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster informed reporters they’d introduced in a number of hundred further officers from across the nation for the operation, which might proceed till all of the automobiles and tents have been gone.

Coster mentioned some protesters had sprayed fireplace extinguishers and thrown paint at officers as they superior, and others had used makeshift shields and barricades. He mentioned a laser pointer was aimed on the police helicopter.

By night, police reported they’d towed about 50 automobiles and one other 30 had left. That they had arrested 65 protesters for trespassing, inflicting harm and carrying weapons. And three officers had been handled at a neighborhood hospital for non-life-threatening accidents.

Coster mentioned officers determined to maneuver in as a result of beforehand constructive talks with protest leaders weren’t progressing and lots of real protesters had left and been changed by folks extra intent on violent confrontation.

“I used to be very away from our method, which was to de-escalate. There isn’t any curiosity from anybody right here of turning this right into a battle,” Coster mentioned. “Nonetheless, this protest has tipped over a stability and it now wants to finish.”

Protesters mentioned in an announcement they have been united in wanting mandates dropped and to make their very own knowledgeable decisions relating to their well being, free from coercion and punishment. They mentioned the overwhelming majority of protesters had been well-behaved and had chosen to camp as a final resort after different choices for dialogue have been quashed.

The protests have led to a extra charged political environment throughout New Zealand. Ardern’s safety element has been elevated after protesters heckled her at occasions, together with as she was leaving a college go to in Christchurch final week.

Ardern on Wednesday mentioned the protest had been fueled by misinformation and conspiracy theories. She additionally identified that COVID-19 had unfold on the protest and a few protesters had been hospitalized.

Lawmakers throughout all events had refused to fulfill with the protesters.

Final week one protester drove a automobile towards a police line, narrowly avoiding officers, and police mentioned a number of the protesters had thrown human feces at them.

Earlier than Wednesday’s operation, police had arrested 132 protesters and laid numerous expenses towards a few of them.

Protesters have been effectively organized, establishing tents on the lawns exterior Parliament and trucking in moveable bogs, crates of donated meals, and bales of straw to put down when the grass turned to mud.

They even dug a vegetable backyard, arrange a day care tent, and assembled makeshift showers as they signaled their intent to remain for a very long time.

At one level, Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard turned on the sprinklers and blasted Barry Manilow tunes in a failed effort to make them depart.

New Zealand is experiencing its largest outbreak for the reason that pandemic started because the omicron variant spreads. On Wednesday, well being authorities reported a report 22,000 new day by day instances.

Ardern has mentioned she plans to start easing virus mandates and restrictions after the height of the omicron outbreak has handed.

About 77% of New Zealand’s inhabitants is vaccinated with two doses.

For the reason that starting of the pandemic, New Zealand has reported fewer than 100 virus deaths amongst its inhabitants of 5 million, after it imposed strict border controls and lockdowns to remove earlier outbreaks.

Most healthy Americans — and Utahns — can take a break from masks, CDC says


Most Individuals — and Utahns — reside in locations the place wholesome individuals, together with college students in faculties, can safely take a break from sporting masks underneath new U.S. pointers launched Friday.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention outlined the brand new set of measures for communities the place COVID-19 is easing its grip, with much less of a give attention to constructive take a look at outcomes and extra on what’s occurring at hospitals.

The brand new system tremendously modifications the look of the CDC’s danger map and places greater than 70% of the U.S. inhabitants in counties the place the coronavirus is posing a low or medium risk to hospitals. These are the individuals who can cease sporting masks, the company stated.

Carbon, Emery, Juab, Millard, Sevier, Utah and Wayne counties are thought-about Utah’s low-risk areas.

Salt Lake County is taken into account a medium-risk space, together with Beaver, Field Elder, Cache, Daggett, Davis, Duchesne, Garfield, Grand, Iron, Kane, Morgan, Wealthy, Sanpete, Summit, Uintah, Wasatch, Washington, and Weber counties. In such areas, individuals at excessive danger for extreme illness ought to train warning, the CDC suggested.

The company remains to be advising that folks, together with schoolchildren, put on masks the place the chance of COVID-19 is excessive. That’s the state of affairs in about 37% of U.S. counties, the place about 28% of Individuals reside. In Utah, that features Tooele and San Juan counties.

The CDC says officers in high-risk counties ought to mandate masks — however it’s solely a suggestion. All selections on masks mandates are being left as much as native officers.

Utah reported 425 new COVID-19 instances on Friday, the eighth day in a row that the reported case rely has been beneath 850. The variety of Utahns hospitalized with COVID-19 had fallen by 23, to 395. Nonetheless, there have been 101 individuals with COVID-19 hospitalized in Utah intensive care models, 9 greater than on Thursday.

The brand new suggestions don’t change the requirement to put on masks on public transportation and indoors in airports, prepare stations and bus stations, which implies masks should nonetheless be worn on UTA buses and trains and at Salt Lake Metropolis Worldwide Airport.

In Utah, the brand new steerage shouldn’t be more likely to result in vital change, stated Tom Hudachko, director of communications for the Utah Division of Well being.

“We don’t have any mandates in place,” he famous “I feel perhaps final week a variety of locations would have used it to elevate mandates. There’s clearly none of that right here, and there’s not a lot of it wherever within the nation.”

Nicholas Rupp, spokesman for the Salt Lake County Well being Division, agreed.

I assume it’s truthful to say that it’s not going to have a huge impact domestically with necessities,” Rupp stated. “However it could change some individuals’s conduct. Those that comply with suggestions very carefully — there could also be some modifications there.”

Dr. Angela Dunn, govt director of the division, is predicted to launch new pointers for Salt Lake County residents within the coming days — more than likely on Monday, Rupp stated.

Whereas the affect of the CDC’s modifications will not be substantial, the brand new steerage might encourage companies who’ve been on the fence about bringing workers again to the workplace, stated Dee Brewer, govt director of the Downtown Alliance of the Salt Lake Chamber.

The proportion of workers working in downtown Salt Lake Metropolis, in comparison with 2019, was flat at 38% for many of 2021, Brewer stated, and began climbing in September. The omicron surge in December and January moved workplace attendance to 35%, however it’s climbing larger now than it has since 2020, in accordance with Chamber knowledge.

As of Feb. 15, 48% of workers who labored in downtown Salt Lake Metropolis workplaces in 2019 have returned to work face-to-face, in accordance with Chamber knowledge.

Downtown eating places, bars and performances have attracted guests at close to pre-pandemic ranges, Brewer stated. The variety of visits to downtown companies is at 86% of its 2019 stage, in accordance with Chamber knowledge.

”It’s attention-grabbing that persons are extra comfy coming [downtown] for all these different causes, proper?” Brewer stated. “… Which tells me that it’s not simply concerning the virus or concerning the protections from the virus.”

The CDC’s up to date steerage will “sign the return to regular,” Brewer stated, however many companies have already reconsidered how typically workers want to collect nose to nose. And companies wish to set their very own necessities for masking, relying on their atmosphere, he stated, such because the variations between working situations at a development website and a restaurant.

The CDC pointers for indoor areas, aside from transportation, aren’t binding, which means cities and establishments even in areas of low danger might set their very own guidelines. And the company says individuals with COVID-19 signs or who take a look at constructive shouldn’t cease sporting masks.

However with safety from immunity rising — each from vaccination and an infection — the general danger of extreme illness is now usually decrease, the CDC stated.

“Anyone is actually welcome to put on a masks at any time in the event that they really feel safer sporting a masks,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated in a information briefing. “We wish to be sure our hospitals are OK and persons are not coming in with extreme illness. … Anybody can go to the CDC web site, discover out the quantity of illness of their neighborhood and make that call.”

Since July, CDC’s transmission-prevention steerage to communities has centered on two measures — the speed of recent COVID-19 instances and the proportion of constructive take a look at outcomes over the earlier week.

Based mostly on these measures, company officers suggested individuals to put on masks indoors in counties the place unfold of the virus was deemed substantial or excessive. This week, greater than 3,000 of the nation’s greater than 3,200 counties — larger than 95% — had been listed as having substantial or excessive transmission.

That steerage has more and more been ignored, nonetheless, with states, cities, counties and faculty districts throughout the U.S. saying plans to drop masks mandates amid declining COVID-19 instances, hospitalizations and deaths.

With many Individuals already taking off their masks, the CDC’s shift received’t make a lot sensible distinction for now, stated Andrew Noymer, a public well being professor on the College of California, Irvine. However it can assist when the following wave of an infection — a chance within the fall or winter — begins threatening hospital capability once more, he stated.

“There shall be extra waves of COVID. And so I feel it is sensible to offer individuals a break from masking,” Noymer stated. “If now we have continuous masking orders, they could turn out to be a complete joke by the point we actually want them once more.”

The CDC can also be providing a color-coded map — with counties designated as orange, yellow or inexperienced — to assist information native officers and residents. In inexperienced counties, native officers can drop any indoor masking guidelines. Yellow means individuals at excessive danger for extreme illness ought to be cautious. Orange designates locations the place the CDC suggests masking ought to be common.

(Screengrab | Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention) The CDC introduced new masking steerage on Friday, primarily based on new metrics that measure the unfold of COVID-19.

How a county involves be designated inexperienced, yellow or orange will rely on its price of recent COVID-19 hospital admissions, the share of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 sufferers and the speed of recent instances locally.

The hospitalization metric could also be deceptive in Salt Lake County, Rupp famous. “So lots of our hospitals take sufferers from outdoors our county — from Davis County, from Utah County, from Idaho, from Wyoming,” he stated. “So giving hospitalizations a larger weight will not be an ideal barometer for what’s occurring in that jurisdiction.”

Masks necessities have already got resulted in many of the U.S. in latest weeks. Los Angeles on Friday started permitting individuals to take away their masks whereas indoors if they’re vaccinated, and indoor masks mandates in Washington state and Oregon shall be lifted in March.

In an indication of the political divisions over masks, Florida’s governor on Thursday introduced new suggestions known as “Buck the CDC” that really discourage masks sporting.

State well being officers are usually happy with the brand new steerage and “excited with how that is being rolled out,” stated Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Affiliation of State and Territorial Well being Officers.

“That is the best way we have to go. I feel that is taking us ahead with a brand new route happening within the pandemic,” Plescia stated. “However we’re nonetheless specializing in security. We’re nonetheless specializing in stopping loss of life and sickness.”

The CDC stated the brand new system shall be helpful in predicting future surges and urged communities with wastewater surveillance techniques to make use of that knowledge too.

“If or when new variants emerge or the virus surges, now we have extra methods to guard ourselves and our communities than ever earlier than,” Walensky stated.

— Tribune reporters Scott D. Pierce and Connor Sanders contributed to this report. The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely chargeable for all content material.

CDC: Many healthy Americans can take a break from masks


A client sporting a proactive masks as a precaution in opposition to the unfold of the coronavirus selects fruit on the Studying Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Feb. 16. The vast majority of wholesome Individuals, together with college students in colleges, can safely take a break from sporting masks below new U.S. tips launched Friday. (Matt Rourke, Related Press)

Estimated learn time: 4-5 minutes

WASHINGTON — Most Individuals stay in locations the place wholesome individuals, together with college students in colleges, can safely take a break from sporting masks below new U.S. tips launched Friday.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention outlined the brand new set of measures for communities the place COVID-19 is easing its grip, with much less of a deal with optimistic check outcomes and extra on what’s occurring at hospitals.

The brand new system drastically modifications the look of the CDC’s danger map and places greater than 70% of the U.S. inhabitants in counties the place the coronavirus is posing a low or medium risk to hospitals. These are the individuals who can cease sporting masks, the company stated.

The company continues to be advising that individuals, together with schoolchildren, put on masks the place the chance of COVID-19 is excessive. That is the scenario in about 37% of U.S. counties, the place about 28% of Individuals reside.

The brand new suggestions don’t change the requirement to put on masks on public transportation and indoors in airports, practice stations and bus stations. The CDC tips for different indoor areas aren’t binding, that means cities and establishments even in areas of low danger could set their very own guidelines. And the company says individuals with COVID-19 signs or who check optimistic should not cease sporting masks.

However with safety from immunity rising — each from vaccination and an infection — the general danger of extreme illness is now typically decrease, the CDC stated.

“Anyone is actually welcome to put on a masks at any time in the event that they really feel safer sporting a masks,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated in a information briefing. “We wish to be sure that our hospitals are OK and persons are not coming in with extreme illness. … Anybody can go to the CDC web site, discover out the amount of illness of their neighborhood and make that call.”

Since July, CDC’s transmission-prevention steering to communities has targeted on two measures — the speed of recent COVID-19 instances and the proportion of optimistic check outcomes over the earlier week.

Primarily based on these measures, company officers suggested individuals to put on masks indoors in counties the place unfold of the virus was deemed substantial or excessive. This week, greater than 3,000 of the nation’s greater than 3,200 counties — larger than 95% — have been listed as having substantial or excessive transmission.

That steering has more and more been ignored, nevertheless, with states, cities, counties and faculty districts throughout the U.S. saying plans to drop masks mandates amid declining COVID-19 instances, hospitalizations and deaths.

With many Individuals already taking off their masks, the CDC’s shift will not make a lot sensible distinction for now, stated Andrew Noymer, a public well being professor on the College of California, Irvine. However it is going to assist when the following wave of an infection — a chance within the fall or winter — begins threatening hospital capability once more, he stated.

“There will likely be extra waves of COVID. And so I believe it is sensible to offer individuals a break from masking,” Noymer stated. “If now we have continuous masking orders, they could turn out to be a complete joke by the point we actually want them once more.”

The CDC can be providing a color-coded map — with counties designated as orange, yellow or inexperienced — to assist information native officers and residents. In inexperienced counties, native officers can drop any indoor masking guidelines. Yellow means individuals at excessive danger for extreme illness must be cautious. Orange designates locations the place the CDC suggests masking must be common.

How a county involves be designated inexperienced, yellow or orange will depend upon its price of recent COVID-19 hospital admissions, the share of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 sufferers and the speed of recent instances locally.

Masks necessities have already got led to many of the U.S. in latest weeks. Los Angeles on Friday started permitting individuals to take away their masks whereas indoors if they’re vaccinated, and indoor masks mandates in Washington state and Oregon will likely be lifted in March.

In an indication of the political divisions over masks, Florida’s governor on Thursday introduced new suggestions referred to as “Buck the CDC” that truly discourage sporting masks.

State well being officers are typically happy with the brand new steering and “excited with how that is being rolled out,” stated Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Affiliation of State and Territorial Well being Officers.

“That is the way in which we have to go. I believe that is taking us ahead with a brand new path occurring within the pandemic,” Plescia stated. “However we’re nonetheless specializing in security. We’re nonetheless specializing in stopping demise and sickness.”

The CDC stated the brand new system will likely be helpful in predicting future surges and urged communities with wastewater surveillance programs to make use of that knowledge too.

“If or when new variants emerge or the virus surges, now we have extra methods to guard ourselves and our communities than ever earlier than,” Walensky stated.

The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Training. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

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Giving out our All-Star break NBA and Utah Jazz season awards


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The “second half” of the 2021-22 NBA common season started on Thursday.

I put “second half” in quotations, as a result of let’s be actual: the All-Star break will not be technically midway by way of the season.

To have fun going into the ultimate stretch of the common season, we really feel it’s time to offer out some awards — each league-wide and Utah Jazz centric — in addition to grade some gamers and groups.

On the newest episode of The Tribune’s “How ‘Bout This Jazz” podcast, host/moderator Xoel Cardenas and Tribune Jazz beat reporter Eric Walden give out the HBTJ “Two-thirds of the way in which 2021-22 NBA and Utah Jazz season” awards.

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Click on under to hear now! It’s also possible to discover the podcast on each main podcast platform, together with Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Discover the HBTJ podcast at sltrib.com/podcasts/bout_jazz/

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