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Cruise passengers to land soon and 'Jesus Christ Superstar' streamable; In The News for April 3

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 April 3 ... COVID-19 in Canada ...

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 April 3 ...

COVID-19 in Canada ...

Canadians should brace for some grim numbers today as Ontario reveals its projections for how bad the COVID-19 pandemic could get in the country's most populous province and how long it could last.

Premier Doug Ford's decision to let Ontarians in on the "stark" best and worst-case scenarios will put pressure on the federal government to provide a national picture of the potential progression of the deadly virus, which by Thursday had already infected more than 11,000 Canadians and resulted in almost 200 deaths.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that such national modelling is coming "soon" but requires more data from provincial and territorial governments — a subject he discussed with premiers during a more than two-hour first ministers' conference call Thursday evening.

Federal officials are hoping the national projections will be available within the next five days.

Three weeks ago, Health Minister Patty Hajdu estimated that 30 to 70 per cent of Canadians could become infected — somewhere between 11 million and 26 million people.

In an interview late Thursday with The Canadian Press, Hajdu said that estimate hasn't changed.


Also this ...

Passengers stranded aboard two COVID-19-stricken cruise ships said they're finally hopeful their ordeal is nearing its end as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Thursday to ensure the Canadians would stay in isolation upon their return.

Trudeau said a chartered plane would carry asymptomatic Canadian passengers aboard the MS Zaandam and the MS Rotterdam home in the coming days, though he didn't provide an exact timeline.

But Catherine McLeod of Ottawa, who was on the Zaandam with her husband before they were transferred to the Rotterdam, said she was preparing to come home, even before American officials gave the ships the go-ahead to dock in Florida on Thursday afternoon.

"It's kind of a done deal we're getting off this pleasure cruise," McLeod said in a phone interview from her cabin. "So we're very, very hopeful. I will feel 100 per cent better once the plane lifts off the runway. It's going to be one hell of a Hallelujah hoot going up then."

She said she and her husband were waiting for a medical check-up to make sure they remained asymptomatic before getting their "disembarkation" papers.

"I think what they're trying to do is get our fannies on a bus and outta here ASAP," McLeod said.


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

The Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many Americans wear face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, as the president is aggressively defending his response to the public health crisis.

The recommendations, still being finalized Thursday, were expected to apply to those who live in areas hard-hit by community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. A person familiar with the White House coronavirus task force's discussion said officials would suggest that non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandannas be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home — for instance, at the grocery store or pharmacy. Medical-grade masks, particularly short-in-supply N95 masks, would be reserved for those dealing directly with the sick.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the proposed guidance before its public release.

President Donald Trump, who was tested again for coronavirus Thursday using a new rapid test, indicated he would support such a recommendation. "If people wanted to wear them, they can," he said.

"It's not a bad idea, at least for a period of time," Trump had said earlier in the week.

The White House said Trump's latest test returned a negative result in 15 minutes, and said Trump was "healthy and without symptoms."


COVID-19 around the world ...

Both the Islamic State group and al-Qaida see the coronavirus as a threat, but some of their fighters also see the upheaval from the pandemic as an opportunity to win over more supporters and strike harder than before.

Messages from the Islamic extremist groups show concern about the virus mixed with bravado, asserting that it is punishment for non-Muslims while also urging followers to repent and take care of themselves.

Al-Qaida suggested in a statement Tuesday that non-Muslims use their time in quarantine to learn about Islam. But in a sharp commentary in its al-Naba newsletter in mid-March, IS urged followers to show no mercy and launch attacks in this time of crisis.

In a commentary Tuesday, the International Crisis Group warned that the pandemic threatens the global solidarity that is key to fighting extremists, "allowing the jihadists to better prepare spectacular terror attacks."

Though analysts said it was too soon to say which attacks can be blamed on militants exploiting the coronavirus, Islamic extremists in late March carried out their deadliest assault yet against the military of Chad, a significant contributor to Africa's growing counterterrorism efforts, killing at least 92 soldiers near the border with Nigeria and Niger.


COVID-19 in sports

The Seattle Metropolitans were 20 minutes from a second Stanley Cup title in the spring of 1919, 20 minutes from adding their names to the trophy again.

Odie Cleghorn's goal for the Montreal Canadiens early in the third period of Game 5 sparked a rally that ensured there would be no celebration that day — or ever. The 1919 series took a grim turn from there.

Instead of ending with a title for Seattle, or with an epic comeback by Montreal, the series became known for being cancelled during the Spanish flu pandemic that sickened several players and eventually took the life of Montreal's Joe Hall.

Some are drawing parallels to what's happening today with the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertain future for the NHL's current season.

"(A few) weeks ago, I didn't think that would ever happen again. It was just such a quirky little footnote in history, and it was a funny little story, and 'I can't believe this happened,'" said author Kevin Ticen, who has chronicled the Metropolitans, including in a book, "When It Mattered Most," about the 1917 season.

"Now we're sitting here and history has repeated itself. I mean, to me it's exactly the same."

The abandoned 1919 finals were just one of two instances since 1893 where the championship trophy was not awarded.

The only other time no champion was crowned was when the 2005 lockout wiped out the entire NHL season.


COVID-19 in entertainment

Iconic composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is making some of his filmed musicals available for free on YouTube nostalgic theatre goers wanting to be entertained while stuck at home.

On Friday, the 2000 West End adaptation of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" starring Donny Osmond will be streamable.

That will be followed a week later by the rock classic "Jesus Christ Superstar" from the 2012 arena show starring Tim Minchin.

Further shows will be announced later, all hosted by the YouTube channel The Show Must Go On.

Each show will be available at 2 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Pacific for a 48-hour period online, with no charge or sign up required.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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