THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
HOSPITALS IN JAMAICA IMPACTED BY NURSE “SICK-OUT”
Nurses at hospitals throughout Jamaica called in sick following a three-day national lockdown. The absences were prompted by comments made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during a press briefing on August 19, 2021, according to reports. When asked by a media representative whether health care workers should be placed on a priority list for medical treatment and ventilators, Holness said, “Once it comes to care, the standard medical triage would apply, there wouldn’t be any predetermined priority list; that would be problematic. The medical professionals would have to look case by case and triage, but it couldn’t be that there is a priority list. We wouldn’t give a predetermined priority list for a person to get like access to oxygen and so forth, no.” The hospitals affected by the sick-out included Cornwall Regional in St James, Mandeville Regional in Manchester, University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew, and St Ann’s Bay. According to Dr. Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Health, he has tried to address nurses’ concerns about working conditions, COVID-related stress, and salary considerations, and was “taken off guard” by their response to Holness’s comments. Nurses and government representatives agreed to another meeting to address rising concerns following the sick-out.
FINANCIAL AID PLAN LAUNCHED TO SAVE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION PARK AT HOPE ZOO
Lifespan Company Limited has offered financial aid to the wildlife conservation park at Hope Zoo in St. Andrew so that it may continue its operations. The company has now appealed to other businesses to provide additional help. Revenue for the zoo has decreased by more than 60 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been challenged in caring for the 1,500 animals living there. According to Robert Scott, general manager of Lifespan, the firm will implement a two-part plan to improve the zoo’s financial circumstances. This will include the adoption of one of Hope Zoo’s camels to provide funds for her feed and medical bills and donating one dollar from each bottle of water sold between August 1 and November 20, 2021, to the zoo. Lifespan is also facilitating donations from other business operators wanting to sponsor an animal in support of the zoo.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
UNITED STATES ISSUES WARNING AGAINST TRAVEL TO THREE CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES
The United States Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning travelers from the US to avoid visiting three countries in the Caribbean due to risks associated with COVID-19. The countries subject to the State Department’s highest travel alert, a ““Level 4 – Do Not Travel” alert are the Bahamas, Haiti, and St. Maarten. Data from Johns Hopkins University show that 3,134 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Bahamas over the past 28 days, almost 20 percent of the country’s total cases reported since the pandemic began. About 14 percent of the population there has been vaccinated. Haiti has reported nearly 21,000 cases and 584 deaths, while St. Maarten reported 3,520 cases and 46 deaths, with three new deaths and 48 new cases reported in mid-August. At least 12 nations in the Caribbean report spikes in number of COVID-19 cases attributed to vaccine hesitation. These countries include Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, St. Lucia, French St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Grenada and the Cayman.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
GROUP OF JAMAICANS IN HOLLYWOOD SEEK TO BRING AUTHENTICITY OF ISLAND’S CULTURE TO MEDIA
A group of seven Jamaicans based in California have formed the group Jamaicans in Hollywood, which intends to give a voice to Jamaicans in the entertainment industry, promote Jamaican storytelling, and raise awareness around the world about the importance of portraying Jamaican culture in an authentic way. According to Sardia Robinson, the president of the organization, authenticity has become increasingly important to audiences who ca recognize when it is not present. Jamaicans in Hollywood wants acting roles written for Jamaican characters to be filled by actual Jamaican actors, as the authentic Jamaican experience is often misrepresented in broadcast, film, and online performance due to non-Jamaicans reliance on stereotypes and inauthentic accents. The group objects to the portrayal of Jamaican experience as a stereotypical, homogeneous one promulgated by insensitivity to the issue in Hollywood for many decades. The group members include Robinson, vice-president Mark Anthony Williams, Gilbert Glen Brown, Tristan Cunningham, Jozanne Marie, Andrea Meshel, and Winston Bailey.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
JAMAICAN AGRICULTURE MINISTRY TO PROVIDE $50 MILLION TO AID BANANA, PLANTAIN FARMERS IMPACTED BY TROPICAL STORM GRACE
Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will provide the Banana Board with $50 million in emergency assistance to help banana and plantain farmers who suffered significant damage from the winds associated with Tropical Storm Grace. While the amount is far less than the estimated $300 million in losses farmers experienced due to the storm, it is necessary to stimulate the economic sector, according to Portfolio Minister Floyd Green. The loss amounts to about 29 percent of the sector, which needs to be resurrected as soon as possible. Prior to the storm, the production of bananas and plantain were rising by about 25 percent, and imports of the products had also increased significantly.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
JEAN BREEZE, FIRST WOMAN OF DUB POETRY, DIES IN KINGSTON
Jean Breeze, the Jamaican dub poet who died at the age 65 in Kingston on August 4, 2021, was known for the passion of her performances, the honesty of her stories, and her use of Jamaica’s vernacular language. Her passing was announced via social media by Renaissance One Writers and Events, her British agency. No cause of death was provided, but the poet had suffered from chronic lung disease for some time. Breeze was known as “Binta” and was considered the first woman to become popular in the male-dominated genre of dub poetry that originated in Kingston in the 1970s and was expanded in London and Toronto. Breeze was asked by the American poet Maya Angelou to perform at her 70th birthday party in the late 1990s. Describing her poetic vision, Breeze said she wanted to “make words music, move beyond language into sound.” She is credited with combining Jamaican patois with standard English to create her innovative rhythms and forms. Diagnosed with schizophrenia in her early 20s, Breeze’s themes included the exploitation of women, political oppression, and mental illness. In addition to being a poet, Breeze was a theater director, choreographer, actor and teacher, and wrote for television and film.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
SHELLY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE WINS 100-METER EVENT AT WANDA DIAMOND LEAGUE
Jamaican Olympic champion and sprint legend Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce blasted past her teammate Elaine Thompson Herah to win the highly anticipated 100-meter event at the Wanda Diamond League competition in Lausanne, Switzerland. Fraser-Pryce, who won the silver medal in the 100 meters at the Tokyo Olympics, ran the distance in 10.60 seconds. Thompson Herah, 100 meter gold medal winner in Tokyo, clocked 10.64 seconds to come in second. Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson completed the performance of the three Olympians by again coming in third with 10.92 seconds. Fraser-Pryce’s time set a new personal best for her, nine years after taking home her second Olympic title. Speaking to Swiss broadcaster RTS after the race, Fraser-Pryce said, “It’s been a long season but for me I never give up, keep working hard and staying committed to the task.”