THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
TUFTON NAMES NATIONAL COVID-19 VACCINATION COMMISSION FOR 2021
Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, announced the creation of a National COVID-19 Vaccination Commission that will be in charge of rolling out coronavirus vaccines in Jamaica beginning in April 2021. While news of a vaccine was welcomed, Tufton cautioned that only 16 percent of Jamaicans will likely have received the vaccine by the end of 2021. This requires Jamaicans to be under some type of COVID-19 restrictions for at least another year, as up to 70 percent or more of a population must receive vaccinations to slow or prevent the spread of the virus. Tufton sated that Jamaica will vaccinate 16 percent of the population to protect public health and to minimize the impact of mortality caused by the virus. Health care workers and older adults are likely to be the first Jamaicans to receive the vaccine. The current stated goal is to have a vaccine administered to one percent of the initial 16 percent of the population by April of 2021. This would be followed by another three percent by the middle of the year, and the remaining percentage receiving the vaccine by the end of 2021.
CHRISTMAS GRAND MARKET IN KINGSTON TO GO AHEAD
There will be no crackdown on the seasonal Christmas Grand Market in Kingston, according to the city’s mayor. Taking account of COVID-19 safety considerations, Mayor Delroy Williams announced that authorities will keep the city’s economy in operation while enforcing all coronavirus health and safety protocols. Williams noted that municipal police have already been deployed to work with the Jamaica Constabulary Force to enforce virus guidelines. COVID-19 has created an 18 percent drop in market revenue in Kingston from April to September 2020. Market revenue includes monies from vendor registrations and rental fees for stalls and shops. The market will operate under a curfew running from 10 pm to 5 am from December 1, 2020, to January 15, 2021, except on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when it will run from 7 pm to 5 am. In addition, gatherings in public and private should not exceed 15 individuals.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
PAN AMERICAN HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS CARIBBEAN SHOULD PREPARE TO RECEIVE COVID-19 VACCINE
While three nations – Bahrain, Britain, and Canada – have granted emergency approval for the use of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer, no rollout date has been announced yet for countries in the Caribbean and Latin America. According to Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said that several vaccine candidates are being considered, no vaccine has yet been approved for distribution in those areas. However, PAHO has called health ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean to a meeting designed to prepare for the purchase and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The ministers will also prioritize who will be the first to receive the vaccines at that time, since there will not be sufficient doses provided to protect everyone. Etienne said that every nation must identify its own priority groups, generally those most vulnerable to the severe forms of the disease, and develop communications campaigns to meet the needs of their populations. Health care workers are expected to be among the first people to receive the vaccine.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
MARCUS GARVEY JR. DIES AT AGE 90 IN SOUTH FLORIDA
Marcus Garvey Jr., the oldest son of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first national hero, died in Wellington, Florida, on December 8, 2020, at the age of 90. He had been fighting Alzheimer’s disease for several years before his death. Following in his father’s footsteps in many ways, Garvey was a successful electrical engineer, physicist, and mathematician who was also the president general of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Garvey was born in St. Andrew and spent much of his life traveling and lecturing throughout the Caribbean, North America, Europe, and Africa. He is survived by his wife of over 30 years Jean Garvey, his younger brother Dr. Julius Garvey, sons Colin and Kyle-Sekou, stepdaughter Michelle Morris, and four grandchildren.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
JPS SAYS POWER THEFT IN 2019 TOTALED US$178 MILLION
According to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), the country’s electricity distributor has experienced a theft of power in 2019 that totaled US$178 million, or J$26 billion at the current rate. The high theft rate occurred in spite of aggressive disconnection programs and a major campaign to appeal to consumers’ moral values. JPS reported that over 90 percent of the households in Riverton City in St. Andrew Western, stole power. The electricity distributor also blamed several electric outages in the community on the electricity thieves. Riverton City has just 160 legal customers among its over 1,000 households, and its non-paying users account for more than 600 kilowatt-hours per day, or more than 100 times that of average paying customers. The company has also noted with alarm that the consumption pattern of non-paying users is at excessive levels – over 600 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day – more than 100 times the average paying customer,” JPS has attempted to liaison with residents to encourage their compliance, but the efforts have not succeeded.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
GOVANA SONG “LIKKLE BIT A MONEY” MENTIONED IN JAMAICAN PARLIAMENT
The song and video “Likkle Bit A Money” by Govana was released in July 2020 and has gained in popularity ever since. Its incorporation into everyday conversation was illustrated when in a new video, the Honorable Desmond Anthony Augustus McKenzie, CD, MP, and Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, used the words and melody of the track in addressing the speaker in the House in Parliament. “Shut yuh mouth wid yuh likkle bit a money. That is the name of it, Madam Speaker,” McKenzie said, with a smile. His quoting of the lyric brought laughter from fellow MPs. Govana later shared the video clip on social media and commented, “… SORRY MADAM SPEAKER A SUH GOVI MUSIC DO PPL … I INFLUENCE THE CULTURE #UNDEFEATED.” The phrase included in the song is commonly used by Jamaicans in daily conversation, and during the campaign in the general election, numerous dubplates were utilized.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
JAMAICAN SWIM CHAMPION ALIA ATKINSON JOINS SPECIAL OLYMPICS CARIBBEAN AS AMBASSADOR
Alia Atkinson, Jamaican world champion swimmer, has been named as a Champion Ambassador to Special Olympics Caribbean, joining 58 other such ambassadors worldwide. The Champion Ambassadors program began in 2020 with the chosen individuals giving their time and using their public platforms to boost the inclusion of Special Olympics athletes in sports. As a Champion Ambassador, Atkinson will work with Special Olympics Caribbean to raise awareness, motivate athletes, and recruit donors to support Special Olympics programs in the Caribbean region. Atkinson, who has won medals at the Short Course World Championships, Long Course World Championships, World Cup, and Commonwealth Games, said she has seen how dedicated Special Olympic athletes are and that she looks forward to working with the regional group to enhance the organization’s programs.