THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
CONSTRUCTION OF FOUR FIELD HOSPITALS PROMPTED BY RISING NUMBER OF COVID-19 CASES
Jamaica’s government is taking stopes to increase capacity for handling a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases by building four new field hospitals. The hospitals will raise capacity by 152 beds, bringing the total number of hospital beds in Jamaica dedicated to COVID-19 patients to approximately 500. Currently, some 100 beds are occupied by patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. The first field hospital to be established on the island is a gift from the United States government and will house 40 beds on the grounds of Chest Hospital in St. Andrew. A second 40-bed facility will be established at Mandeville Regional Hospital as a joint project between the Jamaican and Canadian governments. Additionally, two 36-bed field hospitals will be funded by Jamaica’s government, one at the St. Joseph Hospital complex in St. Andrew and the other on the site of Falmouth Hospital in Trelawny.
PASSING OF RUTH BADER GINSBURG MARKED BY JAMAICAN LAWMAKERS IN U.S.
Jamaican leaders and judges in the United States expressed sadness at the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died of cancer on September 18, 2020, at the age of 87. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke noted that Justice Ginsburg had been a “champion of equality for all and justice for every American regardless of race, gender, or background since 1980.” Jamaican-born Sam Walker, Supreme Court Judge in New York States, said Ginsburg “inspired many judges to believe in the same belief system she exhibited,” which was fairness and equality for all. Michell Fanger, a Jamaican lawyer in Florida, said Justice Ginsburg was “the face of equality in the fight for women’s rights.”
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
VENEZUELA’S ONCE-THRIVING OIL INDUSTRY NOW FALLING APART AND DAMAGING CARIBBEAN SEA ENVIRONMENT
The oil industry in Venezuela is breaking down due to years of mismanagement, reduced prices, corruption, and an embargo imposed by the United States in 2019. These elements have combined to the collapse of the industry’s aging infrastructure, which now poses significant environmental dangers and a growing ecological disaster in the Caribbean Sea. Crude oil is gushing from a cracked underwater pipeline at the aging Cardon refinery, and nearby is a geyser of natural gas escaping from a second broken pipeline. These leaks are just the most recent examples of trouble for region’s environmental health. Oil spills have endangered corals and rare marine life near Morrocoy National Park, while an oil vessel rusting in the Gulf of Paria has been called a “ticking ecological time bomb.” According to Cristina Burelli, international liaison for the nonprofit SOSOrinoco that focuses on damage to the environment in Venezuela, says that if efforts are made to fix and restart the oil centers and refineries will only lead to more leaks and more damage from underground pipelines “blowing up.”
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN WOMAN FROM ST. CATHERINE PARTICIPATES IN LARGEST MARITIME EXERCISE IN THE WORLD
Princess Whyte, a Jamaican from St. Catherine, is serving as a seaman with the United States Navy and was a recent participant in the biggest international maritime exercise in the world, the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). Whyte is a retail services specialist on the USS Dewey, which operates out of San Diego, California. She is responsible for the management and operation of all retail and service activities on the ship, including its store, vending machines, coffee kiosks, barber shops, and laundry facilities. She noted that the characteristics and values required for success in the US Navy as the same as those she was raised with. RIMPAC is held every year to help participants develop and maintain cooperative relationships that ensure safety and security at sea. RIMPAC 2020 was the 27th exercise in the series, which began in 1971.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
HOTELS IN JAMAICA FACE BANKRUPTCY AS LOCALS WANT LOWER PRICES
Many hotels in Jamaica continue their fight to remain open even months after the nation reopened its borders on June 15, 2020, to visitors and tourists from around the world. At the time of reopening, it seemed the hotel industry was well-positioned to recover, having over 35,000 visitors in only one month. However, the industry is still in trouble, according to Omar Robinson, immediate past president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA). Hotels are running through their cash by staying open with occupancy levels as low as ten percent. He said hotels are grateful to Jamaica’s government for the reopening, but operating at 10 to 30 percent of occupancy does not translate to profitability for the businesses. Lower occupancy means less employment, and while the JHTA had proposed a 90-day extension of a four-month layoff period to provide hotels with more time to recover, trade unions rejected this proposal. The election in the United States combined with its COVID-19 problems has reduce the number of visitors from the US, a main market, to Jamaica. In response, many local Jamaicans have called for hotels to reduce their rates for residents so they can contribute to the industry.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
MASTERCARD CHOOSES KOFFEE TO BE BRAND AMBASSADOR TO JAMAICA
Mastercard announced that it has formed an exclusive partnership with Koffee, the Jamaican reggae artist and Grammy winner, that will make her the firm’s official brand ambassador in Jamaica. Koffee and Mastercard will use their partnership to develop awareness about digital payments and provide education to customers and merchants about the wide acceptance, convenience and security features associated with Mastercard’s electronic payment options. Marcus Carmo, the head of marketing and communications at Mastercard’s Caribbean division, noted that as one of Jamaica’s youngest and most talented musicians, Koffee, who remains grounded and humble, gives back to her community, and the decision to partner with her reflects the fact that her creativity, philanthropic spirit, and authenticity align with the company’s values. Koffee is the first official Mastercard brand ambassador in the Caribbean. She said she was excited to be part of the firm’s efforts to educate and raise the financial literacy levels of Jamaicans.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
JAMAICA’S DRIVER ALEX POWELL HOPES TO RECOVER IN FIA WORLD KARTING CHAMPIONSHIP
Jamaica’s Alex Powell is hoping that he can recover from recent performance setbacks and make a “flawless showing” at the FIA World Championship for karting in November 2020. Powell, who has been recognized for his great potential in the sport, has had problems recently and suffered unfortunate consequences at the OK-Junior FIA Karting European Championship in Germany and at the South Carda Karting meet in Italy. He believes these events served as “a dress rehearsal” for the November competition in Portimao, Portugal, however, and that they have made him more intent on success as he looks to the main event. Powell, who is 12 years of age, was one of the youngest drivers to compete at the European championship. He made history at age 11 when he became the first Caribbean driver to sign on with a Formula One (F1) team in 2019.