Saturday, August 08, 2020

July 27, 2020  Great Bay  – In a series of meetings held on Friday, July 24th, by technical staff and today, Monday, July 27th, with the Council of Ministers and its French counterparts, current developments on COVID-19 were discussed, as well as the way forward.

During the first meeting today, with Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Madame la Préfète Sylvie Faucher, it was agreed upon by both parties that after further evaluation during this current week, that follow up discussions would take place. PréfèteFeucher expressed that she is contemplating re-implementing internal controls to better control the spread of the virus.

Shortly thereafter, the Council of Ministers also met with President Daniel Gibbs and his delegation of Vice Presidents from the Collectivite of Saint Martin to further discuss the COVID-19 developments and exchange updates concerning the increase in active cases on both sides of the island. Discussed were measures to be taken in line with the health MOU, as well as assessing the possibility to further synchronize the measures in place in order to mitigate the further spread of the virus throughout the entire island. Also discussed, were the collaborative efforts between Collective Prevention Services (CPS) and the AgenceRégionale de SanteOccitanie (ARS) to discuss and share the origins of and strategy for contact tracing of new cases on both sides of the island.

The Government of St. Maarten indicated some of the stricter health protocols and mandatory measures put in place, such as social distancing in public places and compulsory use of facial protection in public, as well as a maximum number of patrons in enclosed spaces. Prime Minister Jacobs also gave updates concerning the Multidisciplinary Taskforce and Enforcement Teams that would continue to monitor, evaluate, and advise the Government on the best practices needed to swiftly crush the spike in cases once more. Mandatory mask usage is also being enforced on French St. Martin as of this week.

Further concerns for the Governments of St. Maarten/St. Martin were related to visitors from St. Barths, which has reopened its borders to visitors originating from the United States. In light of this, the St. Martin representatives indicated that US travelers wishing to visit St. Martin via St. Barths are required to have been in St. Barths for 14-days prior to their scheduled arrival to St. Martin along with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result. St. Maarten has also adjusted its measures to ensure that visitors from St. Barths would also require a negative PCR test and would be monitored as well.

Both parties exchanged COVID-19 statistics, indicating that the cases have resurged via community spread and are committed to continuous dialogue on developments on both sides of St. Maarten. Collaboration between both sides of the island has become more crucial given the free flow of movement on either side. 

While President Gibbs expressed grave concern about the reopening of St. Maarten to the US flights in August, the Government of St. Maarten highlighted the preparations being finalized in order to do so in a controlled manner. These preparations include mandatory PCR testing no older than 72 hours prior to arrival, increased temperature checks, and increased medical personnel at the airport as well as to assist CPS. The Government will also continue to evaluate the health care system’s ability to handle the current outbreak.

The meetings were positive overall. Government officials from both sides of the island pledged to further research and work towards the possibility to rapidly increase testing capacity on both sides through a joint request to access EU COVID-19 funding. Both governments also pledged to meet on a monthly basis and to work towards realizing the goal of a joint congress for St. Martin with representatives from both sides.

August 2, 2020   LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wilford Brimley, who worked his way up from movie stunt rider to an indelible character actor who brought gruff charm, and sometimes menace, to a range of films that included “Cocoon,” “The Natural” and “The Firm,” has died. He was 85. Brimley’s manager Lynda Bensky said the actor died Saturday morning in a Utah hospital. He was on dialysis and had several medical ailments, she said. The mustached Brimley was a familiar face for a number of roles, often playing characters like his grizzled baseball manager in “The Natural” opposite Robert Redford’s bad-luck phenomenon. He also worked with Redford in “Brubaker” and “The Electric Horseman.” Brimley’s best-known work was in “Cocoon,” in which he was part of a group of seniors who discover an alien pod that rejuvenates them. The 1985 Ron Howard film won two Oscars, including a supporting actor honor for Don Ameche.

July 31, 2020  LONDON (AP) — Alan Parker, a successful and sometimes surprising filmmaker whose diverse output includes “Bugsy Malone,” “Midnight Express,” and “Evita,” has died at 76, his family said. A Briton who became a Hollywood heavyweight, Parker also directed “Fame,” “The Commitments and “Mississippi Burning.” Together his movies won 10 Academy Awards and 19 British Academy Film Awards. The director’s family said he died Friday in London after a long illness. Parker was born in London on Feb. 14, 1944, and, like many other aspiring British directors of his generation, including Ridley Scott and Adrian Lyne, began his career in advertising as a copywriter and director of commercials.

NEW YORK (AP) — When historians look back on the top films at the box office in the summer of 2020, they may feel like they’ve slipped into a time warp, or maybe “Back to the Future.” Over the second weekend in July, “Empire Strikes Back” — 40 years after it was first released — was again No. 1. “Ghostbusters” claimed the July 4th weekend, 36 years after opening. Over the June 19-21 weekend and 27 years after it last led the box office, “Jurassic Park” again ruled theaters. In a pandemic that has resurrected all kinds of vintage pastimes, from puzzles to drive-ins, even the blockbusters are retro. That is much out of necessity. About 1,000 theaters in the U.S. are currently open, just about a sixth of the nation’s cinemas. That includes the approximately 300 drive-ins that have, since the multiplexes shuttered in March, hosted the majority of moviegoing.

July 29, 2020  LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tracy Morgan and his wife of five years are ending their marriage The actor-comedian’s representative said in an emailed statement Wednesday that Morgan and Megan Wollover have filed for divorce. “This is a challenging time for all involved, so I ask that you please respect our privacy,” Morgan said in a statement. Morgan and Wollover married after the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member recovered from a 2014 highway crash. One man was killed in the crash that left Morgan and two friends seriously injured. The crash happened when a Wal-Mart truck slammed into the back of a limo Morgan was riding in.