News

1. Coronavirus

Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash

COVID-19 has spread to 20 people connected to the Manoir Notre-Dame nursing home in Moncton — 13 residents, four staff, and two family members. The source of the outbreak is unknown at this time, and New Brunswick Public Health has issued the following advisory about potential exposure to the virus:

On October 7, Public Health has identified potential public exposure at the Moncton Costco optical centre, 149 Granite Drive and St-Hubert Restaurant, 235 Carson Road.

Optical Centre, Costco Moncton:

  • October 1st: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • October 2nd: 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • October 5th: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

St-Hubert Restaurant, Moncton:

  • October 3rd: 11:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • October 4th: 11:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Nova Scotia Health has reissued the advisory, as residents of this province can travel to Moncton without the self-isolation requirement. St-Hubert Restaurant is out in the big box land behind the Moncton Home Depot.

Until the Notre-Dame outbreak, New Brunswick had been on a roughly parallel course with the virus as has Nova Scotia — a few new cases a week, all related to travel, but thanks to self-isolation and contact tracing, there was no community spread. (Three additional new cases were announced in New Brunswick yesterday; two of them are travel-related, and the third is still under investigation.)

So the nursing home outbreak is worrying. The virus is tricky and elusive, and can pop up unexpectedly. It can easily slip across the provincial border, and because people have become relaxed in following public health protocols, it can begin to spread in the community.

I’d like to see Maritime governments provide citizens more details about how the virus actually spreads in our communities. Consider the detailed account published in New Zealand — which zeroed in on the infection likely spreading from one infected person to a previously non-infected person because they touched the same trash can lid, and then the second person spread it to a third because they sat near each other on a plane.

These kind of details inform me. I had recently began thinking that aerosol transmission was the primarily mode of spread, and had perhaps began downplaying the touching of shared surfaces as an important vector for the disease. Same thing with air travel: Dr. Strang assured me that it was unlikely people could catch the virus on an airplane. Now I know different, on both counts. I’ll keep my vigilance up with regard to wiping down surfaces, using hand sanitizers, and hand-washing. And I’ll avoid airplanes.

This is why I wanted details about the spread at Murphy’s Restaurant. Not so that I could shame sick people, but rather so I could assess risk in the community, consider whether public health policies were adequate, and better inform readers.

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2. The Tideline

“I’m excited to announce that the Halifax Examiner is producing a new entertainment podcast — The Tideline, with Tara Thorne,” I announced yesterday:

The podcast premieres next Thursday, October 15, with a new episode every week after.

The Tideline is separate and distinct from the Halifax Examiner’s news coverage, but we are mirroring the Examiner’s advertising-free, subscriber-supported model. Yes, we’re asking listeners to support The Tideline financially — for just $5/month.

Here’s how it works. Click here to subscribe to The Tideline. It takes just a few simple clicks to subscribe via your credit card, and then you’ll be sent an email with a link to a premium feed to The Tideline, which will work on any of the regular podcast aggregators and players.

There is no other way to subscribe, and subscriptions to The Tideline cannot be bundled with other Examiner subscriptions.

This is, frankly, an experiment. The Examiner believes in community-supported journalism, and we think The Tideline can demonstrate that that model will work for a locally focused entertainment podcast as well. The goal is to pay Tara a good wage, and at least come close to covering the Examiner’s costs. We’ve set some time and subscription goals, and if we meet those, all good! If not, we’ll revisit.

So if you support independent local journalism, and if you want to see more entertainment reporting from Tara Thorne, please subscribe to The Tideline.

A lot of people expressed support for Tara after her dismissal from the CBC. We’ll see if that support was merely rhetorical or if it will extend so far as the cost of a Pumpkin Spice Latte Venti. I think people will support it; I hope so, at least.

Again: The Tideline is an associated enterprise, but it’s unrelated to the day-to-day business of the Examiner. We still need your subscriptions, too. So if you haven’t already, and you are able, please consider subscribing to the Examiner.

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3. Park incident at Police Review Board

Adam LeRue speaks to reporters during a break in his Police Review Board hearing on Wednesday. — Zane Woodford
Adam LeRue speaks to reporters during a break in his Police Review Board hearing on Wednesday. — Zane Woodford

“They could have just asked him to leave the park,” reports Zane Woodford:

Instead, two Halifax Regional Police officers ended up arresting Adam LeRue, ripping his common law partner from his vehicle, and sending him to jail for the night.

LeRue, who is Black, and his partner, Kerry Morris, testified at their Nova Scotia Police Review Board appeal hearing at a hotel near the Halifax airport in Enfield on Thursday. It was a continuation of a hearing that was adjourned in July pending legal arguments about the board’s authority to hear the appeal. In a decision released last week and written in September, the board decided to allow the hearing to proceed.

Click here to read “Police review board hears testimony from Black man arrested for being in a Halifax park after 10pm.”

Consider the most recent high-profile incidents involving Black people interacting with police in the Halifax area. Black people have had to deal with systemic racism forever. The details differ slightly from case to case, but what holds them together is that Black people are treated differently than white people would be treated in the same circumstances.

I have zero doubt that if I were pulled over in a parking lot to make a phone call, I’d be considered a safe citizen, not a potential threat to anyone. I probably wouldn’t be stopped at all; certainly the situation wouldn’t escalate. Teenage Tim had a gazillion situations that had I been a Black kid from across town would’ve ended up with some police intervention, but because I was a middle-class white kid, I was merely moved along or ignored. Black people and white people are treated so differently in society that we make jokes about it:

But of course, as we’ve seen time and time again, when it comes to interactions with police, it can be deadly serious for Black people.

By and large, white people are taught to be deferential in these situations, and why not? — interactions with police are usually few and far between, and they almost always end up as at worst a momentary annoyance, and most often nothing at all.

But the situation is entirely different for Black people. They experience repeated profiling and street checking, often a protracted time suck tinged with power dynamics deeply reflective of racist attitudes, the always-present threat of needless or retaliatory arrest, and all the hassle and expense and loss of life opportunity that comes with being involved in the justice system.

Evidently, some Black people have had enough of this shit. They’re tired of it, they won’t take it sitting down. So a teenage kid sasses the police, a woman at Walmart is damn upset about how she is treated, a man takes umbrage for being involved with the police in the first place while going about life innocently. It is a human reaction, and yet some white people and some police want to criminalize that very humanity.

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4. Pandemic diaries

Photo by Zoran Borojevic/Unsplash

Back in May, Yvette d’Entremont reported on “the pandemic diaries,” an academic effort to track thousands of Nova Scotians’ daily experiences during the height of the first (and hopefully last) wave of the pandemic.

“Now,” reports Philip Moscovitch, “the COVID-19 Interpersonal and Coping Study has published four reports — the first sets of findings to come out of the data collected by the study.”:

The first four reports from the study cover Nova Scotians’ attitudes towards wearing masks, prior to July 31 when they became mandatory; intimate partner violence in the pandemic, LGBTQ+ people’s experiences, and a broader look at Nova Scotian experiences, compared to those of people from the rest of Canada, in the early months of COVID-19.

Click here to read “The Pandemic Diaries: we weren’t so great about mask-wearing and struggled with relationships.”

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5. Minks

Mink will make us all rich! Or not. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

“Nearly 8,000 minks at Utah fur farms have died in the past 10 days because of the coronavirus,” report Joshua Bote and Joel Shannon for USA TODAY:

Nine sites in three counties are quarantining, but the state veterinarian says people aren’t at risk from the outbreak.

“We genuinely don’t feel like there is much of a risk going from the mink to the people,” said state veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor, who is investigating the outbreak.

Workers at the farms likely spread the virus to the animals, but there is no sign that the animals are spreading it to humans, Taylor said. No animals have been euthanized in Utah because of COVID and it does not appear to be necessary, Taylor said.

The dead animals’ fur will be processed to remove any traces of the virus and then used for coats and other garments, according to Fur Commission USA, a mink farming trade group. The U.S. produces more than 3 million mink pelts each year. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories on Thursday announced the first COVID-19 infections among mink in Taylor County, Wisconsin.

I’ve followed, but haven’t reported on, the collapse of the mink industry in Nova Scotia. Over the past year or so, there has been a rash of mink-related bankruptcies and defaulted loans reflected in court records, the sad aftermath of an ill-fated ACOA decision to prop up the industry over the last decade. Since the price of mink began collapsing in 2014, the industry mostly failed in Nova Scotia. I think something like $10 million in government money has gone up in smoke (the CBC puts the total at $100 million across Canada), together with the personal toll of broken credit for untold numbers of farmers.

Most of the mink farms are gone, but a correspondent tells me that there are still a few up and running, and some of the closed farms may have released minks into the wild — an allegation I have not been able to verify. (Mink are native to Nova Scotia.) His worry is that the minks will become a vector for the coronavirus back to humans, but so far, it looks like the transmission works only in one direction, from humans to mink. And I’m aware of no reports of mink in Nova Scotia being infected, but I don’t know that anyone is checking.

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6. Liberal wannabe leaders

Now there are three. Randy Delorey has joined Labi Kousoulis and Iain Rankin in the race for the Liberal Party leadership, meaning that one of them will be the next premier.

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Government

No meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Cross-overs (Friday, 5am) — architecture lecture with Nikki Brand fromn TU Delft and Hub Zwart, Erasmus School of Philosophy, Netherlands. More info and link here.

The essential numerical range for unbounded operators (Friday, 2:30pm) — Marco Marletta from Cardiff University will talk. From the listing:

The numerical range of an operator T in a Hilbert space is a set in the complex plane, given by all complex numbers of the form (T u, u), where u ranges over all unit vectors in the domain of T. This set, usually denoted W(T), is convex, and if the spectrum of T is not the whole complex plane then it will be contained in the closure of W(T). These basic facts lie behind many methods for estimating whether or not some PDE is solvable, by getting estimates on where the spectrum of an associated operator lies.

The essential numerical range is a generally smaller set, still convex, which excludes all eigenvalues of T of finite multiplicity, and is intended to capture the essential spectrum of T. It was studied extensively in the 1960s for Calkin algebras of operators (and hence, in particular, only for bounded operators).

In this talk, based on joint work with Sabine Boegli and Christiane Tretter, I shall speak about what happens when one considers unbounded operators. Many unexpected pathologies emerge and can be illustrated even with very simple diagonal operators in `2 spaces.

If time permits I shall also discuss some results for operator pencils T − λB, where the numerical range is no longer convex. This lack of convexity is immensely helpful in many applications, including the Dirac equation.​

Bring your own eigenvalue of T of finite multiplicity.

Thomas Jefferson’s Thermometers (and Hygrometers) and His Climate Optimism (Friday, 3:30pm) — Stokes Seminar by Jack Crowley from Dalhousie University, on MS Teams.

Saint Mary’s

Overcoming Adversity in Higher Education: My journey as a Mi’kmaq student (Friday, 11:30am) — Alex Veinot from Queen’s University, a member of the Glooscap First Nation, will talk via Zoom. Info and registration here.


In the harbour

15:30: ZIM Shekou, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
18:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
20:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea


Footnotes

This afternoon, or possibly tomorrow morning, we’ll be publishing the third instalment in Joan Baxter and Linda Pannozzo’s “Lobster fishery at a crossroads” series.

Otherwise, I’m going to take most of the long weekend off. I’m beat.

Please subscribe, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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8 Comments

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  1. I’m trying to understand why you think it’s so important to know the method of transmission for that particular cluster of cases in Truro.

    Knowing the method of transmission in one particular case isn’t very helpful – what is useful is to understand COVID-19 transmission mechanisms in general: an anecdote provides less useful information than data does. The likelihood of it being spread by aerosolized particles or by touching of shared surfaces shouldn’t change from one similar location to another.

    Now if you are trying to understand if our public health regulations minimize the risk of transmission in a restaurant environment or whether that particular restaurant was following the regulation properly in order to minimize transmission risk, it makes more sense to look at that one anecdotal situation.

  2. what about Patreon subscription for the podcast? I am intrigued that you are doing one and look forward to listening and supporting!

    1. I’m sorry, this is the only way to subscribe. I investigated multiple subscription platforms and other ways to do this, and it simply became too administratively complex and costly to keep it at the low $5 price.

  3. Was Mr LeRue parked at the entrance to the park or was he in the parking lot at the bottom of Dingle Road ? ” I have zero doubt that if I were pulled over in a parking lot to make a phone call, I’d be considered a safe citizen, not a potential threat to anyone.”
    The parking lot in Dingle park is almost 900 metres from Purcells Cove Road.

  4. Regarding the Tideline podcast, I’d like to know a bit about its content and structure: Which arts will be covered? Single or multiple topics per show?

  5. An entertainment podcast, with a mainstream career journalist? Seriously? The whole point of independent media (and the people who support it) is to avoid both of these things.
    The lack of coverage on of the fisheries dispute and racist violence in Digby was disappointing, but it’s really tone deaf to roll this out now.

    1. Personally I support this website because I like the local reporting and many of the columnists. I’m not avoiding mainstream journalism or entertainment coverage. I’m neutral on the arts/ entertainment report, but if it focuses on local arts I can see how it would have an audience on the Examiner.