The Northwood nursing home on Gottingen Street in Halifax. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner / Tim Bousquet

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Today, the province announced that four more residents of Northwood have died with COVID-19. That brings the total number of coronavirus-related deaths at the nursing home to 49, and the provincial total (including Northwood) to 55.

At today’s briefing, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said that eight more people have tested positive for the disease, and that six of those were at Northwood. (The other two were in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Central Zone, which is mostly HRM.)

That raises the question: why is COVID-19 still spreading in Northwood, and why is it still killing people in Northwood?

The province’s emergency response for Northwood was announced on April 19. That day, Strang said:

Everything that can be done within that facility to separate the known positives from other people is being done, and the steps that are being put into place are going to enhance that ability.

That was 26 days ago, nearly two entire 14-day exposure cycles, and yet people at Northwood are still getting infected.

The questioning from reporters at today’s briefing tended mostly to be about newly announced relaxations of public health restrictions, and not so much about Northwood. Perhaps that was the purpose of announcing the relaxed restrictions on a day when four more deaths were announced; if so, reporters fell for the bait.

Had I the opportunity to ask a question, it would have been:

The emergency response to Northwood was announced on April 19. It included PPE for and testing of all staff, redeployment of NSHA staff to Northwood, etc. And yet today, you announced six more cases at Northwood. Has that plan failed? Why is COVID still spreading at Northwood?

None of the reporters who were allowed to ask questions asked that.

Northwood has been releasing daily stats related to the spread of COVID-19 in its facility since April 19. I’m not entirely confident in those stats. For example, the number of “recovered” cases sometimes goes down from day-to-day, which seems to suggest that either people are being reinfected, or there are false negative tests, or the counting is faulty. Or, for another example, the provincial and Northwood stats do not align perfectly, and try as I might, I can’t figure out how to make them match up; today, for example, Strang announced six new cases at the facility for yesterday (Thursday alone), while Northwood has announced six new cases over the course of the four days from Monday through Thursday.

Still, using Northwood’s stats, we can chart the number of new cases at the facility as follows:

So the number of new cases has dropped off from the very high numbers in late April, but here we are 15 days into May and the disease is still spreading in the facility.

And, people are still dying with the disease with alarming frequency:

Northwood says there are still 25 active cases of COVID-19 among Northwood residents (and 15 among staff), but again, I don’t know how many if any of those include the six Strang announced today.

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

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  1. Certainly something is still wrong. Have they moved everyone into a single room? Ars the staff staying in the one area? Thanks for trying.

  2. Excellent work Tim. Don’t know how you do it, awful news almost every day and no end in sight.