1. COVID-19 update
The downward trend continues in the numbers of new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia and you can feel the collective sense of relief. Yesterday, the province announced there were 37 new cases of the virus. Most of those cases (22) are in the Nova Scotia Health Central Zone. And there’s a total of 787 cases in the province.
There are 72 people in hospital, with 19 of those in ICU.
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Even though the numbers are going down, it’s still good to get tested. A complete list of pop-up testing sites for the next few days is here, but here are today’s pop-up locations and times:
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Dartmouth South Academy, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Burton Ettinger School, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3-7pm
And if you’re 20 or older, you can book your vaccine here. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who keeps refreshing the booking page waiting for spots to open up for teenagers.
The next COVID-19 briefing is on Friday at 2 p.m.
2. Why isn’t Nova Scotia uses bamlanivimab to treat COVID-19?
Nova Scotia has 50 doses of bamlanivimab, a potentially life-saving treatment for COVID-19, but it hasn’t used those doses. Linda Pannozzo set out to find out why.
First, Pannozzo learned about bamlanivimab or “bam” for short. Pannozzo reports:
Bamlanivimab (Bam) is a monoclonal antibody that was developed by Vancouver-based AbCellera Biologics, and is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. According to Health Canada the authorization of the drug is based on “limited data” that suggests “a potential benefit for patients in the high risk category.”
The drug is intended for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who are not sick enough to be hospitalized but who have some risk factors. Providing them with an intravenous infusion very early in the infection could prevent dire consequences.
“As an antibody therapy, bamlanivimab neutralizes the virus that causes COVID-19 and reduces the severity of symptoms,” said Kathleen Reid, a spokesperson for AbCellera Biologics. “It does this by binding to the spike protein on the virus, which blocks its attachment and entry into human cells.”
“It takes about 15 minutes to administer via an IV infusion, typically in an outpatient setting,” Reid explained.
Those 50 doses in Nova Scotia are “available for use in a research setting for patients over the age of 65 in early stages of the disease.” Pannozzo learns that using them for treatment is complex, and all about timing and logistics. She talks with Dr. Lisa Barrett, who was part of the Canadian Therapeutics Taskforce, a national group that was involved in assessing and recommending bamlanivimab as well as other COVID-19 therapeutics for approval and procurement by Health Canada. Pannozzo writes:
According to Barrett, the use of bamlavinimab requires early surveillance “before people are even barely sick in the vulnerable population.”
During the spring of 2020, when COVID-19 first emerged in Nova Scotia, bamlavinimab had not yet been an option for high risk groups. By the end of November, when the feds authorized the therapy, Nova Scotia was in the enviable position of not having many cases, but the number started to increase, and by Christmas province-wide restrictions were in place again “to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout the province.”
But bamlavinimab is administered by IV, so Barrett explained that any early intervention therapies would have required setting up mass IV clinics, which is tough to do. A lot more complicated than testing clinics, to be sure.
3. Parents of young kids struggling
I know a lot of parents with young kids who are having a tough time balancing working from home, helping their kids with online learning, and keeping them entertained as the pandemic separates them from their friends. And those same parents aren’t getting a break themselves. Yvette d’Entremont reports on a new study that finds that trend is very common among parents in Atlantic Canada.
The survey, conducted by Mount Saint Vincent University professors Jessie-Lee McIsaac, Joan Turner, and their team at the university’s Early Childhood Collaborative Research Centre, gathered responses from parents between March 9 and April 5. These parents all had kids ages up to the age of eight. And about half of those parents said they were struggling.
As d’Entremont reports, the survey also looked at parents’ concerns about their children’s development. Two-thirds of the parents said they didn’t think the pandemic affect their children’s language, communication, and physical development. That’s good news. But about half of the parents felt these things were negatively affected. McIsaac said,
A lot of this is from the perspective of parents. It’s also in the now.
We don’t know if some of the impacts on children that we are seeing now will translate into the future, but I think we have to keep an eye on it.
The survey also looked at how parents’ mental health has been affected. Here’s what d’Entremont writes about those responses from the survey:
Overall, 77% of parents who participated in the family survey said they felt less rested, 71% reported feeling disconnected, 71% said they had less time for self care, and 69% reported feeling worried.
4. The Tideline, with Tara Thorne, Episode 30: Shelley Thompson
In episode 30 of The Tideline, with Tara Thorne, she sits down with Shelley Thompson to talk about writing and directing her first feature film — Dawn, Her Dad and the Tractor. The film is also the first to be filmed in Nova Scotia in pandemic times.
The family drama that finds a young trans woman (Maya V. Henry in her film debut) returning to her rural Nova Scotia town for the funeral of her mother. Her arrival shakes up her father John Andrew (Robb Wells) and sister Tammy (Amy Groening), already grieving one loss and now facing another, more unexpected one, and learning that it’s also a victory.
The Tideline, with Tara Thorne is now free to stream. If you want to learn how to subscribe to our new platform, Buzzsprout, check out this article here. It has all the details on how you can listen to the latest episodes on your favourite streaming service.
Again, listen to the latest episode for free here.
Ending the sexual double standard, once and for all
Meredith Ralston, professor of women’s studies at Mount Saint Vincent University, has a new book, Slut-Shaming, Whorephobia and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution, coming out in June. Ralston — also a documentary filmmaker — has covered this issue before. Her film Hope in Heaven followed the life of a Filipino bar girl and explores the issues of sex tourism in the Philippines. On Wednesday I spoke with Ralston about her new book, and what we can all do to eliminate the sexual double standard. The book will be launched on June 22. You can read more about Ralston’s work here.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
So what are the roots of this double standard and slut-shaming?
Obviously there have been different time periods when women’s sexuality is treated differently; different time periods, different cultures. But if you’re looking at the western context, it does seem to be the roots of the issue had been about the need to control women’s sexuality, so you can control women’s reproduction. The only way men could know [a baby] was their child was to control women’s sexuality. You see so many examples of that historically, whether it’s literally controlling, like with chastity belts, or not letting women out of their homes. And then there’s religion. The origins of the Madonna-whore dichotomy. We still have a sexual double standard that says if a man has a couple sexual partners on the weekend, he’s a stud, he’s a player. There’s a celebration of that, but not with women. I teach a lot of young women at the university and they know exactly what I’m talking about. They know their behaviour is policed by other women as well as men, and very differently than other men.
What are the ways in which that double standard play out?
It’s part of the soup we’re swimming in that we don’t recognize it until something terrible happens. Rehtaeh Parsons is a good example of that. It’s that slut-shaming double standard. Miley Cyrus is a great example. Women can be sexualized, but not be sexual. You’re punished if you are sexual. [Cyrus] was a good girl, she worked for Disney. Then she comes into her own, she gets married, and then she’s brutally slut shamed when she goes off with, first a woman, and then another man. To be associated with sex for women is suspect. We are such a sexualized culture, but there’s still such a worry about women’s sexuality.
What are some of the historic examples?
The way churches dealt with unwed mothers. That part has changed dramatically, but that’s where the good girl/bad girl comes in. If you had a child out of wedlock, in a distant past, it was seen to be a shame on you, the girl, as well as the family. But it was also a cautionary tale to other girls to not engage in that behaviour because the punishment was so severe. Think about in the 1920s and 30s, if you disobeyed a parent, you could be locked up because you were so-called incorrigible. It affects the bad girls, but it affects the good girls, too. So, making that separation between the so-called bad girls on one hand and the good girls on the other, it gives permission to treat the bad girls badly. If you think about sex workers who are the ultimate bad girls — all those serial killers, they knew that they were targeting women who were seen to be disposable. It wasn’t about paying for sex; it was about abusing women and knowing they could get away with it.
What is whorephobia?
Half of the book is about female sex positivity and about how we overcome the sexual double standard and the good girl/bad girl dichotomy. But the other half of the book is about sex workers. Whorephobia is the extreme version of slut-shaming and has terrible consequences for women who are labelled whores. It allows originally kind, nice people to treat other people badly and, in this case, based on their sexual behaviour or perceived sexual behaviour.
Why do we have a difficult time accepting that some women choose sex work as a profession?
I am guilty of that myself. I did research 15 or 20 years ago and I probably would have said we need to end sex work. So, the Nordic model we do have now in Canada, that’s probably a good thing. Get the bad men and help the women get out. When you actually do meet women who do sex work by choice — who are empowered by it, or simply because they make a heck of a lot of money — when you meet those women and see how they do sex work with respect and dignity, and they do not feel they are victimized, you see them as two different things: consensual sex work that should be decriminalized, and trafficking. If you don’t want to do sex work and if you’re being forced to do sex work, that’s trafficking.
We have such a hard time thinking about that distinction and it’s because most of us are very conservative. I’m very liberal politically, but I didn’t realize how conservative I was sexually until I met these women. When you hear about religious groups that are anti-prostitution or even some feminists, unfortunately, they use some very derogatory views on sexuality, and say that women couldn’t be possibly doing this because it’s inherently violent, and so on. When you meet women who have a different point of view on that, you can’t go back. When you restrict women’s sexuality … you’re restricting their bodily autonomy.
Do male sex workers face the same whorephobia as female sex workers?
I didn’t interview male sex workers for this project. I have met male sex workers, I’ve been at conferences with them, and their main clients are male. There are now more women going to sex workers and being sex tourists, but generally the stats say the clientele for all sex workers — male, female, trans — are men. But the focus of the anti-prostitution people is almost exclusively cis-gender women who are the workers and cis-gender men who are the clients. There is the perceived power imbalance, so I can understand that as well. I talk about that in the book, how we can overcome that.
There’s the idea that male sexuality is not as stigmatized. People don’t think of it as damaging to the self. They’re not being shamed in the same way. There may be homophobia around male sex work, but it’s not about shaming them for exchanging money for sex.
How has the internet and social media changed slut-shaming?
Cyberbullying is the 21st-century version of slut-shaming and it’s been much more damaging. Let’s say in the 80s, 90s, even the early 2000s, you could be called a slut in your school, people might know, it’s still very uncomfortable, but you didn’t have the revenge porn, you don’t have the sexting we have now. The internet has definitely created more slut-shaming, but it’s also allowed movements like MeToo to actually come about.
What can we all do to fight our own double standards?
We have to challenge it every time we see it. That good girl/bad girl dichotomy is so ingrained, and there’s been so much work done on the socialization of girls — in particular, being raised, maybe inadvertently, by parents, churches, schools — to be good girls. When you have a famous person slut-shaming Miley Cyrus for behaviour that would be celebrated by the equivalent male, we have to think why is that happening and what’s my part in it? For me — seeing that sex workers are the tip of this iceberg, to say I cannot keep supporting a criminalized environment, even if the state is only going after the clients, the men —what I’m doing is continuing the stigma against these women.
If we continue the shaming of sexual active women, and really sexually active women who sell sex, then we’re also continuing the stigma against those of us who are not sex workers. That’s what I am trying to get at in the book, is to show those linkages. In the end — after the next sexual revolution, when it’s complete, if that will ever happen — we can look back as we do over time, and say, “Can you believe they judged women by their sexual, virginal status? How strange is that?” We are nowhere near that. That’s what we need a revolution about: to say, “No, do not take this anymore.”
Cocktails to go
Today, if you’re ordering food for delivery or take-out, you can also order a cocktail or mixed drink with it. Will they shake or stir it at the door? I don’t know.
On Wednesday, the province announced changes to liquor laws that would allow restaurants to include cocktails or mixed drinks with orders, at least while the state of emergency is in effect.
There are other permanent changes, too, according to this press release sent out yesterday:
- expand the list of alcoholic beverages allowed with food orders to include manufactured ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages such as coolers
- increase the value of a bottle of wine allowed with a home delivery to more than three times the cost of the food order to allow higher-end wines to be sold with food purchases
Other changes were made under the Emergency Management Act and are effective as of yesterday:
- allowing for third-party delivery services and drivers to deliver alcoholic beverages with food if they meet certain conditions, including training for the safe and responsible sale of alcohol
- implementing a 15 per cent cap on fees bars and restaurants pay for third-party deliveries and a 10 per cent cap if a customer uses a food delivery app to order
There are other changes to the liquor licensing regulations, too, which appear to be a way to help bars and restaurants once they open again:
- simplifying rules for operators who have both an eating establishment and a lounge licence at the same location and harmonizing hours of operation across all classes of licence by allowing all licensed restaurants and bars to sell or dispense liquor on Sundays starting at 10 a.m. Currently, lounge licensees can’t open until noon
- allowing children and youth under 19 years of age in all licensed establishments that have food service to stay for one extra hour, until 10 p.m., with a parent or adult guardian
Arthur Gaudreau at Halifax Retales has been chatting about these changes, notably the one about adding cocktails and mixed drinks to delivery and take-out menus for a while:
I wrote about that drink-in-the-park issue in April. Is that the next step?
Hmmm, maybe I’ll order take-out today and get a Tom Collins with it. Does anyone make those anymore?
North West Planning Advisory Committee Public Information Meeting (Thursday, 7pm) — Case 22267, Session #2, livestreamed on YouTube; proposal to develop a five-storey residential and commercial building on Wardour Street
Asian Heritage Month: Rhythm & Poetry (Thursday, 5:30pm) — a “joyful online celebration of the diverse rhythms and poetry of the world’s largest and most populous continent.” With the Maritime Bhangra Group! Sign up in advance.
In the harbour
06:45: MSC Eleni, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Montreal
08:15: CMA CGM T. Jefferson, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
10:00: Bilbao Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
18:15: IT Integrity, supply vessel, moves from Pier 9 to Irving Oil
22:30: IT Integrity moves back to Pier 9
I’m looking forward to leaving my community soon.