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Jump to sections in this article:
Overview
Vaccination
Reopening
Demographics
Testing
Potential exposure advisories

A Nova Scotian woman in her 50s has died from COVID-19. She lived in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone (the Halifax area). She is the 80th person in the province to die from the disease, and the 14th to die since April 1.

Additionally, Nova Scotia has announced 40 new cases of COVID-19 today (Friday, May 28).

Of today’s cases, 29 are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, five are in the Eastern Zone, four are in the Northern Zone, and two are in the Western Zone.

There are now 585 known active cases in the province; 53 people are in hospital with the disease, 18 of whom are in ICU; 92 more people are considered recovered today.

Here are the daily new case numbers and the seven-day rolling averages (today at 50) for the current outbreak, dating from March 28, the last day Nova Scotia had zero new daily cases:

Here is the graph of daily new case numbers from the start of the pandemic in March 2020:

Here is the active caseload for the current outbreak:

And here is the active caseload from the start of the pandemic in March 2020, showing the primary associations of each of the major outbreaks:


Vaccination

Yesterday, 18,647 doses of vaccine were administered. By the end of the day yesterday, 560,843 doses of vaccine had been administered, 43,252 of which were second doses. About 53.3% of the entire population has received at least one dose.

People 12 years old and older can book a vaccination appointment here.

People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccine clinic should contact Rural Rides, which will get you there and back home for just $5. You need to book the ride 24 hours ahead of time.


Reopening

Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announcing the reopening plan at the COVID-19 briefing on May 28, 2021. Notably, the infographic the pair discussed was not presented on the giant video screen behind them. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

At today’s COVID briefing, Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang laid out a reopening plan of sorts, but the message was garbled and hard to follow along, because an infographic that at least attempted to explain it wasn’t given to reporters until the very end of the briefing, so we couldn’t ask for details or clarifications. Even then, the infographic is self-contradictory at places and is poorly edited.

Here’s what’s certain, however: with the exception of schools in the HRM and Sydney areas, schools will reopen to in-class learning on Wednesday, June 2. HRM and Sydney area schools will remain closed to most students, but “students with highly complex needs” will be allowed to go back to school. Here is the press release that explains some of the school situation. At the briefing, Strang said the Sydney area schools that will remain closed are those in the Sydney Academy and Riverview families of schools.

Beyond that, there is a four-phased reopening plan with loosening restrictions at each phase, spelled out in the infographic. But the targets for what triggers each phase are confusing.

To begin, the infographic sets the following targets:

Phase 1:
Begins June 2, 2021 | Target: 50% of population one dose coverage
We are entering this phase because COVID-19 cases and hospitalization numbers continue to decrease.
Testing Continues

Phase 2
2-4 weeks after Phase 1 | Target: 60% of population one dose coverage
We will enter this phase if COVID-19 cases and hospitalization numbers continue to decrease.
Testing Continues

Phase 3
2-4 weeks after Phase 2 | Target: 65% of population one dose coverage
We will enter this phase if COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations are low with minimal outbreaks.
Testing Continues

Phase 4
2-4 weeks after Phase 3 | Target: 75% of population one dose coverage
We will enter this phase when we have very few COVID-19 cases and little ongoing spread.
Testing Continues

As I said, reporters didn’t have access to the infographic, and for some reason it wasn’t put on the video screen behind Strang and Rankin as they explained it to 50,000 people watching online, so Global reporter Alicia Draus asked Strang what the targets were, and he gave a completely different set of targets:

Draus:  I don’t have that infographic that you’re talking about in front of me, but I just want to see, can you provide maybe some details on what we’re hoping to achieve vaccination wise before we get to each phase?

Strang: So our target for Phase 1 is, we’ve already hit that, 50%. Phase 2 is 60%. Phase 3 is 70%. And Phase 4 would be 85%. And that is based on that’s the percentage of the population that has one or more doses of vaccine.

So, to be honest, I have no idea which set of metrics we’re supposed to be using. I’m guessing, however, that Strang misspoke, as no one has ever suggested that 85% of the entire population would be vaccinated. Strang has previously said, however, that 85% of the eligible population (meaning, not including children under 12) would have to be vaccinated in order to get to 75% of the entire population vaccinated, so maybe he confused the two stats? Even then, I have no idea where he came up with 70% for Phase 3.

So, take this with a bunch of caveats, but I’ve created the following graph showing the total number of people who have received at least one dose of vaccine and the targets as laid out in the Infographic:

As you can see, and as Strang noted, the province has already passed the Phase 1 target. And assuming vaccination continues at the rate it has maintained for the past couple of weeks, we’ll likely zoom right past the Phase 2 and Phase 3 targets next week, just as Phase 1 begins. So it’s unclear why we have to wait another two weeks for Phase 2 to begin and four weeks for Phase 3 to begin.

I understand that it’s assumed that it takes two weeks after someone is vaccinated for the vaccine to be fully effective, but why then are the two-week periods stacked atop each other? In effect, we’ll be waiting four weeks after 65% of the population is vaccinated for Phase 3 to begin, and five or six weeks after 75% of the entire population is vaccinated before Phase 4 can begin.

Possibly, they just want two weeks for each stage to play out, before moving to the next, which might make some sense. But why then tie it to vaccination percentages at all?

Given the confusion around the presentation, it appears that Nova Scotia’s reopening plan was a rush job, and the products released today were never fully checked or run through an editor or communications professional for vetting. Honestly, they should’ve just waited til Monday to release it and spent the weekend crafting a more coherent message.


Demographics

Because new case counts have been so reduced, I’m now tracking the cases by age cohorts weekly, on Wednesdays.

The active cases across the province are distributed as follows:

Central Zone
• 206 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network
• 100 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network
• 57 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network
• 17 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network
• 2 in the West Hants Community Health Network
• 34 not assigned to a Community Health Network
Total: 416

Eastern Zone
• 111 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network
• 3 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network
Total: 115

Northern Zone
• 20 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network
• 9 in the Pictou Community Health Network
• 12 in the Cumberland Community Health Network
Total: 41

Western Zone
• 7 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network
• 6 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network
• 0 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network
Total: 13


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 6,381 PCR tests yesterday. Additionally, between May 21 and May 27, some 27,023 antigen tests were administered at the various pop-up testing sites.

You do not need a health card to get tested.

Pop-up testing (antigen testing) is for asymptomatic people over 16 who have not been to the potential COVID exposure sites (see map below); results usually within 20 minutes. Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Friday
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Dartmouth South Academy, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Place, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Burton Ettinger School, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3-7pm

Saturday 
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Dartmouth South Academy, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Place, noon-7pm
Sackville Sports Stadium, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Burton Ettinger School, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 11am-4pm

Sunday 
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Dartmouth South Academy, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Place, noon-7pm
Sackville Sports Stadium, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Burton Ettinger School, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 11am-4pm

Monday
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Tuesday
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Wednesday
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Thursday
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Friday
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

You can volunteer to work at the pop-up testing sites here or here. No medical experience is necessary.

You can also get PCR testing at the Nova Scotia Health labs by going here. Appointments can be made for the IWK, or for various locations listed below in each of the health zones (appointments may not be available at each site).

Central Zone
Bayers Lake (41 Washmill Lake Drive)
Burnside/Dartmouth Crossing (77 Finnian Row)
Canada Games Centre
Dartmouth General Hospital Drive-Thru (No Taxis)
Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital
Mayflower Curling Club
The Old School (Musquodoboit)
Saint Mary’s University (Homburg Centre)
Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital (Musquodoboit Harbour)
Zatzman Sportsplex

Northern Zone
Lloyd E. Matheson Centre (Elmsdale)
Colchester Legion Stadium (14 Lorne Street, Truro)
Truro (625 Abenaki Road, with drive-thru at 600 Abenaki Road)
Truro Farmers Market Drive-Thru testing
Amherst (34 Prince Arthur Street) — moving to Amherst Stadium on Monday
Pictou County Assessment Center (678 East River Rd, New Glasgow)

Eastern Zone
Antigonish Market Square
Buchanan Memorial Community Health Centre (Neils Harbour)
Eastern Memorial Hospital (Canso)
Grand Lake Road Fire Hall (Sydney)
Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital
Membertou Entertainment Centre
Northside General Hospital (North Sydney)
Sacred Heart Community Health Centre (Cheticamp)
Strait Richmond Hospital (Evanston)
Victoria County Memorial Hosptial (Baddeck)

Western Zone
Acadia Festival Theatre
Acadia University Club
Berwick Firehall
Digby Station (7 Birch Street)
Liverpool PAC (157 School Street)
Roseway Hospital (Shelburne)
South Shore Assessment Centre (215 Dominion Road, Bridgewater)
Yarmouth Mariners Centre
Yarmouth Visitor Information Centre (228 Main Street)


Potential exposure advisories

Public Health only issues potential exposure advisories when they think they may not have been able to contact all close contacts at that locale. The large majority of potential exposure sites never make it onto a public advisory.

Potential COVID exposure advisories were issued last night:

Anyone who worked at or visited the following locations on the specified dates and times should visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access, or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

For the following locations, if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate while you wait for your test result, as are the other members of your household.

  • Kent Building Supplies (225 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax) on May 22 between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including June 5. See note below re Flooring Department.
  • Best Buy (11 Washmill Lake Drive, Halifax) on May 25 between 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including June 8.
  • Walmart (6990 Mumford Road, Halifax) on May 25 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including June 8.
  • Sobeys (2651 Windsor Street, Halifax) on May 25 between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including June 8.

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations on the named dates and times for at least 15 minutes are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating, however, you are asked to get retested 6-8 and 10-12 days after this exposure. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.

  • Kent Building Supplies – Flooring Department (225 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax) on May 22 between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including June 5.

Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, any passengers who were on the following transit routes for at least 15 minutes on the named dates and times are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating, however, you are asked to get retested 6-8 and 10-12 days after this exposure. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.

  • Halifax Transit Route #4 (Universities), which runs from Lacewood Terminal to the corner of Lemarchant Street and University Avenue, on May 22 between 11:35 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 5.
  • Halifax Transit Route #4 (Universities), which runs from the corner of Lemarchant Street and University Avenue to Lacewood Terminal, on May 22 between 8:00 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 5.
  • Halifax Transit Route #4 (Universities), which runs from Lacewood Terminal to the corner of Lemarchant Street and University Avenue, on May 23 between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 6.
  • Halifax Transit Route #3 (Crosstown), which runs from Marketplace and Bancroft to Lacewood, on May 23 between 7:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 6.

Anyone who was on the following flights in the specified rows and seats should visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test,regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you. All other passengers on these flights should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

  • WestJet 230 travelling on May 24 from Calgary (9:30 a.m.) to Halifax (5:19 p.m.). Passengers in rows 1 – 7, seats A, B, C and D. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 7.
  • Air Canada 7556 travelling on May 24 from Montreal (1:15 p.m.) to Halifax (3:39 p.m.). Passengers in rows 23 – 27, seats C, D and F. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, June 7.

I’ve collected all the active advisories for potential COVID exposures on bus routes and flights here.

The updated potential COVID exposure advisory map is below; you can zoom in and click on the coronavirus icons to get information about each site.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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