News

1. COVID-19 update: 175 new cases

Yesterday a new record high of COVID-19 cases was announced in the province. Tim Bousquet has all the data, graphs, demographics, testing schedules, and more. Of the 175 new cases, 149 of those are in the Nova Scotia Health Central Zone. There’s a total of 1203 cases in Nova Scotia.

In a press release, chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang says the high number of cases wasn’t unexpected.

As the lab worked through its backlog, positive cases were added into our data system and the data entry is still a bit behind. That delay is reflected in the high numbers we’re still seeing. The team is working hard and I expect data entry will catch up quickly. We should not take any comfort from this — even without a lag our numbers would still be too high. Nova Scotians need to stay the course and follow restrictions.

As Bousquet reports, more younger people are contracting the virus:

Since April 18, over 25% of all new cases (359 of 1,393) have been among people 19 years old or younger, and the daily percentage of young people among new cases is growing:

If you want to get tested, here’s the schedule for the pop-up testing sites:

Thursday
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-7pm
St Andrews Community Centre (Halifax), noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3-7pm

Friday
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-7pm
St Andrews Community Centre (Halifax), noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3-7pm

Fortunately, the lists of potential exposures sites are getting shorter. Click here to find the most recent list of potential exposure sites.

And click here to read Bousquet’s entire article. 

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2. Pandemic taking a toll on mental health as many Nova Scotians take a “one day at a time” approach

As the pandemic drags on, mental health service providers are being kept busy. Photo: Engin Akyurt

Yvette d’Entremont has this very good piece on how Nova Scotians’ mental health is being affected by this pandemic more than a year into it.

d’Entremont speaks to Tantallon resident Suzanne Bartlett who say she’s taking everything one day at a time. d’Entremont writes:

Some days, the Tantallon area resident feels energized and finds herself cooking, baking cookies and gardening with her daughter.

Other days she wakes up feeling anxious for no reason at all and wishes she could just stay in bed and watch Netflix.

“Everything just feels a little uncertain and you’re on edge, almost. It’s just hard to predict anything,” Bartlett said in an interview.

“I feel like everything is in this constant state of upheaval and things are unknown and it’s almost impossible to plan for anything. I just need to take things one day at a time or I do start to feel overwhelmed.”

d’Entremont also talks with Jeff Bailey, who’s a registered psychologist (PhD) and Nova Scotia Health advanced practice lead, who says there’s been a huge spike in calls to the Nova Scotia Health (NSH) crisis line. d’Entremont writes:

Comparing the month of April, 2019 to April of 2020, NSH noted a 33% increase in the number of people calling the crisis line. That jumped another 12% last month (to 2,305 calls) compared to last April (2,064 calls).

While there’s been a consistent spike in calls to the crisis line, each pandemic wave has also led to a temporary decrease in the number of referrals for more formal, traditional forms of therapy. That decrease typically lasts for two weeks after the wave hits.

“Then there’s kind of a slight increase and a plateauing back to kind of the rates that we had seen before the wave had onset,” Bailey explained.

And then there are the kids who are struggling, too. d’Entremont talks with Emily Cardwell, development officer for Kids Help Phone in Eastern Canada about the “staggering increase” in the number of calls from kids to the help line. d’Entremont learns that in 2019, the Kids Help Phone had 1.9 million young people calling in for counselling services, information and referrals. Last year, that number increased to 4.6 million. Cardwell told d’Entremont the calls spike when the province is in lockdown. Caldwell says:

In Nova Scotia in particular, youth are continuing to reach out to us for support around relationship issues and depression, which are two topics that have coincided heavily with the pandemic of course when it comes to isolation and those kinds of things.

We’re hearing a lot of things about concern around seeing family and friends again. And with the third wave, they’re continuing to reach out to us.

This week is also national mental health week and d’Entremont learns about the results of a survey released Monday by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Click here to find that survey. 

It reports that 55% of Nova Scotians are feeling negative emotions during this pandemic and 83% of Atlantic Canadians said they were “coping very/fairly well” with the stress of the pandemic (that latter figure wasn’t broken down into regions).

d’Entremont also includes a great list of mental health and addiction resources, if you need them. Click here to read her entire article.

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3. What’s going on at child care centres?

The Kids & Company child care centre in Bedford is closed due to multiple cases of COVID. Photo: Google Street View

Jennifer Henderson reports on the COVID-19 situation in local child care centres, which are still operating, although at reduced capacity. She speaks with one parent in Bedford (who wanted to remain anonymous) about the situation at her child’s daycare, Kids & Company, at Dellridge Lane,  which has been closed for a week.

That parent reached out to the Examiner via email about how she wasn’t notified by Public Health about the extent of the exposure at the centre, although she estimates there are as many as 11 cases of the virus connected to it. Henderson says notices were sent out.

The Examiner reached out to Public Health to learn more, and as Henderson reports Public Health has never named a daycare where there’s been a positive case of COVID-19. Here she explains the process used when there’s an exposure at a child care centre:

Typically, Public Health issues public potential exposure advisories only when it believes that there may be people who were at a COVID-linked location who have not been identified. Otherwise, if all close contacts can be identified, they are contacted privately, and no public advisory is issued. However, nothing has prevented business owners from alerting the public on their own, and in fact many restaurants and other retail stores have used social media to tell the world that there was a potential exposure at their business, even though no Public Health advisory was issued. These are private business owners acting in what they say is a responsible and fully transparent manner, and the government has not objected.

But the concern here is that government-licensed day care operators are being directed by Public Health not to tell the public about the extent of COVID cases in their businesses. If true, it’s an extraordinary step by government, impinging on free speech rights and suggesting that Public Health is trying to limit public knowledge about COVID risks in day cares.

Yesterday Paul Brothers, a Global Morning News anchor, did an interview with his colleague, Alyse Hand, about how his family is coping after they all tested positive and have symptoms of COVID-19. In the interview, Brothers told Global that his family’s positive cases could be traced back to a positive case from their daughter’s daycare. Click here to watch that interview.

Henderson did get a response from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development about a plea from Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents hundreds of early childhood educators, to reduce class size to 50%.

This is a developing story and we will will share further reports if more information becomes available. In the meantime, click here to read Henderson’s complete article.

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4. Board: ‘Race was a factor’ in Halifax cops’ decision to ‘target’ Black man for jaywalking

Halifax Regional Police Constables Steve Logan (left) and Pierre Paul Cadieux at a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry hearing on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford reports on a ruling from an independent board of inquiry of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission that said two officers with the Halifax Regional Police did discriminate against a Black man when they ticketed him for jaywalking four years ago.

Woodford chronicles the details of the incident from 2017, which started when Gyasi Symonds was confronted by two HRP officers, Steve Logan and Pierre Paul Cadieux, after Symonds crossed Gottingen Street while heading to a coffee shop.

The 50-page decision was released yesterday and you can find that by clicking here. 

Woodford writes:

“I find that race was a factor in the police officers’ decision to target the Complainant for surveillance and investigation. This decision resulted in a summary offence ticket and constitutes adverse treatment,” [lawyer Benjamin] Perryman wrote.

Perryman found the initial interaction between the officers and Symonds, when they approached him on his way into the Nook, wasn’t discriminatory.

“Informal education, done properly, does not create an adverse impact in the provision of services. Even if it did, I am satisfied that race or colour played no factor in Cst. Cadieux’s decision to provide informal education in this case,” Perryman wrote.

Symonds was looking for significant damages, including $400,000 to compensate for past and future lost income, and $400,000 in general damages for pain and suffering. He received only $15,000. And as Woodford reports, the municipality was ordered to apologize to the complainant and boost anti-Black racism training for police.

Woodford reports a lot more, of course. You can click here to read his entire article. 

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Views

Parents, don’t worry about your kids’ screen time — you’re doing your best

Photo Ralston Smith/Unsplash

On Tuesday, Helen Earley, a Facebook friend, teacher, and freelance writer, shared a post about the time her family was spending on their computer and phone screens. Earley is married with two kids, ages 12 and seven. Her husband is also a teacher, so they each spend a good portion of the day teaching their students online while their own kids are online learning on computers in other rooms. Her daughter keeps in touch with her friends online. In her Facebook post Earley wrote she noticed her kids’ eyes were red and they had headaches. So, Earley set up a challenge for her family: She was organizing a screen-free Sunday for this weekend, a full day where none of them would use screens at all.

On Tuesday night,  Earley and I chatted about her goal.  

The most important thing about screen-free Sunday is that we’re going to sell it to the kids, so they can prepare to be screen free. I think it will be a little dramatic for them. We did screen-free Saturday morning this week, so we trialed it from wakeup time to lunch time Saturday morning. I think the kids actually secretly looked forward to it.

What we will do for screen-free Sunday? Whatever we want! We might sit around, we might lie in bed. I hope my husband and I won’t feel the need to turn to our phones as soon as we wake up. We’ll do anything we want.

Earley says her family does get outside by visiting their nearby playground or shooting hoops in the net in their driveway. But she’s still concerned about that screen time.

Because we’re spending so much time online during the day just chatting, there’s a compulsion just to turn back online when you don’t know what to do. To be honest, [the kids] kind of like little zombies. And so are we.

My kid and I are spending far too much time on our screens. But I’m fortunate. I only have one kid and while I answer some questions she has about assignments and so on, she’s really self-directed  with her online learning. I will add, online learning this time around is really organized.

But my kid is also too old to be told to go play in the yard. Like other kids, she is cut off from her friends, so they chat online. I don’t mind that. Still, I’m thinking of how to get both of us offline doing something we both like while staying in our community or even our own  house.

I wanted to learn what other parents are doing, so yesterday I put this question out on Twitter:

Here’s what they shared:

At least three parents said they bought trampolines:

Some parents understood the challenge.

Parents know that screen time has its benefits, too. I like hearing my kid laugh with her friends, even if it is just online.

But this conversation also showed how situations are different in every family.

Other parents understood this and it was lovely to see them support each other.

Meanwhile, Earley says she’s looking forward to screen-free Sunday at her home.

I don’t know if we’ll pull it off, to be honest. We’ll see. If by lunchtime it doesn’t work out, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I wouldn’t want everyone to feel pressured to go screen free on a Sunday. That’s also not very healthy. The truth is I think the reason it’s easier this year is that we all lowered our standards a bit. There’s so much more going on in the world.

Parents, you’re all doing your best. And to those parents who may not even have computer or internet access: You’re doing your best, too.

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Noticed

Last night before I started working on this Morning File, I went for a drive around my neighbourhood to clear my fuzzy head and strained eyes. I know I’ll get some flak for going out at all, but with the exception of a run to the grocery store, I haven’t left my house or yard for several days.

I went to the drive-thru of my nearby coffee shop. It didn’t look open, but there was one car ahead of me in the lineup.  

I got my drink and started chatting with the young barista at the window, Eden Schwinghamer, and asked how things were going (we both wore masks, by the way). Schwinghamer told me business is slow, which came as no surprise. He talked about how many of his friends worked in that industry, too, and how tough it was watching restaurants close down or slow down and friends lose work. He talked about the confusing messages young people hear: How they should stay home, how they were all being blamed for the partying, but they also work in industries where there’s a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19. And they need those jobs to pay for rent and tuition.

Schwinghamer, 20, is a trained baker and studied at The Culinary Institute of Canada at Holland College. He’s worked in restaurants in Halifax. He’s also a photographer and he’s heading to Toronto in the fall to study photography at Ryerson University.

I was wearing my Examiner hoodie and he asked me if I worked there. I told him I did, and he mentioned his mother subscribed yesterday morning (thank you to your mom!).  

Eden Schwinghamer. Photo: Contributed

Schwinghamer said he’s been in a limbo waiting to hear from school about what the fall semester will look like. Talking with him was a reminder that while we’re all staying close to home, everyone has a story going on behind the scenes, and we’re all trying our best to figure it out. I remember being Schwinghamer’s age decades ago, and the excitement of going to school and working hard to get there, although I never had to contend with figuring it all out while living in a pandemic. 

I miss having casual conversations with people like Schwinghamer when I’m just out and about. I’ve met so many interesting people this way. Like I said, some of the best stories come from the simplest of encounters.  

Oh — if anyone out there is a fashion or fine arts photographer, it would be nice if you could give Schwinghamer some advice or mentoring, shared virtually, of course. You can also see his current photography work here.

Best wishes, Eden, and thank you for the chat.  

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Government

City

Thursday

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — livestreamed on YouTube

Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm) — livestreamed via YouTube, with captioning on a text-only site

Province

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

No public events

Friday

W.O. McCormick Academic Day (Friday, 8am) — This year’s Zoom event is titled “Coaching and Behavior Change.” $25-100, agenda and registration here.


In the harbour

Halifax
05:30: Grande New Jersey, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Valencia, Spain
05:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from to Saint-Pierre
10:00: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
11:30: Grande New Jersey sails for sea
14:00: HMCS Margaret Brook, Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, Irving Shipyard to Bedford Basin for about 3.5 hours of trials, then to sea
15:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
19:00: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea

Cape Breton
18:00: Niagara Spirit, barge, with Tim McKeil, tug, sails from Aulds Cove Quarry for sea


Footnotes

I’m not sure what day it is anymore. I think it’s Blursday.

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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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2 Comments

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  1. I wish the media would do their homework and stop using the term “jaywalking”. First of all, that term does not exist anywhere in law. The infractions often described by that are associated with interfering with traffic flow. It is an ugly, useless term generated by a vehicle centric system. Pedestrians are allowed to cross any road anywhere provided it is not interfering with traffic flow. Cars don’t have to yield outside of crosswalks but if there are no cars, crossing can be made. This is really lazy reporting on the part if media. Stop using that word. It doesn’t exist!

  2. Again the glaring obviousness of the problem with policing in HRM, and policing in general. We have people walking around our communities with more power and license to engage in violence than anyone else. The police, and only the police, can kick down your door and shoot you. And these same people have less training in human interaction than any profession. It’s not a matter of shitty cops, of which there are plenty. It’s a matter of policing in general. Two cops, equipment and a vehicle(likely costing citizens well over $250,000 per year) have time to sit around and fuck with a Black man for jaywalking. We have a problem here in NS folks. And that problem is racism and policing itself.