A photo of an empty syringe stuck into a model of the coronavirus, which is made out of a styrofoam ball painted purple, with multicoloured quilter's pins sticking out if it, with a white background.
Photo: Ivan Diaz/Unsplash

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

Nova Scotia announced zero new cases of COVID-19 today (Wednesday, June 23).

There are now 60 known active cases in the province; three people are in hospital with the disease, one of whom is in ICU; 14 people are considered newly recovered today.

Click here to see Nova Scotia’s reopening plan.

Here are the daily new case numbers and the seven-day rolling averages (today at 5.0) since March 28:

Here is the daily case count since the start of the pandemic in March 2020:

Here is the active caseload since March 28:

And here is the active caseload for the duration of the pandemic:


Border protest

Yesterday, the CBC noted that Premier Iain Rankin was going to announce further border restrictions on New Brunswick in  response to that province opening up to all of Canada. In response, at 3pm, PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, who represents Cumberland North, which includes Amherst, posted a video on Facebook, in which she threatened that an unspecified “we” would block Highway 104 unless Rankin changed his mind by 4pm.

Lost in the flurry of not-election spending announcements was a 3:03pm Tuesday announcement that Rankin would be going to Lunenburg on Wednesday to ladle out some cash in support of the film industry.

Tuesday’s COVID briefing started at about 3:10pm. As I reported yesterday, Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang laid out the new border restrictions:

But because New Brunswick has opened up to the rest of Canada, there will be a “modified” border restriction for those travelling from New Brunswick into Nova Scotia.

• Those who have received two doses of vaccine (and for whom two weeks have passed since the second dose) will have to self-isolate only until they get a single negative test result. Given current turnaround times for test results, that will typically mean just a day or two.

• Those who have received one dose of vaccine (and for whom two weeks have passed since that dose) will have to self-isolate for seven days, and must receive two negative test results — one from the Day 1 or Day 2 of their arrival, and the second from Day 5 or Day 6.

• Those who are unvaccinated or received their first dose less than 14 days before arriving must self-isolate for two weeks.

• Children under 12 arriving in Nova Scotia from New Brunswick must follow the testing and self-isolation rules of the least-vaccinated parent they are travelling with.

There are exemptions for those who travel for work, school, child care, and veterinary services, and for rotational workers.

During the briefing both Strang and Rankin explained the restrictions:

Strang: Given the risks with the Delta variant, we need more time before we can open Nova Scotia to travel from outside of Atlantic Canada without restrictions, by next week, we should reach our target of having at least 75% of all Nova Scotia with at least one dose of vaccine. Today, we’re at 71.4%. And that’s for the percentage of the entire population with at least one dose of vaccine. We will also have around 70% of Nova Scotians who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, those 65 and older, fully vaccinated with two doses in the near future.

Rankin: The fact is we still have the Delta variant that’s very prominent in other provinces. And so, as many have said, as soon as they open up the border to other provinces, that opened up our border. So we need to consider the fact that when you have one dose, that is a lot less protection against that variant and I’m not ready to write off any cases. We just announced two deaths today, sadly. And I’m not going to take the position that we’re going to take any more loss of life here in Nova Scotia for the sake of just opening up one or two weeks early.

The highway was blocked at around 5pm.

I thought about how to respond to this. I don’t have a dog in the fight. My immediate family is in Virginia, and I haven’t seen them since the pandemic began, although I hope to attend the family reunion in late September. We’ll see. I have a work project I want to undertake in New Brunswick, but it can wait. I don’t have anyone close to me in that province.

My inclination is to accept COVID restrictions without too much question — and especially those that will likely be lifted in a few weeks.

Still, I saw plenty of people complain about the very short notice for the restrictions, which resulted in cancelled plans and reservations. And about the heartache of not being able to see loved ones.

So my personal unconcern aside, I wanted to hear those criticisms out and give them a fair assessment. Even after all that has happened since, I still don’t think those legitimate concerns should simply be disregarded.

At around 1am this morning, Smith-McCrossin posted on Facebook:

Early tomorrow morning I will be travelling to Halifax and requesting an in-person meeting with Premier Rankin on behalf of the people of Cumberland North and everyone who is affected by the Premier’s last minute changes keeping families separated. The Premier’s office is located at
One Government Place
1700 Granville Place
Halifax

I will provide an update during the day with everyone and work to negotiate on your behalf. I know you all want to be safe and want to also reunite with your families.

I was proud to stand with you today. Please be safe and take care of one another. I will continue to do my best to represent you. You deserve to have your collective voices heard.

Understand that this was 10 hours after the Premier’s office announced Rankin would be in Lunenburg today.

But then the script went even further sideways.

CBC reporter Brett Ruskin had a bizarre interview with a woman who was part of the highway blockade named Jenn Moodie; Moodie repeatedly mispronounced Rankin’s name as “Ranklin” and called the vaccine “poison.” Ruskin continued:

Moodie said she wasn’t personally affected by the border restrictions since her family is in Ontario, though she said she’s been there eight times during the pandemic as she doesn’t follow 14-day quarantine protocols when she returns to Nova Scotia.

“I come and go. But unfortunately for here I know quite a few people that are going through a lot of mental health issues. A lot of kids who were looking forward to plans made, Airbnbs booked. Travel made.”

At around the same time, Smith-McCrossin attempted to walk back what was clearly a blockade she personally inspired:

Update: last night I requested protesters to open the highway for safety reasons & everyone them I would go to Halifax to meet with the Premier on their behalf to have their voices are heard.

After all this, the Halifax and Moncton Chambers of Commerce issued a statement condemning the border restrictions because they “will have a serious impact on business, with hotel rooms cancelled, restaurants and tourism operators negatively impacted, and pending regional air connections affected.” The Chambers did not mention the effect the blockade will have on business.

Soon after, the province spelled those effects out:

The Emergency Management Office is aware that the situation is having an impact on the transportation sector and supply chains. This includes refrigerated trucks carrying perishable foods that could spoil if they run out of fuel, medication to pharmacies and propane supplies for industrial customers.

Wholesale food deliveries to restaurants are impacted as is feed to livestock, affecting small businesses and farmers across the region.

“The longer this goes on the more risk there is that someone might not be able to get something they need,” said Inclusive Economic Growth Minister Labi Kousoulis. “There are workers who need to cross the border daily for their jobs, business owners depending on shipments for their livelihoods and trucks filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of seafood exports. The situation needs to end as soon as possible.”

Additionally, traffic congestion in Amherst is high due to vehicles parking in the town. This has the potential to create conditions that could slow emergency vehicles responding to calls.

The blockade has disrupted health-care services at the Cumberland Regional Health Centre, including the cancellation of more than 100 appointments for important services such as prenatal, services for children with autism and pacemaker care.

The blockade is also disrupting vital home care for residents in Cumberland County and stopping fragile test samples for children with life-threatening conditions coming from New Brunswick and PEI from arriving at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

The community vaccine clinic in Cumberland County is open, and no appointments have been cancelled, but the parking lot has been blocked posing a risk to those trying to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

I suspect there’s a bit of hyperbole in that statement, but clearly the blockade will have some economic impact, and it’s not insignificant.

It’s entirely possible the protest against the restrictions was “hijacked” by, well, some anti-vaxxer nutbars. But if so, Smith-McCrossin hasn’t called them out in unambiguous language. By all appearances, she’s not willing to make a meaningful statement against a blockade that she herself personally inspired.

Which is too bad, because lost in all this is some rational discussion of the restrictions.


Vaccination

Yesterday, 18,199 doses of vaccine were administered. A total of 808,713 doses have been administered; of those, 112,328 were second doses. As of end of day yesterday, 71.7% of the entire population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

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.


Demographics

The active cases across the province are distributed as follows:

Central Zone
• 32 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network
• 3 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network
• 6 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network
• 0 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network
• 0 in the West Hants Community Health Network
• 1 not assigned to a Community Health Network
Total: 42

Eastern Zone
• 9 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network
• 0 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network
Total: 10

Northern Zone
• 1 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network
• 3 in the Pictou Community Health Network
• 0 in the Cumberland Community Health Network
Total: 4

Western Zone
• 3 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network
• 1 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network
• 0 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network
Total: 4


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,490 PCR tests yesterday. This does not include the antigen tests administered at the rapid-testing pop-up 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:

Wednesday
Alderney Gate, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
New Minas Fire Hall, noon-7pm

Thursday
Alderney Gate, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Place, noon-7pm
New Minas Fire Hall, noon-7pm
Sydney Fire Station (mobile pop-up event), 2-7pm

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 in each of the health zones (appointments may not be available at each site).


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.

No new potential COVID exposure advisories have been issued.

We’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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  1. at the border- It seems to have been a case of ‘tinder’ meets ‘accelerant’ and a facebook flame.