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COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Monday, May 31

Updates including briefings, infections and our daily map of community COVID-19.

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NOTE: This day is now over. Click for the latest on COVID-19 from The Coast. Or for an informative look back at Nova Scotia's evolving pandemic response, keep on reading.


Halifax and Sydney schools are reopening, too

Monday, May 31, 2021

New cases
17

New recoveries
74

New deaths
0

Active cases
448

Days in a row with cases
63

Total cases in Nova Scotia during pandemic
5,567

Total COVID deaths
85

Halifax’s lockdown
39 days

Nova Scotia’s lockdown
34 days

Last Friday, when Strankin revealed Nova Scotia's reopening plan, much of the province—except Halifax and Sydney—was slated to get a lot of normalcy back on Wednesday, June 2, with kids returning to their school classrooms and people allowed to travel between different communities. But today at the COVID briefing, premier Rankin changed that, in very good ways. Now the plan is for Halifax and Sydney schools to reopen after all (on Thursday, not Wednesday like the rest of the province), while free travel inside Nova Scotia—including Halifax and Sydney—starts tomorrow. Our full report is here, but really we're just as surprised and delighted as you.


17 new cases, all of them in Central

The province is reporting just 17 new infections today—the lowest count in the last 41 days—and 74 people recovering from COVID, pushing the caseload down to 448 active cases. This is the fewest active cases since there were 419 on April 27, the day Nova Scotia's lockdown was announced. (The province-wide lockdown started April 28. There were 111 active cases when the Halifax-only lockdown was announced, on April 22, and 150 cases the next day when Halifax's lockdown started.)

"All the new cases are in Central Zone," say the province's daily report. "There is limited community spread in Central Zone. Eastern, Northern and Western Zones continue to be closely monitored for community spread." Having community spread only in Central is an improvement from yesterday's C19 report, when the province said there was also "limited community spread in Sydney."

At 40 people with COVID in the hospital, 16 of them in intensive care, hospitalizations are down slightly from yesterday's report, which said there were 42 total patients, 17 of them in ICU. Testing is also down— substantially—from the Sunday report that local labs completed nearly 6,200 tests the day before, to Monday's report of 3,781 tests completed Sunday. The daily average is currently about 5,400 tests per day

Speaking of averages… After another weekend without reporting on vaccination numbers, today the province says 23,030 total doses of vaccine were delivered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday across the province, for an average of just below 7,700 injections per day. That's actually pretty good for weekend vaccinations: last weekend, including the holiday Monday, averaged about 6,600 shots per day, the weekend before that was about 5,100 and the weekend before that was around 3,000 daily jabs.

Weekday vaccinations, however, averaged almost 17,000 per day last week, including the record-setting dose day of over 21,000 on Tuesday. If the past weekend managed the weekday level, rather than 23,030 people getting vaccinated, there would have been almost 51,000 people getting doses. That's 28,000 more Nova Scotians who might now be immunized against COVID, if only the vax rollout didn't relax so much on the weekend.


New and active cases visualized

This interactive graph charts COVID activity in Nova Scotia's third wave, comparing daily new cases with that day’s active caseload. The dark line tracks the rise and fall of new infections reported by the province, which hit a Nova Scotian pandemic record high of 227 cases in a single day on May 7. The green area is the province's caseload, which peaked May 10 at 1,655 active cases. Click or however over any point on the graph and the detail for that moment will pop up. To focus on just new or active cases, you can click the legend at the top left of the graph to hide or reveal that data set.


Case table of the health networks

Today's table may be confusing, so please be sure to check these notes for background.The Coast uses data logged from Nova Scotia's official COVID-19 dashboard in order to provide this tabulated breakdown. The province reports the number of active cases in each of Nova Scotia's 14 community health networks, but we do the math to be able to report the new and resolved case numbers. We also map the data to provide a different view of the case information.


Clearing up confusing numbers from the community health zones

The province is reporting 17 new cases today, all of them in the Central zone. Seems a very straightforward day in the land of COVID statistics, but digging deeper from the health zones to the community health networks, straightforward's not quite the situation.

Remember last week, when the province was catching up on paperwork and cases moved around in the Panorama public health system? And we didn't publish our map and table showing where cases are in the community networks because the changes in Panorama would have been too confusing to explain?

Well, it's kind of happened again. Not at the same utterly confusing level as last week—not enough for the province to call attention to it in the daily COVID report—but the numbers in the health networks have changed oddly from yesterday. We're still publishing the map and table, but three things may help you understand what's going on.

1. The cumulative total number of cases in the Annapolis Valley network increased by one since yesterday, from 167 cases during the whole pandemic to 168 today. This shows up on our map/table as a new case in both the Valley network and the larger Western zone that includes the Valley, even through there aren't any new cases today in Western. What happened is an old case—could be from last week, or last month during the whole testing/data entry backlog or theoretically even last year!—that was diagnosed as being in another part of the province got updated information; it turns out the patient lives in the Valley, so the case file moved in Panorama and the Valley has a "new" case.

2. The Sydney/Glace Bay network, and its encompassing Eastern zone, have three "new" cases. Exact same situation as the Valley and Western zone, just more case files getting updated and moved around in Panorama.

3. In the table, Central zone has only 13 new cases—not the 17 being reported today—while its Halifax network has 16 "new" cases, Dartmouth has five, Bedford/Sackville lost one and seven cases were removed from the "Community not known" category. This is a lot of change. Arguably too much to try to explain away or just accept as data getting cleaned up. But where today's actual report of new cases is so simple, in that all 17 of Nova Scotia's new cases are in the Central zone, we are going for it. Considering the table shows 25 new and "new" cases across various zones and networks; and eight cases were removed from Bedford/Sackville and the unknown category; and the difference between 25 and eight is 17, just like the number of new cases being reported today; we suspect that new information for a bunch of patients who started out in Central explains everything.

Or as the province explained when we checked: "Cumulative cases may change zones as data is updated in Panorama." (That was the entire provincial statement on the matter.)

If we made the wrong call, and it would have been better not to publish the map and table at all, please let us know in the comments.


Map of cases in community health networks

Today's map may be confusing, so please be sure to check these notes for background. This infographic was created by The Coast using daily case data from Nova Scotia's official COVID-19 dashboard. Our goal is for this to be the best NS COVID map around, clearer and more informative than the province or any other media organization provides. To get there we do an analysis of the data to find each day's new and resolved case numbers in the 14 community health networks, information the province does not provide. For a different but still highly accessible approach to the latest COVID statistics, check out our case table.


Strakin speaks at 3pm

In a rare move, the province sent a note to media this morning with the whole week's schedule of COVID briefings from premier Iain Rankin and CMOH Robert Strang. There's one today, Monday, May 31, scheduled to start at 3pm. You can watch live at novascotia.ca/stayinformed/webcast and/or @nsgov on Facebook, or catch it later at the Nova Scotia government's YouTube page.

Wednesday, June 2—the day Phase 1 of the reopening plan is supposed to start—and Friday, June 4 are the next two briefings. Both are scheduled to start at 2pm. Anyone want to take a bet on that time changing as the dates approach?


Recoveries and infections graphed

A person who tests positive for COVID-19 counts as a new case, the beginning of a problem for both the province and that person. The best ending to the problem is the patient recovers from the disease. This interactive chart compares how many problems started (the red area of new cases) to how many ended (the blue area's recoveries) each day in Nova Scotia's third wave, revealing growth trends along the way. Click or hover over any point on the graph and the detail for that day will pop up, to reveal exactly how quickly things change: May 7 had Nova Scotia's most-ever infections diagnosed in one day, 227 new cases, more than triple the 71 recoveries that day. Two weeks later, May 21, had a record recoveries, 197 in a day, more than double the 84 new cases. To focus on just new cases or recoveries, you can click the legend at the top left of the graph to hide or reveal that data set.


Getting tested

At this point in the Nova Scotia's third wave, health officials consider widespread testing an important part of the fight against the disease. "The thing I think that folks are missing is that what we're recommending at the moment, is not just that people get tested when the numbers"—of new infections—"are high, but also get tested weekly,” rapid testing leader Lisa Barrett explained to The Coast. She says most people should “assume that you're in an exposure site if you live in certain areas in this province—or almost anywhere in the province at the moment, because there's a lot of community spread.” To that end, click here to find a rapid test now.


Click here for yesterday's COVID-19 news roundup, for May 30, 2021.

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