Active cases drop as stress mounts on the hospital system
The daily COVID case report from the province says there are 110 new cases today, but 155 people with the disease recovered since yesterday, so the active caseload goes down by 45. There are now 1,572 active cases in Nova Scotia. That's still a very large number—three weeks ago when Halifax went into lockdown, there were just 150 active cases—but it is lower than yesterday. And going lower is going in the right direction.
But the province is also reporting ominous developments in healthcare. COVID managed to get into a ward and infect a bunch of patients who were already in the hospital for non-pandemic reasons. "Eight patients in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre have been identified as positive for COVID-19," the province's Thursday report says. "They have been transferred to a COVID-19 unit. The other patients in the non-COVID unit have tested negative and are being closely monitored. As a precaution, Nova Scotia Health Authority is testing staff and doctors who have worked in the unit."
On top of that, intensive care capacity in Halifax is being pushed. This afternoon The Coast attended a virtual briefing with Tony O'Leary, the doctor in charge of COVID critical care for Nova Scotia, and he said there are 80 COVID patients in hospital in Central zone, 29 of them in the ICU. (Across Nova Scotia, there are 93 COVID hospitalizations, 33 of them in ICU, according to figures we received from the province after the briefing.) In Halifax, where the bulk of cases are, all the normal ICU beds are full right now; the Infirmary intensive care only has COVID patients, the Victoria General hospital site has both COVID and non.
"These numbers go backwards and forwards and change constantly through the day," O'Leary warned, speaking about patients but also describing the ICU system itself. The Infirmary has 12 "high acuity" beds normally, with the ability to expand—by the end of today the plan is to have 23 beds there. Across the province the normal number is 98 beds, which can double if needed. O'Leary says they won't all be needed, according to disease models. Here's hoping he's right.
Paid sick days for all!
Coast city editor Caora McKenna has a story out today about how actual workers may be effected by the province's new COVID-19 Sick Leave Program to grant up to four paid sick days to people who might not get them on the job. For some more details on the, we turn to the provincial press release about it. "People who cannot work remotely and miss less than 50 per cent of their scheduled work time in a one-week period due to COVID-19 may be eligible. This includes those who need to take time off because they are awaiting a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test appointment, and those who are getting tested, are self-isolating while awaiting test results, or are going to get vaccinated," the release says. "The sick days do not have to be taken consecutively. Any sick days taken between May 10, 2021, and July 31, 2021, may be eligible for the program."
The province is getting the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council to handle administering the 12-week program, which has a maximum payout of $640 per worker. Businesses that pay sick leave may be eligible to claim those payments back under the plan.
“We want employees to stay home if they are feeling unwell and follow public health protocols to help reduce the spread of COVID,” premier Rankin says via the press release. “Paid sick leave means they won’t have to make a difficult decision between their health and the health of others, or their own financial well-being.”
The program launches May 26, but is retroactive to May 10. The program already has a website with more info; application forms will be available at the site on launch day.
COVID in the community health networksOur table logs data from Nova Scotia's official COVID-19 dashboard in order to provide this information. The province reports the number of active cases in each of the 14 community health networks, but The Coast does the math to be able to report the new and resolved case numbers.
That whole backlog situ
We lived under the backlog for nearly two weeks, as wave after wave of issues hit. First the province had 45,000 too many tests to process, then it had too much testing data, and the whole time it was impossible to know how bad Nova Scotia's pandemic was, exactly. Now that the backlog's finally cleared, Victoria Walton looks back to explain what was going on. Add the story to the top of your reading list so you don't get an information backlog of your own.