COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Thursday, May 20

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

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.

Vaccinations open to everyone 25 and older

The vax rollout keeps on rolling. "Starting today, May 20, people aged 25 and older can book appointments for the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at clinics across the province," says a press release from the department of health and wellness, announcing that the 25-to-29-year-old age cohort is open. By the governement's estimate, that means 61,400 Nova Scotians just became eligible. Book your appointment here.

COVID in the community health networks

Our table uses data logged from Nova Scotia's official COVID-19 dashboard in order to provide this breakdown. 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. We also map the data to provide a different view of the case information.

65 new cases?

Thursday, May 20, 2021

New cases

New recoveries

New deaths

Active cases

Days in a row with cases

Total cases in Nova Scotia during pandemic

Total COVID deaths

Halifax’s lockdown
28 days

Nova Scotia’s lockdown
23 days

At first it was hard to understand the title on today's provincial update: "65 New Cases of COVID-19, 184 Recoveries." On May 6, just two Thursdays ago, there were 182 new cases and 76 recoveries. In comparison, 65 new cases and 184 recoveries seems backwards. But apparently we're just having a good day.

This is the lowest number of new infections in a single day since the 63 reported 25 days ago, on April 25. To give you an idea how long ago April 25 was, the Halifax lockdown took effect just two days earlier, and the Nova Scotia-wide lockdown wasn't in effect yet. With the Halifax lockdown at 28 days today—four full weeks—the earliest days of it feel approximately 10 years ago.

The active caseload falls today to 1,153 active cases, the lowest level in 16 days, after the 1,060 active cases reported on Star Wars Day. Which also feels like it happened about 10 years ago.

The government report breaks the 65 cases down across the Nova Scotia as 41 cases in Central zone, 15 in Eastern, seven Northern and two Western. Our map and table use government data to break them down even further, showing the new, active and resolved cases in the local community health networks. Dartmouth, Halifax and Sydney/Glace Bay have most of the new cases; those community networks plus Bedford/Sackville have the bulk of the recoveries, too.

Hospitalizations are also down, from 101 Wednesday to 87 today, but the number of people in intensive care stayed the same at 20 ICU patients.

Testing and vaccination numbers are also up since yesterday's report, up being a good direction for both of these measures of humans actively fighting disease spread. Today's report says labs processed 7,846 tests yesterday, which is (only slightly, but still) above the current weekly average of about 7,600 tests per day.

The vaccination tally, however, is off the chart with 20,991 injections of vaccine delivered yesterday at clinics across Nova Scotia. The next-highest one-day vax total is 16,511 doses, reported April 21.

There are a couple significant blemishes on this good day. "One of the cases in Central Zone involves a staff member at Glasgow Hall, a long-term care facility in Dartmouth," says the provincial report. "A second case is being reported in Eastern Zone involving a staff member of My Cape Breton Home for Seniors in North Sydney."

And don't forget: 65 cases is a relatively low number in our current outbreak, but it's not actually a low number for Nova Scotia, and the case count could be higher tomorrow. "There is community spread in Central Zone and now in Sydney," the report points out. "Northern and Western Zones continue to be closely monitored for community spread. There are some areas of concern, particularly in Bridgewater, New Minas and Kentville. Testing has been increased in these areas."

Our map of COVID by community health networks

This map 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 the 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.

Community spread confirmed in Sydney

The province started seeding this on Saturday, when it added two sentences to the standard language in the daily COVID report: "There is community spread in Central Zone. The Eastern, Northern and Western Zones continue to be closely monitored for community spread. There are some areas of concern, particularly in Sydney, Bridgewater and the Annapolis Valley from New Minas to Kentville. Testing has been increased in these areas." (The bold is the added bit.)

Now it's official—the disease is spreading by community transmission in the Sydney area. Top doc Robert Strang said it in the latest Strankin briefing, and a press release from Nova Scotia Health put it in writing yesterday evening. "There is now community spread in certain areas of Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) due to multiple cases with an unknown source in Sydney," NSH reports. "Most of the cases involve people between the ages of 20 and 30."

The press release goes on to explain what community spread is, and why testing is an important tool to combat it:

With community spread, people need to be especially careful and ensure they are continuing to closely follow public health measures. COVID-19 variants spread more easily and cause illness quickly. Whether you live in an identified area of concern or not, testing is strongly encouraged. If you are the designated shopper in your household, if you can’t reduce your work circle or you deal directly with customers, or you otherwise have contact with people outside of your household, for instance, weekly testing is strongly recommended. Increased testing will help Public Health determine where the virus is, as well as, if and how it is spreading. There is capacity within CBRM to conduct over 3,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and rapid tests each day.

To that end, the following three testing sites are now available in and around Sydney:
• Grand Lake Road primary assessment centre, Grand Lake Road Fire Hall, 850 Grand Lake Road (drop-in and by appointment Thu-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4:30pm)
Centre 200, 481 George Street (rapid testing, drop-in only, Wed-Fri 3-7pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm)
Northside General Hospital primary assessment centre, 520 Purves Street, North Sydney (appointment only Thu-Sun 9am-9pm)

Click to book an appointment.

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

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