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.
The full Tuesday report: Cases rise as testing falls, a new COVID statistic and weak vaccination numbers for the holiday weekend
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Days in a row with cases
Total cases in Nova Scotia during pandemic
Total COVID deaths
Nova Scotia’s lockdown
There are 54 new COVID-19 infections in Nova Scotia today, an increase from the 49 new cases reported yesterday. This is the latest example of the sort of "ups and downs" Strang cautioned us all to expect.
The infections break down across the province's four health zones as follows: 35 cases in Central zone, 15 Eastern, three Northern and 1 Western. (Yesterday there were no new cases in Northern and Western zones.)
We can't tell you anything about infections at the community health network level because the province has been updating information in its tracking system, causing old, resolved cases to suddenly appear as new info at the province's C19 data dashboard. To find out how many new cases there are in the community networks, we compare today's reported numbers to yesterday's numbers, and currently the relationship has gotten out of whack thanks to the old data getting newly moved around. Today is the second day this has been happening, causing Coast data nerds endless consternation. (Check the chart below for more on this subject.)
But speaking of the data dashboard, let's talk about a statistic you can find there called "percent of tested samples that are positive." Like the name says, this is the percentage of each day's COVID tests that turn out to be new infections. Back in April 2020, when the disease was at its worst during the first wave, the percent of positive tests was 6.6 in Nova Scotia—our pandemic peak. So far in the third wave, the highest PoP was 3.1 on May 5.
Yesterday, the province reported 49 new infections from the roughly 4,300 tests completed the day before, for a PoP of 1.2 percent. Today, new infections climbed to 54 after the holiday Monday of COVID testing, when just 3,973 tests were processed by the lab, the lowest daily testing total in the last seven weeks. So PoP climbed too, to 1.4 percent, the highest it's been in a week. Want to help drive the PoP down? Get yourself tested, especially if you don't think you need to be tested. The more negative tests, the lower the percent of positives.
In other stats news, the daily update says: "Starting today, the province will start reporting episode date on the COVID-19 data dashboard. Episode date is the date of illness onset; when a person first starts experiencing symptoms. If the person is asymptomatic, it is defined as the date the laboratory specimen was collected."
Not gonna lie—we don't understand the significance of this. A person's episode date could be earlier than the date of their positive test ("I noticed the headache and sore throat on Friday, but with the holiday weekend I didn't bother getting tested until Tuesday"), so maybe tracking from the time symptoms began gives better information about the length of an infection. But "start of illness onset" is an inherently subjective measure, collected by over-worked public health staff from the memories of patients newly diagnosed with a deadly disease, seemingly as arbitrary as the date a test happened to be processed. Then there are the asymptomatic cases, where the infected person's only sign of COVID is a positive test. Our data nerds are keen to find out how this stat will shape our understanding of the disease in Nova Scotia.
Back to familiar numbers, the province says 102 infected people recovered since yesterday, outweighing today's 54 new cases and pushing the caseload down to 846 active cases, the lowest level in the last 23 days. The number of people in hospital with COVID stayed the same from yesterday's report to today's, at 72 people, but today there's one more patient in ICU, for a total of 20.
Yesterday the province backed away from its recent warnings that Bridgewater, New Minas and Kentville are "areas of concern" for community spread, and today's report held that line. "There is community spread in Central Zone and in Sydney. Northern and Western Zones continue to be closely monitored for community spread," is all the report says, with no mention of other concerns.
Finally, for the first time since last Thursday's numbers came out, the province is reporting vaccination data. On Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holiday Monday combined, there were 26,505 doses delivered, an average of about 6,600 per day. For comparison, last Thursday clinics across the province delivered over 20,000 jabs. Yes, 20,000 in one day. The weekend's 6,600 per day doesn't compare at all.
Second shots speeding up
The province unveiled its exciting plan to start delivering vaccine second doses more quickly than the 105-day wait it has been using during the vaccination rollout. Coast reporter Victoria Walton attended both today's public Strankin COVID briefing and a media-only vax technical briefing, and she's got the answers to 12 questions about what this means to you. Click here for the dosing dozen.
Another day with no table or map of cases
Just like yesterday, today the province's efforts to update information in the public health tracking system mean old cases are getting shuffled around. "Cumulative cases by zone have changed as data was recently updated in Panorama," is the way the province says it. "Changes can occur when large volumes of case data are validated at one time."
The end result for you is that the numbers on the province's COVID dashboard changed in ways that have more to do with paperwork—realizing an old case belongs to the Western zone instead of the Central zone, say—than actual infections, so we can't responsibly publish our map and table that show where today's new cases are.
The Coast's map and table are useful, popular tools that convey information about the community health network better than the province's official dashboard. We've heard from many of you who are missing them, and we share your disappointment that we can't currently publish them. We've also heard from people who wonder how confusing the numbers could be, assuming the province's changes only amount to a case here or there. So we made a new chart, showing the number strangeness. With any luck, the province will be done messing around with old cases and we can get back to the regular map and chart tomorrow. Until then, however, the following chart will have to tide you over.
Vaccinations open to 20-year-olds
At the province's vaccination booking site, people between the ages of 20 and 24 are currently able to schedule vax appointments. The province officially announced the availability mid-morning, but in typical fashion, the booking site changed before the press release went out.
Now everyone who's passed their teens is eligible to get vaccinated in Nova Scotia. Book your shot by clicking here.
Strankin briefing today
Premier Iain Rankin and chief medical officer of health Robert Strang are giving one of their regular COVID-19 briefings today. It is scheduled to start at 3pm, but that may change. 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.
The same email to media that announces today's briefing says the next briefing will be this Friday, May 28. That one is currently scheduled for 2pm, which feels aspirational. Watch for it to slide to 3pm closer to—or on—Friday.