NOTE: This week is now over. For the very latest news, please go here. But for an informative look back at exactly how Nova Scotia responded to COVID-19 in realtime, keep on reading.
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Editor's note: In its 27 years The Coast has never been a just-the-facts news service, but for these strange times this news centre offers quick-hit updates.
Sunday, June 28
No cases, no problem
With today’s clean report from the province, it’s been 19 days without a new case diagnosis. Nineteen good days.
Saturday, June 27
Another perfectly case-free day
For the 18th day in a row, the province is reporting no new COVID-19 cases. That is all. That is enough.
Friday, June 26
Restrictions get loosened again
At their briefing earlier today, premier Stephen McNeil and top doc Robert Strang announced further moves to reopen the economy AKA relaxing of measures that had been put in place to slow COVID-19’s spread. Suddenly restaurants can operate at 100 percent capacity, and bars can serve until midnight, and pools can open, and Strang is recommending mask wearing, and soon 250 people will be able to get together outside.
The Coast is going to dig into these changes in a deeper way, especially what they mean to restaurants. So watch for further covereage (update: check this out). To tide you over until then, here are the changes as copy-and-pasted from the province’s press release.
Effective Friday, July 3, some gathering limits will increase. If a recognized business or organization is planning an event outdoors, 250 people can attend with physical distancing rules in place. For an indoor event, the limit is 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 200, again with physical distancing.
Gatherings not run by a recognized business or organization, for example a family event in the backyard, are still subject to the 50-person maximum limit with physical distancing unless you're in your close social group of 10.
The expanded gathering limits apply to social events, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals and other cultural events, and arts and culture events like theatre performances, dance recitals, festivals and concerts. Guidelines for these types of events are available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/Events-theatres-and-venues-COVID-19-prevention-guidelines.pdf.
People can continue to gather in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing. People in a group are not required to be exclusive but they are strongly encouraged to maintain a consistent group. People should not gather in random or spontaneous groups of 10.
Businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing can still have no more than 10 people on their premises at a time with as much physical distancing as possible.
In addition, the following restrictions are being eased, effectively immediately:
— restaurants and licensed liquor establishments can operate at 100 per cent capacity and serve patrons until midnight with appropriate distancing between tables. Patrons must leave by 1 a.m. They must continue to follow their sector plans
— private campgrounds can operate at 100 per cent capacity. They must continue to follow their sector plan
— public pools can reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes, and one or more groups of 10 for other activities based on pool size. They must follow the Nova Scotia Lifesaving Society plan for change rooms and washrooms. It will take municipalities and other public pools time to prepare for reopening
— people living in homes funded by disability support programs can resume going out into their communities, although it may take time for homes to make arrangements
Dr Strang now recommends that all Nova Scotians wear a non-medical mask in situations where distancing may not be able to be kept, such as in stores, on public transit, or at gatherings. The exceptions are children under two or anyone who has a medical reason for not wearing a mask.
For the 17th day in a row, the province is reporting no new C19 cases have been diagnosed. Right friggin’ on.
The brief is back
Top public health doc Robert Strang spent two weeks in quarantine after his visit to a hospital in New Brunswick, but now he’s out of lockdown and The Steve & Strang Show’s hiatus is over. Today Strang will be back in action, sitting a safe distance from premier Stephen McNeil in the government's downtown Halifax media room, for a webcast briefing about COVID-19.
In an email to media organizations announcing the briefing, the province teases that Strang and McNeil are giving more than a status report on Nova Scotia's response to C19, which hasn’t produced a new case in over two weeks: “They will also announce further reopening measures.” These are presumably in addition to the radical opening that is the Atlantic bubble starting a week from today, so our mind is blowing thinking about the possibilities.
The briefing is scheduled to start at noon, NOT its usual 3pm time slot, and like always you can watch live at novascotia.ca/stayinformed/webcast, or catch it later at the Nova Scotia government's YouTube page.
Thursday, June 25
What even is a COVID?
The latest government COVID-19 report is boring—in the best possible way. No new cases, no active cases, no deaths. Every year, summer’s arrival opens a whole new chapter of optimism and joy for Nova Scotia. But here and now, featuring both the return of long days and a respite from the worst of the pandemic, we could well be in paradise. What a difference 16 days in a row without new cases makes.
Wednesday, June 24
A full incubation cycle with no new cases
Today’s COVID-19 report from the province is much the same as the reports have been every day for the past two weeks: no new cases.
Nova Scotia’s last C19 diagnosis was Tuesday, June 9. Most people infected with the virus start showing symptoms within two weeks, so getting through a two-week incubation period without new cases is an important milestone. A milestone we just reached. But it’s theoretically possible that someone was exposed to the virus June 9, then took the two full weeks to develop symptoms, and right now is dithering over calling 811 about the headache, runny nose, exhaustion and foot lesions they woke up with this morning. Because maybe it’s just allergies.
This person might need a few days of feeling awful to work up the courage to dial the numbers 8-1-1. Or they may never seek help, but they infect someone else who does call and becomes the next reported COVID-19 case. Anyway, this is the sort of scenario that public health professionals consider, and it’s why they can’t start to relax until after TWO full incubation cycles. (Cautious Newfoundland recently relaxed its “alert level” after 28 days.)
Getting through another two weeks is our next milestone. That target is Wednesday, July 8. A few days after the Atlantic travel bubble opens.
The Atlantic bubble—it’s blowing up July 3
The east coast premiers today announced they have reached an agreement to form an “Atlantic bubble,” allowing locals to travel freely among the four provinces with none of the current restrictions or two-week quarantines on arrival and return. “Interprovincial travel without the requirement to self-isolate will be permitted in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, for residents of Atlantic Canada as of July 3, 2020,” reads the press release from The Council of Atlantic Premiers. We’ll have more details on the bubble soon.
Tuesday, June 23
Two weeks without a case
It was Tuesday, June 9—two weeks ago today, a whole C19 infection cycle—that Nova Scotia last had a newly diagnosed case of COVID-19, and the relief is palpable in the air. But if we’ve learned anything from public health supremo Robert Strang and premier Stephen McNeil over these last three months with the disease, it’s that we can’t let down our guard now.
Oh look! In today’s provincial report of no new cases, no new deaths, McNeil says just that: “We have gone two weeks without a new case of COVID-19 and that is because of the efforts of Nova Scotians. But we can't get complacent. Please continue to follow the public health measures and stay safe."
Monday, June 22
A death discovered
The province is reporting no new cases today, the 13th day in a row, and the only person who had an active case of COVID-19 has recovered. Right this second, there is no sign of C19 in Nova Scotia. However, this wonderful news is tempered because the province is also reporting a death from the virus—a 60something man who died “several weeks ago in the Central Zone” just got his death classified as being COVID-related.
This newly diagnosed victim becomes Nova Scotia’s 63rd coronavirus fatality. “He was not a resident of a long-term care home,” states the province’s press release. In that same release, premier Stephen McNeil says: "My thoughts are with this individual's family and loved ones who are grieving these last few days and weeks. This virus has taken a lot from us, but we will stay vigilant in our fight to protect Nova Scotians as we work to reopen our province."
We’re also reporting that one previously diagnosed case has been recategorized as a resident of the NS Health Authority’s Eastern zone, rather than the Central zone, and our map has been updated. This sort of case shuffling doesn’t happen frequently, but it happens. The province has assured us it’s a normal consequence of the improved record keeping afforded by the effort to get all COVID case information in the Panorama software system.
We took the weekend off from COVID-19 reporting, because so did the disease. There were no new cases Saturday, June 20 or Sunday, June 21. The one patient in the province who is fighting the infection is still in the hospital. The talk of an Atlantic Canada bubble or (shudder) encouraging tourism from the rest of Canada is, as of this morning, still just talk, so we don’t yet have to fear masses of travellers bringing their money and their virus to our healthy province.
Now it’s Monday again. Hooray?
The collection of news updates from the June 15 week is here.
June 8 week is here.
June 1 week is here.
May 25 week is here.
May 18 week is here.
May 11 week is here.
May 4 week is here.
April 27 week is here.
April 20 week is here.
April 13 week is here.