COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia for the week of October 25-29

Information including charts, infections and our map of community COVID-19.

NOTE: This week 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.

A change in Coast coverage

Hi everyone. It's a stressful week in Coast World because we just had a major server crash, plus our staff is getting ready for the upcoming Best of Halifax print issue (watch for it November 12!). If just one of these things was happening, you might not notice anything at your end. But with both going on at the same time, we're not able to keep up with our standard daily COVID reporting. Instead, we're going to do a wrap-up for the week. With any luck we'll be back on the daily track soon.

Monday, October 25

One thing COVID has taught us is that nothing is guaranteed with COVID. In late September and early October, the basic trend in Nova Scotia was for a lot of new cases on Monday—reporting for Friday, Saturday and Sunday—followed by declining case numbers for the rest of the week. Like a slide on a playground, starting high at one side and then going down. But last week was more like a bowl from Monday through Friday: high on one side, dropping in the middle, then going up again on the other side. Now the big question is what will this week bring?

It starts the worst way possible, with another Nova Scotian dying of COVID. “My heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of the man who has passed,” says premier Tim Houston in Monday's provincial C19 report. “COVID-19 is still in our province. Please get vaccinated, stay home if you are sick and continue to follow public health protocols.”

The man who died was in his 70s, and he lived in the Western health authority zone. The is the 99th COVID death of Nova Scotia's pandemic.

“It is never easy to hear that a Nova Scotian has passed away as a result of COVID-19. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are grieving,” says top doc Robert Strang via today's report. “Getting vaccinated will not only protect you but also your loved ones and your community. I encourage all Nova Scotians to get both doses and keep doing all you can to protect each other.”

Compared to a person dying, little else COVID-related matters today. The province is reporting 57 new cases for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or 19 per day on average. Which is exactly what last week averaged during its bowl-shaped trajectory. So Monday picks up from where last week left off in terms of new cases. For recoveries, there were 64 over the weekend, so active cases fall to 152. That's the fifth straight report with a dropping caseload. And there are currently 11 people in hospital due to COVID, with only two of those patients in intensive care, an overall decline from last Friday's situation of 15 in hospital, four of them in ICU.

For details about vaccinations, check out the graph of Nova Scotia's vaccination rate lower down this page.

Tuesday, October 26

COVID deaths have been mercifully infrequent in Nova Scotia over recent months. A death is rare. Rarer still is for the province to report deaths two days in a row. But it is happening now. After yesterday's announcement that a man in his 70s died of COVID in Western zone, today Nova Scotia is reporting that a woman in her 70s in Western zone has died of COVID. The last time NS had back-to-back deaths was nearly five months ago, on June 2 and June 3.

“I’m very saddened to hear another family has lost a loved one,” says premier Tim Houston in the Tuesday report. “This is a stark reminder of how serious this virus is. I know we have been at this for a long time and people are getting tired, but we cannot be complacent.” The disease has now officially killed 100 Nova Scotians.

In less-important disease developments, the province is reporting just seven new cases today, a steep decline in new infections from Monday to Tuesday. At the same time, there are 24 recoveries in today's report, so the caseload drops for the sixth day in a row, to reach 134 active cases. Hospitalizations are also down—yesterday there were 11 patients in hospital with COVID and two of those in the ICU, compared to 10 in hospital today and only one in intensive care—but that may well because the woman who died was removed from the hospitalization tally, turning that seeming positive trend into a harsh negative.

Wednesday, October 27

On Monday we described the two recent trends in new COVID infections in Nova Scotia. Some weeks lately have been acting like a slide, with the numbers of new cases steadily dropping from Monday to Friday. Those are good weeks, as eventually that slide would go all the way down to zero new cases. But the more recent worrying trend is bowl-shaped: new infections start the week by dropping, then level off and by the end of the week are rising again. The bowl sucks, because it's never good to get increasing cases.

We bring this up because Wednesday is the middle of the week, and it should be giving us a hint of COVID's shape this week. Fewer new cases than yesterday would leave open the chance for a slide, while a number like Tuesday's would suggest the flat bottom of the bowl. Then there's a third option, and given this week has already featured the sadness of two COVID deaths, it might not surprise you this is the option we get—a sharp increase in new infections.

The province is reporting 26 new infections today. This is the most in a single days since the 26 cases reported Thursday, October 14, nearly two weeks ago.

Adding to the bad news, there are only 14 recoveries today, meaning the caseload goes up for the first time since Monday, October 18. It's now at 146 active cases. Luckily hospitalizations haven't changed from yesterday, as there are still 10 COVID patients in Nova Scotian hospitals, with one of those sick enough to be in the ICU.

Thursday, October 28

This week leading to Halloween just gets scarier, with the province reporting 31 new COVID cases today. That is the most in a single day since there were 40 infections announced Tuesday, October 5. (The single-day thing is because there were 57 cases on Monday, but that number is the total for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, an average of 19 cases per day, well below today's 40 cases.)

Combined with 40 new cases, there are only five recoveries today, which is bad for two reasons. First and most obviously, the caseload jumps by 35 to hit 171 active cases. Second, that is the fewest recoveries in almost two months, dating back to Thursday, September 9, when the province reported that just four people had recovered from their COVID infections.

Hospitalizations are happily unchanged since yesterday.

Friday, October 29

In the least-surprising COVID news of this particularly awful week, Nova Scotia announces it's extending the provincial pandemic state of emergency for another two weeks. The SOE has been in place—with routine extensions every two weeks—since March 22, 2020, so it probably wasn't going to end even if there were no deaths and no new cases over the past five days. And "no deaths and no new cases" doesn't describe this week at all.

The province says there are 26 new cases today. This is down a bit from the 31 infections announced yesterday, and with 28 people newly recovered from COVID, the caseload is also down slightly from 171 active cases Thursday to 169 today. But these numbers can't turn the week's trend around.

This is definitely not a week shaped like a slide of steadily declining cases. It might qualify as a bowl—an aggressively pointy bowl with asymmetrical sides—but the metaphor really doesn't matter. The only good pandemic shape is the downward slide, and we ended up with the opposite, a gentle uphill incline. Last week had 19 new cases per day on average, while this week averaged 21 cases per day, a move in the wrong direction.

The province reports breakthrough case numbers on Friday, so our graph of breakthrough infections below is updated. At the right side of the chart you'll notice the bar representing the latest week of reporting, Oct 12-27, is slightly taller than last week, Oct 14-20. That's in keeping with this week averaging more new cases per day than last week. But the total number of new cases that were breakthroughs actually dropped. This week 41 cases were in people who had some amount of vaccination (35 people fully vaxxed, six people partially), while last week had 42 breakthrough infections (34 fully vaxxed, eight partially). We'll take that little bit of good news into the weekend, as we await the next provincial COVID report coming Monday, after the weekend off. We hope you have a happy Halloween.

Map of cases in community health networks

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. Note: On July 23, 2021, Nova Scotia announced that it will no longer update case numbers on weekends.

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Case table of the health networks

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. Note: Effective July 23, 2021, the province no longer updates case numbers on weekends.

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New and active cases visualized

Nova Scotia's third wave of COVID grew in April, 2021, peaked in May (227 new cases in one day was the maximum) and subsided in June. On July 17, the province reached five active cases—its lowest level in more than eight months—and an election was called. So when it came time to reset The Coast's chart comparing daily new cases with that day’s active caseload, in order to better reflect disease levels after the third wave, we started from July 17. Two months later, on September 14, the province formally announced the arrival of the fourth wave of COVID. The dark line tracks the rise and fall of new infections reported by the province; the green area is the province's caseload. Click or hover over any point on the graph and the detail for that moment will pop up. To focus on just new or active cases, click the legend at the top left of the graph to hide or reveal that data set. Note: As of July 23, 2021, the province stopped updating case numbers on weekends. And you can click here for the version of this graph that includes the third wave and its May 10 crest of 1,655 active cases.

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Vaccination in the population

How many Nova Scotians already have one dose of vaccine? How many are fully vaccinated with two doses? And how close are we to the herd immunity goal of 75 percent of the province fully vaxxed? These questions are answered in our chart of the vaccination rate in Nova Scotia since the province started reporting these numbers in January 2021, breaking out people who've had a single dose separate from those who've had the full complement of two doses. (Here's more information about the 75 percent target and what it will take to get there.) Note: The province doesn't update vaccination numbers on weekends.

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Canadian cases in 2021

There was a point in July 2021, when the delta variant was causing an increase in COVID infections around the world, that Canada seemed safe from the fourth wave. By August, however, that point had passed, and case numbers around the country started to rise again. This graph charts the number of new infections every day in each province and territory, using the 7-day moving average to mitigate single-day anomalies (including a lack of weekend reporting in several jurisdictions including British Columbia and Nova Scotia). To focus on individual places, click the place names at the top of the chart to turn that data on or off.

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Breakthrough infections in Nova Scotia

On Fridays, the province's daily COVID report includes statistics about COVID breakthroughs—infections, hospitalizations and deaths among people who are fully or partially vaccinated. The province reports its numbers as a cumulative total: all the breakthrough cases dating from March 15, 2021 to the latest update. The Coast does an analysis to break the information about new cases down by each weekly reporting period, in order to offer our readers the following unique view of the same information, so you can better understand the fluctuations in breakthrough infections as they happen. Note: Our bar chart only dates back to June because the province didn't start this reporting until summer 2021.

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Click here for the previous COVID-19 news roundup, for October 22, 2021.

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