COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Friday, May 28

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.

Reopening is great, but don’t forget the daily case report

Friday, May 28, 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
36 days

Nova Scotia’s lockdown
31 days

On day 31 of the province-wide lockdown, with Strankin unveiling an unlocking plan (see below) that looks a lot like the light at the end of a month-long tunnel, the disease issued a reminder that we are still in the tunnel. A 50-something woman who lived in the Central zone has died due to COVID, the 80th death of Nova Scotia's pandemic, the 15th person to die of their infection in 2021. Not only are we in the tunnel, but it's very dark here.

The province is also reporting 40 newly diagnosed cases today, an increase of seven cases from the 33 reported yesterday. Twenty-nine of the new cases are in Central zone, five in Eastern Zone, four Northern and Western has two. "There is still community spread in Central Zone and limited community spread in Sydney," says the report. "Northern and Western Zones continue to be closely monitored for community spread." For The Coast's breakdown of cases by community health network, go to our table or map below.

Ninety-two people recovered from their infections since yesterday's report, pushing the caseload down to 585 active cases, the lowest amount since April 20. There are currently 53 people in hospital with COVID, 18 of them in ICU, which compares well with the 63 hospitalizations and 21 intensive care patients yesterday.

Today's reported testing and vaccination numbers are similar to, but below, yesterday's. Provincial labs completed 6,381 tests on Thursday (versus the 6,413 reported for Wednesday) and clinics across the province injected 18,647 doses of vaccine. That vax number is a couple thousand doses lower than the provincial daily record 21,000+ from yesterday's report, although it's still the second-highest tally this week, by a margin of more than 7,000 shots.

About that Atlantic Bubble

When it comes to travel, the lockdown is coming off the same way it went on—gradually. Back in April, when daily cases were climbing at a scary rate, Nova Scotia's borders "shut tighter than they have since the beginning of the pandemic" on April 22. Halifax Regional Municipality (and some surrounding areas) went into lockdown the next day, April 23. Then the rest of the province joined an even-tighter lockdown effective April 28, when non-essential travel between communities was banned.

Now, with community spread still happening in HRM and Sydney, the unlocking plan is loosening travel restrictions only for the rest of the province in the first phase, starting June 2. The second phase opens travel for the whole province, including Halifax and Sydney, and it's supposed to start somewhere between two and four weeks after Phase 1; that's from June 16 to 30. (Every phase includes a caveat that these plans will only move forward if COVID case numbers are low, so even June 30 might be too early.)

It's not until Phase 3 we'd say the lockdown is really lifted. That's when the Atlantic Bubble is slated to open for unrestricted travel among the four east coast provinces (depending on vaccination status), people from outside Atlantic Canada can visit Nova Scotia (with the familiar two-week quarantine), sports games and arts performances are allowed, a household can have up to 10 people visiting (indoors!) and businesses are getting back towards full capacity.

So when does that happen, exactly? Again, these dates are explicitly not set in stone because things can change with the virus, but the goal is for Phase 3 to start another two-to-four weeks after Phase 2. Which means if things go well with vaccinations and COVID infections, Nova Scotia will be ready to join the Atlantic Bubble anywhere from June 30 to July 28.

By the way, an average middle point between the fastest-possible opening and the plan's slowest scenario is Wednesday, July 14. The Coast's projection for when the third wave's lockdown would end, based on how unlocking went during the first two waves, found a range from June 26 to July 18, with an average middle point of Wednesday, July 7. So our model is close to the province's, but a little faster, suggesting this wave seems to be subsiding more slowly than its predecessors and/or premier Rankin is acting more cautiously than his predecessor.

Gimme five phases

At this afternoon's briefing to introduce Nova Scotia's five-phase reopening plan, Strankin were definitely ready to talk about the first phase, which starts Wednesday (see below). The briefing became a bit of a shambles when it came to the other four phases, but eventually the province was able to produce a document that put the plan in writing. Over coming days we'll doubtless be analyzing what it all means, but for now here it is via @TwitCoast and The Coast's @victorialwalton.

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.

Schools are—and aren’t—going to open Wednesday

In a welcome and surprising move, premier Rankin announced that some students across Nova Scotia will be going back to their classrooms next week, when the first phase of the reopening starts. In the COVID hotspots of HRM and Sydney, however, school remain closed, even though businesses in these areas are allowed to open along with the rest of the province. This glaring inconsistency is going to hurt tens of thousands of young Nova Scotians, as you can read about in our story about the almost-but-not-quite-reopening of Nova Scotia's school system.

Charting cases in the NS 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.

Details about what opens June 2

Our story about the first phase of reopening is here. Summer weather is definitely coming into play with this plan, as gathering limits outdoors are lifting to 10 people June 2, and restaurant patios can open, but indoors the gathering limit remains just the members of a household, the current lockdown level.

Reopoening starts Wednesday!

Strankin's briefing has started, and premier Rankin says the first phase of reopening begins next Wednesday, June 2.

Strankin speaks at 3pm

Sure enough, after the province announced on Tuesday that there'd be a COVID-19 briefing on Friday at 2pm, now that Friday is here the briefing moved to 3pm.

Premier Iain Rankin and chief medical officer of health Robert Strang are supposed to be giving some sort of details about Nova Scotia's reopening plan at the briefing (that's what Rankin said at Tuesday's briefing). This comes on the heels of Prince Edward Island announcing its reopening plan yesterday, with a cautious-but-determined approach that Nova Scotia will probably emulate.

The Coast will be covering the briefing, reporting on it live here and on Twitter. Follow along with us while you watch the Strankin live at and/or @nsgov on Facebook. Or catch the briefing later at the Nova Scotia government's YouTube page.

Click here for yesterday's COVID-19 news roundup, for May 27, 2021.

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