COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Friday, Oct 15

Information including charts, new 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.

Detail from Nova Scotia's Friday COVID report, where the province says there were 106 new cases in the past week, a number that must be an error. - SCREENSHOT
Detail from Nova Scotia's Friday COVID report, where the province says there were 106 new cases in the past week, a number that must be an error.

A 60-case mistake on breakthroughs

On Fridays the province reports on breakthrough infections, when people who are fully or partially vaccinated still catch COVID. There's good news to report in today's numbers, as the graph near the bottom of this page shows. Not only is the total number of cases down from last week to this week, but the proportion of those cases classified as breakthrough has also dropped. For the previous three weeks, about one third of all cases were breakthoughs, but last week only about a quarter of infections broke through. And practically any drop in any infection-related number is worth celebrating.

But for those of us who toil in the data mines, today brings even bigger breakthrough news. In the summer, the province started reporting the number of breakthrough infections, hospitalizations and deaths; this report took the form of giving the totals for breakthrough COVID  since March 15. So on Friday, July 2 for example, the province reported that there had been 4,151 new cases in Nova Scotia from March 15 to June 30, and that 26 of them were in fully vaccinated people, while 223 were among partially vaccinated folks, with the balance—the vast majority of 3,902 cases—being unvaccinated Nova Scotians.

You probably noticed the problem with this total approach: The utter lack of context. While it's all well and good to know 26 fully vaccinated people have been infected during the last three-plus months, the number doesn't tell you anything about what happened last week, and what the trend is. Are breakthroughs increasing or decreasing? Could vaccine effectiveness be waning over time?

About a month ago, The Coast figured out how to provide context about breakthrough cases, as demonstrated at the start of this item, above. We've been publishing the graph of breakthrough infections, below, every COVID report since.

Now today, it looks like the province realized our version of its numbers is useful to people, because for the first time ever, it is providing information about the last week of breakthrough infections in its Friday report, alongside the totals dating back to March. But while we applaud the province joining us in sharing this useful information with the public, we have to point out it got the numbers wrong. The result is a discrepancy of 60 cases. Here's how it works.

A week ago, the province's Oct 8 written report said, "There have been 5,214 cases from March 15 to October 6, 2021." Today, the Oct 15 report says, "There have been 5,380 cases from March 15 to October 13." (Screenshot from today's report is above.)

The difference between 5,380 and 5,214 is 166 cases, which is the number of new COVID cases—breakthrough and not—for the week from Oct 7 to Oct 13.

But today's report also says: "There have been 106 cases of COVID-19 from October 7 to October 13." There's a big difference between 166 cases and 106 cases.

To figure out where the error lies, we added up the daily new cases for Oct 7 to 13 as reported by the province. There were:
25 new cases on Thursday, Oct 7 (reported Fri, Oct 8)
99 from Friday, Oct 8 through Monday, Oct 12 (reported Tue, Oct 12 after Thanksgiving weekend)
24 on Tuesday, Oct 12 (reported Wed, Oct 13) and
26 on Wednesday, Oct 13 (reported Thu, Oct 14)
for a total of 174 cases.

That's not necessarily helpful, because suddenly there's a third possible total for the week's case count, with 106 cases, 166 cases and 174 cases, all from various information provided by the province.

But we have a theory. The Coast identified a counting discrepancy of six cases in the report on Tue, Oct 12 and another two cases on Wed, Oct 13—both the sort of relatively common errors that the province chalks up to information getting updated in the Panorama health tracking system. If we take the total of 174 cases reported by the province during the week, and subtract the eight cases that probably changed in Panorama, that leaves 166 cases, which is another total reported by the province.

Then the discrepancy between 166 cases and 106 cases could be explained by a simple typo, someone accidentally typing a zero instead of a six.

To recap, we think the difference between 166 and 174 is probably case numbers changing in Panorama, which the province won't explain any further. But the difference between 166 and 106 seems like an error, which the province should admit to and correct for the record.

We've sent these theories and analysis to the province and asked for confirmation/clarification. We don't expect an answer until Monday at the earliest. But if the province tries to dismiss the missing 60 cases as information changing in Panorama, rather than actually owning up to an error or explaining why there actually were only 106 new cases during the week, we are going to actually lose our shit.

No vax tracks yet

Our popular animated tracker of vaccination rates across Canada usually gets updated with the latest federal government information on Fridays. This Friday, however, the federal government says "the October 15 report will be published on October 18." So we can't update the tracker until Monday.

We're guessing the feds need the extra time because of the disruption to regular routines caused by this week's Monday Thanksgiving holiday, but they aren't saying.

2 school exposures

The province's written COVID report has the latest update on cases in schools. Here's the verbatim: "On October 14, two schools were notified of an exposure(s) at their school. As always, all staff, parents and guardians are notified of exposures if a positive case (student, teacher or staff) was at the school while infectious. A list of schools with exposures is available online:"

To save you the step of following that link and pecking through the database to find yesterday's exposures, we followed that link and pecked through the database. The two schools in question are Dartmouth South Academy and Halifax Central Junior High.

We also went into the province's data dashboard and did an analysis of the information therein about infections among various age groups. Out of today's 18 new COVID infections, eight are in children in the 0-to-11-years-old group, the only Nova Scotians disallowed from getting vaccinated by Health Canada.

18 new cases and a single ICU patient

Friday, October 15, 2021

Reopening status
Phase 5 (modified)

New cases

New recoveries

New deaths

Active cases

Total cases in Nova Scotia during pandemic

Total COVID deaths

There are 18 new COVID cases in Nova Scotia today—12 of them in the Central health zone says the province's written report for Friday, and three cases in both the Western and Northern zones. That's the lowest new-case report in nearly a month, since there were 18 cases announced Friday, September 17.

Sadly there were even fewer people recovering from the disease (at 17 recoveries) so the active caseload increases by one to 199 active cases. And the number of people in hospital went up by two from yesterday, to reach 14 hospitalizations today. But at the same time the number of those patients in intensive care decreased by one, so there is only one Nova Scotian COVID patient in the ICU right now. The pandemic rollercoaster continues its ups and downs.

Our map and table of what's happening in the province's 14 community health networks are lower down this page. They show the Dartmouth network in Central zone has the most new cases today, with six, followed by Halifax at five cases, and then two networks with three cases each: the Northern zone's Amherst/Cumberland network, and Western zone's Annapolis Valley network. Those four networks make up 17 of today's 18 new cases, with the final case in Bedford/Sackville.

The province is reporting that local labs processed 3,697 tests yesterday, the highest daily total this week, and solidly above the current average of about 3,250 tests per day. Meanwhile today's reported vaccination total—2,816 jabs into arms across Nova Scotia—is the lowest of the week. According to our chart of vaccination rate, below, 76.75 percent of the province is fully vaccinated.

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 yesterday's COVID-19 news roundup, for October 14, 2021.

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