COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Friday, Sep 24

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.



Breakthrough cases broken down

The province's view of breakthrough cases. - NS DATA DASHBOARD
NS data dashboard
The province's view of breakthrough cases.
We've finally figured out how to give you information about COVID breakthrough cases in a way that's different from what the province already does at its COVID data dashboard. The province makes three doughnut graphs—one each for breakthrough infections, hospitalizations and vaccinations—comparing at the percentage of people who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated and fully vaccinated dating back to March 15.

What we are displaying in our brand-new graph is only data on breakthrough infections—new case each week, rather than hospitalizations and deaths. But instead of a percentage of cases in a cumulative total dating back more than six months through two distinct COVID waves, we are doing the math to be able to report the actual number of cases each week. Some weeks the breakthrough infections outnumber the unvaccinated cases, in others nobody who's fully vaccinated got infected.

We believe this is unique, useful information to add to your understanding of how the disease is spreading in Nova Scotia, and we'll be updating the graph every week when the province releases its data on breakthrough COVID.


A weekend of waiting

Hospitalizations are up, the caseload is up and new infections are high. It's 10 days until we're supposed to go to Phase 5 reopening, and the COVID fourth wave doesn't seem to be wrapping itself up. Is anyone out there thinking the current target of October 4 might be a little soon for getting rid of all public health restrictions?

Apparently the premier is. “If [top doc Robert Strang] suggests that we move to a kind of a modified Phase 5 where masking remains, he’ll have our support if that’s his suggestion,” Tim Houston said yesterday, planting a seed to start getting people ready for deviations from the Oct 4 reopening plan.

The lack of a provincial COVID briefing this week—the last one was Tuesday, September 14, when the fourth wave's arrival and Phase 5's postponement were announced—can only be read as a sign the province doesn't yet know what Oct 4 is going to bring. After all, there are only so many ways Strang can say "We have to wait and see what the epidemiology is" in response to journalists' questions about what the future holds for reopening.

Thanks to the province's recent move to "not issuing COVID-19 news releases or updating the COVID-19 data dashboard on weekends," we now have to wait until Monday to get a sense of case numbers for today, Saturday and Sunday. That means it's going to be a long weekend of waiting to find out how the disease is developing, and if reopening next Monday might be possible. But one way or another there will be a briefing next week.


34 new cases

In its Friday COVID report, the province is announcing 34 new cases. Although this is down from the 41 cases announced yesterday, it's still the second-most infections in a single day this week. There are 12 recoveries in today's report, so the caseload rises to 169 active cases, approaching its fourth-wave high. (Chart visualizing new and active cases below.)

The vast majority of the new cases, 32 out of 34, are in Central zone. Northern and Western zones each have a single case, and Eastern has none. As our map and table of COVID in the province's 14 community health networks reveal, the Halifax network has the most new cases at 14, followed closely by the Dartmouth netwok with 13, then lagging far behind is Bedford/Sackville at three.

The province says 19 of the Central zone cases and the Western zone case are under investigation as possible community spread (the rest of the new cases are tied to either travel or previous case). As in recent days, the provincial report states: "There are signs of community spread among those in Central Zone aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities."

Hospitalizations are up from 11 yesterday to 14 today, but luckily the number of those patients in the ICU held steady at one person. Testing also held pretty steady: Today the province is reporting that local labs completed 4,241 tests yesterday, which is right between the 4,100+ tests reported Wednesday, and the 4,300+ tests reported Thursday.

The Friday vaccination report is nearly identical to the Thursday report, however it's radically more exciting. Jabbing clinics across the province delivered 2,819 doses into arms yesterday, with 1,541 of those going to people getting their second dose. On the provincial COVID data dashboard, as on our graph of the NS vaccination rate below, Nova Scotia is now 74.1 percent fully vaccinated. That number isn't particularly exciting. It's when you add Strang's army—a group of 9,000 fully vaccinated Nova Scotian members of the military who aren't counted in the provincial system—that the number reaches the reopening target of 75 percent fully vaccinated.

But hitting the target doesn't mean we are moving to Phase 5 reopening. Because the fourth wave of COVID infections has arrived in Nova Scotia, Phase 5 was postponed until October 4 at the earliest, depending on the state of infections in this current wave.


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 September 23, 2021.

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