COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Monday, Sep 27

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.



Reporting on reporting

With today's COVID report, the province in unveiling several adjustments to the way it reports disease activity. First comes a note at the very top of the report: "Nova Scotia will begin reporting the number of schools with cases of COVID-19 daily, starting tomorrow, Sept. 28." We've got a full story about this change and the public pressure behind it, but suffice to say The Coast approves of more transparency.

In a move that reduces transparency a bit, the province says it's becoming too busy investigating cases to be able to consistently report when new infections are connected to travel, previous patients or are under suspicion of being community spread. "A breakdown by zone identifying exposure categories will no longer be provided regularly," is the upshot as stated in the Monday report. It's undeniably comforting when a day's COVID update says something like there are five new cases, but three of them are travel-related and two are connected to previous cases—as if the disease is contained and containable, far from Nova Scotians who avoid travel and travellers. But when the public health department starts to get overwhelmed, better that it puts its limited resources into contact tracing instead of reporting on contact tracing. We don't mind the loss of transparency, although knowing public health is starting to get overloaded by COVID makes us a bit nervous.

Speaking of community spread, today's report makes it official: "There is community spread in Central Zone, primarily among people aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities." This is a change from recent reports, which only went as far as saying there are "signs of" community spread in Central. No wonder contact-tracing investigations are taking up more time.

Finally, over at the province's COVID dashboard, the way cases are reported by age groups has changed. Again. Nearly two weeks ago, on Wednesday, September 15, the province divided the 0-19 age group in two—to a 0-12 group and a 13-19 group. Health Canada has not yet authorized a vaccine for children age 11 and under, so by reporting cases among the group of children age 12 and under, the province let the public get a rough sense of how COVID has infected the vaccine-ineligible youth. But it was only a rough sense because 12-year-olds who are able to be vaccinated were included in that group, a partial victory for transparency and understanding.

Today, however, the age groupings made a slight shift, unheralded by the province, so there is now a group from age 0 to 11, encompassing only the unvaxxable youth, and a 12-to-19 group. Transparency's victory is complete! But is the change informative? Partially. On Friday, there were 390 cases in the 0-to12 age group, and 279 cases among youth ages 13 to 19. Today there are only 366 cases in the youngest group, suggesting there were 24 12-year-olds who moved from one group to the other. Yet at the same time, 12 of today's new cases were among people in the two youth age groups, so it's impossible to know exactly how much of the increase in the 12-19 group is due to 12-year-olds moving, and how much is due to new cases today.

That explanation may be inscrutable in its attempt at transparency. What we are trying to say is the province's change to reporting age groups is nice to discover today, even if it can't make a difference to our understanding of COVID until tomorrow's case report.


1,500,000 vaccinations

Notwithstanding the announcement of a COVID death (see below) and a new high for active cases in the fourth wave (see further below), there is some distinctly good news today. Hospitalizations have fallen from 14 patients in hospital Friday to 11 people today. On both days, one of those patients has been in intensive care.

Testing and vaccinations are also down, which isn't great news. Local labs processed about 3,700 tests Friday, around 3,200 Saturday and under 2,700 Sunday. Notice the falling trend? The current moving average is roughly 3,400 tests per day, based on unusually high numbers—above 4,000 daily tests—last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Over the weekend, vaccine doses were jabbed into 3,837 Nova Scotians, with 2,086 of them receiving their second shot. Both of those numbers are down from this time a week ago, when there were 5,414 needles given on the weekend, with 2,789 of those being second doses. Now the province is 74.32 percent fully vaccinated according to the official tally (the count that doesn't include Strang's uncountable army).

From this point, Nova Scotia needs to vaccinate 6,642 more people with their second dose to reach the milestone of 75 percent fully vaccinated without adding in Strang's army of 9,000 soldiers. Last week from Monday through Thursday, there were only 5,719 second doses given, so at that rate we won't reach 75 percent by Friday, when Thursday's numbers come out. But next Monday, when the Friday, Saturday and Sunday vax numbers are released, we should be there.

Today isn't for naught, however, as we reached a different vaccination milestone. The 3,837 injections given over the weekend put Nova Scotia past 1,500,000 total injections given (1,500,471 to be specific). Not too shabby. 


Another death, and Nova Scotia's first breakthrough death

“This is a sad day, and it reminds us how serious the virus is," says Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for the province, as Nova Scotia announces the province's latest COVID death in its Monday C19 report. A man who lived in Central zone and was in his 80s becomes the 96th Nova Scotian death due to the pandemic. He is the second person killed by the disease in less than a week, after the death of a woman in her 80s was announced Thursday.

That woman's death is more noteworthy than it seemed on Thursday, because she was apparently fully vaccinated before contracting the disease. On Friday, the province published its latest statistics about breakthrough cases, as it has every Friday since late June, and for the first time the numbers included one death of someone who was fully vaccinated with both doses. This is Nova Scotia's first breakthrough COVID death. (We have asked the province to confirm the statistic relates to the woman whose death was announced Thursday. Before Thursday, the last COVID death in Nova Scotia was announced in late August.)

Breakthrough deaths are extremely rare, and thus are a powerful reminder that COVID vaccination is very effective protection against a deadly disease. As a matter of course, in its daily reports the province doesn't say anything about the vaccination status of people affected by COVID, and it is unknown if the man whose death is being announced today was vaccinated. According to provincial vaccination statistics, 94 percent of Nova Scotians aged 80 and up are fully vaccinated with two doses, three percent are partially vaccinated with one dose and three percent are unvaccinated.


83 new cases

In its first COVID report since Friday, today Nova Scotia is announcing 83 new cases. That's the most new cases announced in a single report during the fourth wave of infections, and it pushes the province's caseload to 205 active cases, another fourth-wave high.

But today's report doesn't give a great reflection of disease spread because it covers infections diagnosed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or an average of about 28 cases per day. On Friday the province reported 34 new cases, before starting its reporting-free weekend. This weekend, with both case counts and public concern rising in the fourth wave, PEI and New Brunswick returned to giving COVID updates on Saturday and/or Sunday, as Nova Scotia used to do before instituting the break during the summer, when there was little disease activity.

Are we saying COVID epidemiology has changed enough that the Nova Scotia government needs to end its summer vacation from weekend reporting and give its citizens daily updates? Yes, that's exactly what we're saying.


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, from Friday, September 24, 2021.

Video

Monday, September 25, 2021

Reopening status
Phase 4

New cases
83

New recoveries
46

New deaths
1

Active cases
205

Total cases in Nova Scotia during pandemic
6,569

Total COVID deaths
96

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