COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Tuesday, Jun 8

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.

New cases refuse to go away

One week ago today, on Tuesday, June 1, fresh infections reached a recent low of 12 new cases. But that number would fall no further. Instead it started meandering: The next day there were 17 new cases, then 25. Sunday dropped to 12 again, but again the disease bounced up, like there's a trampoline at 12 cases.

Today the province is reporting 17 new cases, which happens to be the current daily average over the last week. In honour of the disease hovering around this level, we have a brand-new chart that shows each day's cases compared to the seven-day rolling average: 

If COVID proves stubborn and the infection average stays around the 17-case level instead of falling further towards zero cases, can the province continue to reopen? From early to mid April, as you can see on the new chart, infections hovered around five per day on average. Then suddenly everything increased. Halifax went into lockdown April 23, the rest of the province followed on April 28, and now we're loosening restrictions while the disease is threatening to settle in for the long haul at more than a dozen cases a day.

On Monday, Strang said this wasn't entirely unexpected. “We’re going to have fluctuations up and down," he told reporters. "And I fully expect we’re going to get cases in the teens, maybe even the 20s, for weeks to come. That doesn’t necessarily mean that things are going backwards, it’s all about the context.”

Maybe at tomorrow's briefing with premier Iain Rankin, top doc Robert Strang can shed some light on the question of just how much COVID a reopened Nova Scotia can handle.

Today's 17 cases are spread across the Central health authority zone (with nine new cases), Eastern zone (seven cases) and Western (just one). Most of the cases are tied to either travel or previous COVID patients, but four in Central—including the case at Halifax West High School (see below)—are under investigation for possible community spread. For the breakdown of cases by the more localized community health networks, check our table and map below.

Twenty-eight people recovered from their C19 infections since yesterday, sending active cases down for the 23rd day in a row. The current caseload is 171 active cases. (Graphs of recoveries and active cases are below, too.)

The province's daily report says local labs processed 2,536 tests on Monday, which is up from the number of tests reported yesterday, but still below the daily average of almost 4,000 tests. A low testing number and a relatively large number of new cases makes for a high percentage of tests that are positive. (The math goes: 17 cases divided by 2,536 tests equals .67 percent positive.) Today and yesterday have virtually identical percent positivity, the highest rate since Wednesday, May 26.

One reason for a high percent positivity is a lot of COVID-19 infections. Another factor—the only other factor in this equation—is few tests. Having 17 new cases out of 2,500 tests is a different thing than 17 new cases out of 4,000 or 8,000 tests. That's why Strankin are always encouraging Nova Scotians to get tested, in order to get the best sense of how much COVID there is in the population.

“It is nice to see Nova Scotians getting back to doing some of the things we had to pause during lockdown, but we need to stay vigilant,” says Strang via today's report. “As excited as we are to see friends and loved ones again, please remember to keep the gatherings outdoors, keep your groups small and consistent, maintain distance between groups, get tested often, and practice good public health protocols like masking and washing your hands.”

“I’m pleased to see our cases remain low and Nova Scotians should be proud of their efforts,” is Rankin's version. “As we move through our reopening phases, we still need to be cautious. Remember to continue to follow the public health measures and make testing a regular part of your routine.”

In terms of another anti-COVID measure Strankin talk a lot about, vaccination clinics around the province injected just 4,807 arms yesterday. This is far below the recent daily average of over 7,600 vaccine doses per day.

But in some strong number news, the number of COVID patients in hospital dropped from 22 in yesterday's report to 17 today. The number of those who are in ICU is unchanged, however, at seven people in intensive care.

A case at Halifax West High School

Late last night, the province issued a notice that a new infection connected to Halifax West High School was diagnosed. "The school will close to students until Friday, June 11, to allow for testing of close contacts and a deep cleaning of the school," the announcement says. "Students will learn from home during the closure beginning Wednesday, June 9."

Second dose for AstraZeneca folks

The province is starting to send second-dose booking emails to the roughly 33,000 Nova Scotians whose first vaccine dose was AstraZeneca. If you didn't give an email address when you got your first shot, you need to phone 1-833-797-7772 to book your second dose.

"People who received a first dose of AstraZeneca can schedule a second dose of either the AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, but Nova Scotia is recommending Pfizer or Moderna," the press release about the second doses says. "A recent study shows that a second dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) after a first dose of AstraZeneca results in a better immune response than two doses of AstraZeneca. The province's recommendation is based on this emerging evidence and the risk of rare but serious blood clotting events associated with AstraZeneca."

The first wave of people getting the booking email are those whose initial AZ jab happened up to and including April 21. No matter when their second-dose appointment was originally scheduled, the province says they'll be able to make a new second-dose appointment before June 30.

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.

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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.

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New and active cases visualized

This interactive graph charts COVID activity in Nova Scotia's third wave, comparing daily new cases with that day’s active caseload. The dark line tracks the rise and fall of new infections reported by the province, which hit a Nova Scotian pandemic record high of 227 cases in a single day on May 7. The green area is the province's caseload, which peaked May 10 at 1,655 active cases. Click or however over any point on the graph and the detail for that moment will pop up. To focus on just new or active cases, you can click the legend at the top left of the graph to hide or reveal that data set.

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Recoveries and infections graphed

A person who tests positive for COVID-19 counts as a new case, the beginning of a problem for both the province and that person. The best ending to the problem is the patient recovers from the disease. This interactive chart compares how many problems started (the red area of new cases) to how many ended (the blue area's recoveries) each day in Nova Scotia's third wave, revealing growth trends along the way. Click or hover over any point on the graph and the detail for that day will pop up, to reveal exactly how quickly things change: May 7 had Nova Scotia's most-ever infections diagnosed in one day, 227 new cases, more than triple the 71 recoveries that day. Two weeks later, May 21, had a record recoveries, 197 in a day, more than double the 84 new cases. To focus on just new cases or recoveries, you can click the legend at the top left of the graph to hide or reveal that data set.

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Click here for yesterday's COVID-19 news roundup, for June 7, 2021.

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