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COVID cases and news for Nova Scotia on Wednesday, May 26 

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.

Predicting the end of the lockdown

At yesterday's COVID briefing, premier Rankin said he'll be giving details at Friday's briefing about the provincial plan to loosen the lockdown as the third wave of infections subsides. "The fact that we can even talk about a reopening is amazing given where we were just one month ago," he said. Although we don't know anything about Rankin's plan, we can make some projections based on how the province reopened from the lockdowns in the first and second waves. The key factor that changed from a month ago is that the third wave clearly reached its peak of active cases, and after that point—if the first two waves are anything to go by—the path out of lockdown becomes predictable. If you have two minutes, check out this animated slideshow from The Coast's Kyle Shaw, estimating July 7 as the date lockdown lifts.

Wednesday in testing and vaccinations

Over the recent holiday weekend, lots of Nova Scotians took a break from getting tested for COVID. The number of tests processed every day by the province lab fell three days in a row, bottoming out at 3,973 tests on holiday Monday—"the lowest daily testing total in the last seven weeks," as we said yesterday. But Tuesday, testing totals turned around, rising to 5,023 according to the province's Wednesday COVID report. That's still below the current daily average of about 6,250 tests, but we're not really complaining.

Vaccination clinics across the province stuck 10,999 jabs into arms yesterday, a much stronger showing than the average of around 6,600 daily doses delivered over the holiday weekend, Friday through Monday. But—and now we really are complaining—11,000 vaccinations is weak compared to the 20,000+ delivered on both the Wednesday and Thursday before the holiday. This vax effort needs a booster.

Our map and case chart will (almost for sure) be back Thursday

As we were sad to report on Monday, and built a table to explain on Tuesday, the province has been catching up on COVID paperwork. That means a lot of old cases got new address information, and behind the scenes their files were shuffled from one health zone—mostly Central—to another. All the paper pushing messed with the case counts we get from the province's C19 data dashboard to create the unique map and table of case information in Nova Scotia's 14 community health networks. So we haven't been able to bring you the map and table. And we're really sorry about that.

The good news is it looks like the province's data polishing is done. Today's community health zone numbers seem to be back to normal. But after two days of completely screwy numbers, we're a bit nervous that Wednesday's information is just screwy in a different direction, instead of being correct. So we are going to wait until Thursday's numbers come out and we can get a fuller sense of the trend—either continued screwy or reassuringly normal—before we publish the numbers for mass consumption in the table and map.

We suspect, and strongly hope, Thursday's data will be fine and the map can return. But the numbers will have the final say.

Why don't we just make the vaccine mandatory?

If you—like us—have ever asked this question, you'll be interested in this new story by The Coast's Victoria Walton, wherein Walton puts the question to medical ethicist Françoise Baylis. It turns out there are good reasons not to force immunization on people, even health care workers in long-term care homes. “The best-case scenario is people willingly roll up their sleeves and say, ‘vaccinate me,’” Baylis says. “And until we've exhausted that, I don't think you want to look at measures that some people will interpret as draconian, and have a very negative response to.”

37 new cases is like barely any cases

The province is reporting just 37 new infections on Wednesday, a number so low that it's from a time before the lockdown, a time of live music and day trips and other people. April 21, to be specific, 35 days ago, is the most recent day when there were fewer new cases than today; the Halifax lockdown came into effect April 23.

Along with the low tally of new cases, 94 people with COVID recovered since yesterday's report, pushing the active caseload down for the 10th straight day. There are currently 787 active cases in Nova Scotia, which is less than half the caseload at the peak of the third wave—1,655 active cases on Monday, May 10. This is what progress looks like.

The 37 new cases are spread across three of Nova Scotia's four health zones, 22 cases in Central zone, 11 in Eastern, four Northern and zero Western. For Eastern, Western and Northern, today's numbers are in line with recent case counts. But Central, in a deja vu with the province, hasn't been below 22 cases in a day since the 19 infections reported April 21.

Unfortunately hospitalizations aren't dropping the way cases are. The province is reporting that 72 people with COVID are in hospital, unchanged from Tuesday, although 19 people in intensive care is down one from Tuesday's 20 ICU patients.

Getting tested

At this point in the Nova Scotia's third wave, health officials consider widespread testing an important part of the fight against the disease. "The thing I think that folks are missing is that what we're recommending at the moment, is not just that people get tested when the numbers"—of new infections—"are high, but also get tested weekly,” rapid testing leader Lisa Barrett explained to The Coast. She says most people should “assume that you're in an exposure site if you live in certain areas in this province—or almost anywhere in the province at the moment, because there's a lot of community spread.” To that end, click here to find a rapid test now.

Click here for yesterday's COVID-19 news roundup, for May 26, 2021.

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