Legendary | COVID-19 | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST


What the colours on our COVID-19 map mean, plus a comparison with the province's version.

click to enlarge Legendary
The Coast
Yellow means recent infection(s); green shows two-plus weeks clear; red is a case today; blue's probable.
We didn’t set out to produce a daily map of C19 in Nova Scotia, but once the provincial government did, we just had to. That’s because the province’s map reflects the province’s stingy approach to sharing any coronavirus information, and even amateur cartographers like us can do a better job. A simple colour-coding system is key.

Where the province always shows the Nova Scotia Health Authority zones as green, we use four different colours to create a visual layer of context. Anyone who sees a Coast map gets an instant sense of disease activity, and comparing maps across days and weeks adds another dynamic. Those impressions come across even without knowing what the colours are supposed to mean, but here’s the explanation to give still-deeper understanding. And if anyone at the province wants to use our system, we’re happy to share.


Smooth sailing, all systems go, proceed with bliss. Not only are there no new cases in this NSHA zone today, there hasn’t been a new case for two weeks, a whole virus incubation cycle. This is as safe as places get during the pandemic.


Caution, be warned. There isn’t a new case today, but there’s been at least one within the last two weeks, so the virus might be active here. Given time and luck, this region will revert to green, but without luck it will turn…


Alert, oh crap, it’s real. At least one new case today.


This map legend isn’t quite so simple as a traffic light. Indicates a probable case as reported by the province, when a person’s C19 test comes back inconclusive for some reason. The province can’t definitely say there is or isn’t a new case, but it’s safest to proceed as if there has been a confirmed diagnosis. The province is not great at revisiting probable cases, letting the public know when a conclusive test result is reached; even after a health zone’s colour changes from blue, we note probables on the map as a reminder they’re out there, awaiting more information.


For a head-to-head comparison between our map and the province’s (exciting!) play with this slider showing a typical fall 2020 Nova Scotia day.

About The Author

Kyle Shaw

Kyle is the editor of The Coast. He was a founding member of the newspaper in 1993 and was the paper’s first publisher. Kyle occasionally teaches creative nonfiction writing (think magazine-style #longreads) and copy editing at the University of King’s College School of Journalism.

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Get more Halifax

The Coast Daily email newsletter is your extra dose of the city Monday through Friday. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.

Recent Comments