Nova Scotia’s deadliest pandemic phase continues even as COVID numbers drop

Things are moving, slowly, in the right direction according to the province’s May 5 and May 12 disease reports, but the death rate is still a travesty.

Cherished reader, we owe you an apology. Last week, after the province’s May 5 COVID numbers came out, we wrote a report about them for The Coast Daily newsletter but didn’t publish any information here at thecoast.ca. One moral to this story is that you should subscribe to the Daily to make sure you get all Coast reporting. However, we realize not everyone can get email, and COVID-19 information is vital, so we needed to do a better job of getting that info to the site. Sorry.

Now that Nova Scotia’s new disease report—for Thursday, May 12 is out—we’ll go over both last week’s numbers and this week’s to find any overarching trends. Let’s begin.

Last week, in the May 5 report, the province said there were 22 deaths due to COVID, 77 people admitted to hospital with the disease and 3,415 new COVID cases diagnosed. (That’s infections where people bothered to confirm their symptoms by PCR testing; a positive rapid test that someone did at home and never told the province about is an uncounted case.) All three of those numbers were down from the week before. They weren’t necessarily down much—22 deaths makes for the second-deadliest week of Nova Scotia’s pandemic, an absolute disaster that only looks like an improvement compared to the 24 deaths reported May 28—but as we said at the time in the newsletter, any decline is preferably to the alternative.

This week, with the May 12 report, the province is on repeat. All three key metrics are down, just not down much. We are making progress against the disease, but it’s slow and kinda frustrating progress. And the amount of death remains appallingly high.

The latest numbers show 18 people dying of COVID-19 over the past week, 65 patients admitted to hospital with COVID and 3,118 new infections confirmed by PCR test (with potentially thousands more cases going unreported). Those 18 deaths represent the third-deadliest week of the entire pandemic in Nova Scotia, topped only by the 22 deaths last week and 24 deaths the week before. That’s 64 deaths in three weeks, or three Nova Scotians dying of COVID every day. That’s also more people than died during the terrifying first wave of the pandemic in the province, from the middle of March until the end of May 2020.

Nova Scotia’s total death toll for the pandemic is now 354 people. Fully 244 of those deaths, way more than half, have occurred since the omicron variant began to dominate cases. Omicron has also caused radically more infections than previous COVID strains. There are so many more infections that statistically the death rate—the number of people who die out of every 1,000 people infected—may be lower than in previous waves. But a low rate cannot hide the fact that more people are dying of COVID now than at any other point in the pandemic. And the government has enabled the virus.

Less than two months ago, on March 21, premier Tim Houston ended basically all of the measures that had been in place to restrict the spread of the virus. Nova Scotians no longer had to wear masks, restrict gatherings to small groups and maintain physical distance from each other to reduce transmission. But our freedom to socialize gave the virus freedom to spread, and no matter how low the statistical rate of death, more cases is always going to lead to more people dying.

From that March 15, 2020 day of the very first COVID cases being announced, until the omicron wave officially started in Nova Scotia on December 8, 2021, COVID had killed 110 Nova Scotians. That’s a rate of .17 deaths every day, or just a bit more than one person dying of COVID every week.

From Dec 8 to the end of disease restrictions on March 21, the province reported another 122 deaths, clearly establishing omicron as the deadliest threat of the pandemic. During that time the death rate was 1.2 deaths every day, or a little more than eight people dying every week.

From March 21 to now, less than two months of life without COVID restrictions, there have been another 122 deaths. In this period, the death rate is 2.3 deaths every day, or a little more than 16 people dying every week.

If anybody tries to tell you that omicron doesn’t kill many people in Nova Scotia, they are lying. Even if they’re the premier.

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.

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