Covid-19 Roundup: New cases, hops & hopes, relying on outdated pandemic plans, municipal elections go ahead

Yesterday, May 26, Nova Scotia reported another COVID-19 death, bringing the provincial total to 59. The woman was in her 80s with underlying medical conditions; she didn’t live in a long-term care home. Officials also announced two new confirmed cases, raising the total to 1,052. There are seven people in Nova Scotian hospitals with the disease, including three in ICU; 976 people have recovered.

Hops & hopes
Like craft breweries across the province, Sober Island’s business model was in shambles once the pandemic hit. The rural Eastern Shore brewery normally serves customers in bars and restaurants across Nova Scotia. Suddenly, owner Rebecca Atkinson had to look closer to home. And her supportive community hasn’t let her down.

“There’s a connection here that I haven’t found anywhere else,” she says. “I really connect with my community and it’s so full of opportunity.” She tells Chris Stoodley about it in this new Halifax Magazine report. PS: Sober Island isn’t the only local brewer to find new ways to safely reach customers. Check out this directory of delivery and curbside pickup options.

Outdated pandemic plans
As municipalities adapt to COVID-19, some are working with plans that are years out of date. In the Region of Queens, the pandemic plan dates “to the early 2000s” and references outdated data. Queens chief administrator Chris McNeill tells LighthouseNow reporter Keith Corcoran that they need help from the Nova Scotia Health Authority to update the plan. “This is their bailiwick and they hold most of the information and processes,” McNeill says.

Corcoran also looked at Lunenburg County. Its 17-page pandemic plan dates back to the 2009 H1N1 scare. “All the plans get updated at varying intervals,” says Angela Henhoeffer, Lunenburg County’s emergency measures coordinator. “As a pandemic plan, it would cover a broad range of viral disease outbreaks rather than having a plan for each type of disease.”

Yet “contact information and a rundown of names of listed officials are largely outdated,” reports Corcoran. “The names of people listed are no longer with the mentioned agencies or the departments themselves no longer exist or are known by another name.”

Preparing for municipal elections
Despite concerns about how candidates can safely campaign during a pandemic, this October’s municipal elections will go ahead, says the provincial government. “With the tools and flexibility provided in the Municipal Elections Act, I am confident municipalities can hold safe and democratic elections,” says municipal affairs minister Chuck Porter. Jake Boudrot has the story for The Reporter.

Cautious about reopening
Market-research group Decision Partners has been doing an ongoing series of web polls exploring how people are coping with the pandemic. While the polls aren’t scientific, they provide an interesting snapshot of evolving attitudes.

  • Respondents continue to say staying healthy is their top concern, followed by uncertainty about the future.
  • Most respondents remain cautious about opening up. Some 71% believe that current restrictions in their area are appropriate, emphasizing that opening up must be done slowly and carefully. About 18% believe restrictions are too loose. They want leaders to proceed with care and caution.
  • Respondents continue to look for guidance and clarity from their public health and government leaders.
  • Respondents are looking for details from leaders about how they are making decisions about opening up. And they want assurances that decisions are based on science not politics:

Good causes
Know a community group, good cause, or inspiring local story we should share? Email the editor.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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