Roundup: 15 more deaths as most COVID protections end, N.S. sends donations to Ukraine, shooting victims’ families await RCMP testimony

Tim Houston. Photo: CNS

Plus: Making sense of it all — how the constant barrage of disaster news shapes our decisions

Premier Tim Houston’s government has ended the two-year state of emergency and lifted most COVID-19 public health protections in the province, effective today.

Some measures will remain in effect in long-term care homes and health-care sites, and masking continues in public schools.

“I know there will be mixed emotions among students and parents about the decision to keep masks on for a little longer,” Houston says in a press release. “But when we have new information, we reassess. This week, eight of our province’s leading pediatric doctors spoke up … For everyone else, you don’t need restrictions to keep wearing your mask and doing what makes sense to protect yourself and others.”

Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: CNS

There are no more gathering limits, distancing requirements, mask mandates (outside the aforementioned exceptions), or restrictions on events or business operations. The government urges Nova Scotians to “make careful choices about the gatherings they attend,” but offers no guidance on how to assess the risk.

“The pandemic isn’t over,” says Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “COVID-19 is still in our communities … You should still wear a mask when you’re out, get vaccinated, stay home when you’re sick, test to protect vulnerable people and keep your gatherings small. These individual actions, done in the spirit of kindness and community, will help keep us all safe.”

COVID death toll climbs
COVID-19 killed 15 Nova Scotians from March 9 to 15, according to the provincial government’s weekly pandemic update. Health officials are no longer sharing the victims’ ages or health zones.

Over the same period, there were 2,888 new lab confirmed cases. There were 41 new hospital admissions due to COVID and 23 discharges, with 38 people currently hospitalized for the disease. The government won’t say how many of those victims are in ICU.

Strang says the deaths and ongoing infections aren’t “unexpected.”

“We are just now starting to see the impact of phase one of our reopening plan,” he adds. “We are at a critical period.”

Ukrainian refugees flee the Russian invaders. Photo: Government of Ukraine

Donations for Ukraine
Volunteers on the South Shore have been working to gather donations for Ukraine, as Russia’s invasion continues to ravage the country, forcing millions of people to flee their home and creating Europe’s worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

Tammy Crouse, is among the organizers, based out of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bridgewater. They’ve already filled a 14-foot cube van with donations that are en route to Ukraine.

“We just thought we needed to do something,” she says. “COVID seemed to tear us apart. And this seems to be reuniting people.”

Gayle Wilson reports for LighthouseNow.

Municipalities around the province are also chipping in to support the embattled country. Among the latest is Pictou County, which is pledging $25,000.

“Ukrainian people have the right to self-determination and should not be dictated by Americans, Canadians, Europeans — other Europeans — or the Soviets or Russians,” says Councillor Dave Parker. “Every nation has the right to self-determination, but it’s obliterated in many, many places.”

The Pictou Advocate has more.

Shooting victims’ families await RCMP testimony
After prolonged wrangling and public pressure, the Mass Casualty Commission decided last week that several RCMP officers will have to testify about their response to the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

RCMP management and the union representing the officers fought hard to avoid their testimony, saying it would be too “traumatic” for the officers, and arguing that their written statements and closed-door interviews should suffice.

Joshua Bryson, a South Shore lawyer representing some of the victims’ families, says he felt like he was “spinning his wheels” trying to convince the commission to call the witnesses but is pleased they ultimately agreed.

“That was very important to the participants, and specifically my clients, considering how much we don’t know about what happened in Portapique,” he explains. “We’re hoping the witnesses can fill in some of those gaps and help us construct a better timeline.”

Janet Whitman has more for the Reporter.

James Golemiec

Making sense of it all
Disasters happen all the time, a reality that the Russian war on Ukraine starkly reinforces. So as a safety specialist, James Golemiec recently decided to explore the typical stages of coping that everyone follows in disasters large or small.

“Life has thrown a lot at us in the last couple years, and the hits keep coming,” he writes. “Understanding how the news of disaster affects you is the key to coping and moving forward rationally.”

Read more in his latest Unravel Halifax post.

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