Roundup: COVID death toll climbs, child killer gets more visits outside prison, family devastated after dog shot, Pictou Co. loses another bank

Premier Tim Houston. Photo: CNS

Plus: Not too long ago, newspapers were king in Halifax — looking back at a dramatic transformation

With no end of the Omicron wave in sight, Premier Tim Houston acknowledged the growing toll on the public-health system in yesterday’s press conference. “You can see where the pressure is mounting on our health-care system,” he says. “I want to say clearly to our health-care workers: I know the burden you’re carrying. You’re overworked, overwhelmed.”

COVID-19 has killed three more Nova Scotians, all from the Central Zone. The victims are a man in his 60s, a man in his 80s, and a woman in her 80s. So far in the pandemic, COVID has killed 122 people in Nova Scotia, and 31,827 people across Canada.

Health officials estimate there are 5,347 active cases of COVID in the province, with 527 new lab-confirmed cases reported yesterday. But those numbers don’t reflect COVID’s true extent. Houston’s government stopped widespread testing and follow-up, saying that the pervasiveness of the Omicron strain requires focusing on vulnerable areas like hospitals. Nova Scotia Health is now asking people to self-report their test results to “collect information to help quickly identify people who are eligible for and may benefit from COVID-19 medications and treatments.”

Health officials also reported 11 new hospital admissions and five discharges yesterday, for a total of 83 people hospitalized for COVID and getting treatment in specialized units, including 12 people in ICU. There are also 66 people who were admitted to hospital for another reason but tested positive for COVID (or were in a COVID unit but no longer require specialized care), and 107 who contracted the disease in hospital.

Murderer gets more prison leave
Penny Boudreau, the Bridgewater woman convicted in 2008 for strangling to death her 12-year-old daughter, is getting more time out of prison, as Canada’s parole board allows her “escorted temporary absences” (ETA) to attend church and visit a friend.

“It is the board’s opinion that you will not, by reoffending, present an undue risk to society during your absence,” the Parole Board of Canada says in the written decision. “The board notes that you have been engaged in spiritual activities both within and outside the institution as you have completed previous ETAs to attend church services. Continuing with these services will serve to further enhance the gains you have made in managing your risk factors. The ETA for family contact to a close personal friend who remains supportive of you will allow you to further develop close bonds in a familial setting and again further the effective management of your risk factors.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Dean Jobb

Stop the presses
From the mid-19th to the early 20th century, Halifax had a newspaper scene that’s hard to imagine today. The city was home to five major papers: the Morning Chronicle, and its afternoon counterpart the Daily Echo, the Halifax Herald and the Evening Mail, and the Acadian Recorder.

The big five were the kings of East Coast media for many years. For example, the morning-afternoon duos of the Herald and Mail and the Chronicle and the Echo each had circulations of about 10,000 in 1901.

The reason behind this success is twofold, explains historical author and journalist Dean Jobb.

“First, it was the only mass media: no radio, and it would be decades before television, so that’s how people got their news,” he says. “The other … underlying factor was, at the turn of the century — early 1900s — the press was still partisan. In major cities, you would have a Liberal newspaper and a Conservative newspaper going head-to-head, promoting their party’s interest.”

Learn about those glory days and how they ended in Katie Ingram’s latest Unravel Halifax history column.

Police investigate dog shooting
A Guysborough County family says they’re devastated after someone shot and killed their dog.

The attack happened during a snowstorm earlier this month, after the dog slipped off his leash and ran away.

“A nearby person heard the shot during the storm, meaning it was close by, and then the yelping and ran out after him,” owner Macy Delorey says in a web post. “She saw him running as best he could, trying to make it home to the doorstep where she found him. This poor dog was only four, almost five in February, and his life was selfishly cut short.”

Delorey took to social media to express fears that the police aren’t taking the case seriously. RCMP spokesman Chris Marshall says the investigation is ongoing and, if found, the attacker could face various weapons and animal-cruelty charges.

Drake Boudrot has more for the Reporter.

Pictou County loses bank
Westville is losing its second bank branch in less than a year, as Scotiabank announces plans to shutter its location. The move follows RBC’s closure of its local branch last year.

“I was very disappointed to learn that Scotiabank was planning to close the branch in town on June 1. This comes after RBC announced it closure last year, effective on Jan. 21,” Westville Mayor Lennie White says in a public statement. “Unfortunately, banks operate as a business and decisions are made by people far removed from the community they serve. It is obviously hard to understand with the billions of dollars of reported profit they make that the closure of branches such as Westville is required to improve their bottom line. This simply further reinforces the fact they see themselves as a business entity and not a service provider.”

The Pictou Advocate has more.

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