Roundup: COVID in Halifax school, vaccination update, no charges for Bridgewater anti-maskers, Pictou rocker J.D. Fortune starts over, $1.2M for affordable housing in Port Hawkesbury

Photo: Submitted

Health officials confirmed another case of COVID-19 in an HRM school yesterday, this time at Halifax West High. The school is closed until June 11 for cleaning and contact tracing.

Nova Scotia currently has 182 known active cases of COVID-19, with 14 new cases and 36 recoveries reported in the latest government update. Eleven of the new cases are in the Central Zone, where there continues to be “limited community spread,” says Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

There are currently 22 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including seven in ICU.

Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: CNS

Vaccination update
As of June 6, health-care workers have dispensed 637,911 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Nova Scotia, with 44,567 people getting the second dose that completes inoculation.

Last week, Strang announced that the Nova Scotians who received a first shot of AstraZeneca could choose a different brand for their second dose, but said they’d have to study the data and figure out for themselves if that was the right choice.

In yesterday’s update, Strang finally offered a specific recommendation.

“There is now a small study showing that a second dose of an MRNA vaccine—so Pfizer or Moderna—after a first dose of AstraZeneca, results in a better immune response,” he says. “Based on this emerging evidence and the risk of a rare but serious blood-clotting event with the AstraZeneca vaccine, I am now recommending that anyone who got a first dose of AstraZeneca get a second dose of an MRNA vaccine.”

Strang didn’t say if there are any side effects associated with mixing vaccine types.

No charges for Bridgewater anti-maskers
Police won’t be filing any charges against a group of anti-maskers who were captured in photos openly defying public health laws during an April rally. Bridgewater Deputy Police Chief Danny MacPhee says there is little he can do because the event wasn’t a “social gathering,” and came before the government’s anti-protest injunction.

“We’re not proceeding with any further investigation or laying any charges because … the injunction wasn’t in place,” he says. “We’re going to conclude our file.”

After the rally, some participants posted on social media thanking police for their support, which police deny giving. “Our service did not support or offer encouragement for the rally,” says a Bridgewater Police Service press release.

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Liam Olders

Flying drones for whales
To better understand that endangered whales that frequent the waters around Nova Scotia, government researchers realized they needed samples of “blow,” (essentially, whale snot—the discharge they periodically expel from their blowholes).

They turned to professional drone racers for help.

Gabriel Kocher customized a drone with a discharge collector, but was unavailable to join the team at sea, so they turned to racer and photographer Liam Olders.

When he wasn’t struggling with nausea, he had the experience of a lifetime.

“Once I was on the flight deck with my whales in view, I found myself incredibly focused on the task at hand and not bothered by motion sickness,” he says. “Once the scientists had identified the whale, I’d only have a few minutes to get the sample before the whale went down for another dive.”

Get the details in Andrew J. Wright’s recent Halifax Magazine story.

Government funds for affordable housing
The provincial and federal governments are combining to spend $1.2 million to help address Port Hawkesbury’s affordable housing crunch.

The money comes from the National Housing Strategy and is intended to preserve and improve 24 vacant affordable units, which landlords will offer “significantly” below the market rate.

“We are pleased to be a part of this partnership, and to be part of a team working to address affordable housing needs in Port Hawkesbury,” says Breton Apartments co-owner Danita Rooyakkers. “Everyone deserves a high-quality place to call home that they will be able to afford for years to come.”

Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

J.D. Fortune

J.D. Fortune starts over
Fifteen years after rocketing to stardom by winning the Rock Star: INXS reality show and becoming the eponymous band’s new lead singer, Pictou County singer J.D. Fortune is ready for a fresh start.

In a new interview, he describes the rollercoaster ride of stardom, and struggles with drugs and alcohol. “I lost everything because of that band,” he says. “I gained everything and I lost everything.”

Now the 32-year-old is starting a new venture called Way More Music; he aims to mentor and educate rising new talents, giving them the benefit of his experiences.

Jackie Jardine has the story for The Pictou Advocate.

Need to know
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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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