Roundup: COVID outbreak at Valley hospital, Queens Co. remembers respected councillor, making the case for electric vehicles, author delves into N.S.’s history of racism and poverty

Left to right: Premier Tim Houston, NSHA's Alyson Lamb, Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: CNS

Plus: Since taking office, Premier Houston has been under increasing pressure to act on the housing crisis — today he announces his next move

In yesterday’s media update, health officials reported what they call a “small outbreak” of COVID-19 at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville.

According to the government press release, three patients in a non-COVID unit tested positive for the disease. Two of the three cases are asymptomatic. One person is in intensive care. Testing and contact tracing continues.

“The outbreak … is limited as it stands,” says Alyson Lamb, Western Zone executive director with Nova Scotia Health. “However we wanted to share this information to be transparent about the evolving situation at our hospital … This is a reminder that COVID is still very real here in Nova Scotia.”

Provincewide, there are 187 known active cases of COVID, with 12 new cases and 33 recoveries reported in yesterday’s update. Fourteen people are hospitalized in COVID units, including four in ICU.

Once again, the majority of the new cases (eight) are in the Central Zone, which concerns Premier Tim Houston. “It’s mainly among those who are not vaccinated,” he says. “There are clusters around the Metro area. It’s not widespread but it exists. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing cases in our schools in communities where there is more COVID activity.”

Two Halifax schools, Joseph Howe Elementary and École Mer et Monde, are closed due to COVID exposures. They’re scheduled to reopen Oct. 26. See the full list of school exposures here.

Housing announcement today
Premier Houston and municipal affairs/housing minister John Lohr are scheduled to make a housing-related announcement today.

The government isn’t offering any hints what they’ll reveal. Since taking office, Houston has been hearing a growing outcry from Nova Scotians concerned about skyrocketing rents and the scant availability of affordable housing, as many landlords have been threatening to raise rents as soon as the government permits it.

Houston downplays those fears in a recent interview with Unravel Halifax.

“The rent cap is in place as long as the state of emergency is in place, and there’s no imminent plans for the state of emergency to be removed,” he says. “We know we’re in the fourth wave right now, so there’s a bit of time to come up with a real solution … I understand the urgency, and we’re focused on finding something that works in the short term and in the long term.”

John Welch

Queens County remembers respected councillor
Late last month, friends and family gathered in Liverpool to mourn municipal politician and former deputy mayor John Welch, who died on Sept. 17 at age 72.

Welch was born in Woodstock, N.B., calling Liverpool home for the last 40 years.

In addition to his political service, he was a member of the local Kinsmen club and school board, and a minor-hockey coach.

“He was a very nice person and easy to work with,” says Peggy Atkinson, who served on council with Welch. “The one thing I admired about him is that when something came up that needed more discussion and debate, he usually came well prepared because he had done his research. I found that very enlightening and very important.”

Kevin McBain has more for LighthouseNow.

Making the case for electric vehicles
Say “I’m thinking about getting an electric car” to most people, and you’ll still hear a litany of reasons why that’s a bad idea: their range is too short, there aren’t many places to charge them, you have few options, they cost too much, Nova Scotia’s electricity still generates pollution, and so on.

The Next Ride program is confronting those misconceptions.

“There’s no sales pitch,” says Sarah Balloch, transportation manager with the Clean Foundation. “We drive around the province, give people a test drive, and answer their questions about electric vehicles in a no-pressure situation.”

Zack Metcalfe has more for The Reporter.

Leonard Paris

Author explores racism and poverty
Leonard Paris didn’t intend to write a book. He just couldn’t stop thinking about his Nova Scotian childhood.

“I couldn’t sleep at night,” says 72-year-old Paris, who adds that he left Pictou County at the age of 18 to escape racism, poverty, and violence. “I found myself up and writing notes about my life and the racism in New Glasgow, and Pictou County in general.”

Those notes became his new book, Jim Crow Also Lived Here: Structural Racism and Generational Poverty, Growing up Black in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

“I wanted it to resonate with the Black people and citizens of my generation and the generations since,” he explains. “I wanted to share the conditions of the Black people in the 1950s and 1960s in Nova Scotia, with an emphasis on Pictou County.”

Raissa Tetanish interviews him for The Pictou Advocate.

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