Roundup: COVID update—AstraZeneca confusion continues, man shot in Pictou, mourning C.B. legend Jim St. Clair, adult-services org needs workers

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 numbers continue ticking downward, with the province tallying 49 new cases but 98 recoveries yesterday, according to the latest government update. Nova Scotia has 894 known active cases of COVID-19, with 72 people in hospital, including 19 in ICU.

“The number of positive cases being reported today is lower,” says Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “While that is a good sign, our testing numbers are also down today … I encourage those that are out to stop in and get tested.”

On May 23, Nova Scotian labs completed 4,364 tests.

Vaccination update
Premier Iain Rankin received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. “The spirit at the vaccine clinics is extraordinary,” he says in the press release. “I can’t thank front-line workers enough for the important work they’re doing.”

Meanwhile, the 57,576 Nova Scotians who followed the advice to immunize as quickly as possible and got the no-longer-offered AstraZeneca vaccine continue to await news about what their second dose will be, and when they’ll get it. Strang and Rankin have repeatedly promised to provide that information sometime in June, following the completion of international studies on the effects of mixing vaccines.

The National Advisory Council on Immunization, whose recommendations have driven much of Nova Scotia’s inoculation policy, is currently advising against mixing vaccine types, saying in its latest update that “attempts should be made to complete the vaccine series with the same vaccine product, when possible.”

It adds, however, that the advice is likely to evolve: “Recommendations on which vaccine product to complete a vaccine series in individuals who have received one dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be forthcoming after further evidence on mixed COVID-19 vaccine schedules is available (expected early June 2021).”

Strang and Rankin are scheduled to webcast an update today at 3 p.m.

Karen Lake

Bonny Lea Farm hiring blitz
Bonny Lea Farm, a Chester-area service provider to adults with special needs, wants to fill a number of vacant positions as it embarks on an ambitious staffing recruitment drive.

The pandemic had a big impact on organization, with several workers retiring or going on leave, according to executive director Karen Lake. “Our sector is certainly struggling,” she says. “We went months last summer where we were low on people, but we really couldn’t recruit … that complicated our ability to increase our workforce here.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Man shot in Pictou
RCMP continue to investigate after a shooting yesterday, just after midnight at a “commercial lodge” in Pictou. The 32-year-old is hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the victim and attacker knew each other.

The Pictou Advocate has more.

Japanese knotweed. Photo: B. Stewart

An innocent looking invader
In the 1800s, Nova Scotia’s early settlers deliberately introduced Japanese knotweed, hoping it would help with “ornamental, erosion control, and screening purposes,” according to HRM archives.

It didn’t work as planned.

“Nothing else will grow,” says Peter Duinker, an environmental studies professor at Dalhousie University. He explains that once knotweed becomes established, it “almost 100%” overwhelms the surrounding vegetation. Japanese knotweed is such a problem in the U.K. that some banks have refused to approve mortgage applications after discovering the weed on the homeowner’s property.

Clusters of knotweed dot the landscape all over Halifax. Keen eyes will notice a patch near the entrance to the navy yard on Upper Water Street. There’s also a large patch on McNab’s Island. HRM has tried, with little success, to fight the invader.

“It is a very deeply rooted species that can reproduce from root fragments,” says Duinker. “Unless you want to nuke it with chemicals, you have to excavate a metre of soil and even then you may not get it done.”

David MacDonald has more in this Halifax Magazine reporter, originally published July 2016.

Jim St. Clair

Remembering Jim St. Clair
Teacher, historian, environmentalist, genealogist, author, volunteer, friend—everyone who knew him seems to have a different label to describe Jim St. Clair, who died on May 11 at age 90.

Originally from Massachusetts, he made Cape Breton his home in 1971, devoting the next 50 decades to championing and preserving the island’s culture and heritage.

“He had a razor-sharp intellect,” recalls teaching colleague Carol Chisholm. “He was academically brilliant. He was very well-versed on many subjects … He encouraged people to learn about themselves. He taught the whole person, not just the subject. Very astute psychologically, he could read people very well. He encouraged critical thinking; he wanted them to learn how to develop problem-solving skills.”

Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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