Roundup: Earthquake rattles South Shore homes, COVID persists, calls for gov to do more about Lyme disease, authors preserve local history

“(The pandemic) was devastating," recalls Chef Terry Vassallo. "But it ... allowed us to stand back and take an inventory of what’s important.” Photo: Bruce Murray.

Plus: Through the storm — a pair of local restaurateurs share how they’ve (so far) survived COVID’s uncertainty

Simone Mombourquette, who co-owns Mappatura Bistro with partner (and chef) Terry Vassallo, vividly recalls the last weekend before Halifax’s first COVID-19 lockdown, in March 2020.

The restaurant was packed, permeated with a frantic exuberance. “It was incredible,” she says. “I’ll never forget it. There was no talk about what was going on outside of these walls. People were having a good time. They were happy, joyous, like the last kick of the can.” 

And since then, nothing has been the same — not the same as it was before the pandemic, and rarely the same even from one day to the next. But that’s a familiar story for many small-business operators.

“Your whole life is pivoting,” Vassallo says. “It’s just a series of pivots … So, four years in, Simone and I’d already done quite a bit of pivoting. We just kept it moving.” 

They share their pandemic survival story with Robyn McNeil in the latest issue of Unravel Halifax.

COVID update
The World Health Organization‘s tally of new COVID-19 cases around the globe has almost doubled in the last 24 hours, jumping from 347,644 yesterday to 675,952 today.

The real number of ill people is likely much higher though, as many jurisdictions (including Nova Scotia) are withholding daily data, making it impossible to get a full picture of the disease’s spread.

So far, COVID is known to have has killed 6,258,023 people worldwide, including 39,788 in Canada and 336 Nova Scotians. World Health Organization officials add that those are only the deaths directly from COVID. When they tally deaths that doctors could have otherwise prevented had COVID not exacerbated an existing condition, the toll skyrockets to 14.9 million.

Source: Natural Resources Canada

Earthquake rattles South Shore homes
A 1.8-magnitude earthquake doesn’t sound like much, but on May 2, one rattled some Lunenburg County homes with enough force to knock pictures off walls.

“I thought my camp was going to fall over,” say North River resident David Hatfield, who felt the shake around 9 p.m. “I thought something literally shifted.”

Natural Resources Canada seismologist Stephen Halchuk says earthquake measuring instrumentation detected the “very small event” about 15 kilometres away from Hatfield.

“We were a bit surprised it was felt but, if it was effectively right underneath them … they would notice it,” Halchuk adds, explaining scientists expect the occasional seismic rumble, even though Nova Scotia isn’t a hot spot. “The (tectonic) plates are slowly moving at the same rate your fingernails grow. Over time, this movement, it’s not smooth movement and they can get released in the form of these earthquakes.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Calls for government to do more about Lyme disease
The Nova Scotia Lyme Advocacy Group is urging Premier Tim Houston to do more to educate health-care providers about Lyme disease and create a tick-borne diseases care clinic (like Manitoba’s Tick Collaborative Care Service).

Researchers from Maryland’s Johns Hopkins University discovered last year that Western Nova Scotia has some of the highest rates in North America, with 638 new cases in 2019, up from 140 in 2014.

And for people like Debert mother Andrea Henry, the disease has been life-altering.

“I’m someone with a bunch of energy. I live an active lifestyle,” she said. “And now I can barely get out of bed. It’s destroyed my life. I have a toddler at home I can’t look after and I’m off work.”

Janet Whitman has more for the Reporter.

Hugh Townsend

Authors preserve local history
A person rarely achieves fame and fortune writing about local history, but over time, those books — often written with much personal expense and sacrifice — become priceless records.

In his latest column for the Pictou Advocate, Hugh Townsend muses on the many writers who have laboured to document and preserve his community’s heritage.

“When I got into newspaper work in the local area almost seven decades ago, writers like New Glasgow’s James M. Cameron and Pictou’s Rollie Sherwood kept adding their books to my personal library,” he recalls. “Their writings haven’t been far away ever since.”

Read the full column.

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