Roundup: Houston defends COVID policy in unusual video, wood-cutting plan threatens endangered species, gov strengthens municipal code of conduct, fishers scramble for bait

In a recent Twitter video, Premier Houston and Dr. Strang acknowledge rising COVID case counts, before urging Nova Scotians to "get back out there."

Plus: After decades of advocacy, environmentalist Sheila Cole looks to the next generation

The Nova Scotia government’s fight against COVID-19 took an unusual twist yesterday, as Premier Tim Houston and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, appeared in a Twitter video defending the government’s decision to remove most pandemic protections.

“Everyone experiences different emotions as we … learn to live with COVID,” says Houston. “Some people are ready to get back out there, while others are more cautious and need more time to adjust … You don’t need mandates to tell you how to keep your family safe, you already know how.”

In the same video, Strang downplays the disease’s danger. “For most young, healthy, vaccinated people, COVID-19 is a relatively mild illness,” he says.

Researchers, however, say we know too little to be blasé about any COVID infection.

“Some people, even those who had mild versions of the disease, continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery,” says a recent report from the Mayo Clinic. “COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months.”

The list of potential effects is daunting.

“Although COVID-19 is seen as a disease that primarily affects the lungs, it can also damage many other organs, including the heart, kidneys, and the brain,” say the researchers. “Organ damage may lead to health complications that linger after COVID-19 illness. In some people, lasting health effects may include long-term breathing problems, heart complications, chronic kidney impairment, stroke, and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis.”

The World Health Organization tallies 1,265,525 confirmed COVID cases globally in the last 24 hours, although the real number of infections is likely much higher, as many jurisdictions (including Nova Scotia) are now withholding daily data, making it impossible to get an accurate picture of the disease’s spread.

So far, COVID has killed 6,159,474 people worldwide, including 37,721 people in Canada and 255 Nova Scotians

Strang is scheduled to join his deputy Dr. Shelley Deeks for a media update today at 3:30 p.m. When announced this morning, the update was only available to registered media, with no viewing option for the general public; a couple hours later, the government reversed course, sharing a link for a public webcast.

Editor’s Note: In Houston and Strang’s video, you may notice an interesting optical illusion — they look like they’re the same height, even though Houston is shorter. They appear to be standing side by side, but the angle of the light on their foreheads reveals that the premier is closer to the camera than Strang, employing a cinematographic trick called “forced perspective,” which is often used in Tom Cruise movies, so that you don’t notice he’s only 5’7″.

Sheila Cole. Photo: Submitted

Looking to the next generation
In this month’s green issue, Elle Canada fetes local activist Sheila Cole for her work to help policymakers see the link between environmental policy and public health. After decades of advocacy, she hopes the next generation will take up the fight.

“It’s very important for young women to be involved, paying attention to their health and the earth’s health,” she says. “I’m happy that young women will care about my work, be interested in offering environmental issues themselves and informing themselves … Women need to be healthy and strong to play the leadership role before them at this time in history.”

Ameeta Vohra interviews her for Unravel Halifax.

Government strengthens municipal code of conduct
After Richmond Municipal Councillor Michael Diggdon was suspended for violating the code of conduct, the provincial government plans to amend the Municipal Government Act, to bring stronger consequences for noncompliance.

“Nova Scotians expect their governments to be accountable and transparent with public dollars, and conduct themselves in ways that maintain the public trust,” government spokesperson Krista Higdon says in an email.

A working group including the Association of Municipal Administrators, the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities, and the Association of Nova Scotia Villages will recommend changes.

Jake Boudrot has more for the Reporter.

Brooke Nodding. Photo: Facebook

Wood-cutting plan threatens endangered species
A group of forest companies managing Crown land in Western Nova Scotia wants to cut wood in an area that’s home to a critically endangered Atlantic whitefish species. The 49-hectare lot of provincially-owned land near Minamkeak Lake in Lapland, Lunenburg County is one of three in the Petite Riviere watershed where the last survivors live.

Brooke Nodding of Coastal Action, a local charity that has championed conservation and recovery efforts, urges government to reject the harvesting plan.

“Any cutting in this watershed has the potential to impact water quality of those lakes,” Nodding says in an email.

Keith Corcoran has the story for LighthouseNow.

Fishers scramble for bait
The federal government’s recent decision to cancel the spring mackerel and herring harvests has left Nova Scotian commercial fishers scrambling for new sources of bait.

“The quota was so small that it didn’t make much difference for herring,” he says Ron Heighton, former president of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association. “I’m more concerned about the mackerel.”

He adds that mackerel spend much of the year in American waters, where fishing continues as usual. “It’s ridiculous to limit it here when the U.S. is overfishing there,” he says.

Steve Goodwin reports for the Pictou Advocate.

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