Roundup: Less than 10% of N.S. unvaxxed, remembering Alexa McDonough, handgun charges for C.B. man, O’Toole addresses South Shore biz groups

Atlantic-Gaspésie caribou atop Mont Jacques-Cartier, Que. Photo: Zack Metcalfe

Post: Canada’s iconic caribou herds are fast disappearing, and Nova Scotia offers a cautionary tale

Despite the disproportionate attention vaccination opponents garner, the unvaccinated are a small and shrinking minority in Nova Scotia, according to the latest statistics.

Provincial figures show that workers have dispensed 2,079,773 vaccine doses thus far, with 91 per cent of Nova Scotians having one dose, 83.4 per cent having two, and 50.4 per cent also getting the booster.

Also in yesterday’s update, health officials reported another COVID-19 death in the province: a woman in her 70s from the Central Zone. So far, the disease has killed 142 Nova Scotians.

Health officials estimate there are 4,276 active cases of COVID in the province, with 366 new lab-confirmed cases reported yesterday. But those numbers don’t reflect COVID’s true extent. Houston’s government recently stopped widespread testing and follow-up, saying that the pervasiveness of the Omicron strain requires focusing on vulnerable areas like hospitals.

Nova Scotia Health is now asking people to self-report their test results to “collect information to help quickly identify people who are eligible for and may benefit from COVID-19 medications and treatments.”

Health officials also reported 11 new hospital admissions and seven discharges yesterday, for a total of 93 people hospitalized for COVID and getting treatment in specialized units, including 15 in ICU. There are also 107 people who were admitted for another reason but tested positive for COVID (or were in a COVID unit but no longer require specialized care), and 127 who contracted the disease in hospital.

Alexa McDonough

Remembering Alexa McDonough
Long-time provincial and national NDP leader Alexa McDonough recently died at age 77, prompting those who served with her to share their memories.

Former Pictou West MLA and cabinet minister Charlie Parker knew McDonough since becoming involved with the NDP in 1970.

“She was a real gem, a real people person, always optimistic, always able to find a solution,” he recalls. “She was well-liked and her respect crossed party lines. She laid the foundation for many of us who came after her.”

Steve Goodwin reports for LighthouseNow.

Handgun charges for Cape Breton man
A 36-year-old man from Potlotoek First Nation faces charges of unauthorized possession of a firearm and unsafe storage of a firearm after reports of a man with a handgun entering a St. Peter’s store. Police say they expect to lay more charges.

The Reporter has the story.

Erin O’Toole

O’Toole speaks with business groups
Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole recently addressed three South Shore chambers of commerce. It was billed as a talk on financial issues, but he offered few specific policy ideas, instead speaking largely about the Trudeau government’s COVID response.

“All this spending is contributing to inflation, but it’s also not securing a strong enough economy,” O’Toole says, pointing to the soaring cost of living. “Canada spent more per capita than most of our peers in response to COVID, yet we’ve seen some of the weakest results.”

Keith Corcoran has more for LighthouseNow.

When caribou roamed the Maritimes
They’re one of Canada’s iconic animals, yet our caribou are quickly disappearing. Canadian Geographic recently explored the fast-unfolding crisis.

“In Canada … the species is in ominous shape,” reports Alanna Mitchell. “Of a dozen ecologically distinct populations (called “designatable units” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), one is extinct, six are endangered, three are threatened and two are of special concern. It’s not just a bleak picture; it’s also getting worse.”

It’s a story that already played out in Nova Scotia, where the now-forgotten Atlantic caribou once abounded.

Zack Metcalfe

“The thorough removal of old-forest habitat left them without a livelihood, and given the province’s narrowness, their seasonal destinations were easily predicted by hunters,” writes Zack Metcalfe in a post from the Unravel Halifax archives. “The final blow was the influx of White-Tailed deer … These invading deer carried with them the brainworm Parelaphostrongylus tenuis, to which they themselves are immune … The effective extirpation of Nova Scotia’s caribou is traced to 1905 on the mainland and 1912 on Cape Breton Island. Put simply, the province was no longer hospitable — its forests immature, its predators armed with rifles, and its competition carrying the plague.”

Read more about the fate of the Atlantic caribou, and Metcalfe’s journey to Quebec to find their last meagre remnants.

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