Roundup: N.S. faces hundreds more COVID deaths says expert, gov promises more rural internet access, New Glasgow studies growing deer population, 2 national titles for South Shore runner

Charlotte Mendel. Photo: Bruce Murray

Plus: The new eco-warrior’s muse — author Charlotte Mendel aims to inspire the next generation

About 24,000 Nova Scotians are getting COVID-19 each day — more than 20 times the official government tally, estimates infectious diseases researcher Dr. Tara Moriarty. At this rate, Nova Scotia should expect to sustain about 900 deaths from the Omicron variant alone, adds the Toronto researcher, who has been doing a weekly series of tweets about the true extent of the pandemic.

She offers a rebuttal to science-deniers, who say that COVID is no worse than the flu, pointing out that the expected death rate is eight times higher than the rate for flu and pneumonia combined.

Moriarty’s update contrasts starkly with the latest information from the Houston government. Last week, as the province tallied a record-high 24 COVID deaths, Dr. Shelley Deeks, Nova Scotia’s deputy chief medical officer of health, put a positive spin on the numbers.

“The data this week on PCR-confirmed infections suggest the peak of the sixth wave is behind us,” she says in a press release.

Moriarty is calling on governments to give up that rosy view. “We have multiple effective, game-changing interventions we didn’t have in 2020, which combined can save a lot of lives, even with a highly transmissible variant,” she says. “We need masking, fast diagnosis to treatment, fast widespread third, fourth (vaccine) dose uptake, and broader eligibility.”

So far, COVID has killed 6,233,526 people worldwide, including 38,912 people in Canada and 314 Nova Scotians.

The new eco-warrior’s muse
Halifax author Charlotte Mendel makes her first foray into young-adult fiction with her new novel, Reversing Time: One Boy’s Quest to Change History (Guernica Editions, Montreal, 2021), a boy who travels into the past to save the world from climate change. 

“In Reversing Time, I wanted to aim at young people where, I think, there is a real sense of despair,” she says. “Too often, we are using the wrong language with them.”

She wants readers to see the hope and opportunity that comes with confronting the crisis.

“When you’re in a dire situation, that is when the greatest of human nature comes out,” she adds. “I want people to see that this is actually an exciting time. We need to galvanize everyone to focus on what they can actually do.” 

Alec Bruce interviews her for Unravel Halifax.

Government commits to more rural internet access
According to government figures, there are about 4,000 homes and businesses in Nova Scotia without reliable high-speed internet service, and provincial officials promise a new deal Develop Nova Scotia signed with Eastlink and Bell will get about 400 of them online.

“Most of the addresses reached through these contracts are in groups of two and three, at the end of a road, further away from connecting infrastructure, in more sparsely populated areas, at the end of longer driveways, and through difficult terrain,” spokesperson Deborah Page says in an email. “In essence, anyone not yet covered by a project, we are actively seeking a solution to reach them … We are confident, using a variety of technologies and solutions, we will be able to offer access to very close to 100 per cent of Nova Scotians.”

Jake Boudrot has more for the Reporter.

Zoe Mosher. Photo: Submitted

Double gold for South Shore athlete
Fourteen-year-old Bridgewater runner Zoe Mosher won a pair of gold medals at last month’s national indoor athletics event in New Brunswick, finishing first in the 1,200-metre and 2,000-metre races.

Coach Tanya Daniels says Mosher’s dedication and commitment to the sport have brought her far since she took it up in 2019, particularly considering how the pandemic has disrupted competition and training.

“She understands that long-term focus is most critical as a young runner, and as part of this mindset is also an active multi-sport athlete, which she knows is equally important,” she says in an email. “This … is an excellent performance to open up what hopefully will be normalcy in returning to athletics for everyone.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

New Glasgow studies deer population
New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks says the town’s growing deer population is one of the top concerns she hears from residents, and CAO Lisa MacDonald attributes the problem to people feeding the animals, even though bylaw officers haven’t ticketed anyone for doing so.

People “don’t want to tell on their neighbours,” she says. “That’s not really helpful, because that’s the root of the issue. The problem is, they have to have evidence to issue the ticket. So if neighbours complain and we have to get the evidence, that’s the challenging part. It’s no different than giving a statement to the police.”

Provincial officials are doing a deer population count, saying they need that number before determining the next steps.

Raissa Tetanish has the story for the Pictou Advocate.

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