Today's COVID briefing is scheduled to start at 3pm. I'll be live-blogging it here.
Today's briefing is being livecast here:
We're about to start.
Rankin: [condolences to Donald Cameron's family]
Rankin: [repeats numbers]
Rankin: there are now 42 people in hospital, 8 of whom are in ICU
Rankin: average age of people in hospital is between 40 and 60, but there are younger people as well.
Rankin, to people getting ticketed for violating the gathering limit: "What is wrong with you?"
Rankin tells people to google the variants and see how much they can harm their loved ones.
Rankin: "the selfish few don't care"
Rankin: we're vaccinating people as quickly as possible, but we have to follow the rules of the shutdown
Strang: the majority of people are doing the right thing, but we need everyone to do it.
Strang: we've made great progress on clearing the backlog, and by tomorrow we'll be at the previous 48-hour time between test and result.
Strang: we should start seeing numbers decline soon.
Strang: "there are a couple of people in hospital because they went out to celebrate immediately after getting their first dose of vaccine"
Strang: it takes 2 weeks from the time of vaccination to develop some immunity.
Strang: some people got sick and didn't call an ambulance because they couldn't afford it. We've waived all fees for covid-related ambulance calls.
Strang: now that the backlog has been mostly cleared, we're opening up some PCR testing for asymptomatic people.
Strang: if you go out in the world regularly, even just to buy groceries, you should get tested often.
Strang: there is NO gathering limit. Just household limits, and small households can have one or two people. You can meet one or two people outside, at a distance.
Strang: small dog training classes outside are OK (?)
Strang: "we're not anywhere close to being out of the woods"
Strang: "vaccines are not we use to address an immediate outbreak," said to defend the age-based vaccination approach.
Strang: in about 6 weeks, every adult who wants an adult will have had one.
Strang: changing the vaccination strategy would slow us down and delay population immunity
Obviously, I mistyped.. every adult who wants a dose will have one in 6 weeks
Strang: we didn't skimp on AstranZeneca; they just got it first and it was all taken up.
Strang: what we're seeing right now is reflecting what happened 2 weeks ago, so we're not yet seeing anything from the violations over the weekend.
Strang: we're seeing 80% and more uptake on the vaccine for the older groups. If that uptake continues for younger groups, we'll have something like herd immunity into June.
Strang: and if so, we'll have a much less restrictive summer.
Strang: companies and Dalhousie has offered to help with backlog, but it's not an equipment issue, it's a process issue. The backlog will be cleared "by the end of the day" (today, Monday)
Asked about buses, Strang thanks drivers for their essential work, then: We've given advice for public health to HRM, but the decisions about that are up to the city.
That was kind of a punt on the bus issue, frankly.
CUPE issued a press release today for lowering the staff to child ratio, but Strang says they're already at 60% capacity.
Strang acknowledges that the backlog delayed contact tracing. That's why people have to self-isolate, he says. BUT: that contact time is now back to 24 hours.
I asked Strang if he had specific numbers about ICU bed capacity (he gave us this back in April 2020), but he said he didn't have the numbers. Still, he said, Public Health is making ICU beds available based on modeling, suggesting that capacity won't be an issue.
Also, lots and lots of people contacted me over the weekend to point at a recent CDC report that said there was no evidence one way or the other about increasing the interim between first and second doses by more than 6 weeks...
Strang replied that Canada's NACI had looked at the science, and is comfortable with the 12-week interim.
Strang: schools aren't going to open in the next week or two. We want kids back to school, but that won't happen until the community risk is low.
Brendan Elliot at Nova Scotia Health sends me the following current ICU bed capacity:
Rankin: this is Stephen McNeil's last day as an MLA.
The briefing is over. Takeaways: the testing backlog will be cleared today. Too many people are getting hospitalized and going into ICU. It very much sucks to be in ICU. Stop partying, dumb asses.
For clarification on ICU beds... I just spoke with Brendan, who had also got more information since I first asked the question, as follows....
Nova Scotia Health is doing away with the dedicated ICU bed category. Lots of people who don't have COVID also go to ICU. However, at this time...
There are 8 people with COVID in ICU. "As we are in active surge protocols we are making available as many beds as are required to meet inpatient and critical care demands for COVID-19...." MORE
"This is why we have been slowing down services, to create that necessary bed footprint...." MORE
"Our current protocols allow for a surge of up to 245 active inpatients, excluding those in critical care, but beds are freed up in incremental steps, so we wouldn’t say we have 245 dedicated beds, rather that we have plans that would get us there if need be."
Obviously, 245 people with COVID in ICU would be a fucking disaster. [my words, not his]
I understand that NSH has to plan for worst-case scenarios, so hopefully this whole conversation will be moot.
I asked the question in the first place because back in the spring of 2020 people were understandably freaking out. No one knew anything much about the disease, and the fear was that hospitals would be overrun. ICU bed count was a daily topic of conversation.
So I wondered why we haven't been hearing anything about ICU counts now. This goes a long way to answering that question.

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More from @Tim_Bousquet

3 May
146 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia today (Monday, May 3) /thread
There are now 34 people in hospital with the disease, 6 of whom are in ICU
There are 943 known active cases in the province.
Read 16 tweets
3 May
As per an RCMP press release, since Dec. 1, the RCMP have charged 67 people for "violating the Nova Scotia Health Protection and Emergency Management Acts in relation to COVID-19."
"The majority of tickets issued were to individuals who did not self-isolate or follow social distancing requirements. Other tickets were issued to a business and individuals who did not comply with a provincial closure order."
18 people were charged within the Halifax District RCMP area, 25 were charged within the Southwest Nova District RCMP area, 24 twere charged within the Northeast Nova District RCMP area. "More than 30% of all charges ... have been on people between 20 and 24 years of age."
Read 4 tweets
3 May
The pop-up testing schedule has been updated /thread
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-7pm
Cineplex Bridgewater, 1-6pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3-7pm
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm

Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Read 4 tweets
3 May
Tonight's potential exposure advisories /thread
If you were at the Mulgrave Park Basketball Court on April 25 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m or Body ‘n’ Soul in Port Hawkesbury on April 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., you must SELF-ISOLATE for 14 days regardless of a negative test result:
If you were at KFC (75 Tacoma Drive, Dartmouth) on April 23 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., April 24 from 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. or April 25 from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. or Maritime Bus travelling from the Airport to Sydney on April, SELF-ISOLATE and get tested:
Read 10 tweets
2 May
133 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia today (Sunday, May 2) /thread
Of those, 117 cases are in Nova Scotia Health's Central Zone, 9 are in the Eastern Zone, 1 is in the Northern Zone, and 6 are in the Western Zone.
There are now 822 active cases in the province. 34 people are in hospital, 6 of whom are in ICU.
Read 14 tweets
2 May
Here is the pop-up testing schedule
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Cineplex Bridgewater, noon-6pm
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-6pm
Centre 200, 481 George St, Sydney, noon-4pm
John Martin School (Dartmouth), noon-7pm
Cineplex Bridgewater, 1-6pm
Pop-up testing (antigen testing) is for asymptomatic people over 16 who have not been to the potential COVID exposure sites; results usually within 20 minutes.
Read 8 tweets

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