Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 case numbers are “headed in the right direction,” says Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

In the most recent update, the province reports 110 new cases and 155 recoveries, for a total of 1,572 known active cases.

“We are seeing early signs that our case numbers are declining, which is an indication that the restrictions that are in place are working,” Strang says in a press release. “The cases we are seeing have fewer close contacts than cases in previous weeks.”

There are 85 people in Nova Scotian hospitals with the disease, including 15 in ICU. Health officials say that eight patients in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary have positive for COVID-19 and transferred to a COVID-19 unit. The other patients in the non-COVID unit have tested negative.

So far, COVID-19 has killed 71 Nova Scotians, and 24,825 people across the country.

Dr. Robert Strang

Vaccination milestone
As of May 12, health-care workers have dispensed 402,733 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Nova Scotia, with 38,421 people getting the second dose that completes inoculation. That means that about 37.5% of Nova Scotians are at least partially immunized.

Hitting the 400,000 milestone yesterday marks a doubling in vaccinations in under a month, and has the province on track for its goal of having everyone who wants one to receive a shot by the end of June, according to a government press release.

“The hard work of staff on the frontlines and behind the scenes has paid off and we have a vaccination program that can efficiently mesh the demand for vaccines with the supply we receive to get doses into arms quickly,” Strang says.

Strang and Premier Iain Rankin have provided no more information about the decision to stop dispensing the AstraZeneca vaccine. Many of the 57,576 Nova Scotians who got AstraZeneca jabs are now wondering if they face more danger of complications than they realized, if they’ll get their second dose as scheduled, and what that dose will be.

Strang and Rankin are scheduled to webcast a COVID-19 update today at 1 p.m.

A song for Pride
Cape Breton country singer Drake Jensen has released a rendition of the Nova Scotia anthem “Rise Again” in support of a fund for people who identify as LGBTQI+ and work with the community.

“For years, we’ve been looking for ways to give back to my home province and the LGBTQI+ community,” Jensen says. “I grew up in Glace Bay where there were no resources for kids like me. Severe bullying altered the course of my life. It will be great to educate people about this.”

The Pictou Advocate has details.

Merydie Ross

Liberal aide becomes NDP nominee
In 2013, Merydie Ross was an aide with the Liberals, helping Mark Furey win Lunenburg West. Now she aims to win the riding for the NDP, announcing she’s seeking the party’s nomination for the upcoming (as yet undeclared) provincial election.

She cites growing concerns about poverty, the climate crisis, and the health-care system as factors in her decision.

“I’ve dedicated my skills and my service working with communities to develop community-based solutions on a variety of topics,” she says. “I think the pandemic itself has highlighted so many social safety net gaps that have gone unaddressed in various ways for a long time, and now they’re glaring.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

National title for Richmond Cheer team
A Port Hawkesbury cheer group has more trophies for its case, after competing virtually in the recent Canadian Cheer National Championship. The Richmond Cheer Under 12 Prep team finished second overall, while the Under 17 Level 1 and Level 2 teams claimed national titles.

“We were supposed to go last year and it got cancelled,” says Richmond Cheer co-owner Jackie Molloy-Samson. “We were literally packing and getting ready to leave on Friday, when everything locked down on Monday. This year, we had the opportunity to do it virtually, and we said, ‘Yeah, we’re doing it.'”

Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

Johanna Galipeau

Work, sleep, repeat
As the lockdown continues, small retailers have been especially hard hit, scrambling to find new ways to reach customers, and adapting their offerings to customers’ changing needs.

For Johanna Galipeau, that means 12-hour days to keep Sweet Pea Boutique, her Queen Street women’s clothing store, afloat. Every day, she’s busy taking photographs of stock to post online, shooting videos of virtual fitting rooms for Instagram, and going to the store to pack up purchases for mail, curbside pickup, and local delivery.

“Once I finish with my pickup time at the store, I hit the road with my partner, and we just drive all over the city delivering orders,” Galipeau says. “It’s day after day, and we joke that it’s a very Groundhog Day. We do the same thing every day: go home, make dinner, go to sleep, wake up, and repeat.”

Combine that with financial pressures and a ban on non-essential in-person shopping, and Sue Uteck, the executive director of Spring Garden Area Business Association, worries some businesses won’t make it. “Quite simply, they have worked their asses off,” she says. “The current supports available from government … are not enough,”

They tell Ameeta Vohra about it in this new Halifax Magazine story.

Need to know
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Halifax Magazine