As of yesterday, Oct. 1, Nova Scotia continues to have two known cases of COVID-19 (including one person hospitalized in ICU), according to the latest government update. So far, the province has had 95,244 negative test results, 1,088 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 65 deaths. The federal government reports Canada has 14,866 active cases from coast to coast.

Making COVID testing easier
Amid reports of Nova Scotia’s 811 system being all but overwhelmed, with callers waiting up to seven hours to talk with someone (LighthouseNow, Sept. 9), the government is announcing changes.

“With school resuming and other parts of Canada seeing a second wave of COVID-19, we are increasing our capacity to test people with symptoms more quickly to make sure we detect and manage cases,” says Premier Stephen McNeil in a press release. “Our first step is a new online COVID-19 self-assessment tool.”

Instead of calling 811, people can now do a self-assessment online. The government promises this will reduce the screening wait time from 12 hours to about 10 minutes. If the online assessment determines that a person requires a test, health officials are supposed to call them within 24–48 hours to book an appointment.

811 continues to take calls from people who can’t access the online tool or want to talk with a nurse about their symptoms.

Game on (cautiously)
Hockey rinks and other sports arenas are reopening in Nova Scotia this fall and the pandemic is forcing them all to adapt. The experience at the Antigonish Arena is typical of what you’re likely to find at sites around the province. It’s allowed to host up to 50 athletes and officials, and up to 200 fans (if they distance as per public health rules).

“We’re happy to see it open,” says Antigonish County warden Owen McCarron. “It starts to show a little bit of normalcy coming back into our community.” Drake Lowthers has the story in The Reporter.

Robbie MacInnis

Not the same old song
Acclaimed piper Robbie MacInnis is calling a new tune with a foray into municipal politics, running for a spot on Pictou’s council. Despite his relatively high profile, he’s focused on down-to-earth issues.

“Illegal dumping is an ongoing battle in our area,” he says. “[Residents] are very concerned about the amount of speeding occurring in rural areas… Ongoing support for our local fire departments is paramount.” Read more in The Pictou Advocate.

So you’re going to jail
Few first-time prisoners plan to go to jail and even fewer have a clear idea what to expect when they get there.

Jeffrey Brooks, who has been in and out of jail most of his adult life, recalls his first incarceration at age 19. “I had definitely seen too many movies,” he says. “I was afraid because I didn’t know what was going to happen but at the same time I was like ‘If someone tries something with me, Imma fuck ’em up.'”

In this fascinating Halifax Magazine feature, originally published May 2017, Chris Muise talks with prisoners and justice-system workers about what life behind bars is really like.

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