Nova Scotia has 44 known active cases of COVID-19, with seven new cases and eight recoveries reported in the latest government update. Six of the new cases are in the Central Zone and the other is in the Eastern. Two people are hospitalized in provincial COVID units.

“Most of the cases we are seeing each day are connected to two contained clusters: one in Halifax and one in Glace Bay,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, says in a press release. “There is no sign of community spread as a result of these clusters, but they do serve as a reminder of the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as you can.”

As of July 5, provincial workers have dispensed 1,011,039 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the province, with 299,585 people getting the second dose that completes inoculation: 72.4% of Nova Scotians have had at least one shot, and 30.5% have had both. Nationally, 68.2% of Canadians have had one shot, and 37.2% have had two.

“Yesterday marked one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in our province,” Rankin says. “This was a wonderful milestone, but we are not finished yet.”

So far, the pandemic has killed 92 Nova Scotians.

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang are scheduled to webcast an update today at 3 p.m.

Laurie Boucher

Road paint shortage
If you’re finding it harder to spot crosswalks and road lanes around the province, you can blame a shortage of road paint, which is delaying the usual summer touch-up work.

“COVID has affected different things in different ways, and sometimes it’s a little bit mysterious,” says Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher. “Some very general household items are now in shortage and I guess the paint for line painting is no different.”

Drake Lowthers has more for The Reporter.

Another arson in New Glasgow
Less than two weeks after a rash of four deliberately-set fires in a 24-hour period, police are investigating another Pictou County blaze, which happened in the early morning on July 4 at a vacant residence in New Glasgow.

Police say the preliminary investigation points to arson.

“As the arson investigation continues, police are urging the public to remain vigilant and report any unusual or suspicious activity,” Const. Ken MacDonald says in a press release. “Any information provided may be crucial in helping solve this investigation.”

MacDonald says it’s too early in this investigation to confirm a connection to the four previous cases.

The Pictou Advocate has details.

An infected branch. Photo: Zack Metcalfe

Hemlocks under siege
Provincial and federal are fighting a losing battle against a tiny invader in western Nova Scotian forests.

The tiny, cotttonball-like insect is the hemlock woolly adelgid, which damages and often kills its namesake tree. The insect sticks its white cottony egg sacks on the underside of a branches, feeding on the tree until the twigs die.

Forestry officials pinpointed the bug four years ago, and most recently last year on Crown land in Lunenburg County. They believe the invader came here from the eastern seaboard of the United States. It first appeared in Virginia in the 1950s and has been creeping north, and leaving a swath of destruction, ever since.

So far, cutting trees in infected areas seems to be the best countermeasure.

“By opening the stand, you actually increase the rigour of the remaining trees that are there because they have less competition from others and may help manage the insect,” provincial forester Dan Lavigne tells LighthouseNow, adding that they’re also saving seeds with goal of eventually replanting ravaged sites. “There are going to be some areas where you won’t be able to protect all the trees and what will happen is you’re going to have different species come in and those sites will change over time.

Among the threatened woodland is the the area around Sporting Lake, in the backwoods of Digby County. This forest is home to what are likely Nova Scotia’s oldest trees, hemlocks that are over four centuries old.

Columnist Zack Metcalfe visited that site last summer, after a long search for the province’s most venerable trees.

“I admired these hemlocks one last time, knowing that any one of them might be the tree I’d been searching for since 2015, growing here since William Shakespeare was alive, perhaps soon to expire for no good reason,” he recalls. “Maybe we will beat back HWA for a while. Maybe we’ll defeat it outright. Maybe we’ll create the conservation conditions necessary for trees to become this old elsewhere. And maybe we won’t. Maybe in a few years the pilgrimages to Sporting Lake, which stretch at least as far back as the written record, will end, and maybe this place will become just another island, robbed of the riches of natural history.”

Read more in this column in the Halifax Magazine archives.

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