Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan is ahead of schedule, Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, announced yesterday. People aged 20 and older became eligible to book vaccination appointments yesterday, while government says appointments for children aged 12 and up will be available by the end of May.
“We made a promise to Nova Scotians that by the end of June, every person who wants to receive a COVID-19 vaccine would have their first dose,” Rankin says. “In just a matter of days, anyone in Nova Scotia who is eligible to receive a vaccine will be able to book their first dose appointment.”
Government figures indicate that about 48.2% of Nova Scotians have had at least one vaccine dose so far. Rankin says plans are also in the works to speed up the delivery of second doses by two to four weeks. Starting in early June, government will begin contacting people by email with opportunities to reschedule their appointments.
“We will be following the same process and sequence for moving up second doses as we did for the first dose,” Strang says. “Starting with health-care workers and then into our age-based approach, this will allow people to reschedule their second dose sooner, into any available appointment in any clinic across the province.”
He adds that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization guidance allows the mixing of mRNA vaccines if a matching dose is not available, which means that people whose first dose was Moderna may get Pfizer for their second shot.
Strang and Rankin still have no news for the 57,576 Nova Scotians who followed their advice to get vaccinated and got a first dose of the no-longer-offered AstraZeneca. They say they expect more guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization in early June. The first Nova Scotians to get AstraZeneca are due for their second jab on July 5.
Rankin says that “with a steady supply of vaccine,” Nova Scotia expects to reach 75% population immunity in September.
Yesterday, Nova Scotia tallied 54 new cases of COVID-19 and 102 recoveries, for a total of 846 known active cases. According to the government update, there are 72 people hospitalized with the disease, including 58 in ICU.
As of May 24, health care workers have dispensed 510,054 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered with, 41,479 Nova Scotians getting the second dose.
RCMP rejects racism claim
Just after sunrise on May 19, a heavily armed RCMP emergency response team showed up at Larson Munongo’s home in Western Shore, Lunenburg County to serve a search warrant, as they investigated a report of someone pointing a handgun during an earlier dispute. Seconds after announcing their presence, they stormed the home, smashing windows and terrifying the people inside.
Muongo believes the fact that he’s Black accounts for the aggressive tactics. “I think it’s because of me, based on who I am, based on what skin colour I am,” he says in a May 21 CTV news story.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Marshall refuses to consider if race was a factor, arguing the team was actually there to prevent violence.
“Ultimately, the ERT never goes in with the expectation [they’re] going to hurt somebody,” he says, adding that the unit is there “to make sure that doesn’t happen, to ensure not just officer safety, but that something bad doesn’t occur.”
Nail gun attacker’s sentence continues to draw outrage
Last month, Judge Del Atwood gave Shawn Wade Hynes an 18-month suspended sentence for shooting a Black co-worker in the back with a nail gun.
For many Black Canadians, the attack and the court’s reaction are fresh reminders of Canada’s long legacy of systemic racism.
“For a lot of people, Black lives and Black conditions don’t matter,” says Leonard Paris, a Black man who moved many years ago to Ontario to escape East Coast racism. “It was a further example of the hatred Black people face in Nova Scotia today … It’s an extension of what’s been happening for years in Pictou County.
Mulgrave policing costs jump
Municipal officials in Mulgrave, Guysborough County, are concerned about an $8,000 increase in their RCMP policing costs, but are pleased they avoided raising taxes this year.
“With COVID there’s a lot of stress on everybody, some people aren’t working as much as they used to be, money is not as easy to come by, we just wanted to keep it at the same rate,” says Mayor Ron Chisholm, “to take the stress off the general public.”
Drake Lowthers has details for The Reporter.
Dammed if you don’t
Halifax energy entrepreneur Kevin Mullen recently pitched NB Power on a plan for his company GreenQuest to take over the 140-year-old Milltown Generating Station in St. Stephen, N.B., refurbish it, and sell the green electricity back to NB Power.
The Crown utility rebuffed Mullen’s bid and is instead proceeding with a plan to decommission and dismantle the Milltown facility and draw the lost power from the increasingly unreliable Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.
“We did the financial model,” Mullen says. “The bottom line is if NB Power hands it over for us to do the refurbishment, they’re going to save the cost of decommissioning it, and we’d sell them the power at roughly the same cost as their average cost of power.”
The reaction is no warmer in his home province, where he’s explored taking over some of Nova Scotia Power’s aging dams. “They’ve told us directly that, while they recognize the numbers work [that is, for Nova Scotian ratepayers], they consider GreenQuest a competitor, and they would not engage in a sale to us for refurbishment, not even with an option to repurchase after the project is complete, unless they’re compelled to do so.”