Recent statistics provided by the provincial government should serve as encouragement for Strait area residents who’ve been observing the rules and hoping for better days in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
During a briefing on April 14, chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, released numbers from Community Health Networks across Nova Scotia which are more localized than the figures from Nova Scotia Health Authority regions.
It shows that the counties of Cumberland, Yarmouth, Shelburne, and Digby remarkably have no assigned cases. They also reflect that only the Eastern Shore-Musquodobit and West Hants regions have fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19 than the counties of Inverness, Richmond, Victoria, Guysborough, and Antigonish.
According to a graph presented by Dr. Strang, there are more cumulative cases in the Annapolis-Kings, Bedford-Sackville, Colchester-East Hants, Lunenburg-Queens, Cape Breton, and Pictou County regions, than in the Strait region.
Far outstripping these numbers are the high number of cases in the Halifax Penninsula-Chebucto area and even more so, the Dartmouth-southeast region, both of which are driving up the provincial totals.
This is reflected in the daily numbers from Nova Scotia Health Authority regions across the province which show that the Eastern Zone – taking in eastern Nova Scotia and all of Cape Breton, including the Cape Breton Regional Municipality – accounts for a mere seven per cent of all COVID-19 cases in the province.
Most residents of the Strait area, like many across North America, have been staying home as much as possible, keeping their distance – and for those fortunate to still be employed, working from home for the past month – and everyone is waiting to see if the curve will flatten, then eventually decrease, and continue to drop.
That’s a scenario that will only play out until at least June, but it’s too early to make that call right now, and even by next month, officials might still not be in a better position to make a more accurate assessment.
If the numbers do not plateau, if they continue to remain high and there’s no sense of a drop by the start of May, these measures could very well extend into the summer, and beyond; a scenario no one wants, and everyone dreads.
Thus far, Nova Scotia has had its fair share of cases, more than other Atlantic provinces, but relatively few deaths, which is positive news, but undoubtedly little comfort to those who lost their lives and the loved ones who mourn their loss.
Then there are the others who have or will recover after hospitalization but will suffer permanent disabilities to their hearts and lungs as a result of contracting the novel coronavirus.
And thus far, the virus has been merciless on elderly Nova Scotians and their caretakers, with positive cases confirmed in long-term care facilities around the province, including the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish. These are the people most vulnerable to a flu-like virus that aggressively attacks the respiratory system.
Also in the vulnerable category are those with mental illness who remain cut-off from the world and are struggling with the daily inundation of bad news.
Not just the social and physical discomforts of remaining indoors for prolonged periods, having minimal human contact, being unable to see friends and family, and getting little exercise – this pandemic has the potential to cause long-term damage to the economy.
This freeze in activity has caused chaos for gas stations, restaurants and bars, it has cost governments revenue, it will personally bankrupt Canadians, it has undermined the financial security of large companies and financial institutions, it will shutter many other small businesses, and it will hurt communities large and small, from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
As a result, many people are now either temporarily, or permanently without employment, which creates stress on community groups like charities and food banks, which increases the Employment Insurance, and Department of Community Services roles, and puts further stress on governments already facing shortfalls.
When there are fewer people working, there are fewer consumers, clients and customers which further reverberates into the economy.
Fortunately, the provincial and federal governments have been proactive in getting money into the hands of Canadians, to allow them to keep buying goods, paying on loans, and participating in the economy.
If there is any criticism of all levels of government it’s that they were not stricter sooner with the measures they eventually introduced, which still served to keep infection and transmission rates relatively low, as compared to other countries in the world. With action taken at the beginning of March – like encouraging or mandating the use of masks, enforcing stricter measures with travellers, and empowering law enforcement to enforce distancing and grouping rules – the rates in Nova Scotia and Canada could be the envy of the world.
Currently, this province will have to settle for better than most.
In the middle of a global pandemic, as millions across the world get sick and die, and the economy craters, anything remotely positive is considered good news.