Coronavirus Update 3 – March 18, 2020

This update was posted morning of March 18, 2020. The situation is changing by the hour. Please check the CanadaNova Scotia and Halifax websites for the most up to date information, and follow the social media links below.

The information below no longer entirely up to date.  All relevant info from these updates has been compiled into my COVID-19 resources website, with information on current Government ResponseIndividuals & FamiliesBusiness as well as Links to Resources including key social media to follow.


Here is the Coronavirus update for Wednesday March 18, 2020

At this point the last two posts on March 14 and March 16 also apply and should be read in addition to this one.

I am really impressed with how Halifax and Nova Scotia has responded so far.  The picture above is Quinpool Road at morning rush hour Tuesday March 17 8:45am. The streets were empty, and they should be! Folks are working from home, sheltering in place, staying off the roads, that is really important if we are going to smooth the curve.

This is marathon, not a sprint. We have a long way to go, but we are off to a good start.

I know this is hard, and it is scary, and overwhelming, but I am heartened by the steps taken so far and especially for the response from folks in the community.

This article in the Washington Post has animation that shows “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”.  It shows the impact on slowing the spread if people practice “social distancing” by avoiding public spaces and generally limiting their movement.

Self isolation, shelter in place, limiting trips, and social distancing, and washing hands don’t just make you safer, it makes it safer for those that have to go to work, from the folks at the grocery store who are keeping us fed, to the health professionals, doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are providing essential services, to anyone who still has to go to work.

When you stay home, limit trips, and self isolate as required, you make everyone who still has to work safer, including my colleagues at HRM.

MY AMAZING COLLEAGUES AT HRM
I am really proud of my colleagues at HRM, especially Fire, Police, Transportation Public Works, Transit workers, and the folks at Halifax Water, and anyone else at HRM who is still going to work to provide essential services and keep the rest of us safe.

Municipal workers are always responsible for first response, always on the front lines, always first on site, and I am just so humbled to work with such an amazing group of people.

I know though that our folks are scared, worried about their own families, friends and their own health, and this is only natural.

To staff I would say your safety the primary concern and HRM is committed doing everything we can to ensure your safety and you will not be put in harm’s way. If you are worried, please keep sharing any of your concerns with your manager or supervisor, talk to your shop steward, and you can always reach out to me if you have concerns or need advice (such as I can give!)

NEW COVID-19 INTERACTIVE SCREENING TOOL:
Province has update the screening tool.  DO NOT CALL 811 UNLESS THIS TOOL SAYS YOU SHOULD.

If you know people with limited or no access to the internet, please consider calling them and if required running them through this screening tool, if for nothing else to put their mind at ease.

CANADA:
Government of Canada has announced a number of steps to help the economy and support business and citizens with more to come. Announcements are coming every day, and the Prime Minister has said that supports for folks to ensure they can cover rent, bills and food will be announced shortly.  Similarly, business supports are expected to be announced soon.

Details can be found on Canada’s website:  https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

PROVINCE:
The Premier and Dr Strang made some more important announcements yesterday:

  • As of now, no public gatherings of 50 people or more;
  • As of Thursday, restaurants can only offer take-out food, and all bars will be closed;
  • As of today, NSLC is reducing operating hours to 11am-7pm six days a week (closed Sundays), and 10-11am for seniors and others at highest risk of contracting Covid-19
  • Service Nova Scotia is closing all Access Centres for one week, on-line service are operating
  • Drivers licences and vehicle registrations that expire in March, April, and May will have the expiration extended to the end of August:
  • Hospitals are cancelling all non-urgent procedures.

Full list here http://www.nshealth.ca/temporary-service-and-facility-closure-notices-nova-scotia-health-authority-updated-310-pm-march-16

Full info about what restrictions are in place and other info can be found here:  https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/

HALIFAX:
Transit has been made free for the duration of this crisis, and folks are directed to board from the rear doors to help protect bus drivers from exposure and maintain a 2m or more buffer.

HRM is making sure that those who can are working from home and there will be no layoffs, both staff and contractors continue to be paid.

At present, ridership is down roughly 40 per cent for conventional buses, 70 per cent for Access-A-Bus and 50 per cent for ferries. This is proof that community efforts for social distancing are working and we appreciate everyone making alternative travel arrangements or simply staying home.

More on municipal response here: http://halifax.ca/coronavirus

MUNICIPAL TAXES:
All bills were mailed this week and electronic billing through EPOST was sent yesterday. Taxation staff and 311 are ready for any resident inquires. While the due date for the bill is April 30, 2020 HRM recognize many customers may face economic impacts due to the COVID-19 situation that may cause them to struggle with paying their accounts. These customers can contact HRM Collections to discuss their account via email (hrmcollections@halifax.ca) or by calling 311, who will escalate the request to the Collections team. HRM will make sure anyone who needs an accommodation during this crisis gets the support they need.

WORKING FROM HOME:
My cousin Samantha who works in Texas posted these great ideas for helping to “normalize” working from home:

  • if you normally commute, go for a walk when you would typically be in your car
  • turn on video for all calls and dress like you are going to work
  • make sure oyu take time for lunch and work your normal hours
  • make a to do list and set reminders
  • get an extra monitor if you can, and turn your TV off!

HELP FOR BUSINESS:
The Centre for Women in Business at MSVU has put together this fabulous business resource.  It says “The Government of Canada and business organizations across the country are coming together to support businesses in Canada. Here is a list of resources that may be helpful to you and your business.” More here.
https://www.centreforwomeninbusiness.ca/en/home/news/covid-19/resources.aspx

DOCTORS:
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia College of Nursing have both announced steps to grant licences to recently-retired practitioners and to people licensed to practise medicine or nursing in other parts of Canada who want to come here to help.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/covid-19-health-care-doctors-nurses-medicine-hospitals-1.5500767

Coronavirus Resources (updated):

Websites

For information on coronavirus and how Nova Scotia is responding
https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/

For information on what Halifax is doing to support the response:
https://halifax.ca/coronavirus

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Being prepared
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel advice
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html]

Deeper Dive into more detailed resources:

Federation of Canadian Municipalities – in depth list of Federal resources and links to every province
https://fcm.ca/en/resources/covid-19-resources-municipalities

Word Health Organization – Coronavirus info from the global agency responsible for health.
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 – to the

Social Media

Facebook:

Nova Scotia Health and Wellness (new)
Healthy Canadians
Travel Advice from the Government of Canada
Halifax

Twitter:
NS Health @nshealth
Halifax @hfxgov
Government of Canada Travel advice @TravelGoC
Government of Canada Health @GovCanHealth
Canada Public Health @CPHO_Canada

LinkedIn:
Public Health Agency of Canada