Coronavirus Update 6 – March 25, 2020

This picture above is the view from my back window. I’m running out of material being stuck in side and all… I guess the message is it is a nice day to go for a walk around your neighbourhood!

This update was posted morning of March 25, 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.


Relatively short update today because I have a video meeting at 9am I should probably be shaved and in a decent shirt for, so I am short on time!

More seriously, the Federal and provincial response to Coronavirus should be largely fleshed out today and tomorrow so Friday’s email will be a big one.

I had a couple people email me and ask why there was no email yesterday  and I had not said that the schedule I have set for myself is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for the foreseeable future.

You can also follow me on social media for far more updates than most folks need all day every day, and you can follow my twitter COVID-19 list of useful accounts here: https://twitter.com/i/lists/1239178419562217474

We are in a bit of a lull in major announcements.  The House of Commons passed its package just a few hours ago, so the Federal supports will be clear shortly, with new provincial supports coming shortly after.  But there is good news.

Yesterday in the provincial press conference Dr Strang just said the QE2 microbiology lab can, right now, do 400 tests a day. That is double their pre-crisis capacity.  Think about how technically difficult it would be to both get national certification for the lab so the testing did not have to be verified in Winnipeg while also doubling capacity in the lab. At the end of this everyone involved in that project needs to get a medal.

What this means is Nova Scotia can by itself do as many tests per day (about 2500) per person as South Korea. This is REALLY good news.

Dr Strang also said COVID-19 testing is expanding slightly in Nova Scotia. Now officials are testing close contacts of existing cases, and some patients in hospital who are showing COVID-19 symptoms.  He said they were “focusing our testing up to now on travel history, but we have also been testing everyone who might be sick enough to be admitted… we’ve been testing where clinically appropriate… close contacts will be tested… we are looking to expand testing into the community.”

I am very hopeful. We are going to have more cases and more hospitalizations but if we maintain social distancing, isolate if we’ve been travelling, we have the ability now to track and trace contacts and test very aggressively.

Before we get into updates on specific issues, I also want to say I know people are worried, that emotions are high, and we are all desperate for answers.

What matters is everyone should follow the instructions of the Medical Officers of Health (MOH) and ignore anyone – politician, business people, US Presidents, union leaders, neighbours, friends – who who are second guessing the MOH. The medical officers of health of actual doctors who have devoted their lives to the study and practice of public health. We need to trust them, and follow their instructions, and if we see a gap, we need to contact the MOH and public health and ask for clarification to address those gaps.

Big update on Friday, stay safe!

When May an Employee Lawfully Refuse to Work?

Pink Larkin created this excellent information page for workers looking for advice about when and how to refuse to work. They wrote “The COVID-19 pandemic raises significant workplace issues. One of them is whether an employee may lawfully refuse to work because they believe that doing so would endanger their health or safety.” https://pinklarkin.com/covid-19-workplace-fact-sheet-1-when-may-an-employee-lawfully-refuse-to-work/

Business Updates

Statement from Premier McNeil to small business owners

“To our small businesses and self employed I want you to know that we know you are the heart of our economy and I know you are worried. I am working with a team focused on how to support you and your business during this unprecedented time.  We are also getting our construction tenders out the door now, so when it is time we are ready for the work to begin to repair our economy.  We are waiting for the Federal Government to confirm its programs including EI and who qualifies and what they are doing around tax benefits and how they are supporting Social Programs. This is currently before the House of Commons.  When these programs get the green light we will announce our own programs.  We want to make sure there are no gaps, and we do not want to leave anyone behind.”

The House of Commons passed their package today at dawn.  I expect details on the Federal and Provincial packages in my Friday update.

Halifax Chamber Info

The Halifax Chamber has put together a group called the Nova Scotia Business Labour Economic Council, to work on our members’ behalf and to advocate with all levels of government at this difficult time. This group has rapidly expanded to over 60 groups and associations that represent over 200,000 workers in Nova Scotia. Your Chamber is leading this group and voicing your concerns to businesses and government across the province and the country.

We are sharing resources and information within the group to ensure that all members will have the most up to date communication from all relevant levels of government. Please visit our resources page here daily to find updates from the government and other service providers. This page will also promote and advertise any services you are offering and products you can provide. Check the page to find businesses and restaurants that are open in your neighborhood and other offers.
https://halifaxchamber.com/resources/covid-19-information-and-resources/

Clarification on Essential Service Sectors

Essential service sectors are exempt from the five-person-or-fewer gathering rules, and must still maintain social distancing and other public health protocols.

  • health
  • food, agri-food and fisheries
  • transportation (ex: trucking, rail, transit)
  • construction and manufacturing
  • IT, telecommunications and critical infrastructure
  • public services, such as police, fire and ambulances

Other Updates

Parks and Trails Update

A clarification on municipal trails. Residential pathways that connect streets, multi-use paths along streets that replace sidewalks, and trails in your neighbourhood that are NOT connected to / in a park may be used for exercise only: https://halifax.ca/home/news/response-covid-19-municipal-service-updates-2 and for more in why this was so confusing, please read this great article in the Chronicle Herald – “Trail of confusion: Where can you still walk in Nova Scotia? That depends.” https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/local/trail-of-confusion-where-can-you-still-walk-in-nova-scotia-that-depends-428437/

NS Power

For at least the next 90 days, NS POwer will not be disconnecting customers for nonpayment. They also committed to being flexible, relaxing payment timelines, waiving penalties and fees on unpaid bills, and providing options for residential and small business customers. NS Power has stop all collection activity and also stopped interest on amounts going forward. Customers’ bills will still show interest on old amounts owing, but there will be no new interest. NSPower will work with customers on their individual circumstances.
https://www.nspower.ca/about-us/safety/covid-19-response

How to talk to kids about the coronavirus outbreak

The Guardian has this great article – ‘No, we aren’t all going to die’: experts on how to talk to kids about coronavirus
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/24/coronavirus-kids-how-to-talk-to-children-death-virus-expert-guide?CMP=share_btn_fb

Wash Your Hands – A video by Dave Carroll

Dave writes: As we navigate through these uncharted waters with Covid 19, three simple things we can do to reduce the strain on our ability to cope with this virus are:

  1. Stay Home
  2. If you need to go out, keep your distance from others
  3. Above all else, Wash Your Hands

I enjoy trying to find the humour in the unlikeliest of places and, because my boys are younger, I decided to write a fun song to accompany the Covid 19 hand washing protocol. 20 seconds is all that’s required but my song is closer to a minute.  Why? It’s longer because I’m all about good customer service!  It takes time to get to the sink, then wash your hands.  After that, are you supposed to dry your hands and walk away alone; in silence?  I say “NO”!  This song is an end-to-end audio companion to proper hand washing during these troubled times. Please enjoy, and stay safe.   We will get through this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioh1mt8t6AM

Assessment Appeals and PVSC Office

Appeals are continuing. PVSC are working from home and are available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. If you have questions, want to speak with a member of PVSC staff or need to submit paperwork, please contact our Service Centre at 1-800-380-7775.
https://www.pvsc.ca/en/home/default.aspx

Snow Advisory

A wintery mix is expected for Thursday into Friday. Precipitation is expected to begin as snow Thursday afternoon then transition to a mix of ice pellets or freezing rain in the evening and overnight. Freezing rain may persist over Cape Breton into Friday morning before a changeover to rain showers or flurries. Precipitation will taper off Friday afternoon.
https://weather.gc.ca/city/pages/ns-40_metric_e.html

Coronavirus Links

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

Social Media

Facebook:

Nova Scotia Health and Wellness
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

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