N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 9 new cases, jump in vaccination rates among long-term care workers
New Brunswick reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and a jump in the vaccination rates among long-term care home workers. The province now has 139 active cases of the respiratory disease. Six people are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including two in intensive care. One person is hospitalized out of province and is in an intensive care unit. The breakdown of the new cases is as follows: Moncton region, Zone 1, one case: A person 50 to 59. This case is a contact of a previously confirmed case. Saint John region, Zone 2, two cases: A person 50 to 59. A person 60 to 69. Both cases are travel-related and one individual is out of province. Fredericton region, Zone 3, four cases: Four people 19 or under. All four cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases. Bathurst region, Zone 6, two cases: A person 19 or under. A person 40 to 49. Both cases are travel-related. The nine new cases of COVID-19 announced Friday put the province’s total active cases at 139.(CBC) New Brunswick has had 2,181 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 1,998 recoveries so far and 43 COVID-related deaths. A total of 331,080 COVID tests have been conducted, including 1,682 on Thursday. As of Friday, 413,364 New Brunswickers have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. That’s 59.6 per cent of the eligible population, aged 12 or older. 13 more homes reach 50% vaccination rate Since Thursday, 13 more long-term care homes now have at least half of their staff vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch announced Friday. The jump comes after the province announced it would implement mandatory COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated workers in some homes next week because of “unacceptable” low vaccination rates. “This rapid progress is no surprise to me or to staff at the department,” Fitch said in a statement. “We know the workers at these facilities are dedicated to protecting and serving our most vulnerable seniors.” The Edmundston region, Zone 4, has the highest percentage of unvaccinated long-term care home workers, while the Fredericton region, Zone 3, has the highest percentage of workers who have received at least one dose.(Government of New Brunswick) Of the province’s 563 long-term care homes, the number of with fewer than 50 per cent of staff vaccinated is 86. That’s down from 99 on Thursday. All 70 nursing homes have staff vaccination rates above 50 per cent, according to a news release. The Edmundston region, Zone 4, has the highest percentage of unvaccinated workers, at 28 per cent, according to a new website launched by the department. A total of 74.1 per cent of all long-term care home staff in the province has now received at least one dose or intend to get the vaccine, according to the website. Fitch is encouraging any workers who have not already made a vaccination appointment to do so as soon as possible. Starting Monday, unvaccinated workers will be required to take a rapid COVID-19 test every other day if they work in a facility where less than half of the staff have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The province has 383,224 rapid tests and has distributed 53,458 in various sectors to date, said Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane. “The province’s supply will be able to continue to meet the demand for rapid tests for as long as needed,” he said in an emailed statement Friday. Bump in the ‘path to green’ Just one day after New Brunswick announced its “path to green,” it has hit a bump. Premier Blaine Higgs said it’s unlikely the province can open up to Maine on July 1, as hoped, based on his call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the other premiers Thursday night. The Canada-U.S. border is federal jurisdiction and probably won’t reopen in time, Higgs said. But he believes later in July is possible. New Brunswick’s recovery plan includes three phases to slowly loosen restrictions, with target dates based on anticipated vaccination rates and low COVID-related hospitalizations. Phase 2 calls for travellers from Canada and Maine with at least one dose of a COVID vaccine to be allowed into the province without having to isolate, starting July 1, provided at least 75 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have received their first dose and at least 20 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 65 or over have received their second dose. Higgs said there’s “a lot of interest” among the premiers in opening up with the U.S. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said unless Canada gets a significant influx of additional COVID-19 vaccines before June 21, he expects the non-essential travel ban with the U.S. to be extended again.(Ed Hunter/CBC) Last week, the federal government announced another month-long extension of Canada-U.S. border restrictions until June 21. Higgs believes the non-essential travel ban will be extended again. “Whether it be another month or another few weeks, I think it’s directly related to — can we get to the same level of vaccinations? Which, by the end of June would be probably a bit of a stretch.” More than 40 per cent of Americans are fully vaccinated. In New Brunswick, nearly 60 per cent of those eligible have received their first dose, but only about 5.4 per cent have received their second shot. There is a push to strike a federal deal to gain access to surplus doses from the New England states, however, he said. “If we have greater access, we not only can meet our schedule, but we can move move it up.” The premiers also discussed COVD-19 vaccine passports during the call with the prime minister, said Higgs. There were “varying opinions,” but “it wasn’t something that was generally accepted” for Canadians travelling between provinces, he said. The idea garnered more support when it came to international travellers. At least 809 AstraZeneca doses claimed At least 809 of the province’s 3,500 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which are set to expire Monday, have been spoken for, according to the Department of Health. Since last Friday, 809 people have booked an appointment to receive a second dose of AstraZeneca through the online booking system for clinics being held by the Horizon and Vitalité health authorities, said department spokesperson Shawn Berry. “This does not include individuals who may have booked through a pharmacy,” he said in an emailed statement. Any unused doses of the province’s AstraZeneca supply left over by Monday, the expiry date, will be disposed of, the chief medical officer of health has said.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Last Friday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell announced the province had 3,500 doses in stock, with an expiry date of May 31. If the doses aren’t used by then, they will be disposed of, Russell had said. During Thursday’s COVID briefing, Russell told reporters she remained hopeful that none of the doses would go to waste. People over the age of 55 who received AstraZeneca as their first dose at least eight weeks ago and want to receive a second dose, can check for clinic availability in their area by booking online. There are clinics planned Saturday in Woodstock and Saint John, Sunday in Fredericton and Monday in Moncton, Campbellton and Miramichi. People should book at least 36 hours ahead, department officials said. To see if a pharmacy is offering second doses of AstraZeneca, visit the pharmacy’s website or social media page. Fredericton community transmission case ID’d A case of community transmission in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, has been identified as the variant of concern first reported in the U.K., Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said in an email Friday. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell announced the case earlier this week and described it as concerning. Public Health has been unable to trace the case to any other cases in the region and believes it is a different strain, she had said. “I’m not talking the variant here,” she said. “I’m just talking that it’s a different genetic sequence than whatever is circulating currently.” Macfarlane did not elaborate in his email on if or how the case is different than the other cases in the region involving the U.K. variant. Delta Fredericton cluster reaches 77 The cluster of COVID-19 cases linked to the former isolation hotel, the Delta Fredericton, has now reached 77, the Department of Health said Friday. Twelve cases were directly linked to the Delta, said Macfarlane. The other 65 were contacts, either direct or indirect. The outbreak in the Fredericton region stems from the Delta, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has confirmed. She has declined to reveal whether the index case was an isolating guest, an employee or another guest, citing confidentiality. The Delta cluster is fuelled by the highly contagious variant first reported in India and health officials believe there’s a very strong probability it’s spreading through surface contacts, rather than respiratory droplets or aerosols, according to an internal Horizon Health Network memo. Small business grant enhanced and extended until green phase More help is on the way for small businesses hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the launch of Phase 2 of the New Brunswick Small Business Recovery Grant program, Opportunities NB announced Friday. Under the enhanced and extended program, eligible businesses can apply for a non-repayable grant of up to $5,000 to help offset losses incurred since April 1 because of tighter Public Health restrictions — even at the yellow COVID alert level. Previously, businesses could only access the grants under the more restrictive orange, red or lockdown levels. In addition, the province has reduced the 30 per cent year-over-year drop in revenue threshold to 20 per cent when compared to the same month in 2019, said Economic Development and Small Business Minister Arlene Dunn, who is also the minister responsible for Opportunities NB. “While the pandemic has been unpredictable, our commitment to business is not,” she said in a statement. “The changes we are bringing to the program will ensure New Brunswick businesses continue to get the support they need in a timely manner.” Businesses within the eligible sectors that have been subject to elevated COVID alert levels and/or impacted by measures limiting unnecessary travel into New Brunswick, are able to apply, said Economic Development and Small Business Minister Arlene Dunn.(Ed Hunter/CBC) Eligible business types include restaurants and drinking establishments, hairstylists and spas, fitness facilities, entertainment centres, some tourism operators, and non-essential retail businesses located in lockdown zones. Applications will be accepted beginning June 1. The program will remain open until New Brunswick reaches the green level of recovery, which is expected to be on Aug. 2. Businesses that accessed the grant under the first phase remain eligible to apply for the full amount available under Phase 2. Tourism industry urges travellers to come to New Brunswick The president of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick has a message for travellers. “Come on over.” On Thursday, the province outlined a path to a green COVID-19 recovery phase by the beginning of August. Carol Alderdice welcomed the news. “I actually had tears in my eyes.” She hasn’t heard from members of the tourism industry yet, but she’s certain “they must be elated.” “We absolutely need people to travel in New Brunswick this summer.” Last year, some businesses reported revenue losses of 50 to 100 per cent. “They couldn’t survive another summer like that,” she said. Premier Blaine Higgs said he wants to see the province “moving again” and for the rest of Canada to open up this summer. “It’s real, it’s a possibility … and we don’t want to lose another tourism season,” Higgs said Friday morning. Atlantic COVID roundup Nova Scotia reported 40 new cases of COVID-19 Friday. Total active cases are 585. Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed 14 new cases, as a cluster in Central Newfoundland reached the 60-case mark. The province now has 96 active cases. Prince Edward Island has two new cases to report, both linked to travel outside Atlantic Canada, and has 12 active cases. Latest public exposures Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the virus at the following locations: Moncton region, Zone 1: Day & Ross Freight Terminal, 651 Frenette Ave., Moncton, on May 20 and May 22. Wendy’s Restaurant, 85 Harrisville Blvd., Moncton, on May 22 between noon and 8 p.m. Fredericton region, Zone 3: The Reps Gym, 401 Connell St., Woodstock, on May 17 to May 19 between 8 p.m. and midnight. Capitol Building, 114 Queen St., Woodstock, on May 17 to May 19. Day & Ross Freight Terminal, 398 Main St., Hartland, on May 17 to May 22. Public Health has also identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flights: Air Canada Flight 318 – from Calgary to Montreal, departed at 11:43 a.m. on May 15. Air Canada Flight 8904 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 6:52 p.m. on May 15. Public Health is offering COVID-19 testing for all New Brunswickers who have been in a public exposure area, even if they are not experiencing any symptoms. Residents may request a test online or call Tele-Care 811. People experiencing one or more symptom are also encouraged to get tested. Previous public exposures Public Health previously reported the following potential public exposures: Moncton region, Zone 1: Moxie’s Grill and Bar, 10 Wyse St., Moncton, on May 21 between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tim Hortons, 170 St. George Blvd., Moncton, on May 21 between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and May 23 between 8 a.m. and noon. A&W, 6 Champlain St., Dieppe, on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Codiac Transpo City Bus #60, on May 21 between 7:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. Codiac Transpo City Bus #51, on May 21 between 7:15 p.m. and 10 p.m. Extreme Windows, 80 Loftus St., Moncton, on May 18, May 19, May 20 and May 21 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Subway, 100 Morton Ave., Moncton, on May 19 between 8:30 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. TD Bank, 525 Regis St., Dieppe, on May 22 between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Fredericton region, Zone 3: Downtown Optometry Clinic, 169 Dundonald St., Fredericton, on May 20 between 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m The Head Shoppe, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton, on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Arthurette General Store, 1450 Route 109, Red Rapids, on May 11 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., May 16 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and May 21 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Save Easy, A-24 Columbus St., Perth-Andover, on May 11, May 14, May 15, and May 21 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Grant’s Service Centre, 1151 W. Riverside Dr., Perth-Andover, on May 13 between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. NB Liquor, 26F Tribe Rd., Perth-Andover, on May 13 between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Lewis Pharmacy, 14F Tribe Rd., Perth-Andover, on May 11 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., and May 14 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Squeaky’s Convenience, 2-18F Tribe Rd., Perth-Andover, on May 14 between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Castle Building Supplies, 24B Columbus St., Perth-Andover, on May 14 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and May 20 between noon and 5:30 p.m. Aldo Shoes, 1381 Regent St., on May 19, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Le Château, 1381 Regent St., on May 19, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Lawtons Drugs, 1381 Regent St., on May 19 and May 20, between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., on May 21, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dollarama, 1033 Prospect St., on May 21, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Giant Tiger, 1160 Smythe St., on May 21 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton on Saturday, May 15, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Walmart Supercentre, 1399 Regent St., Fredericton on Sunday, May 16, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Shoppers Drug Mart, 1040 Prospect St., Fredericton on Sunday, May 16, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Walmart, 125 Two Nations Crossing, Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dollarama, 125 Two Nations Crossing, Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sobeys Fast Fuel, 530 Brookside Dr., Fredericton on Monday, May 17, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Fadi’s Pizza, 312 Main St., Fredericton on Tuesday, May 18, between noon and 2 p.m. Fredericton Regional Centre, 300 St. Mary’s St., on Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Atlantic Superstore, 116 Main St., Fredericton on Wednesday, May 19, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Other public exposures Public Health said the dates of a previously reported public exposure at the Fredericton YMCA daycare were incorrect. The correct dates are: Fredericton YMCA daycare, 570 York St., Fredericton, on Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19 Fredericton region: Christ Church (Parish) Church, 245 Westmorland St., Fredericton, Sunday, May 16, 10:30 a.m. service. Hope City Church, 429 Clements Dr., Fredericton, on Sunday, May 16, 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. services. Petro Canada, 20 Royal Rd., Fredericton, on Tuesday, May 18, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Home Depot, 1450 Regent St., Fredericton, Wednesday, May 19, between 5 and 7 p.m. Scholten’s, 325 Sunset Dr., Fredericton, on May 17 between 4 and 8 p.m. Atlantic Superstore, 116 Main St., Fredericton, on May 16 between 9 and 11 a.m. Crowne Plaza Fredericton, 659 Queen St., Fredericton, on May 15 between 3 p.m. and May 16 at noon. Riverbend Golf Club, 541 Route 628, Durham Bridge,on May 15, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Penniac Ultramar, 22 Route 628, on May 15, between 9 and 11 a.m. and between 2 and 4 p.m. Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market, 665 George St., on May 15 between 10 a.m. and noon Moores Clothing, 1150 Prospect St., on May 15, between 11 a.m. and noon. Home Depot, 1450 Regent St., on May 15, between noon and 1 p.m. Crowne Plaza Fredericton, 659 Queen St., between 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, and noon on Sunday, May 16. Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., Fredericton, on Friday, May 14, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. CJ Munn Equipment, 1095 Hanwell Rd., Fredericton, on Friday, May 14, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. McMath Law Office, 406 Regent St., on May 14, between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Fredericton Mitsubishi, 327 St. Mary’s St., on May 14, between 10:45 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pizza Delight, 243 St. Mary’s St., on May 14, between noon and 2 p.m. The Abbey Café, 546 Queen St., on May 14, between noon and 12:30 p.m. Scotiabank, 490 King St., on May 14, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sobeys, 1180 Prospect St., on May 14, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Cannon’s Cross Pub, 15 Riverside Dr., on May 14, between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. McDonald’s Restaurant, 1177 Prospect St., on May 14, between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Cal’s Independent Grocer, 135 Otis Dr., Nackawic, on May 14, between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Irving Big Stop Blue Canoe restaurant, 415 Nevers Rd., Waasis, on May 14, between 10:30 a.m. and noon. Progressive Credit Union, 395 Connell Rd., Woodstock, on May 13, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Giant Tiger, 1160 Smythe St., on May 13, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Scholten’s, 325 Sunset Dr., on May 13, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Costco, 25 Wayne Squibb Blvd., on May 12, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and May 13, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. A&W, 1018 Prospect St., Fredericton, on May 12, between noon and 2 p.m. NB Power, 515 King St., on May 12, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sobeys Fast Fuel, 530 Brookside Dr., on May 12, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. University of New Brunswick Fredericton campus, residence administration building, 20 Bailey Dr., Fredericton, on May 11 and May 12, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sobeys, 463 Brookside Dr., Fredericton, on May 11, between 6 and 8 p.m. Tony Pepperoni, 510 Brookside Dr., on May 11, between 5 and 7 p.m. The Drome, 301 Main St., on May 11, between 8:45 and 11 p.m. Shoppers Drug Mart, 1040 Prospect St., on May 11, from 9 to 10 a.m. Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and the Pickle Jar Restaurant, 620 Queen St., from May 11 to May 16. Tim Hortons drive-thru, Regent Street, on May 10, at 1:30 p.m. Atlantic Superstore, 471 Smythe St, on May 10, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and May 11, from 10 a.m. to noon. Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, 700 Priestman St., on May 10-11. Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation, 800 Priestman St., on May 10-11. Veterans Health Unit, 680 Priestman St., on May 10-11. Wolastoq Wharf, 527 Union St., on May 9, between noon and 2:30 p.m. Northside Market, 170 Main St., on May 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Irving Oil, 181 King St., on May 9, from 8 to 10 p.m. Dollarama, 5 Trinity Dr., on May 9, from noon to 2 p.m. NB Liquor, 18 Trinity Dr., on May 9, from noon to 5 p.m. Home Sense, 18 Trinity Dr., on May 9, from noon to 5 p.m. Delta Fredericton, 225 Woodstock Rd., on May 6-12. STMR. 36 Restaurant – Delta Fredericton, 225 Woodstock Rd., on May 6-12. Moncton region: Costco Wholesale, 140 Granite Dr., Moncton, on May 9, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Edmundston region: Tim Hortons, 54 Canada St., Saint-Quentin, on May 16, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Jean Coutu, 177 Victoria St., on May 15, between noon and 1 p.m. Bathurst region: Tim Hortons, 1420 Vanier Blvd., Bathurst, on May 16, between 5 and 7 p.m. Flight exposures Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flights: Air Canada 314 – from Vancouver to Montreal, departed at 11:24 p.m. on May 11. Air Canada 8902 – from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 1:06 p.m. on May 12. Air Canada 8946 from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:47 p.m. on May 10. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: Fever above 38 C. New cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.