No new COVID-19 cases, end of flood watch give New Brunswickers reason to smile
HALIFAX -- While New Brunswickers can pat themselves on the back for keeping COVID-19 at bay for the ninth consecutive day, they can thank Mother Nature for mercifully sparing them from a third year of severe spring flooding.
On a day that the province announced that it has gone nine straight days without a new case of COVID-19, Premier Blaine Higgs also said the province's River Watch program is coming to an end because the risk of flooding has passed.
After two years of historic floods, this is good news for those in communities along the St. John River.
Dr. Jennifer Russell announced at a news conference in Fredericton on Friday afternoon that one of the two people who had COVID-19 has recovered. That leaves just one active case among the 120 positive tests that have occurred in New Brunswick since the pandemic began.
Public health officials say 406 tests were processed over the last 24 hours.
Despite the good news, and it being the start of the Victoria Day long weekend, Dr. Russell reminded New Brunwickers to be prudent.
"This weekend, we really have to resist that temptation. I want you to enjoy this weekend, but I want you to be safe," she said. "Stay in your two-household bubble. You're denying the virus the opportunity to spread to others."
Dr. Russell also reminded everyone to try to avoid contact with anyone who's been outside of New Brunswick. If they have to be in your home, have them stay in a different room, don't share bathrooms or towels with them, pick up groceries for them, and support them in any way so they can self-isolate.
If you do have to go outside your bubble, she reminded people to maintain physical distancing, wear a face covering, and wash your hands thoroughly.
"If you touch a surface that has COVID-19 and then you touch your face, that is how you get infected," Dr. Russell said. "We have to act like the virus is all around us – because it is."
While New Brunwick has been successful in keeping COVID-19 cases low, other jurisdictions have not and that is why the province doesn't want to loosen restrictions on letting people in the province, and the premier says that's not changing right now.
"I would ask for just a little more patience in this regard, and let's see what the coming weeks bring us but today, the border controls remain the same," Higgs said.
Higgs also said he feels assured that Canada and the United States will agree to keep the international border closed for another month.
Travel between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick could resume in early July, but the premier says he believes Nova Scotia will remain closed to non-essential travel until late summer.
And, while Higgs maintains his decision to ban temporary foreign workers from entering the province,
He says not enough workers have stepped up to fill jobs at seafood processing facilities and farms.
"Personally, it’s a disappointment if out of 70,000 people we’re not able to meet the demands that are a fraction of that," Higgs said.
He said he had no regrets about the decision to keep temporary foreign workers away, because it was made for public health reasons and, with just one active case in the province, that's proof that the province is making the right decisions.
Higgs said with many retailers closed on Monday, workers will get a much-needed break.
"This will provide a much-needed rest for workers, many of whom have been serving the public and providing New Brunswickers with necessities throughout this pandemic, even when the rest of us were being asked to stay at home," said Higgs. "This is a great example of residents stepping up for our New Brunswick. We are all grateful to our essential workers for their dedication, and for the work they continue to do every day."
Help for the homeless
It's been almost two months since a high school gym was turned into a home for Fredericton's homeless.
The ability to sleep and eat while keeping six feet apart wasn't possible at the shelter itself.
Schools out until September, but will they be able to stay here for the summer?
"I think it's just like we've been dealing with now since the middle of March," said Joan Kingston, the nurse manager at the Fredericton downtown community health centre and manager of the Out of the Cold shelter."We hardly know what's going to happen next week let alone next month."
Another unknown as nine weeks become ten since COVID-19 turned life as we knew it, upside down.
Kingston says she's proud of what's happened over the last two months.
"I don't think it would have ever been considered in other times in other ways, but you know, we have started to think about things in terms of how much space does a person need to keep themselves safe," Kingston said.