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COVID-19 in B.C.: Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix on the Canada–U.S. border, air travel, and case number increases – Straight.com

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The good news is that the number of new cases today (July 14) dropped from the levels reported over the past few days.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix responded to questions about whether the recent numbers of cases over the past few days are cause for concern, and about the U.S.–Canada border and travel.

At today’s briefing, Dr. Henry announced there are 13 new cases, which brings the cumulative provincial total to 3,128 cases  over the duration of the pandemic. That includes 1,015 Vancouver Coastal Health; 1,649 in Fraser Health; 135 in Island Health, 212 in Interior Health; 65 in Northern Health; and 52 cases among people who live outside Canada.

At the moment, there are 209 active cases. There are 14 people in hospital (including five patients in intensive care units) and Dix stated that nine of those people are in Fraser Health with the remaining five in Vancouver Coastal Health.

There aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks. Accordingly, there remain three active outbreaks in healthcare: two in longterm care facilities and one in an acute care unit.

However, there were three new cases in healthcare, bringing the totals to 399 residents and 252 staff who have tested positive.

There aren’t any new community outbreaks.

However, more details were revealed about the exposure events in Kelowna from June 25 to July 6.

While the number of individuals involved were reported as increasing from eight to 13 people, Dr. Henry said that the number is now at 17 people from the regions of Interior Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, and Fraser Health.

She said what they understand so far from the investigation, which remains ongoing, is that a group of people who knew each other from Interior B.C., the Lower Mainland, and Alberta met in Kelowna. Dix had previously said that the individuals are in their 20s and 30s.

Although there is an outbreak at the Krazy Cherry Fruit Co. farm (as previously announced on July 13) in Oliver, B.C., Dr. Henry stated that there isn’t evidence that the virus is spread by food and that there isn’t any risk from cherries from the Krazy Cherry Fruit farm. 

However, she reminded people to still wash all food carefully before eating it.   

Dr. Henry reminded those who may have been exposed to not only monitor their symptoms for 14 days but to also limit their social contacts during that period. Anyone who has symptoms should call 811.

Thankfully, there aren’t any new deaths, leaving the total fatalities at 189 deaths.

There are a total of 2,730 people who have recovered.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Province of British Columbia

Although B.C. had a series of consecutive days with new cases numbering 20 or more since July 8, Dr. Henry said that around 20 remains a small number “given our population”.

While she did express some nervousness about the situation, she said it would be more “worrisome” if the new cases weren’t linked and they didn’t know where the infections were coming from.

“It was distressing for me to see, especially 25 one day—that’s way above my comfort zone—but it is not unexpected and we do know where those cases are,” she said. “That is the other piece that we’re trying to balance here—is us increasing our travel, increasing our contacts in a measured way, but us in public health being able to respond when we have clusters, where we have cases, making sure can find those links and find people who are exposed so that they can stay away from others and we stop those transmission chains.”

She said “a good portion” of the new cases are related to the ongoing outbreak in Holy Family Hospital longterm care home in Vancouver.

“We have very few people who are not linked to a known cluster or case yet,” she said.

However, Dr. Henry reiterated that we know that transmission increases as people move around more during phases of reopening, and that the recent cases, which aren’t unexpected, reflect that.

However, she said we need to ensure that contact tracing can be conducted quickly and efficiently to contain the spread of the virus.

When she was asked about what actions should be taken in the wake of several public exposure events taking place, she said she would try to avoid returning to closures.

“I don’t believe that it’s good to shut things down because that just drives things underground,” she said.

She said it’s better for public health to work with people and industries to figure out how things can be done in the safest possible way.

In addition, she said while they are seeing some young adults in 20 to 40 years old infected, B.C. is not experiencing the same spikes among this demographic group yet like parts of the U.S. and other parts of Canada, including Alberta and Ontario, are.

In addition, both she and Dix repeated the importance of continuing on with health measures to protect all involved.

“We learned that indecision is the acquaintance of COVID-19, inconsistency is its friend, and bad decisions are its closest ally,” Dix said.

Video of Most of Canada’s new COVID-19 cases in people under 40

The current extension of the closure of the Canada–U.S. border to nonessential travel, which was first introduced in March and since been repeatedly extended, was slated to expire on July 21.

However, Canadian and American officials have agreed to extend the border closure until August 21.

Dix said it’s “positive and necessary news” and he said it’s important that there are restrictions not only on Americans visiting Canada but also Canadians visiting the U.S., as he has previously explained it’s important to prevent the virus from being brought back with returning Canadians.

The decision was made despite an open letter dated July 3 from 29 U.S. Congress members asking the Canadian government for a phased reopening of the border.

However, a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told CTV that the health of Canadians remain a priority and that decisions about the border are made by Canadians for Canadians.

Meanwhile, as both domestic and international flights continue in and out of the province, several flights arriving at or departing from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) over the past month have been confirmed with COVID-19 cases aboard.

Dr. Henry said that travellers arriving with symptoms cause her “great consternation”.

She said it extremely important for airlines to collect and provide appropriate contact information and so that public health teams are able to identify people within specific rows near someone who develops symptoms after a flight.

For example, none of the four recent flights with COVID-19 cases that arrived at YVR in recent days had affected rows or seats listed.

“One of the most challenging things we do is trying to get flight manifests a couple of days later when we recognize somebody who might be ill and the type of information that’s on those flight manifests is not very helpful in trying to followup people, which is also one of the reasons why we post things publicly,” she said.

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Family seeking COVID is “playing with a loaded gun” in B.C. city, mayor speaks out – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
The mayor of Revelstoke is appalled at a family rumoured to be trying to contract COVID-19 to “build their natural immunity” at a time when his city is discouraging visitors and grappling with a slew of active coronavirus cases.

Revelstoke has 32 active COVID-19 infections and a population of only 13,500 people, which is more than double the active cases per capita than in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, said Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz.

“We’ve become a little complacent because we haven’t seen this through the community in a big way over the last eight months so what we’re saying now is ‘it’s here, it’s not just those who are travelling in who are bringing this in, it’s here in our community,’” he said. 

Sulz said residents need to be more vigilant.

“It’s our locals who are not being vigilant who are spreading it so we need to make sure that everyone does follow the rules.”

The mayor also raised serious concerns about a family rumoured to be seeking out people who’ve tested positive in the community so that they can become infected, reminiscent of ‘chicken pox parties’ among kids before a reliable vaccine was developed.

“We are a healthy family and we would like to safely expose ourselves to the virus to build our natural immunity,” reads the ad posted to a local Craigslist-style website.

The post was removed before CTV News could attempt to contact the family. 

The post ends with a plea for “no hate mail.”

“You’re playing with a loaded gun,” warned Sulz.

“We don’t know what this disease can do, whether it’s an older person, younger person, someone who’s in their 30s and 40s. Because people feel they may be in good health doesn’t mean you should go out seeking this because it can have different effects for everyone. That, for me, is very concerning.”

While there were several cases in the United States of people trying to get COVID-19, scientists have repeatedly stressed that they don’t know whether contracting the virus will guarantee immunity and prevent a second infection.

Interior Health cases rising sharply

While Vancouver Coastal Health has brought down its active caseload per capita in the past week and Fraser Health has seen a smaller increase than before, cases in Interior Health have nearly doubled in that time.

Last week a CTV News analysis found there were 37 active cases for every 100,000 people who live in the Interior Health region. However, current data as of Dec. 1, shows there are now 65 cases per 100,000. Fraser Health has grown from 301 to 337 cases per 100,000 people, while Vancouver Coastal Health has dropped from 116 to 111 per 100,000.

In Revelstoke, where the exact number of residents is up to debate as the city claims double the number of inhabitants than the federal census, CTV’s analysis was based on the city’s declared total of 13,500, which puts their active cases at about 237 per 100,000.

That has the mayor pleading with those who think it’s safe to visit over the holidays to simply stay away.

“Snowmobiling, skiing, that’s the ultimate physical distancing but it is when you gather afterwards (that the virus is spreading),” he said. “We’re finding that COVID is spreading because of social gathering so we’re basically saying to people ‘avoid that the best that you can, stay in your own family bubble’.

Revelstoke has only 13 beds in its hospital, with two additional rooms for ventilators. While there aren’t any coronavirus patients there now, the mayor fears the mountain city will soon see its first COVID-19 deaths.

“There isn’t any leeway,” said Sulz bluntly. “If it gets into our hospital or seniors centre or something like that, it’s going to be devastating for this community.”

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COVID-19 in B.C.: 834 more cases, 12 deaths in the last 24 hours – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
B.C. has added 834 more cases of COVID-19 to its total, as well as 12 more deaths from the disease.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the new numbers Wednesday during a live briefing.

There are now 8,941 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., another new record. Of that total, 337 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus, which is also a record. There are 79 people in intensive care with the virus.

Since the pandemic began, the province has recorded 34,728 cases of COVID-19 and 469 deaths.

Henry also announced multiple new outbreaks of the disease on Wednesday, including two community outbreaks in the Fraser Health region, at The Cove Shelter in Surrey and at Millennium Pacific Greenhouses in Delta.

Three more health-care facilities have had outbreaks of the coronavirus declared: Royal City Manor long-term care home in New Wesminster, Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Saanich and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni.

With 54 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care in the province and a recent spike in the number of daily deaths B.C. has seen, Henry highlighted the need for British Columbians to overcome their pandemic fatigue.

“We hope and expect that vaccines will be ready in the next few weeks,” the provincial health officer said. “But this virus continues to move and move quickly between us, and it takes lives. Another 12 families have been affected today, and we are continuing to see unchecked transmission in many places despite our efforts.”

A total of 10,201 people are under active public health monitoring because of exposures to known cases of COVID-19, Henry said, adding that public health orders she has put in place must be followed to get the province through the rest of the pandemic’s second wave.

“Those are there because we know that these are situations where this virus can spread very easily now,” she said. “It’s not about bad people or people doing the wrong things, it’s the fact that we know this virus can spread even in places where we thought it was safe with the guidelines we had in place just a few months ago.”

Henry also repeated her plea to British Columbians and residents of other provinces to stay home and avoid travelling outside of their local communities.

She acknowledged that it has been a “challenge” for people to limit their travel, citing examples of people travelling to and from B.C. for recreation and sports, despite health officials’ warnings.

The provincial health officer shared the specific example of an “old-timers'” hockey team from B.C.’s Interior that travelled to Alberta. She declined to identify the team or where it was from, saying her understanding is that it’s not a unique case. She described it as a “cautionary tale.”

“Now, there are dozens of people who are infected and it has spread in the community,” Henry said. “We need to stop. Right now. To protect our communities and our families and our health-care workers. This is avoidable, and these are the measures that we need to take.”

Wednesday’s new outbreaks come alongside five outbreaks that have been declared over, including the care home outbreaks at Cottage Worthington Pavilion in Abbotsford, Discovery Harbour Care Centre in Campbell River and Orchard Manor in Kelowna.

The other two health-care outbreaks recently concluded are at acute-care units at Burnaby Hospital and Langley Memorial Hospital.

Most of the new cases added Wednesday are located in the Lower Mainland, with 529 in Fraser Health and 174 in Vancouver Coastal Health.

Elsewhere in the province, 66 cases have been added in Interior Health, 45 in Northern Health and 20 in Island Health.

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Family seeking COVID is 'playing with a loaded gun' in B.C. city, mayor says – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
The mayor of Revelstoke is appalled at a family rumoured to be trying to contract COVID-19 to “build their natural immunity” at a time when his city is discouraging visitors and grappling with a slew of active coronavirus cases.

Revelstoke has 32 active COVID-19 infections and a population of only 13,500 people, which is more than double the active cases per capita than in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, said Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz.

“We’ve become a little complacent because we haven’t seen this through the community in a big way over the last eight months so what we’re saying now is ‘it’s here, it’s not just those who are travelling in who are bringing this in, it’s here in our community,’” he said. 

Sulz said residents need to be more vigilant.

“It’s our locals who are not being vigilant who are spreading it so we need to make sure that everyone does follow the rules.”

The mayor also raised serious concerns about a family rumoured to be seeking out people who’ve tested positive in the community so that they can become infected, reminiscent of ‘chicken pox parties’ among kids before a reliable vaccine was developed.

“We are a healthy family and we would like to safely expose ourselves to the virus to build our natural immunity,” reads the ad posted to a local Craigslist-style website.

The post was removed before CTV News could attempt to contact the family. 

The post ends with a plea for “no hate mail.”

“You’re playing with a loaded gun,” warned Sulz.

“We don’t know what this disease can do, whether it’s an older person, younger person, someone who’s in their 30s and 40s. Because people feel they may be in good health doesn’t mean you should go out seeking this because it can have different effects for everyone. That, for me, is very concerning.”

While there were several cases in the United States of people trying to get COVID-19, scientists have repeatedly stressed that they don’t know whether contracting the virus will guarantee immunity and prevent a second infection.

Interior Health cases rising sharply

While Vancouver Coastal Health has brought down its active caseload per capita in the past week and Fraser Health has seen a smaller increase than before, cases in Interior Health have nearly doubled in that time.

Last week a CTV News analysis found there were 37 active cases for every 100,000 people who live in the Interior Health region. However, current data as of Dec. 1, shows there are now 65 cases per 100,000. Fraser Health has grown from 301 to 337 cases per 100,000 people, while Vancouver Coastal Health has dropped from 116 to 111 per 100,000.

In Revelstoke, where the exact number of residents is up to debate as the city claims double the number of inhabitants than the federal census, CTV’s analysis was based on the city’s declared total of 13,500, which puts their active cases at about 237 per 100,000.

That has the mayor pleading with those who think it’s safe to visit over the holidays to simply stay away.

“Snowmobiling, skiing, that’s the ultimate physical distancing but it is when you gather afterwards (that the virus is spreading),” he said. “We’re finding that COVID is spreading because of social gathering so we’re basically saying to people ‘avoid that the best that you can, stay in your own family bubble’.

Revelstoke has only 13 beds in its hospital, with two additional rooms for ventilators. While there aren’t any coronavirus patients there now, the mayor fears the mountain city will soon see its first COVID-19 deaths.

“There isn’t any leeway,” said Sulz bluntly. “If it gets into our hospital or seniors centre or something like that, it’s going to be devastating for this community.”

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