COVID-19 in B.C.: Gym with exposure, Premier Horgan condemns threats against Dr. Bonnie Henry, and more

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      Canadians received some encouraging news about vaccines today.

      Health Canada announced today that it has approved two new COVID-19 vaccines: the viral vector vaccine produced by Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Verity-Serum Institute of India vaccine.

      In a joint statement for today’s B.C. COVID-19 update, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix stated that these two-dose vaccines are “fridge stable”, which makes them easier to transport and distribute across the province.

      "This new vaccine will be integrated into our provincial immunization program as delivery and supply is confirmed in the coming weeks,” Henry and Dix stated. “The additional supply will allow us to look at accelerating immunization of priority populations and essential workers.”

      Threats against Dr. Bonnie Henry

      At yesterday’s in-person B.C. COVID-19 briefing, Henry was asked about the death threats and personal attacks she has been facing during the pandemic, which she also previously talked about back in September.

      Today at a news conference, B.C. Premier John Horgan was asked about what he thinks of this extreme behaviour shown towards Henry.

      Horgan called the threats “very disconcerting and alarming”.

      He said he has “enormous respect” for Henry and is “grateful” for the advice she has given him and “appreciative” of her leadership over the past year.

      “For those who have disagreements or squabbles or are unhappy with the situation we find ourselves in, get in line,” he said. “All of us are unhappy about where we’re at and none of it has anything to do with Dr. Henry. She is providing stellar leadership and guidance to government and to the people of the community.

      He denounced the way some individuals have been expressing themselves.

      “There’s no place for those types of accusations and slanders and attacks, whether they be on social media, whether they be on a mailbox, whether they be in front of a building,” he said.

      He also differentiated his political role from Henry’s position as a provincial health officer.

      “I’m a politician—I signed up for this," he said. "People want to yell at me—I get that. I respect that. That’s their right. But no one has a right to treat the head of the public health office the way that some people have been acting. It’s absolutely inappropriate. Your parents would be ashamed of you.”

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
      Province of British Columbia

      B.C. update: February 26

      When B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister issued an update on case numbers today, they stated that these numbers are “provisional due to delayed updates in the lab reporting system”.

      Updated numbers (which are listed below) were updated on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) dashboard.

      The BCCDC stated that there are 521 new cases in B.C. today, which includes:

      • 317 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 157 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 45 in Northern Health;
      • 39 in Interior Health;
      • 31 in Island Health;
      • no one from outside Canada.

      Currently, there are 4,665 active cases—an increase of 176 cases since yesterday.

      At the moment, 232 individuals are in hospitals (four new patients since yesterday), with 63 of those patients in intensive care units (one more person since yesterday).

      Public health is monitoring 8,040 people for exposures to identified cases (109 more people since yesterday).

      Tragically, there have been seven new COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total fatalities to 1,355 people who have died in B.C.

      A cumulative total of 73,188 people have now recovered (407 more people since yesterday).

      B.C. has reported a cumulative total of 79,262 cases during the pandemic, including:

      • 46,579 in Fraser Health;
      • 18,292 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 7,343 in Interior Health;
      • 4,511 in Northern Health;
      • 2,315 in Island Health;
      • 154 people from outside of Canada.

      As of today, 252,373 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 73,808 of those are second doses.

      Olympians Gym

      Outbreaks and exposures

      There’s good news: there aren’t any new healthcare facility outbreaks.

      In addition, Interior Health provided an update on the community cluster at Big White Mountain that was declared on December 15.

      There haven’t been any new cases detected since the last update on February 19, leaving the total number at 237 cases. A total of 232 people have recovered, leaving only five active cases.

      Meanwhile, Fraser Health added a fitness facility to its list of potential public exposures: Olympians Gym (22611 Lougheed Highway) in Maple Ridge had potential exposures from 8 to 10 p.m. on February 17, 18, and 19.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Food and flights

      T&T Supermarket stated that one part-time employee who works at two of its Vancouver stores has tested positive:

      • the employee last worked at the 2206 Kingsway Street location on February 20;
      • the employee last worked at the 179 Keefer Place location in Chinatown on February 23.

      Sobeys had four stores with staff members who tested positive.

      Two were Safeway locations:

      • one employee who tested positive last worked on February 18 at the 2733 West Broadway store in Vancouver;
      • one employee who tested positive last worked on February 23 at the 700–15355 24th Avenue store in Surrey.

      The other two stores were Thrifty Foods locations, where staff who tested positive last worked on February 23:

      • one was at 1551 Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay;
      • the other was at 310 Edgemont Boulevard in North Vancouver.

      Loblaw listed two stores that had staff members who tested positive.

      One was Shoppers Drug Mart (249–500 2nd Avenue) in Prince Rupert, where an employee who tested positive last worked on February 19.

      The other location was Real Canadian Superstore (6–291 Cowichan Way) in Duncan. Yesterday,  Loblaw listed the location as having “multiple team members” who tested positive, and today it listed the same message again (specific numbers and dates weren’t provided).

      CTV News Vancouver Island reported today that an A&W (581-C Ryan Road) in Courtenay temporarily closed after a staff member tested positive.

      The BCCDC added the following flights to its lists of public exposures:

      • February 20: Air Canada/Air New Zealand 554/4605, Vancouver to Los Angeles;
      • February 20: WestJet 706, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • February 21: Air India 185, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • February 22: WestJet 112, Vancouver to Calgary.

      Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.