COVID-19 in B.C.: 50 percent of adults fully vaccinated; Vancouver Convention Centre care site closed; and more

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      Once again, Interior Health had the most new cases and the most active cases remain in Vancouver Coastal Health.

      In B.C.’s vaccination program, 50 percent of all eligible adults have now received their second dose, with just under 50 percent for those 12 years and above.

      In other news, a makeshift healthcare site created for the pandemic is being closed in Vancouver and B.C. researchers are studying the relationship between vaccines and drug users.   

      Convention centre site

      With hospitalized cases decreasing, the B.C. Health Ministry has approved Vancouver Coastal Health to proceed with dismantling the alternate care site established at the Vancouver Convention Centre in April 2020.

      The site was one of several healthcare locations created to ensure that the province has enough healthcare capacity in the event of huge surges in patients during the pandemic, as had been previously observed in various regions around the world, such as Northern Italy.

      Although the site was never used, the site had 271 beds and remained ready to be used up until July 2 of this year. The site is expected to be demobilized by Friday (July 16).

      A plan, however, remains in place for remobilization of the site if required.  

      The Vancouver Sun reported in May that VCH was paying $88,000 per month to lease the convention centre, which is owned by the B.C. government. In addition, it cost $1.5 million to outfit and stock the centre with beds and supplies.  

      B.C.’s peak level of hospitalization occurred at the end of April with over 500 people in acute care units.

      UBC researchers Brittany Barker and Hudson Reddon

      Vaccines and drug users

      As B.C. continues to experience two public health emergencies—the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose crisis—UBC and the B.C. Centre on Substance Use researchers, partnering with the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Vancouver Coastal Health, have launched a study that will examine the intersection of these two health crises.  

      The study will examine the uptake, effectiveness, and safety of COVID-19 vaccines among vulnerable urban populations, including drug users.

      “Since the pandemic was declared last March, we’ve seen an increase—both in B.C. and across the country—in the number of fatal drug poisonings,” UBC medicine postdoctoral research fellow Hudson Reddon stated. “In 2020 alone there were more than 6,200 toxic drug deaths in Canada, meaning nearly 17 Canadians are dying every day as a result of the toxic unregulated drug supply. 

      UBC medicine postdoctoral fellow and BCCSU research scientist Brittany Barker echoes what B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said at previous news conferences—that “an increasingly toxic and dangerous drug supply” has been circulating in B.C. during the pandemic, that is “likely due to disrupted supply chains [caused by border closures] feeding the unregulated market”.

      In addition, pandemic health restrictions have added to complications among people who are already facing multiple risks for acquiring COVID-19, including poverty, homelessness, group living situations, stigma, discrimination, other diseases like HIV, and more.

      “People are also experiencing isolation, stress and grief, all of which can lead to increased substance use, using alone, and barriers to accessing care,” Barker stated. “Combined with the limited availability or accessibility of services during COVID-19 lockdowns, it’s easy to see how people who use drugs are more impacted by COVID-19 than other groups.”

      B.C. update: July 14

      The B.C. Health Ministry is reporting 41 new COVID-19 cases (including four epi-linked cases) in the province today.

      Currently, there 639 active cases, which is the same number as yesterday.

      The new and active cases include:

      • 16 new cases in Interior Health, with 157 total active cases (two more cases than yesterday);
      • 11 new cases in Fraser Health, with 165 total active cases (seven fewer cases than yesterday);
      • 10 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, with 258 total active cases (an increase of four more cases since yesterday);
      • two new cases in Northern Health, with 28 total active cases (one more case since yesterday);
      • one new case in Island Health, with 24 total active cases (a decrease of three cases since yesterday);
      • one new person from outside of Canada, with seven total active cases (one fewer case since yesterday).

      Today, there are 65 individuals in hospital (one fewer case than yesterday), and 11 of those patients are in intensive care units (three fewer than yesterday).

      For a sixth consecutive day, no new deaths have been reported. That leaves the total COVID-19-related fatalities during the pandemic at 1,760 people who have died during the pandemic.

      A cumulative total of 145,817 people have now recovered, which includes 42 recoveries since yesterday.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 148,228 COVID-19 cases.


      In the provincial immunization program, B.C. has now administered 5,872,611 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines.

      As of today, 79.3 percent (3,674,169) of eligible people 12 and older have received their first dose and 47.3 percent (2,191,315) of them have received their second dose.

      In addition, 80.3 percent (3,475,111) of all eligible adults have received their first dose and 50.5 percent (2,185,443) have now received their second dose.

      Again, Fraser Health is offering new ways to obtain vaccinations.

      Temporary immunization clinics will be held at Rocky Point Park (2800 Murray Street) in Port Moody from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday (July 17) and at the Downtown Chilliwack Community Market (9360 Mill Street) in Chilliwack from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday (July 18).

      Interior Health announced today that the COVID-19 immunization clinic in 100 Mile House has been cancelled due to the evacuation order issued today in response to the B.C. wildfires.

      Although some patients have been evacuated to ensure continuity of care, the 100 Mile District General Hospital is not part of the evacuation orders and remains open for anyone who needs emergency care.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Today, Fraser Health declared the outbreak over at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody, but did not state how many cases were involved or if there were any deaths.

      For the first time in months, there is only one active healthcare outbreak:

      • acute care: Laurel Place at Surrey Memorial Hospital (Fraser Health);
      • longterm care: none;
      • assisted or independent living: none.

      The outbreak at Royal Inland Hospital is Kamloops is no longer listed as active on the B.C. Health Ministry list but Interior Health has not yet issued a news release about it.

      The BCCDC added the following four flights to its lists of public exposures (affected row information is listed at the BCCDC website):

      • July 7: Aeromexico 696, Mexico City to Vancouver;
      • July 10: Air Canada 861, London to Vancouver;
      • July 11: Turkish Airlines 75, Istanbul to Vancouver;
      • July 12: Lufthansa 492, Frankfurt to Vancouver. 
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.