COVID-19 in B.C.: Premier Horgan asks Canadian government to address Alaska loophole

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      While there aren’t any new outbreaks or deaths in British Columbia, there was a slight increase in hospitalizations over the past day.

      Meanwhile, B.C. Premier John Horgan is asking the federal government to address the ongoing issue of American travellers in the province.

      Daily update: July 3

      Today, B.C. announced that there are 13 new COVID-19 cases in the province, bringing the cumulative total to 2,947 cases, according to a joint statement from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

      They also stated that six cases previously included in B.C.’s totals have since been removed after they were identified as residents of another province (the province was not identified), where their case numbers will be reported.

      During the pandemic so far, there have been 995 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,553 in Fraser Health, 132 in Island Health, 202 the Interior Health, and 65 in Northern Health.

      Currently, there are 162 active cases in B.C., and 19 of those individuals are in hospital (two of those patients are in intensive care units), which is an increase of two hospitalizations since yesterday.

      The good news is that there aren’t new community or healthcare outbreaks. An outbreak at Langley Lodge is over, thus leaving three longterm care facilities and one acute care unit with active outbreaks.

      In addition, there aren’t any new deaths—the total fatalities remains at 177 people who have died.

      A total of 2,608 people have now recovered.

      Premier John Horgan (with Richmond Hospital Foundation President and CEO Natalie Meixner and Health Minister Adrian Dix) in Richmond on July 2.
      Province of British Columbia

      Alaska loophole

      An ongoing issue of concern remains whether Americans are entering B.C. by claiming they are driving to Alaska but are vacationing in B.C either along the way or instead of going to their claimed destination.

      On July 2, Dr. Henry said she had spoken with Canada Border Services Agency who informed her that the majority of vehicles with American license plates belong to Canadians who are returning from the U.S.

      However, Premier John Horgan, during a news conference in Richmond on July 2, said that he has heard numerous concerns from British Columbians about U.S. license plates spotted across the province.

      Horgan said he raised the issue with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and hopes that she will discuss it with state department authorities.

      “We want to ensure that Alaskans can get home safely but we also want to protect the work that all British Columbians have done to flatten the curve on COVID-19 and when we see outbreaks…in Washington state, California, Arizona, Texas, are absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “We have to maintain our border security so we can protect the progress we’ve made here in British Columbia.”

      Horgan told U.S. drivers that they should drive straight home and should not be making unnecessary stops along the way.

      The Washington state health department states that it has has confirmed almost 34,800 cases and 1,352 people have died.

      According to the Public Health Agency of Canada dashboard, Canada has had approximately 105,100 cases and is approaching 8,700 deaths.

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