COVID-19 in B.C.: Vancouver not an NHL hub city, schools and September, Phase 3 health practices, and more

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      Luckily, there aren’t any new health-care or community outbreaks, but, sadly, there were new deaths announced at today’s daily B.C. COVID-19 update.

      Meanwhile, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix talked about preparing for school in September, the NHL and Vancouver, and why maintaining health precautions is even more important in Phase 3.

      Daily update

      Today (June 25), Dr. Henry confirmed that there are 19 new cases and one epi-linked case, for a cumulative provincial total of 2,869 cases since the pandemic began. Thus far, there have been 970 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,504 Fraser Health, 131 in Island Health, 199 in Interior Health, and 65 in Northern Health.

      There are 179 active cases, including 15 people in hospital. (Seven patients are in intensive-care units.)

      There aren’t any new health-care outbreaks. That leaves six active outbreaks in long-term care facilities and one active outbreak in an acute-care unit, with a total of 379 residents and 229 staff who have been infected.

      In addition, there are no new community outbreaks, leaving two remaining.

      Sadly, there are two new deaths (in long-term care facilities in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health). A total of 173 people have now died during the pandemic.

      A total of 2,517 people have now recovered.

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

      School and September

      Among the new cases, Dr. Henry said, one person is a teacher in the Fraser Health region. She said that all contacts of the individual have been notified.

      The health investigation, she explained, revealed that students were not at risk, as there weren’t any exposure events at the school—the teacher had been infected through their social network and was found to be a contact of a known case.

      Today also marks the last day of in-class school, with 200,000 students having attended in classrooms across the province.

      Preparations are now under way for the 2020-21 school year to begin in September. 

      B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming has appointed a steering committee with representatives of teachers, parents, First Nations, support staff, principals and vice-principals, school boards and trustees, and public health to review the period from March to June and develop solutions.

      Dr. Henry said that the province will be considering several scenarios, such as everyone returning full-time, hybrid models, or transitions between those models if there’s an increase in COVID-19 cases.

      Vancouver as NHL hub city

      Unfortunate news for hockey fans: the Vancouver Canucks announced on social media this afternoon that the NHL is no longer considering Vancouver as a possible hub city.

      The reason for the denial of Vancouver's bid was not given.

      Edmonton and Toronto are the remaining Canadian cities still being considered.

      Prior to the announcement, Dr. Henry stated that she would be disappointed if Vancouver was not being considered, as she is a hockey fan.

      She said she hasn’t had any direct conversations with NHL and only provided advice.

      Her primary concern was the health of both the players and the province, and that if there was a positive case confirmed, they would follow their procedures to conduct a health investigation.

      “There needed to be contingency in case there were other people who were identified as ill, and it might mean suspension of part of a series for a period of time until that could be done,” she said.

      Dix said he’s proud of the effort by the Vancouver Canucks and pointed out how B.C. has a much lower daily new-case count than many other locations under consideration, such as Minnesota, Chicago, Nevada, and California.

      “We just profoundly believe that the strength of what we’ve said to everybody is the strength of public health here in B.C. should be the primary concern, and that’s our primary concern,” he said.

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

      Phase 3

      Although many people may feel they can relax more now as B.C. enters Phase 3 of the provincial reopening plan, Dix said that it has actually become more imperative that people ensure they continue practising health measures as we come into increased contact with others.

      “What happens in Phase 3, as we all do more things out in the world together, is we have to be more vigilant about physical distancing in these times,” he said. “It is much easier when one is spending most of the time at home to stay isolated from other people.”

      He emphasized that British Columbians need to become more conscious of physical distancing, handwashing, staying at home if feeling ill, not touching the face, and other measures.

      “We are in British Columbia in a world situation which is not in, the last two weeks, very positive for COVID-19,” he said, noting that states such as Texas, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, California, and Oregon have recently hit record high numbers of daily new cases.

      He said that the examples from other places should serve as a reminder of what people here need to do to protect the province.

      “Let us recommit to being 100 percent all in, in this new phase of COVID-19 in B.C., understanding that people around the world are struggling with this, and what we should see from that is not to compare ourselves with them, but to understand what we need to continue to do to succeed in British Columbia,” he said.

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

      Vancouver recovery plan

      The City of Vancouver announced today that it is asking for input about the impact of the pandemic on your life in your community or neighbourhood, any challenges faced, ideas for what the city can do to help improve conditions and aid recovery, and how to build a more resilient city.

      Planning Together Vancouver is working on creating a long-term civic plan into the future up to 2050 and beyond, and is looking to incorporate recovery from the pandemic.

      “We want to hear how people are experiencing the very important conversations around race, reconciliation, governance and society within the context of rebuilding from the significant impacts of COVID-19,” planning, urban design, and sustainability general manager Gil Kelley stated in a news release.  

      Before the pandemic, Planning Vancouver Together received feedback that city life was worsening, the news release notes. While a long-term strategy is being established, a number of short-term actions will be also be developed to address immediate recovery needs.

      More information is available at the Vancouver Plan website. To share experiences and ideas, visit the Planning Vancouver Together website.

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