COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 700 new cases; immunization clinics to employ tourism and sports workers; and more

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      Unfortunately, the new case count has exceeded 700 cases for the second time in a week, and has remained above 600 cases since Monday (March 22).

      Meanwhile, B.C. unveiled more details about its immunization program.

      Vaccination clinic employment

      In ensuring that the provincial immunization plan continues on efficiently, B.C. has found a way to do so that will draw upon workers who have been facing unemployment.

      At a news conference today (March 24), Premier John Horgan and B.C. immunization executive lead Dr. Penny Ballem announced that the province is partnering with tourism, hospitality, and sport sectors to employ over 1,400 workers in nonclinical positions at mass vaccination clinics.

      Workers from these industries—many of whom were laid off during the pandemic—will be involved in providing expertise and logistical support to help move people through immunization clinics both efficiently and safely, and many workers will also be able to provide additional language skills.

      The community partners include: Air Canada, B.C. Pavilion Corporation, Ceres Terminals Canada, Canadian Red Cross, Fraser Valley Bandits, Pacific Destinations Services, Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), Tourism Whistler, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Giants, Vancouver International Airport, and WestJet.

      As an example, Ceres Terminals Canada regional vice-president Kathy deLisser explained that this project will enable 300 workers from cruise and travel sectors to be re-employed during another year of travel restrictions and cruise ship bans.

      B.C. update: March 24

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in a joint statement that there are 716 new cases (including two epi-linked cases) in B.C. today.

      By region, the total includes:

      • 383 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 230 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 42 in Northern Health;
      • 38 in Interior Health;
      • 21 in Island Health;
      • no one from outside of Canada.

      For yet another consecutive day, active cases have increased. Since yesterday, there have been 164 more active cases, bringing the current total to 5,573 active cases.

      Hospitalized cases have decreased since yesterday. With 11 people released from hospitals, 303 individuals are currently in hospitals, and 85 of them (two more since yesterday) are in intensive care units.

      Public health is monitoring 9,696 people, which include 208 additional people since yesterday.

      Sadly, there have been three new COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the cumulative total fatalities to 1,441 people who have died in B.C.

      A cumulative total of 86,857 people (92 percent) have recovered during the pandemic.

      Over the course of the pandemic, B.C. has confirmed a total of 93,969 cases.

      B.C. immunization executive lead Dr. Penny Ballem
      Province of British Columbia

      Variants and vaccinations

      Henry and Dix announced that there are 71 new variant COVID-19 cases in B.C., for a total of 1,581 cases.

      Of these total cases, 148 are active and include (by variant type):

      • 1,397 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant (40 new cases);
      • 140 cases of the P1 (Brazil) variant (30 new cases);
      • 44 cases of the B1351 (South Africa) variant (one new case).

      Meanwhile, as of today, 582,634 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca-SII vaccines have been administered in B.C. Of those, 87,180 have been second doses.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Once again, there’s good news that there haven’t been any new healthcare or community outbreaks, and none of the five regional health authorities have added any new public exposure incidents.

      McDonald’s listed the location at 7229 Kingsway Avenue in Burnaby as having an employee, who last worked on March 18, who tested positive.

      Loblaw added the Real Canadian Superstore location at 7550 King George Boulevard in Surrey as having a staff member, who last worked on March 14, who tested positive.

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