COVID-19 in B.C.: 21 new cases, health concerns about reopened businesses, and relocating Vancouver's homeless

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      Although yesterday’s daily B.C. COVID-19 update brought welcome news of only two new cases in the province, today’s update reported a much larger number, along with a new health-care outbreak.

      Daily update

      For today’s daily B.C. COVID-19 update, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a news release, in lieu of holding a press conference. (They had held a news conference on Victoria Day.)

      Although Dr. Henry confirmed only two new cases in B.C. yesterday, the number rose today to 21 new cases.

      The cumulative total for the province is now at 2,467 cases. There have been 885 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,214 in Fraser Health, 126 in Island Health, 182 in Interior Health, and 60 in Northern Health.

      A total of 2,001 people (or 81 percent of all confirmed cases) have recovered from the virus.

      There are 317 active cases, with 43 individuals in hospital, including 10 in intensive-care units.

      Unfortunately, there have been three new deaths (one in Vancouver Coastal Health and two in Fraser Health), which brings the total fatalities to 149 individuals.

      While a new outbreak has occurred at the Cedars assisted-living facility in Mission, an outbreak at Ridge Meadows Hospital is now over.

      A total of 15 long-term care facilities and three acute-care units have active outbreaks.

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

      Complaint process

      With Phase 2 of B.C.'s reopening plan starting yesterday (May 19), some businesses began welcoming customers and employees back to their locations.

      At the daily B.C. COVID-19 update yesterday, Dr. Henry responded to a few questions about what will be done if anyone has concerns about the health measures that a reopened business is taking (or not taking).

      As she had previously explained, she has issued a health order for all businesses to post their COVID-19 plans publicly, such as in a window or on a website, for accountability to the public and employees.

      Dr. Henry emphasized that they have not created regulations, but are providing sector-specific health and safety guidance that businesses must follow, which is available on the WorkSafeBC website.

      “There will be an inspection process based on priorities, so we’re looking at some of the higher-risk areas that we know of, like some of the processing plants,” she said.

      If members of the public have concerns about a specific business, Dr. Henry advised that they can speak to local environmental health officers, who can conduct inspections based on complaints.

      Any concerned employees can contact WorkSafeBC, she said, or a union, for workers who belong to one.

      When asked how businesses will be penalized if they do not have appropriate measures in place, Dr. Henry said that the primary focus is upon an educational approach, rather than a punitive one.

      “Our first line of action is not to fine people or shut them down—it’s to ensure that they are taking the necessary actions that we need to keep people safe,” she said. “Having said that, there are abilities for environmental health officers to shut down a business if they feel that there are health hazards that put the public at risk, and there are protocols at WorkSafeBC as well, and they have provision to fine people if needed.”

      Homeless camps

      Over 500 homeless individuals in Vancouver and Victoria have now been relocated to temporary accommodations.

      The provincial government stated in a news release today that since April 25, 308 out of 360 homeless people camped at Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue in Victoria have been moved into temporary housing.

      Previously, the government had moved 261 people from Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside to indoor housing.

      Earlier this month, however, a new encampment developed at CRAB Park, north of Gastown, to protest the province clearing out the Oppenheimer Park camp.

      The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is seeking a court order to remove it from CRAB Park.

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