COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 900 new cases, 11 deaths, belligerent behaviour incidents, and more

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      It’s yet another day of grim news, with unfortunate records being set again.

      The new case count hit a record high for a second consecutive day, and the number of deaths remained about the same as the past two days.

      There are also three healthcare outbreaks and seven stores with confirmed cases.

      At today’s COVID-19 briefing, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed a number of issues, including case counts, health orders, and people responding with resistance or belligerence to health measures.

      Case numbers

      Henry has been reluctant to call what we are witnessing a second wave—today, she said we are facing a “storm surge” across the province.

      “But we do remember that every storm ends and that the surges wane and we need to focus on doing that,” she reminded everyone.

      Regarding the large number of new cases, Henry pointed out that as part of active efforts to find cases during public health investigations, contact tracers may ask for widespread testing of both symptomatic and asymptomatic people in settings such as workplaces, schools, or longterm care homes.

      She explained that this may be done, even if there isn’t widespread transmission, in order to identify anyone else who may be positive.

      Health orders

      As Henry said she has been receiving many questions about her new health orders that were announced on November 19, she explained that there are several things that have changed since they first developed health guidelines for places to operate safely.

      For instance, she said, the 50-person maximum for events was based on transmission information at the time that guidance was announced.

      However, she pointed out that there is a seasonality to the virus that they have been learning about, and that we now know that some settings are more risky than others, such as indoor rather than outdoor activities.

      Consequently, things that were safe in spring, summer, and early autumn at various venues, including churches and temples, are no longer safe anymore, she said, as more people increasingly spend more time indoors.

      She said that these places aren’t doing anything wrong but they are seeing transmission and outbreaks in these settings.

      Consequently, she said the previous COVID-19 safety plans have to be reconsidered and redeveloped.

      She said their teams are examining the situation for group fitness activities, which she said is much more complex than they realized.

      While all indoor group fitness activities have been temporarily suspended, she said they hope to provide guidance by end of next week.

      Health order defiance 

      A number of incidents have been taking place across the province involving people refusing to follow health guidelines.

      In Victoria, police stopped a group of diners who had left without paying for their bill, according to CBC News.

      When officers found out that one of the individuals had been belligerent to staff who had asked him to remain at only one table instead of going from table to table, they fined him. He received two fines—one for abusive behaviour and the other for failure to comply with patron conditions—for a total of $460.

      At a Walmart in Dawson Creek, RCMP were reported to have arrested a man who assaulted an employee, who had asked the man to wear a mask, on November 25. The staff member sustained minor injuries but did not require medical attention.

      At a hotel in Nelson, a customer began yelling profanities at a barista, who had offered him a face covering, in a coffee shop on November 20, according to CBC News. When the hotel accountant went to see what was going on, she told the man he could not speak to their staff in that manner. The man then spat on her.

      After police arrived and removed the man from the premises, the accountant had a heart attack and hour later and had to be hospitalized.

      Meanwhile, a grocery store in Nelson reportedly had to hire its first security guard in 45 years due to 10 to 20 percent of customers refusing to wear a mask and becoming confrontational or aggressive when asked to do so.

      In Vancouver, TransLink is investigating an incident caught on video when a shouting match erupted between a bus driver and a number of passengers, who weren't wearing masks. 

      Henry said that after hearing stories from store clerks and restaurant staff who have faced “undeserved aggression” from people who refuse to wear masks, she said she is both saddened and concerned. Henry reminded everyone about “kindness and compassion” and “not taking it out on others”.

      Additionally, she said that the mask requirement is now a provincial health order, and she compared wearing masks to “wearing seatbelts and helmets and following the speed limit” to protect everyone and show respect for everyone in those spaces, including those working there.

      Anyone who is opposed to wearing a mask, Henry said, should instead shop online, order takeout, stay outside, or remain at home, rather than putting other people at risk.

      “These small, simple actions make a big difference for all of us,” she said. “We are stronger when we all work together and this is not forever.”

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

      B.C. update: November 27

      Although B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix usually schedule two in-person B.C. COVID-19 updates each week, this week they increased the briefings to three.

      Henry announced there are 911 new cases (including four epi-linked cases) today, which establishes a new record. By region, that includes:

      • 649 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 153 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 47 in Interior Health;
      • 35 in Northern Health;
      • 27 in Island Health;
      • none among people from outside Canada.

      Due to a data correction, the previous record became 887 new cases yesterday (November 26).

      Although the number of people in hospital remained stable yesterday, the number grew today. With seven more people hospitalized since yesterday, there are now 301 people in hospital, with 69 in intensive care units (five more people since yesterday).

      “We continue to have adequate capacity in our acute-care sector,” Dix said, adding that currently, there is 71.5 percent occupancy.

      Nonetheless, he pointed out that it’s about more than just having available beds but also having adequate staff and resources, and that there has to remain enough room for other reasons, including those waiting for other procedures.

      Active cases continue to increase—currently, there are 8,472 active cases, which is 573 more than yesterday.

      B.C. public health is now monitoring 10,430 people (due to exposures to confirmed cases), which is 123 more people than yesterday.

      Following two consecutive days with 13 deaths each, tragically, there were 11 new deaths announced today, which brings the total fatalities to 395 people who have died during the pandemic.

      A total of 21,304 people have now recovered.

      B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 30,884 cases during the pandemic, which includes:

      • 19,428 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 8,482 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 1,538 in Interior Health;
      • 772 in Northern Health;
      • 571 in Island Health;
      • 93 people from outside Canada.
      Villa Cathay Care Home

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Henry said there are three new healthcare outbreaks:

      • Berlin Haus at the German Canadian Care Home (2010 Harrison Drive) in Vancouver, where Vancouver Coastal Health imposed restrictions on November 26;
      • Villa Cathay Care Home (970 Union Street), where Vancouver Coastal Health imposed restrictions on the fourth floor on November 26;
      • Morgan Place (3288 156a Street) in Surrey, where Fraser Health stated that two staff members have tested positive.

      An outbreak at Kiwanis Care Centre in New Westminster has been declared over.

      Currently, there are 59 active outbreaks at healthcare facilities, including 54 longterm care facilities and five in acute care facilities. A total of 1,162 cases (434 staff and 718 residents) are involved in healthcare outbreaks.

      Meanwhile, Vancouver Coastal Health listed two additional healthcare facilities (that weren’t on Henry’s list) where it imposed outbreak restrictions as of November 26:

      • Lakeview Care Centre (3490 Porter Street) in Vancouver, which recently had an outbreak declared over on November 13;
      • St. Jude’s Anglican Home (810 W 27th Avenue) in Vancouver.

      The good news is that there aren’t any new community outbreaks.

      Sobeys announced that an employee who last worked on November 21 at the 2733 West Broadway location of Safeway in Kitsilano has tested positive.

      Loblaw announced six of its stores had employees who have tested positive.

      One of the store was Deepu's No Frills (12852 96th Avenue) in Surrey, where two employees tested positive and last worked at the location on November 19 and 21.

      The other five stores were Real Canadian Superstore locations, which each had one employee who tested positive:

      • employee last worked on November 15 at the 3000 Lougheed Highway location in Coquitlam;
      • employee last worked on November 18 at the 2332 160th Street location in Surrey;
      • employee last worked on November 18 at the 2155 Ferry Avenue location in Prince George;
      • employee last worked on November 22 at the 4700 Kingsway location in Burnaby;
      • employee last worked on November 23 at the 333 Seymour Boulevard location in North Vancouver.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control hasn't listed any new flights with exposure events.

      Today, there were new exposure dates for 25 schools. For details, see this article.

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