COVID-19 in B.C.: Almost 800 new cases; Vancouver anti-vaccination protest; 25 flight exposures; and more

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      Today’s new COVID-19 case count is the second highest for recent weeks, following a high of 867 new cases on August 27.

      However, active cases have continued to decline in Vancouver Coastal Health for several consecutive days this week, and today active cases also sank in Island Health.

      In other news, RCMP shut down a large fraternity party at UBC with hundreds of attendees (who weren’t wearing masks or physical distancing) and issued $5,000 in fines.

      Vaccination protest

      Anti-vaccination protestors turned out in the thousands to march on streets from Vancouver General Hospital to Vancouver City Hall this afternoon. Around 1:30 p.m., marching protestors blocked the intersection of Cambie Street and 12th Avenue.

      The Vancouver Police Department announced at 3:43 p.m. that protestors were marching over the Cambie Street Bridge to Downtown Vancouver.

      In response to the protests, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that seeing people blocking healthcare workers “who are working flat out to save people dying of COVID” makes him “sick”, and he told the protestors to “go the hell home”.

      Meanwhile, demonstrations were also held outside B.C. hospitals in Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops, and Prince George, as well as across Canada.

      Island Health CEO Kathy MacNeil stated in a news release that healthcare workers in the region were "verbally abused as they came to and left work during these protests", and there was at least one physical assault on a healthcare worker.

      "What happened to our healthcare teams today is not acceptable to me nor to the people and communities they serve," MacNeil stated. "Our healthcare teams deserve respect and support, no matter what personal beliefs we hold."

      B.C. Premier John Horgan issued a statement in defense of healthcare workers.

      "Healthcare workers have been true heroes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, working long hours in difficult conditions to care for us, our loved ones and to keep our communities safe,” he stated. "While everyone has the right to peaceful protest, the targeting and harassment of healthcare workers at healthcare facilities today is completely unacceptable. We stand by our healthcare workers and support them fully.

      "The intent of every COVID-19 guideline and restriction that we've put in place since the beginning of the pandemic is to keep people healthy.

      “That remains our number-one priority and we will take the steps we need to, to save lives and keep people safe as the vast majority of British Columbians expect."

      In B.C., vaccines aren’t mandatory but the B.C. Vaccine Card program, announced on August 23, will make one vaccine dose mandatory as of September 13 for access to a list of non-essential businesses and events (including restaurants, nightclubs, movie theatres, sports events, fitness facilities, and more), with a second dose required by October 24.

      Vaccinations are mandatory for healthcare workers in longterm care facilities.

      After the announcement, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the province saw a surge in vaccinations, particularly among those up to 30 years of age and people in Interior and Northern Health regions.

      B.C. update: September 1

      Today, B.C. is reporting 785 new COVID-19 cases (including five epi-linked cases).

      Currently, there are 5,873 active cases, which is an increase of 172 cases since yesterday.

      The new and active cases include:

      • 266 new cases in Interior Health, with 2,299 total active cases (196 more cases than yesterday);
      • 246 new cases in Fraser Health, with 1,504 total active cases (133 more cases);
      • 110 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, with 1,042 total active cases (34 fewer cases);
      • 69 new cases in Island Health, with 538 total active cases (49 fewer cases);
      • 94 new cases in Northern Health, with 483 total active cases (30 more cases);
      • no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada, with seven total active cases (same number as yesterday).

      Hospitalized cases increased once again—today, there are 199 individuals in hospitals (12 more than yesterday), and 112 of those patients are in intensive care units (nine more than yesterday).

      Sadly, two new deaths have been reported (in Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health). The overall total number of fatalities is now at 1,818 people who have died of COVID-19-related reasons.

      With 959 recoveries since yesterday, an overall total of 158,900 people who tested positive have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 166,853 COVID-19 cases.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      None of the five regional health authorities listed any new community outbreaks, public exposure events, or business closures.

      Vancouver Coastal Health has declared an outbreak at Arbutus Care Centre in Vancouver, where one resident in unit 2B has tested positive so far.

      Interior Health has declared an outbreak over at Kootenay Street Village in Cranbrook.

      As of today, there are a total of 19 active outbreaks in healthcare facilities, including:

      • longterm care: Heritage Village (Fraser Health); Arbutus Care Centre and Brock Fahrni (Vancouver Coastal Health); Village at Mill Creek, Nelson Jubilee Manor, Cottonwoods Care Centre, Brookhaven Care Centre, Spring Valley Care Centre, and Kamloops Seniors Village (Interior Health); and Sunset Lodge (Island Health);
      • acute care: Peace Arch Hospital and Chilliwack General Hospital (Fraser Health); and Fort St. John Hospital (Northern Health)
      • assisted or independent living: Nicola Meadows, Hawthorn Park, David Lloyd Jones, Sun Pointe Village, Hardy View Lodge, and Rose Woods Village (Interior Health).

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added the following 25 flights to its lists of possible public exposures (for affected row information, check the BCCDC website):

      • August 17: WestJet Flight 224, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • August 17: WestJet Flight 3285, Vancouver to Prince George;
      • August 17: KLM Flight 681, Amsterdam to Vancouver;
      • August 18: Air Canada Flight 122, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • August 18: Swoop Flight 411, Toronto to Kelowna;
      • August 19: Swoop Flight 425, Victoria to Toronto;
      • August 19 Air Canada/Jazz Flight 8201, Vancouver to Prince George;
      • August 21: Air Canada Flight 199, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • August 22: Air Canada Flight 1135, Toronto to Kelowna;
      • August 23: Air Canada/Jazz Flight 8419, Kelowna to Vancouver;
      • August 23: WestJet Flight 105, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • August 24: Air Canada Flight 131, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • August 24: Japan Airlines Flight 8, Tokyo to Vancouver;
      • August 24: Lufthansa Flight 492, Frankfurt to Vancouver;
      • August 25: Air Canada/Jazz Flight 8548, Vancouver to Winnipeg;
      • August 25: All Nippon Airways Flight 116, Tokyo to Vancouver;
      • August 25: Swoop Flight 128, Abbotsford to Hamilton;
      • August 25: WestJet Flight 128, Vancouver to Calgary;
      • August 26: WestJet Flight 3232 Abbotsford to Calgary;
      • August 27 WestJet Flight 109, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • August 29: Flair Flight 153, Toronto to Abbotsford;
      • August 29: WestJet Flight 3349, Calgary to Abbotsford;
      • August 30: WestJet Flight 1788, Vancouver to Las Vegas;
      • August 30: Air Canada Flight 108, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • August 30: Air Canada Flight 126, Vancouver to Toronto.

      Sobeys has listed two of its stores as having staff members who have tested positive:

      • at the IGA at 624 9th Avenue North in Golden, two employees have tested positive, with the last dates of work on August 22 and 23;
      • one employee who tested positive last worked on August 27 at Safeway located at 4300 32nd Street in Vernon.


      The B.C. Health Ministry stated that today's vaccination data is forthcoming—this article will be updated with that information when received.

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