Martyn Brown: I’m not missing the mysteriously mostly invisible Dr. B. Henry. You?

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      It’s the summer cliff-hanger everyone’s talking about: what’s up with the mysteriously invisible Dr. Bonnie Henry?

      Has her role as lead actor in the too long-running whodunnit series “COVID!” been effectively cancelled, waiting only for someone to make it official?

      Or will she reprise her lauded performance in yet another predictable killer season that is destined to go even more viral?

      Last I saw of her was a July 19 tweet of her apparently meeting with some UBC Pathology staff, so I assume she’s now back in B.C., if she ever left.

      In view of Angus Reid’s new poll, one would think B.C.’s de facto premier-in-waiting, David Eby, would want to retain Horgan’s star trouper whatever critics like me might think.

      Some 68 percent of British Columbians apparently still approve of Horgan’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic—the highest rating of any premier in Canada.

      And that follows a March Angus Reid poll that found 68 percent of British Columbians approved of Dr. Henry’s performance.

      So Eby might well want to beg her to stay in boosting his numbers as Henry surely helped Horgan ride so high for so long while our province’s health care, cost of living, and housing went to hell in a handbasket.

      Stay tuned.

      She’ll be back for all to regularly see, one assumes, if it’s true as we’ve been advised that Henry is only off on a hard-earned vacation.

      It has been weeks now since I last saw her benevolently smiling face on the boob tube, reassuring us all that she’s got things in-hand and that COVID is now a vaccine-wounded shadow of its former deadly self.

      Then again, I haven’t been watching those insufferable weekly briefings. Tired and miffed as I am at being patronized and misled by those exercises in political science and truth transmutation.

      Can’t say as I’m missing her, I confess. You?

      It’s been like a breath of fresh air, even with my N95 respirator on when out in crowded spaces. Albeit, contrary to her no-masks-required directive, as our emergency rooms are being flooded with patients who followed that guidance or who were infected by others who happily did.

      Many rural community hospitals have been forced to shut down their E.R.’s altogether, if only temporarily, overtaxed by patient demand and a mass exodus of doctors, nurses, paramedics, care aides, and health support workers.

      Incredibly, many of those hospital workers are not even allowed to wear an N95 respirator to help protect them against the relentless onslaught from COVID in our brave, new anything-goes-world.

      Welcome to our bizzarro world, where the liberty to infect others is effectively accorded as the highest right.

      And where “the right to life … and not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice” is eternally damned as a consequence.

      Although nowadays, B.C.’s highest court seems to have a curious take on what exactly is meant by those “principles of fundamental justice” in our crumbling public health-care system.

      I expect that many health-care workers would argue those principles hardly apply to them, as their very lives have been unconscionably risked in trying to mollify those whose irresponsible behaviours are making our lifesavers sick.

      As Global News just reported, between July 11 to 17, 15,776 health care workers out of B.C.’s total of 161,357 called in sick.

      That translates into 9.8 percent of all health care workers that were off sick for at least one day last week alone.

      Do you think that just might have something to do with the government’s implicit “freedom for all to infect others” COVID mismanagement edicts?

      You bet your life they do, not that there seems to be much anyone can do to talk sense into those who are legally empowered and obliged to keep us safe.

      Meanwhile, an elderly woman recently died lying on a stretcher for two days in the emergency waiting room at North Vancouver’s Lions Gate Hospital, while waiting for medical attention.

      It’s only one of several similar horror stories that now have the B.C. Liberals calling for Health Minister Adrian Dix to be fired. As if that’s ever going to happen.

      This week, a woman died in the emergency waiting room at Lions Gate Hospital.
      Arnold C

      COVID waves keep coming

      That hospital, like so many in B.C., is dying a death of a thousand cuts, exacerbated by staff shortages that are also being compounded by the government’s inept responses to our collapsing primary care system. A condition that is also largely courtesy of COVID.

      Oh, Henry.

      More power to her, most would say. She’s more than earned a real break, if that’s all that explains her summer COVID centre-stage absence.

      Maybe she’s been off on some faraway beach? Or was perhaps soaking up some rays somewhere in B.C.?

      Maybe she was quietly writing another new bestseller?

      I can only imagine her revelling in retelling all that went so right about all that went so wrong in every subsequent wave since her first offering on COVID’s first chapter.

      Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 haven’t been quite so successful, no matter how they are whitewashed as revisionist testaments to B.C.’s superior COVID management.

      Then again, Dr. B. H. is probably not wasting her precious downtime rewriting history.

      Some truth is too estranged from its own fiction to be so rewritten for the masses who have already paid too dearly for the Book of Henry as it impacted their lives and welfare.

      Me, I’m hoping she’s planning for a new chapter in her own professional career.

      Probably not in China, where her version of Zero COVID (as in zero restrictions) runs so counter to the party line that now rules that roost.

      “Is WHO’s next, perhaps what’s next” for Dr. B.H., I asked in a previous column?

      Doubtful, but it would be a perfect fit, I’d imagine.

      I mean, who better to hire as one of WHO’s senior advisors and public defenders than B.C.’s own globally celebrated informal WHO ambassador par excellence?

      After all, both she and it long perpetuated the myth that COVID is a virus essentially only spread by large droplets.

      Thanks to relentless efforts of experts like University of Colorado Boulder chemistry and biochemistry professor Jose-Luis Jimenez, they both were forced to fess up to the fact of its aerosalized transmission.

      Of the two laggards, Henry was the most resistant.

      There's still no word on a sequel.

      No universal masking in crowded spaces

      Indeed, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) still pays lip service at best to that reality. Presumably, because it highlights the stupidity of its policies that fly in the face of that hard scientific fact.

      Still, from Day One, the WHO and Henry have been simpatico on most issues, if only in due time.

      Such as with their mutually evolving policy guidance on face masks, weak now as ever.

      The BCCDC advises that “Wearing a mask in most indoor public spaces is a personal choice.”

      No need, it concludes, to set any hard and fast rules for mandatory mask-wearing as a critically important public safety precaution and preventive measure almost anywhere in B.C., given where we are today.

      Buses? SkyTrain? B.C. Ferries? Classrooms? Surely you jest.

      Entertainment events attended by untold thousands? Give your head a shake.

      Bars, pubs and crowded restaurants? Busy shopping malls, or jam-packed big-box and grocery stores?

      Ah-choo! I beg your pardon. But no masks required.

      And David Eby’s leadership announcement? Nary a mask in sight.

      Recommended but not essential for mass protection in such gatherings, according to Henry.

      And that, despite the fact that according to that latest Angus Reid poll, some 55 percent of British Columbians still say they support mask mandates.

      Some 74 percent of B.C. respondents feel that wearing a mask is effective in guarding against infection, serious illness or death, or both.

      That almost equals the 79 percent who feel that keeping up with vaccinations and getting boosters when recommended is effective in those same regards.

      Although that national survey also found that 77 percent of respondents would be concerned if their provincial government were to bring back mask mandates, despite the 68 percent who also agreed that masks are effective.

      And some 49 percent of British Columbians said they now rarely or never wear a mask indoors when they’re around other people in places like the grocery store, bank, or movie theatre. As opposed to the 29 percent who say they do most or all of the time in such circumstances.

      Curious, though, that Dr. Henry & Co. are still insisting on mandatory mask-wearing in some hospitals, where they are evidently still deemed an essential and effective safety precaution.

      They are still required as well for anyone attending one of B.C.’s “one question, one follow-up” COVID press conferences.

      Safety first, for Horgan, Dix and Henry, don’t you know. I noted that she was wearing a mask in that above tweet, so good for her.

      Unless that’s mostly for the sake of optics to suggest that masks should be worn whenever politics raises its sick head.

      COVID hospital admissions rise

      Anyway, for now at least, Henry won’t be having to answer even the softest lob-ball questions about the endless weekly dozens of deaths that the BCCDC perfunctorily reports in its lifeless statistics.

      Still vacationing or not, Dr. Henry won’t have to answer why this past week’s 246 hospital admissions were the most since May and 35 more than what the government reported last week.

      Her designated defenders can do quite well enough, thank you very much, in glossing over the fact that the BCCDC’s reported weekly death count for the week ending July 9 was initially under-reported by 31.8 percent.

      Seven more people died in that week than we were told at that news conference.

      It’s a troubling reporting pattern, if nothing else.

      One that is further clouded by B.C.’s post-April policy change that now reports all deaths where patients had COVID, whether or not that was deemed determinative of their death.

      Now our COVID casualty counts can’t be directly compared to those in other provinces, we are reminded in the statistical reports now showing our per capita death counts often running at levels far higher than other provinces B.C. used to smugly regard as COVID underachievers.

      Dr. Henry was persuaded to adopt that new “fully transparent” reporting protocol after one peer-reviewed study revealed that B.C. had been fudging its COVID fatality figures.

      It found a 4.5-fold gap between reported COVID-19 deaths and excess mortality that outstripped every other province’s comparable numbers.

      That research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal blew the whistle on the fact that fewer than a quarter of the 9,496 excess deaths reported in B.C. between the start of the pandemic and October 2021 were blamed on COVID-19.

      This chart recently appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, showing B.C. far ahead of other provinces in excess mortality compared to COVID-reported mortality.

      I wait with bated breath to read that in my imagined Volume 2 of Dr. Henry’s COVID memoirs.

      With any luck, we’ll all be reading it as B.C.’s former provincial health officer’s Christmas gift to the world, as she rings in the new year in some other new job more befitting of her many talents.

      God knows she deserves a storybook send-off.

      Especially after having worked so tirelessly, for so long, to keep us all safe to the extent that the economy, unwanted snap elections, and political imperatives haven’t taken precedence.

      Bon voyage, I say, and good luck, if that should be in her cards.

      Nowhere safer than a cruise ship these days, some say, for people who long to be lost at sea.

      As opposed to being lost on the job that may have lost its lustre upon deep personal reflection, on summer holidays only a few short months removed from B.C.s next winter of discontent.

      Martyn Brown was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s long-serving chief of staff, the top strategic adviser to three provincial party leaders, and a former deputy minister of tourism, trade, and investment. He also served as the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in 2001, 2005, and 2009, and in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact him via email at