Home Health COVID-19 Case counts still high as immunization program ramps up

Case counts still high as immunization program ramps up

Even getting two doses "doesn't mean that all transmission will be stopped" ~ Dr Bonnie Henry

Monday March 8, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends

Still there are pleas from public health to keep the brakes on social interaction, to still wear masks and never stop washing hands as COVID case counts continue to be robust in BC amidst the so-called COVID fatigue.

People just need to get back to regular life. And BC health officials know this, today ramping out messaging like “things will look different by summer” (even though the virus will be around for ‘months or years’), per Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry today.

On the cusp of a major ramping up of administering COVID immunization injections, the messaging today also included statements about looking forward to a regular K-12 school year in September and that post-secondary campuses should prepare for the return of students to campuses this fall as well.

Also tucked into today’s messaging is that sports will be getting back to normal in some manner or another. “Small groups, games and summer camps” will be part of the new COVID-summer of 2021.

Religious groups will also be able to start gathering again, within certain guidelines that are specific to each religion’s regular practices. There’s a lot of detail in that, some of it outlined by Dr Henry today.

Adrian Dix, health minister, March 2021
BC Health Minister Adrian Dix during COVID news teleconference March 8, 2021.

A lot of push-back against ‘COVID fatigue’ in all this.

Stay the course:

Meanwhile, today Health Minister Adrian Dix reminded listeners in his joint live COVID media teleconference with Dr Henry that there were over 600 new COVID cases last Friday, and over the weekend into today another 1,462 (average of 487 per day).

We are “still in our pandemic fight”, Dix said this afternoon, with case numbers consistently high. “Hospitals are stable but this is not and cannot be our new normal,” said Dix on this International Women’s Day when he took the opportunity to acknowledge women in public health leadership.

Variants of concern:

Embedded within that were another 144 new cases caused by the ‘variants of concern’ (363 B.1.1.7/UK and 31 B.1.351/South Africa, of which 87 are still active). With the added comment that “we don’t know where one-quarter of them came from… so they are transmitted in our community”, said Dr Henry.

The variants are thought be more transmissible and more contagious. This perpetuates the durability of the virus in the community.

Today’s COVID stats:

In BC there are 4,854 active cases of COVID-19, bringing the pandemic-long total to 84,569. There are 240 people in hospital (66 in ICU); total hospitalizations to date is 4,601. In total, there have been 1,391 deaths (11 more over the past three days). Community impact is considerable: 8,723 people are self-isolating due to COVID exposure. Among children (under age 10 years) there have been 3,896 cases so far, and among youth and teens (age 10 to 19) there have been 8,193 cases. The province’s positivity rate is 6.6. (same as before the weekend).

COVID, BC, March 8, 2021
COVID-19 dashboard for BC at March 8, 2021 showing daily case counts from Oct 2020 to March 8, 2021. [BC CDC]

On Vancouver Island (in Island Health) there are 267 active cases of COVID-19, bringing the pandemic-long total to 2,587. There are 14 people in hospital (one in ICU); total hospitalizations in Island Health to date is at 143. In total there have been 28 deaths in Island Health (one more over this past weekend). Among children (under age 10 years) there have been 171 cases (up by three over the past weekend), and among youth and teens (age 10 to 19) there have been 320 cases (that’s nine more over the weekend). The island’s positivity rate is down a bit to 2.8 (from 3.0 last week).

Vancouver Island, COVID, March 8, 2021
COVID-19 dashboard for Vancouver Island (Island Health) at March 8, 2021 showing daily case counts from Oct 2020 to March 8, 2021. [BC CDC]

Immunization is the not the cure-all:

Today Dr Henry warned that even getting two doses “doesn’t mean that all transmission will be stopped”. People who get even a mild episode of the COVID-19 infection can still spread the virus. We’re all in this for the long haul.

Total doses administered in BC to date is 333,327 (of which 86,925 have been second doses). Last week Dr Henry was ahead of the curve in leading BC in the direction of stretching out the interval between first and second doses to 16 weeks. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization quickly followed suit (they were already in the process of announcing that, and BC beat them to it by a day or two).

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===== LINKS:

Locations of Island Health immunization clinics: Island Social Trends article on the clinic rollout March 7, 2021 | direct link to Island Health clinic location list (will have regular updates)

BC CDC COVID-19 dashboard (updated Monday to Friday)