Thursday August 20, 2020 ~ VANCOUVER, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor |Island Social Trends
It was a relatively low-key news announcement today, the 120th such presentation about COVID-19 by BC Health Minister Adrian Dix. This week he shared this and Monday’s livestreamed media briefings with Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr Reka Gustafson. They were in Vancouver.
The reminders about adhering to the epidemiological curve-flattening measures were consistent with those of the past few months. The persistent COVID case statistics spoke for themselves: 80 new cases today, on the heels of 68 yesterday, 83 on Tuesday, and 236 on Monday (a composite of 100, 88 and 48 from August 14 to 17).
This comes on the eve of a more heavy-hitting announcement planned for tomorrow August 21 at 10 am, during which time Public Safety Minister and Attorney General Mike Farnworth is expected to lower the boom on people who are bending the rules instead of the curve.
Farnworth’s message is expected to focus on the too-close social-gathering behaviours of people in the 20 to 39 year age groups, where most of the case spikes have been seen.
While today, Dr Gustafson also said she’s keeping an eye on modest but continuing case increases in the 40 to 59 age range where she notes that health outcomes from the COVID-19 can be more severe as people age.
August 20 COVID stats:
There are 80 new COVID cases within the 4,825 BC total today (57 are epi-linked). The highest percentage of cases were seen in the 20-29 year age group (27 cases / 33.75%) with a strong surge in cases as well for people ages 39 to 39 years (17 cases / 21.25%) and adults in the 40 to 49 age range (18 cases / 22.5%).
As we approach back-to-school, it’s worth noting that COVID cases have been seen all week in children and teens. Today’s increase of 80 cases in BC includes six kids (three under the age of 10, and three in the 10-19 age bracket).
Older age brackets present COVID-19 cases as follows:
- 50-59 years – seven new cases (total 718)
- 60-69 years – five new cases (total 451)
- 70-79 years – three new cases (total 314)
- 80-89 years – no new cases (total 264)
- 90+ years – one new case (total 158)
There were two new COVID-related deaths in today’s report, elderly people in care homes in the Fraser Health Authority region. Total deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in BC now stand at 200.
There are 11 people now in hospital with COVID (four of those in more serious condition in ICU). Now 3,845 people have recovered from test-positive infections, but 776 active cases remain. As many as 2,574 people in BC are under public health watch, doing self-isolation due to exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19.
There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks. In total, eight long-term care or assisted-living facilities and one acute-care facility have active outbreaks.
Check alerts online:
Alerts are posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) website, as well as on health authorities’ websites, providing details on where the potential exposures occurred and what actions to take – whether you need to self-isolate or monitor for symptoms.
Watch for mental health strain:
“The mental strain of COVID-19 has been difficult for many. We have had to change many things and learn new ways to safely live our lives, yet British Columbians have shown incredible resilience, fortitude and care,” said Dr Gustafson today.
She outlined how the COVID experience survey (done in May) showed stressors having to do with economic impacts as well as the disease itself.
“Avoid blame. We’re going to be dealing with this pandemic for a long time,” said Minister Dix in his remarks today.
Knowing the virus:
The highest risk for COVID-19 infection occurs in close settings, especially when people are in close proximity, Dr Gustafson summarized today about how COVID transmission occurs.
It is now certainly known to be spread in moist droplets which require close proximity (not like influenza and the common cold which are spread much more easily through the air), Dr Gustafson explained.
“Especially if people are interacting quite a bit or touching many things, and especially if some of the behaviours are altered by alcohol.” As well, she inserted: “As people get older, their risk of severe disease increases.”
Casinos remain closed:
“From a disease control perspective (casinos) would be particularly worrisome places to reopen,” said Dr Gustafson.
“I wouldn’t expect any change in rules to the current rules on casinos any time soon,” said Minister Dix.
Vancouver Island COVID profile:
At August 20, the Vancouver Island case profile for COVID-19 shows 159 cases (one new case in the 30-39 year age grouping).
A total of 145 people have recovered, but there are still nine active cases. No one is in hospital in Island Health with COVID at this time. There have in total been five deaths on Vancouver Island due to COVID.
There’s a fairly even distribution of COVID cases on Vancouver Island. Of the 159 cases, 58 have occurred in the south island region, 41 in central, and 60 in the north.
Generally speaking, the island has held a flattened curve rather well, perhaps due to fewer incoming travellers and possibly due to people actively embracing outdoor activities.
Next BC Health COVID update:
The next livestreamed teleconference about COVID-19 by Health Minister Adrian Dix will be on Monday August 24 at 3 pm, from Victoria.
He will be accompanied by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry who has been taking time off this week.
The August 24 update will be the 121st such session for media and the public, since the joint COVID-19 briefings began in January 2020.