Thursday December 10, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends
If all the professional media on today’s COVID-19 update teleconference had been in the room, there would likely have been a collective taking-in of breath upon hearing the highest-yet death count: 28. Total now 587 since the beginning of the pandemic.
It’s never easy for Dr Bonnie Henry to deliver that news. She’s been delivering COVID-19 media updates all year jointly with Health Minister Adrian Dix. Their format is for Dr Henry as Provincial Health Officer to deliver the numbers, and Dix follows up in the second segment with heartfelt condolences. But it is never without heart in Dr Henry’s delivery. It rivets the listener.
The irony is that this highest-yet death count comes one day after Dr Henry’s hopeful announcement about the first COVID-19 vaccine being on its way to BC. The vials of precious mRNA vaccine by Pfizer will arrive in Victoria tomorrow, December 11.
A practice run was done earlier this week. Dr Henry said health-care personnel were surprised at how heavy the trays of (dummy) vaccine doses were, among other learning-moments.
First round of injections:
On Monday December 14 the vaccination program begins with injections into arms. Just 3,900 doses, and just for health-care workers in long-term care and the front lines of acute care, and just in the densely populated BC lower mainland areas. And where the vaccine recipients can travel to the vaccine (as the Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-low temperature storage right up until dilution and administration).
But that’s certainly where it should go, based on all the factors known and explained — health-care workers are not only on the front lines and hard-worked all year but they are then less likely to be a transmitter of COVID to patients or long-term care residents.
Today’s plea from Dr Henry and Minister Dix was for people to hang in there with all the public health protocols we’ve been taught in BC by our top doctor and in accordance with her Public Health Orders which are enforced throughout the province. When you see the finish line of a long marathon race you don’t stop, you double-down on your resolve and keep going to the end.
We’ll be well into 2021 before everyone has access to COVID-19 vaccination, it was stated definitively in today’s media livestream. Use all the layers of COVID protection all the time, urges Dr Henry.
“We are not through this storm yet,” said Dr Henry today.
Defending his PHO:
The health minister defended his top doctor today in the light of comments from one faith leader who felt Dr Henry had been condescending. In recent days she did say that faith can be experienced anywhere — that it doesn’t require a building in which to happen. That’s probably what riled up the BC mainland minister who complained in a letter to Minister Dix.
Dr Henry was simply outlining how staying away from in-person gatherings during this bad second surge of the infectious COVID pandemic would not diminish a person’s faith. Putting orders in place to protect people — to live in faith safely for another day — is part of the top doctor’s job.
People anywhere at anytime can have, experience and practice faith. It’s inherent to the definition of what faith is. Remote communications technologies are serving everyone well enough during these dire circumstances of the pandemic, who choose to use them.
COVID is everywhere:
COVID-19 is efficiently transmitting in all communities, said Dr Henry. There should be no shame or discrimination against people for coming down with the COVID-19 infection, she says. The virus is everywhere and simply looks for human bodies in which to replicate.
Sadly, it is most often transmitted to and by the people we are closest to, Dr Henry reminded everyone who has been listening to the COVID-19 story this year.
Most of the infection and deaths have been occuring in long-term care. Today’s report included that COVID outbreaks are presently in 57 long-term care and assisted living facilities and eight acute care facilities. Presently 1,875 people are infected: 1,094 residents and 671 staff.
COVID stats across BC:
Throughout BC there are 11,947 people in self-isolation due to exposure to known cases of COVID-19. There are 9,524 active cases today, with 346 people in hospital and 83 people in intensive or critical care and very likely fighting for their lives. The majority of cases and deaths have been in the BC lower mainland (Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health), and that’s where the first vaccine doses are headed.
The next batch of mRNA vaccine doses (by Moderna) will be sent in volume adequate enough to fully innoculate Indigenous remote communities all at once. Shipping of the Moderna vaccine product is a bit more flexible (storage temperatures and immobility requirements for the product are not as strident) but for long distances it makes logistical sense to do the delivery just once (with a repeat visit for administration of the second dose).
Vancouver Island COVID profile:
As of today December 10, Vancouver Island is also seeing more cases and another death (the second this week). There were 10 new cases in today’s tally, bringing total cases to 750.
Presently there are 161 active cases, with six of those in hospital (four in ICU). Regional distribution of the 161 active cases on Vancouver Island is 54 in the south, 76 central and 31 north.
New cases today were seen spread fairly evenly through ages 10 through 69. No new cases today among children under age 10 or in elders age 70+. Which on first blush indicates general transmission within the community.
School exposures today are listed for Nanaimo (3), Salt Spring Island (2), Campbell River (1) and Port Alberni (1).
Today’s COVID-19 death count in Island Health is now eight (up from seven yesterday); before that there had been no new deaths since September 28.