Friday August 5, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
Will people be asked to wear masks again in the fall, as the respiratory season ramps up with COVID and influenza likely to be spreading?
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry was asked that question this week during an Island Health media session in Victoria.
“Looking at all the options” is how Dr Henry put it. “When have mandates they can be interpreted in many ways,” she stated with a bit of reflection. Earlier this year there were protests outside health care facilities in Victoria, Vancouver and other locations in BC, mostly protesting the vaccine and mask mandates.
Mask recommendations likely:
“We now know pretty much how to live with this virus,” said Dr Henry.
“So it will more likely to be recommendations unless we have a worse case scenario where we might have a new strain of the virus that evades the immune system, that evades the treatments that we have,” she said, adding, “then we may need to think of (this)”.
“But I don’t see us having mandates. What I see us having is strong recommendations for when we need to wear masks,” said BC’s top doctor.
“We’re still comfortable with wearing masks now. In health care settings we’re still continuing to wear masks. And then we’ll look as things happen, as we move through the fall,” Dr Henry concluded.
Masks at blood donor clinics:
Over the long weekend there it was a challenge to get a strong turnout of blood donors at a Canadian Blood Services (CBS) clinic in Colwood, in the west shore area of Greater Victoria.
Overall, blood donor appointment numbers are down in summer anyhow. But some people expressed concerns (in social media) about mask-wearing not being mandatory at blood donor clinics, suggesting this is contributing to lower clinic attendance.
“Unmasked, no physical distancing, highly transmissible, risk of long COVID…sorry, too high risk with your unnecessary removal of all risk mitigation,” wrote one reader on the Island Social Trends Twitter stream.
The local Canadian Blood Services clinic rep Patricia Willms said that as of July 25, blood donor clinics became “mask friendly”. Masks are “still recommended but not mandatory”. “We have masks available for all and almost everyone continues to wear them,” said Willms.
Dr Henry says about masks at blood donor clinics: “People going to give blood are healthy, and they’re screened for that. So the mask is an extra layer of protection; there’s a lot of uncertainty…I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have them set out.”
“There’s space between people, there’s time between people,” Dr Henry described about blood donor clinics. “So mask wearing – it’s not that you don’t do it, it’s optional for people who feel comfortable wearing one during that encounter,” she told Island Social Trends at the Tuesday media session. “I think we shouldn’t let something like that stop us from doing important things like giving blood.”
Island Health launches COVID-19 vaccination for kids up to age 5 (August 2, 2022)
Blood donors needed at BC Day Monday clinic in Colwood (July 30, 2022)
Fewer regular blood donors has led to critically low inventory (June 13, 2022)
Blood donation by appointment only during COVID-19 (June 15, 2020)
Blood donor clinics not on pause during COVID-19 (March 30, 2020)