2 pandemic records broken in 2 days in B.C.’s ‘tug-of-war’ with COVID-19

VANCOUVER — Health officials in British Columbia revealed Thursday a second record in the pandemic had been set in as many days.

Speaking at a news conference with Health Minister Adrian Dix, the provincial health officer said there were 178 people in intensive care as of Thursday’s update, setting a provincial pandemic record.

The news comes one day after the province set a record for most hospitalizations, at 515. That number had dipped to 503 by Thursday.

Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 853 new cases of the disease and also confirmed a single death had been attributed to the novel coronavirus over the same 24-hour period.

The rolling weekly average of cases in B.C. is now at 855 per day, down from 876 the day before.

Thursday’s update brings the total of confirmed cases in B.C. since the start of the pandemic to 128,742. Henry said a total of 1,577 people have died.

The doctor said she didn’t yet have access to all the information at the time of Thursday’s news conference, including how many cases are considered active and the number of people currently under public health monitoring.

This information was provided in a written statement later in the day, which also revised the total number of new cases that Henry had shared during her remarks.

There are currently 7,996 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, the first time that number has dropped below 8,000 since April 3. There are an additional 11,628 people being monitored by health officials because of exposures to known cases of the coronavirus.

Henry did confirm during her remarks that the province is currently dealing with 13 active outbreaks in health-care settings including long-term care, assisted living, independent living and acute care centres. 

Addressing B.C.’s vaccine rollout, Henry said there have been 1,749,375 doses given out in the province, 90,296 of which are second doses.

This means about 32 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.

A fourth vaccine, made by Johnson and Johnson, is expected to be available as of next week in B.C., Henry said. When it is, it will be integrated into the current plan.

More details will be shared publicly next week.

Additionally, she shared that B.C. is expecting to receive more than a million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the coming weeks, deliveries which she believes will speed up the age-based system.

Her latest estimate is that all adults in B.C. should have access to vaccines by the middle of June, taking into account these updates.

Addressing those who aren’t yet eligible, Henry said the “most efficient” way to get the shot is to register with the province’s vaccine booking system. 

Those in the system will be notified when their age or risk category comes up, and they’ll be guaranteed the vaccine at the location where they’ve booked their appointment.

The doctor closed her update Thursday with a plea for patience and continued adherence to the rules, including a ban on non-essential intraprovincial travel.

“We all need to continue to pay attention. Our cases are still much higher than we want them to be, and that tells us that transmission is still happening in our communities… the number of people in hospital is at the highest levels that we’ve seen,” she said.

The province is using “every last drop of vaccine,” Henry claimed, but the public still has a role to play.

“We are in a tug-of-war with COVID-19, and I know most people are doing their very best…but when you get tired or frustrated or angry, as I know many people are right now, things can slip. We need to dig in our heels and use our collective effort and momentum to pull back. We can continue to be angry at this virus that has led to so much disruption and pain, but we need to hold steady in our efforts. We need to hold the line.”

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