Just one COVID-19 death since Saturday

New COVID-19 cases continue to fall, as BC looks towards long-weekend reopening

There has been only one death from COVID-19 since Saturday, 23 new confirmed cases and the number of patients with acute infections in hospital continues to fall.

As B.C. looks towards a gradual reopening of the economy and social interactions, starting on the upcoming long weekend, the numbers are promising that the rate of transmission continues to fall, though provincial health officer Bonnie Henry warned Monday that “COVID-19 has not gone away.”

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"We are now in a much better place than we were a number of months ago," Henry said. "Next week, if things continue to go the way that they have been going -- and I fully expect they will -- we'll be at the beginning our phase 2 of our pandemic (reopening)."

She added that, while some businesses may get the green light, some may choose to delay reopening.

While concerns have been raised that British Columbians were flouting social distances guidelines on the weekend just passed, Henry downplayed the concerns, saying most people are adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Between the last reporting period – Saturday – there were 23 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 – nine between Saturday and Sunday and 14 between Sunday and Monday – bringing the total cases to 2,353. But of that number, 1,719 have recovered, meaning there are are 634 active cases in B.C.

One community outbreak at a tree nursery in Kelowna has been declared over.

There were four new confirmed cases in long-term care facilities, bringing the current total to 19 with active cases.

With sunny weather over the weekend just passed, Henry was asked if she was concerned about photos and reports of people at beaches and parks concentrated in clusters. Henry said she herself got outside on the weekend, and said those who are not adhering to physical distancing mandates appear to be in the minority.

“The vast majority of people were doing the right thing,” she said.

When pressed on the matter, Henry dismissed the notion of fining people for not keeping their distance when outside at public parks and beaches.

"We are not taking a punitive approach in this province, and that's worked for us," she said.
She also added that "being outside is safer than being inside."

B.C. parks, which have been closed, are set to reopen for the long weekend, but for day use only.

Henry and BC Health Minister Adrian Dix were asked about federal plans to reopen borders. The federal ban on non-essential travel between the U.S. and Canada is to expire May 21, unless extended by both countries. Asked their thoughts on that, both Henry and Dix said they are advising their federal counterparts against reopening the borders so soon.

"We have concerns about opening the border," Henry said. "I do think we have some leeway, and we need to look at family reunification, for example....But broad reopening of the borders is not in our interest in the coming weeks."

Dix added that Premier John Horgan has made it clear to the federal government that he does not want to see the U.S.-Canada border opened on May 21 to non-essential travel.

"There's a health ministers call immediately after this session here, and I'll be making clear once again to the federal health minister," Dix said.

Last week, the provincial government announced its plans for a phased reopening of society and the economy. Some confusion remains, however, over just what can reopen and what can't, and when.

For example, fitness centres and yoga studios are included in the second phase opening, meaning that they can begin the process of reopening, after the long weekend, provided they have plans that meet health and safety guidelines.

But there are local orders in place that closed gyms in three parts of the province that may keep fitness centres closed for longer.

"So they have to meet those (local) requirements and that may take people to the end of May or June for many places," Henry said. "So it is a phased in approach."

She said fitness centres that want to reopen should already be working on plans for reopening.

"Those who can (reopen) can look at starting to open after the coming long weekend," she said.

Here are the daily case counts for May 11, compared with numbers from May 9 (a 48-hour reporting period) in brackets:

New COVID-19 cases: 23 (19)
BC Total: 2,353 (2,330)
Hospitalized: 66 (69)
Intensive care: 18 (21)
Recovered: 1,719 (1,659)
Deaths: 130 (129)
Confirmed cases by region:
Vancouver Coastal Health: 873
Fraser Health: 1,118
Island Health: 125
Interior Health: 180
Northern Health: 57

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv
 

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