2021-02-25 BC

Press Briefing of 23 Feb 2021

From today’s press briefing: +395 cases, +10 deaths, +3,409 first shots, +5,549 second shots. Currently 228 in hospital / 62 in ICU, 4489 active cases, 7931 under monitoring, 72781 deaths.

On Monday 1 March 2021, the briefing will feature further details about the vaccination program.

Things that Dr. Henry and Minister Dix mentioned:

  • Variants of Concern
    • About 70% of tests currently get the SNP screening. By next week, it should be 100%.
    • If a screening shows the sample might be a VOC, then it gets a full-genome sequencing, which takes a while to do.
    • There were 16 new Variants of Concern discovered, making a total 116 cases to date, with only 9 currently active. (Remember, the full genome sequencing takes a while.)There have been 95 of the B117 (UK) and 21 of the B1.351 (S Africa).
    • There has been a second case with the Nigerian strain. They still haven’t figured out if that strain is more lethal and/or easier to catch, so they are calling it a Variant of Interest for now.
    • They know where 75% of the VOC cases, which of course means they do not know for 25%.
    • They have been particularly concerned about “special environments like schools”, so when they found 7 cases in the schools they did a lot of testing and sequencing around those cases. 83 people got a “point of care test” (which I think is what most people would call a “rapid test”) and 201 have had PCR tests. Two of those people tested positive for COVID-19, and those samples are now getting full-genome sequencing.
  • They look at the rolling 7-day average and positivity rate and R to figure out if they can ease restrictions or not. Recently, those have all gone up a little bit — not a hugely worrying amount, but enough that they don’t think they can ease restrictions.
    • R is above 1 right now.
  • They mentioned again about how awesome they think the vaccines are.
    • Dix mentioned that 9 of 11 of the current outbreaks in long-term care homes had zero cases today. Remember: if one resident or staff gets COVID in a long-term care home, they call it an outbreak, and don’t clear it until there has been a period (I’m pretty sure it’s two weeks) with no cases. So one case 13 days ago and 30 cases per day for three weeks solid both look fall under the category of “an outbreak”.
  • They did a shout-out to the Interior Health region, which has cut its case count significantly recently.
  • There were technical problems which meant I couldn’t hear all of the questions, but I could hear the answers.
    • There was one question which I am guessing was, “where are cases in the Interior coming from these days?” Dr. Henry said that there were a lot from social gatherings and about 40% were in the workplace. She emphasized that there was very little staff-to-customer spread, that there was some transmission from customers. She mentioned that there was another outbreak at a food processing plant, and that sometimes there were problems relating to sick pay policies and/or adequate PPE. They have talked with health enforcement to discuss how to enforce safety policies, and whether the guidance needs to change.
    • There was a question which I am guessing was, “if long-term care home residentss aren’t dying in , who is dying?” Dr. Henry said (I think) that some was people living in assisted living facilities, some were older people living in the community, and some were young people. She mentioned that three people in their 30s had died recently: one with underlying health issues and two who were indigenous.
    • She was asked how she was doing, with some of the really ugly things/threats people say about her. She also said that it is normal for frustrated people to lash out. She said she was doing okay, that she and her colleagues (who are also going through this) support each other. She said that what hurts her most is the effect it has on her colleagues, family, and friends. Dix took the lectern and defended her strongly.
    • Q: Should we travel inside the country or even the province over Spring Break? A: (paraphrased) No. Stay local.
    • Q: The reservation system for BC campgrounds opened up, does that make sense if we’re not going to be able to go camping this summer? Dr. Henry said she was very hopeful that we’d be able to go camping this summer. She said that it was not time to go yet, but time to prepare.
    • Dr. Henry clearly thinks we will be in much better shape in the summer, that seasonality and vaccines will help us a lot. She didn’t say it, but I think if our COVID Classic cases get down far enough, then we can do really aggressive contact tracing on any VOC cases and hopefully keep it out.

Charts

Yesterday, we got 7600 doses of Moderna, which is 8800 fewer than we were scheduled to get this week. I assume we will get the rest tomorrow. (I find it odd that it doesn’t all arrive at the same time.)

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