2021-12-29 BC

Press Briefing

Stuff they said that I’m not sure I’ve mentioned before:

  • Omicron’s incubation period — the time from infection to infectious — is about three days, vs. six for previous variants. By the time you get symptoms and get tested, it’s too late.
  • With two doses of vax, you are much more likely to have a mild illness.
  • Given this rate of transmission, if you have ANY symptoms, you should assume that you are infectious and take measures: always wear a mask, keep your distance from people, stay away from vulnerable people, etc.
  • If you are having difficulty breathing, eating, or drinking, or otherwise just can’t manage your symptoms, call 811. If you are in distress, call 911. There are more details on self-care on the BC CDC website.
  • Schools will have a phased restart.
    • Staff and children of essential workers (healthcare and teachers) go back on 3 Jan; everyone else goes back on 10 Jan. (Basically, the schools will give childcare for essential workers so they can do essential work. Contact your school to make arrangements if you are an essential worker.) They will use the time to figure out what to do about continuity of education and understand absenteeism. I think once you clean up the pretty language, what they are saying is, “Oh shit, a bunch of teachers are going to be sick, we need a week to figure out wtf we can do.” They clearly really want to keep the schools open.
    • There will be a halt on visitors to schools and extra-curricular activities, more disinfecting, and a renewed emphasis (reminders?) on masking.
  • Positivity has gone up (see graph below).
  • They alluded to making plans for a hospitalization surge. I don’t know what that is about, but maybe they will open the Convention Centre field hospital again. However, I think the problem is going to be people and not space.
  • There are 12K open booster slots at the moment. Reporters pushed back on that, asking why not open boosters up to more people? There was a lame answer, but I bet the reason is that they are open so people who just got invites have a chance to y’know, book. They also said that there is huge variation across the province — Island Health doesn’t have any open slots, for example. (And I also bet that the booking system doesn’t have a way to invite different ages in different Health Authorities!)

Here’s a positivity chart from the BC CDC dashboard. Note that part of the increase is probably because they are no longer testing asymptomatic people at all. It is striking, however, how similar the positivity is across health authorities.

Q&A

Q: Are you going to give schools money to improve ventilation? A: We already did, we spent $300M over the summer and on break improving ventilation and/or buying portable filtration systems.

Q: Testing has maxed out; do you have an estimate of how many cases there actually are in the province? A: We have always known that testing doesn’t catch everybody, but it varies over time up to as many as 4x or 5x. It probably averaged about 3x to 4x. It’s likely that we have the same multiplier right now. (Editorial: I’m sorry, that makes ZERO sense to me. If you can’t test everybody, then you are missing more people.)

Q: Quebec just shortened its isolation period to 7 days for fully vaxxed, and the US is doing 5 days, is BC going to follow suit? A: We are already at 7 days for the fully vaxxed, we did that in the summer.

Q: Are we seeing increased absenteeism? A: Yes.

Q: Any thoughts of fast-tracking educators for boosters? A: We already do. They will get doses at six months instead of eight months, considering age. (Note: I don’t know what that means.)

Q: Are you going to allow sick people to work? A: Obviously we really don’t want to do that, but there are some critical positions like police and fire where, if things keep getting bad, we might have to allow mild/asymptomatic cases to work.

Q: What if a business has so many people sick that they can’t function? A: Then they will have to close. So better do what you can to make sure they don’t get sick: get them vaccinated, wear masks, follow your COVID safety plan.

Q: You mentioned a school notification plan revamp, what’s up with that? A: We won’t be able to give as fine-grained information as we used to. We’re working on the plan now, stay tuned.

Q: Why can’t nurses decide for themselves what type of mask they need? A: They already can decide within guidelines. (Note: I didn’t follow the exact terms of the argument.)

Q: Is this surge really Omicron, or is it left-over Delta? A: Oh yeah, it’s definitely Omicron. About 70-80% of our cases now are Omicron.

Q: If Omicron is so bad that you have to put in a delay for the students, why don’t you make a vax mandate for teachers? A: That’s up to the employers, i.e. the school districts. But note that vax rate is really high already among teachers.

Statistics

+2,944 cases (though testing has maxed out). In the past five days, an average of +1 death per day, +1,297 first doses, +595 second doses, +10,344 other doses, +1 health care facility outbreak.

Currently 206 in hospital / 66 in ICU, 16,014 active cases, 227,780 recovered. Note: I sure think that at the briefing, Dix said that there were 192 cases in hospital. Maybe 192 was yesterday, but that’s quite a jump if I heard right.

There have been 2,452 cases of Omicron to date.

first dosessecond dosesthird doses
of adults92.3%89.6%19.8%
of over-12s91.9%89.1%18.5%
of over-5s88.0%82.8%*
of all BCers85.6%80.6%16.8%

Charts

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