2022-02-15 BC

Press Briefing

The press briefing today (video, slides) mostly featured Premier Horgan, Minister Dix, and Dr. Henry talking about how wonderful British Columbians were for pulling together to get us to this point blah blah, talking about restrictions that were being lifted, and justifying why it was time.

The changes to Orders are:

  • No restrictions on indoor personal gatherings (like birthday parties or poker nights).
  • Indoor and outdoor organized events (like wedding receptions) allowed at full capacity, dancing allowed (with mask and vax card). No, I don’t know if full capacity requires the vax card or if it’s only dancing that needs a vax card, that was ambiguous. I bet that everyone at your wedding reception needs to be vaxxed.
  • Indoor seated events (e.g. Canucks games) are allowed at full capacity (with masks and vax card).
  • Fitness centres, gyms, dance studios, and pools are allowed at full capacity and adult tournaments are allowed (with mask and vax card). No, I don’t know how you go swimming in a mask. I assume they mean in the locker rooms.
  • Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs are allowed at full capacity with no table limits, mingling and dancing allowed (with masks and vax card). No, I don’t know what it means to be masked at a place where you put things into your mouth.

Orders which stay in place for now and will be reviewed by March 15 and again by April 12:

  • Masks in indoor public spaces.
  • Vax card.
  • COVID-19 Safety plans.
  • LTCH visitor restrictions.
  • K-12 and childcare guidelines.
  • Faith community guidelines.
  • Restrictions on overnight child/youth camps.
  • Something something industrial camps.

The justification for removing the Orders that she did:

  • We have a really great vax rate, one of the best in the world. (True.)
  • Cases and hospitalizations are going down. (True. And the hospitalizations and ICU censuses seem to have been going down faster recently, which makes me wonder if the Delta cases (which are more virulent) have finally worked their way through the system.)

The justification for keeping the Orders that she did:

  • The vax card means that, in the highest risk, discretionary environments (like restaurants), everybody is vaxxed, therefore even if someone does get sick, they are unlikely to need hospitalization and/or die.
  • She didn’t explicitly say so, but masks are low effort and high payoff, and particularly useful in “non-discretionary settings” (like grocery stores, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices).
  • Therapies (like Paxlovid) are coming.

There was also some, “hey, trust us, we’ve done a good job so far”, showing charts of how well BC has done compared to many other jurisdictions. The less-charitable might point out that BC’s data management has been pretty crappy compared to many other jurisdictions; the paranoid might suggest that BC has been cooking the books to make us look good. (I personally think that we are undercounting, but so is everybody else — not out of malice but because it is a hard problem. Are we undercounting more than “everybody else”? I think we probably are not, but possibly are.)

DrH showed off a chart of their prediction vs. actual:

DrH said that their modelling said that we ought to be fine with lifting restrictions:

There was a fair amount of language which framed the next stage as one where you got to make your own personal choices.

The way I see it, the sum of the benefits of reopening is greater than the sum of the costs, so it is completely logical for governments to want to reopen. However, the benefits are spread over all of society, while the costs are disproportionately borne by a few (those who get sick, especially those who get long-term sick). For me, the benefits of reopening are minimal (in part because I have a very fortunate situation), and the potential (although unlikely) costs are terribly high. So I will keep hiding at home.

Dix also gave his regular updates with lots of numbers. The only things that didn’t make my eyes glaze over were:

  • The number of HCWs who were sick in the week ending 13 Feb was ~15K. This was down a bit — we had been kind of stuck at ~17K for three or four weeks. Dix noted that this is all-causes sickness, not just COVID-19, and that it’s normal for their to be more sickness during respiratory season: 15K was only about 20% higher than a “normal” year.
  • Rapid antigen tests are coming in much faster now.
    • They are sending 3.8M to K-12 schools right now, and symptomatic kids can get 5 kits to take home to their families.
    • When the next tranche comes in, they will start distributing to the general population, but they haven’t worked out the plan yet. They will tell us more next week.
    • They are sending an additional 2.8M to post-secondary schools.
  • Some hospitals in some HAs are starting to do scheduled surgeries again. They have started phoning people whose surgeries were postponed. NOT ALL PLACES, it depends upon how much local demand there is and how bad the HCW shortages are. There are even going to be some postponements in some places.


Reminder: I paraphrase heavily and snarkily. I’m feeling extra-special snarky tonight. If you find yourself shocked and saying, “THEY SAID THAT?!?!?!”, the answer is no, of course not, that was me being snarky.

Q: Other jurisdictions are getting rid of their vax cards, why do we keep being such outliers? A: Horgan: Because we keep doing shit right and they don’t. DrH: We can increase capacity limits because of the vax card, since if someone does get sick, they are unlikely to need hospitalization.

Q: What enforcement help are you going to give? I mean, it’s hard enough to get people to wear masks at Canucks games, how are you going to get drunks at nightclubs to keep wearing their masks? A: Oh, British Columbians are polite, and we expect them to do so. They will manage their own risk.

Q: Will dropping these Measures embolden the protestors who asked for Measures to be dropped? A: DrH: I hope not, I hope they see that it’s what we all do together that matters. Horgan: These Measures were always supposed to be temporary, and this was always the date we were going to revisit it. (True: the Orders were going to expire.)

Q: Other jurisdictions are dropping mask mandates in an age-dependent way, are we going to do that? A: As rates go down, it is going to be less important to have every single layer of protection. The guidance is going to change from one-size-fits-all “You must wear a mask” to “We suggest you wear a mask in these circumstances.”

Q: A lot of people are going to need/want to go at their own pace, but feel lost and without good tools for assessing what their risk is, especially the immunocompromised. What help can you give them? A: We are working on tools, stay tuned.

Q: Are we going to get RATs to the general public? A: Good heavens, reporters, pay attention! Yes, as discussed at length earlier.

Q: Are you going to open PCR tests back up to young healthy people? A: [This question got lost in the two other explicit questions and one implicit question the reporter asked in their one-question-per-reporter question]

Q: What about immunocompromised people, aren’t they kind of left out to hang? A: It is important to recognize that the immunocompromised — who might be people you don’t even realize are immunocompromised! — have bigger risks. That’s part of why we still have the indoor public space mask mandate. But yeah, we’re going to have to figure out how we balance restrictions on the abled and risks for the immunocompromised and elderly.

Q: Unclear question? A: Confusing answer.

Q: Do registered health professionals (e.g. chiropractors, physios) still have to get vaxxed by March? A: Damn right they do. Note that the vax is important not just for this wave, this variant, but for the next wave, next variant.

Q: You say that you don’t think we’re going to need broad measures in the future, but we can be more surgical about it. What makes you so sure? A: Confidence in the vaccines we have already gotten and confidence in future vaccines (like nasal boosters!) and treatments. Also, Minister Dix is working on beefing up our fragile health care system. I do believe we will see oscillating waves in the future, however, and we’ll have different impacts in different years, depending on what the variants do.

Q: Are parents going to be able to see the insides of their children’s schools before the end of this school year? A: Beats me. I hope so.

Q: Only 55% of kids have one dose, how is that acceptable? A: It’s not.

Q: How can you get kids’ vaccine rates up? A: Hard, targeted work.


The stats were strange today. The press release said:

Although 519 new cases are reported today, the total number of cases have only increased by 246 from yesterday. This has resulted in no new cases reported in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health and a decrease in the overall total number of cases in these health authorities compared to yesterday. This is due to data reconciliation from switching between two reporting systems after a system-wide downtime over the past weekend.

Um, wtf? Not only that, but looking back at the weekend numbers, there were 207 more cases than MondayCumulative - FridayCumulative gave. So I subtracted (MondayCumulative - FridayCumulative)/3 from each of the weekend numbers, and gave (TuesdayCumulative - MondayCumulative) (which was 246) cases to Tuesday. I suspect that what happened is that they just flat got the weekend numbers wrong.

Also, the vaccination numbers today are so low and there is a note in the press release that the update on cases and hospitalizations by vaccination status is unavailable today, so I expect to need to adjust them tomorrow. Sigh.

+246 cases, +2 deaths, +379 first doses, +2,389 second doses, +11,619 other doses, probably.

Currently 787 in hospital / 124 in ICU.

first dosessecond dosesthird doses
of adults93.5%90.9%55.5%
of over-12s93.1%90.5%53.0%
of over-5s90.4%85.3%*
of all BCers89.5%84.5%49.1%