Thursday marks 100 days since B.C. health officials issued their first official warning on COVID-19, and in that time, the province’s total has risen to 2,112 confirmed cases.
During her daily briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 25 new confirmed cases along with two more deaths. To date, 111 people in B.C. have died from the virus.
“Our lives, businesses, and communities have dramatically changed in this last 100 days. What has stayed the same is the unwavering commitment in British Columbia,” Henry said.
As of Thursday, there were 82 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 30 in intensive care, down from a high of 149 hospitalizations on April 6. A total of 1,322 people have recovered from their illness.
Twelve of the new cases announced on Thursday involved inmates at Mission Institution, Henry said.
Many of the new cases in the past week have been around a cluster of outbreaks in poultry-processing plants in the Lower Mainland. There are now 50 cases connected to Superior Poultry Processors in Coquitlam and 42 to United Poultry in Vancouver.
There are also active outbreaks at 24 long-term care homes and acute care units in hospitals.
Because of the high number of cases connected to long-term care, Henry has ordered that staff be restricted to working in a single facility.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday that implementation of that order is still a work in a progress. Of the 545 affected facilities in the province, 276 have completed their plans for making this happen.
Premier John Horgan said he will announce details of the province’s reopening plan in the days and weeks to come. It will focus on ensuring health orders on physical distancing and self-isolation are being practised, so that new COVID-19 cases are kept to a minimum.
During Thursday’s briefing, Henry touched on hopes for lifting some restrictions. She said the next phase will include looking at how people can expand their social circles, perhaps by meeting small groups of friends outside.
“We need to consider … how we can expand our circles, but doing it in a way that is safe,” Henry said. “We might be able to connect with others in a way that we haven’t been able to do in a while, but we need to be thoughtful about it. The more groups and people we have connections with, the more chances are that we might be able to transmit this virus.”
Large gatherings and indoor parties are out of the question for this summer. Henry said casinos in particular shouldn’t expect to open again any time soon.
“It would be last on my list to reopen,” she said, explaining that many casino customers are older with underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to disease.
Meanwhile, as May 1 approaches, landlords are growing anxious over whether renters will pay all or only part of their monthly rent, after being financially devastated as a result of the pandemic.
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