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Chief MHO Update: June 30, 2020

SENT TO ALL STAFF, MEDICAL STAFF, STUDENTS AND VOLUNTEERS ON BEHALF OF DR. RICHARD STANWICK, Vice President, Population Health and Chief Medical Health Officer


Kathy is away this week for a much deserved rest and recharge and has left me with the COVID-19 update. It provides me with an opportunity to focus a bit deeper into the public health response and planning.

Today, we begin with some very exciting news, announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix, about easing visitor restrictions for long-term care homes and assisted living facilities. I know this is something that our staff, residents and the families we serve have been anxiously awaiting.

As Kathy has said, “communities are made up of people with shared experiences.” COVID-19 has isolated residents and separated families. As health providers we have protected those most vulnerable during the pandemic, but it has come at a great cost and sacrifice. As Dr. Henry indicated today, it is the right time – now that case numbers are low and we have access to necessary PPE supplies – to slowly start down this path. This meas residents will have the ability to see a single designated visitor in a designated area.

The announcement today will benefit those in long-term care and assisted living by extending the support from their direct care teams to their designated family member or friend. Before this can happen, all sites must have written plans in place outlining how they will meet the requirements and precautions to ensure the safety of residents, staff and visitors. We will work towards this as quickly as possible at Island Health operated sites, and will be supporting our contracted partners to do the same. We are moving slowly and thoughtfully to ensure we have the ability to continue to protect this population. Read the full news release and guidelines here.  

PROVINCIAL UPDATE

Provincial update for a four day period from June 27 – 30:

  • 38 people with newly-confirmed COVID-19 including: 10 Saturday, 14 Sunday, 2 Monday and 12 today - for a total of 2,916 people.
  • No new deaths. Total of 174 COVID-19 related deaths in B.C.
  • 18 people in hospital, with four in critical or intensive care.
  • 152 people with active COVID-19 in B.C.
  • 2,590 people have recovered and are no longer at risk of transmitting the virus.

Island Health Update:

  • No change: Total 131 cases, 5 deaths

More information:

Please note: joint statements and transcripts of media availabilities with Dr. Henry and Minister Dix are posted as soon as they are available on our COVID-19 Intranet site in the What’s New section.

CORMORANT ISLAND SEROLOGY TESTS

The response from Cormorant Island residents to COVID-19 in their community serves as an example to other communities on preparedness and response. In total, 30 individuals tested positive, and tragically, one person died from this community. 

The three communities that make up Cormorant Island stepped forward as the first place in B.C. to participate in voluntary population-level antibody testing, in order to better understand the scope and transmission of COVID-19. They wanted to provide individuals and their respective communities with information, while also being able to contribute to the global knowledge about COVID-19.

Testing was done from June 24-27, starting with 200 booked appointments, and increased through drop-ins and mobile visits to 507 people in total. This represented two-thirds of the eligible population through the help of community champions of all ages. Testing was a community-requested and led initiative, and we are so thankful to everyone involved from community members, to BCCDC, and the multiple program areas within Island Health. As Dr. Charmaine Enns, North Island's Medical Health Officer, reported, “This was an incredible collaboration effort and everyone who participated should be congratulated for their contribution.”

Next steps for the testing will be for BCCDC to contact individuals with their test results and then a population assessment will be informed by the results of the serology tests and the survey completed by participants. The information for the serology testing was collected under the Principals of OCAP (ownership, control, access and possession) and the population data will be returned to the respective communities. I want to thank Charmaine and the Island Health teams for their understanding and commitment to these principles. 

OVERDOSE UPDATE

Last Friday, June 26, marked 131 overdose responses by B.C. paramedics – double the daily average – and the largest number of responses in a single day. The overdose public health crisis is seeing not only many existing, but also new, users relying on street drugs to cope with anxiety and depression arising from COVID-19, at a time where there is a very toxic drug supply in our communities. We know that the majority of people who are dying are at home and using alone. The more information we can get to users, the more people we can engage.

We have issued multiple overdose advisories and ask you to share these advisories with your networks and encourage those who use drugs alone to use the LifeguardApp. Just as we have responded as a community to the pandemic, we must continue to respond together to the overdose crisis.

CONCLUSION

 

As I end today, I want to talk for a moment about July 1st - the third statutory holiday since the beginning of the pandemic. For those of us working in public health, it is a concern because of the risk associated with people coming together in large groups.

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As Dr. Henry has said, if you are getting together with friends or family members during this holiday, remember the guidelines of fewer faces and bigger (and outdoor) spaces. COVID-19 still remains in the community, but we all are equipped with the tools we need to live with it and keep each other and our communities safe. This is not forever, but it is for now.

For those who celebrate Canada Day, have a safe celebration and for those who are caring for those in our communities and hospitals - thank you for serving today and every day! 

With continued appreciation,

~ Richard

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