Some health care facilities are filling up with unvaccinated British Columbians, including several unimmunized, young, pregnant people now in ICU. B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says, “COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate,” as pregnant people make up part of the steady rise in ICU cases the province is seeing. Over the course of the pandemic, Henry says 40 people who’ve been pregnant have been in ICU, “and a good proportion of those have been in the last few months.” So, she’s begging people to get vaccinated against the virus, especially pregnant people, breastfeeding people, or those planning to get pregnant.
Those who have been pushing for a SkyTrain extension to Langley — including Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum — are frustrated after learning they will have to wait until 2028 for the project to be completed. The 16-kilometre expansion of the Expo Line will stretch from Surrey’s King George Station to 203 Street in Langley and costs about $3.95 billion. It was supposed to open in 2025. Daryl Dela Cruz, the founder of Skytrain for Surrey, says the population is already growing, and municipalities have factored a completed project into their community plans. Jonathan Cote, chair of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council, said the delay is partly due to COVID-19. Dela Cruz says he understands this, but hopes something can be done to speed things up.
Eighty per cent of B-C residents age 12 and up should soon be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as the vaccination rate inches up from 79.5 per cent on Tuesday. The Health Ministry says 87 per cent of eligible residents have had their first shot. The province has reported one more death linked to COVID-19 and 525 new cases for a total of five-thousand-282 active infections across the province. There were 332 people in hospital, including 155 in intensive care, and the province says people who aren’t vaccinated are about 33 times more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated people after factoring for age
After an outcry from several B.C. parents, the province is re-implementing notifications when a child tests positive for COVID-19. When students and staff returned to school earlier this month, the province took a different approach to contact tracing, saying it would no longer issue school-wide letters. Instead, for the first two weeks of school, clusters and outbreaks would be reported. However, after hearing from concerned parents and educators, Dr. Bonnie Henry says they’ve recognized “parents do need an authoritative source to have an understanding of what’s happening in their children’s schools.” Henry has long said schools were not significant sources of COVID-19 transmission. Studies from Vancouver Coastal Health found fewer than eight per cent of COVID-19 cases were acquired inside the school environment last year. In Fraser Health, which includes the Surrey School District, 87 per cent of school-associated cases happened in community or household transmission, and not from a school setting. Currently, children in B.C. 12 and older are encouraged to get their shots.
All trails at Vancouver’s Stanley Park have been re-opened for use, and the park is once again open 24-hours a day. The green space had been closed between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. since Aug. 31, following a spike in the number of aggressive coyote attacks on people, including children. Most of the attacks happened during evening hours. Crews have been culling the animals, with a total of four captured and killed. Seven others had been euthanized before the formal cull began. The BC Conservation Officer Service has repeatedly said the coyotes had become habituated, with people at the park feeding the animals. The Vancouver Park Board says a “small number” of coyotes are believed to still be in Stanley Park, but says wildlife experts believe “the immediate threat to humans has been addressed.” If you are at the park and see a coyote, you are asked to be careful, especially at dawn or dusk. You should face the animal, make yourself big, stand tall with your arms stretched, and do not run. You should speak loudly and make noises, but don’t scream.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police are searching for two suspects after a woman reported being hit by people who refused to wear a mask on a SkyTrain. Masks are mandatory on the transit system to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The police say the woman was travelling through Burnaby Monday evening when she asked a man and a woman sitting near her if they had masks to put on. They say the female suspect then got up and allegedly struck the victim, causing her to fall out of her seat, and both suspects allegedly hit her while she was on the ground before they got off the SkyTrain at Metrotown station.
B-C has reported 759 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths in the last day. That brings B-C’s death toll linked to the illness to one-thousand-910. Health officials say five-thousand-458 COVID-19 infection are active across B-C. That includes 324 people who are hospitalized, with 157 of those patients in intensive care. (The Canadian Press)
A report examining B-C’s response to the record 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons says the province needs to shore up communications with remote and Indigenous communities. The Thompson Rivers University report recommends improving internet services to remote communities or at least supplying local officials with a satellite phone so wildfire information can be relayed promptly. Lead author Professor Michael Mehta says that approach would offer better protection for communities at risk of fire and potentially save lives. His study did not cover this year’s season, but Mehta says residents of fire-scorched Lytton and Monte Creek weren’t getting the information they needed to quickly evacuate, due to communication challenges. (The Canadian Press)
The B-C Federation of Labour is encouraging workers to provide feedback to the province on three proposed options for a planned new paid sick leave program. Labour Minister Harry Bains says results of an online survey will help determine whether the program will offer three, five or 10 days of paid sick leave. Labour federation president Laird Cronk says bringing in 10 days of leave would represent a breakthrough in protecting workplace and community health. Cronk says the lack of paid sick leave is putting strain on the healthcare system and amplifying inequalities between workers — but they are still waiting to hear details of B-C’s plan and how it will be paid.