Island appears to turn a corner in battle with COVID-19
VICTORIA -- The battle against COVID-19 on Vancouver Island is going better than it has since last fall, according to Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical health officer.
“The last time we saw these numbers was October of 2020 – prior to the big spike around Halloween – so we have driven it down to levels that we haven’t seen for months,” said Stanwick Friday.
With case numbers down – to about 19 a day, on average – plus transmission and test-positivity rates lower than those in B.C.’s other health regions, Stanwick asked Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, about easing some restrictions for Islanders, an idea she shot down.
“The response is, we are functioning as one health system and that at this point in time islanders continue to observe the same restrictions that are being asked of all British Columbians,” Stanwick said.
But, that province-wide approach doesn’t apply to everything right now. Restaurant workers in Vancouver will start getting vaccines this weekend, as part of a new group of prioritized frontline workers.
The same isn’t happening yet for restaurant staff on Vancouver Island.
Solomon Siegel runs Pagliacci’s restaurant in Victoria and is frustrated by the discrepancy.
“If we have the same restrictions, it seems like we should have the same rules across the board,” he said Friday.
When asked about the issue on Friday afternoon, Henry said restaurant staff in the Island Health region will get prioritized for a shot soon.
“Groups that have been on our list – including grocery store workers, food service workers – (will get priority) starting in Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health and expanding around the province, as vaccine supplies ramp up in the next few weeks,” said Dr. Henry
That supply of vaccines is getting an unexpected infusion on Vancouver Island next week.
“We’ve gone from scarcity to abundance of vaccine,” said Stanwick. “We're scheduled to get some extra vaccine coming to the Island next week.”
Stanwick said Island health is well on its way to vaccinating all of the frontline workers currently at the front of the queue. Police officers and fire fighters are nearly all done or have appointments, and teachers and child-care workers are on the way, which is welcome news for them in light of evidence that kids under four have been getting sick.
“Our young groups are not masked and we get coughed on and sneezed on regularly,” said Meagan Brame, with Saxe Point Day Care.
Vaccine doses on Vancouver Island are expected to reach 10,000 shots a day, possibly with bookings of five-year age chunks.
To accommodate an accelerated vaccine rollout, clinics will be open longer hours, with more staff, and will operate seven days a week.
Stanwick said everyone eligible for a shot can expect to get one sometime next month.