'We're not out of the woods yet,' Dr. Bonnie Henry says, as B.C. confirms 24 new cases of COVID-19
Province records 1 additional death over last 48 hours, bringing total to 165
B.C. health officials are warning that COVID-19 is still circulating in the community as another 24 cases of the virus and one new death have been recorded over the last two days.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. has confirmed a total of 2,597 cases of COVID-19 to date, including 165 people who have died.
"There is still transmission of COVID in some of our communities around the province. We're not out of the woods yet," Henry told reporters Monday afternoon.
There are currently 224 active cases of the virus in B.C., 32 of whom are currently hospitalized, including five in intensive care.
There are no new outbreaks in health-care settings. Right now, there are 12 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and one in a hospital acute care unit.
Health officials address protests against racism and police violence
Henry took a moment during Monday's briefing to recognize the protests held around the world this weekend over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"We have seen many people around the world demonstrating at a distance, and it is very impactful," Henry said.
She said she noticed many masks among the crowd that gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery, as well as people standing a good distance apart, which she described as a message of solidarity against both racism and COVID-19.
But she said that those who attended rallies this weekend should make sure they're doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, which means monitoring for symptoms or even self-isolating to protect elders and other vulnerable British Columbians.
Henry pointed out that in many parts of the world, people of colour have suffered disproportionately because of this pandemic. However, she also acknowledged that B.C. health authorities are not collecting data on the ethnicity of those who have fallen ill and urged members of the public to fill out a public survey about COVID-19 that includes that information.
Health Minister Adrian Dix echoed those sentiments.
"Physical distancing saves lives," he said. "There's still considerable risk for COVID-19."
'A very positive thing'
This week marks two weeks since B.C. entered Phase 2 of the pandemic response, and health officials will be watching closely to see whether there's a spike in the number of cases as some businesses reopen and people widen their social circles.
"It's mostly been a very positive thing in what I have seen," Henry said of her recent experience, noting that she had a "lovely" dinner on a patio in Victoria on Friday evening.
She is expected to release new details later this week about modelling that evaluates B.C.'s response to the pandemic.
On Monday, families across B.C. had the option to send children back to classrooms, as schools reopened on a voluntary basis.
Henry said the return to schools seems to be going well so far.
"We have been monitoring things closely and precautions and safety measures are in place across the province. We are ready for this and we are all in this together," she said.
She also noted that many people are once again using public transit as workplaces reopened and said those who are able to should wear non-medical masks to protect those around them.
Meanwhile, B.C.'s minimum wage has gone up from $13.85 per hour to $14.60 as part of a planned increase to bring the province closer to a $15 minimum wage. Some economists say the rise could be a blow to already struggling businesses but is also desperately needed for low-wage workers already stretched thin in a province where the cost of living is high.
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With files from Courtney Dickson