New Brunswick

Fully vaccinated Saint John councillor tests positive for COVID-19

A Saint John city councillor has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Coun. David Hickey is double-vaccinated and asymptomatic, but a rapid test came back positive at P.E.I border

Coun. David Hickey said he had no symptoms of COVID-19. However, a rapid test at the Prince Edward Island border indicated he had tested positive for the respiratory virus. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

A Saint John city councillor has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Coun. David Hickey is double-vaccinated and asymptomatic but has been isolating since Friday, when he tested positive after a rapid test at the border with Prince Edward Island.

"I'm happy that it was caught, but it very easily could not have [been]," Hickey said Monday.

The councillor was on his way to the Island with his partner and two friends for a weekend getaway.

At the border, everyone in the car was given rapid tests and continued on with their journey.

Then, Hickey got a call from the P.E.I. border saying his test had come back positive. 

Within two hours, he was taking a PCR test near Charlottetown.

Then he received a call from Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, who told him his test result had come back positive.

She advised Hickey and his friends to isolate and return to New Brunswick immediately. 

"I was one of three cases that all travelled into P.E.I. that day," he said.

Public Health 'is struggling'

After returning home, Hickey said, he has been frustrated by the difficulty reaching Public Health in New Brunswick.

He said it took two days for officials to get back to him and start contact tracing.

"It's obvious that these people are doing absolutely everything they can to make sure that they get cases reported and make sure that there's continued effort and contact tracing," he said. 

"But it's clear that they're overwhelmed. It's clear that they are struggling incredibly."

Moving on from COVID-19

Because he's asymptomatic, Hickey will be in isolation for 10 days — just under the two-week isolation period issued by Public Health.

Hickey said he's lucky he wasn't around vulnerable people the week before he tested positive.

"I'm ultimately thankful that mine was caught … and I didn't go on a visit to see my 89-year-old grandmother or visit to see immunocompromised friends or family that are in my bubble," he said. 

He also wants the public to understand that getting vaccinated is the best way to beat COVID-19.

Even though he's infected, Hickey feels fine. 

"I wouldn't be healthy right now if I wasn't vaccinated, and I would be at a much higher risk," he said. "I would be sick, for sure."

According to health officials, two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine do not prevent a person from contracting COVID-19, but vaccinated people are significantly less likely to be hospitalized because of the disease and are less likely to spread it.

Hickey said it's not clear where he contracted the virus, but he suspects it's from meetings he had last week in the Moncton area, where there are 240 active cases. 

Province needs stricter rules

As of Monday, there were 47 active cases in the Saint John region, and 767 cases across the province.

New Brunswick has been seeing record case counts after removing all restrictions in July. Some restrictions have since been reinstated.

He said the province needs to implement more restrictions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

"We haven't necessarily seen the provincial government stepping up to make sure that stronger restrictions are in place," he said. "There is more we can do."

Hickey said so far none of his close contacts have tested positive, but some are still waiting on results.

At Monday's council meeting, Mayor Donna Reardon thanked Hickey, who attended the meeting virtually, for being open about his diagnosis. 

She said the city has been working with Public Health and testing has been offered over the weekend to anyone who might've been in contact with Hickey.

The City of Saint John had previously instated a mandatory vaccine policy where employees have to either prove they're fully vaccinated, or wear masks and be regularly tested.

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