16 new cases, 1 more death from COVID-19 in B.C.
VANCOUVER -- B.C. health officials announced 16 new positive cases of COVID-19 have been recorded over the last 24 hours, as well as one additional death.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix made the announcement in their daily coronavirus briefing in Victoria on Wednesday.
There are currently 385 active cases of the virus in B.C., and of those patients, 59 are in hospital with 14 in critical care or ICU. B.C. has now recorded a total of 2,376 test-positive cases and 132 deaths from the virus. There were no new community outbreaks detected, health officials said.
Henry encouraged B.C. residents, especially young people, to fill out the provincial survey about the virus, which was launched on Tuesday.
The province hopes to gather feedback from the public that will help inform the decisions that are made about the pandemic in the weeks and months ahead. More than 75,000 responses have been filed already, Henry said.
"Importantly, it ensures we have the supports we can put in place to address any potential disparities that have come about either from the response to COVID-19 or because of the dramatic economic impacts that have been experienced across the province," Henry said.
The pandemic has affected all of us, Henry said, adding that it is important to try to understand the many unique circumstances the virus has created for B.C. residents.
Health officials continue to remind people to stay at home and away from others if you are sick, and Henry emphasized that the order limiting gatherings to 50 people or less would remain in place.
She also acknowledged that there is "uncertainty," and that the road ahead will have challenges for everyone.
"The path really is not black and white," she said. "We have never done this before."
Most of B.C.'s cases continue to be detected in the Lower Mainland, with 877 in Vancouver Coastal Health and 1,137 in Fraser Health. There are 125 cases in the Island Health region, as well as 180 in Interior Health and 57 in Northern Health.
As B.C. residents begin to cautiously and gradually expand their social circles, Henry emphasized the importance of "fewer faces" and "bigger spaces" and provided some examples of what social interactions might look like in the coming weeks. She also announced that religious services can resume starting next week with proper physical distancing.
"So that is a maximum of 50 people still, and that is provided that many people can fit into your facility," Henry said. "That may be way too many for many places of worship."
There have been outbreaks that have started from religious gatherings, Henry said, so she encouraged people to be mindful of room sizes, the length of services, and the makeup of congregations, particularly when it comes to the elderly or immunocompromised.
She advised that gatherings should be held in the largest room possible, while keeping groups small. If there are 50 people in attendance, physical distancing must be maintained, she said.
"That may mean you need to have shorter or multiple services, and keep those virtual connections going, especially for the older people of your congregation," she said.
With the Victoria Day long weekend just days away, Henry and Dix echoed the same cautionary message that came from Premier John Horgan earlier in the day. Horgan emphasized British Columbia is "far from out of the woods" and non-essential travel should be avoided.
Dix said even if people have second homes or have places they visit every Victoria Day weekend, one of the best ways British Columbians can help one another is to avoid non-essential travel.
However, if people determine that a trip is essential, Dix urged those who do travel to be respectful of the communities they visit by bringing their own food or necessities to maintain "some semblance of a bubble."
"That being said, this is a good weekend to stay home, to stay with the ones you love and not to travel," he said.
Watch an American Sign Language translation of the news conference on the provincial government's YouTube page.