B.C. reports 217 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more health-care outbreaks
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia added another 217 cases of COVID-19 to the provincial total on Tuesday, as health officials provided clarification on their new mask recommendations.
The update from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and deputy health minister Stephen Brown pushed the total number of cases identified in B.C. since the start of the pandemic to 13,588.
The province's active caseload, which hit a new record high on Monday, decreased slightly to 2,322 after 220 more people recovered from COVID-19.
Henry and Brown had no new fatalities to report, leaving the provincial death toll at 259.
They did announce two new outbreaks at health-care facilities, putting the total number of outbreaks in the health-care system at 23. The latest cases were identified at Felburn Care Centre and St. Michael's Centre, which are both located in Burnaby.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, which is considered one of the best ways to measure the severity of the pandemic, jumped to 84, an increase of seven patients from Monday. That includes 27 people in intensive care.
Officials also addressed the new mask guidelines announced by Henry on Monday, which recommend British Columbians wear a non-medical mask whenever they are in an indoor public space.
Henry and Brown said the new directive, which is not a mandatory public health order, doesn't apply to schools or offices "that have established learning groups and work cohorts, supported by comprehensive COVID-19 safety plans."
"A mask is especially helpful in public indoor spaces where you don’t know the people around you and the risks they may have," they said in a joint written statement.
"As a result, the expectation is that masks will be worn within public areas of health-care facilities, shopping malls, grocery stores, community centres and other public spaces – as you enter, exit and move around."
The mask recommendation was embraced by many British Columbians on Monday, while some questioned why it wasn't an official mandate, similar to Henry's new public health order barring people from having more than six guests over at their home.
The new measures were announced in response to a continuing surge in COVID-19 cases in the province, much of which has been blamed on events such as weddings, funerals, gender-reveal parties and holiday get-togethers.
Tuesday marked the seventh day in a row that B.C. recorded more than 200 cases. Prior to Oct. 21, the province had never seen a jump of 200 cases in a single day.
Henry and Brown urged the public to be consistent in "using our layers of protection" to help keep COVID-19 in check, particularly during cold and flu season.
"In addition to washing our hands often and staying home when ill, our protective layers include limiting our time with people outside of our household, keeping our groups small, giving people the space to stay safe and if that is challenging, using a non-medical mask," they said.
In addition to the people sick with COVID-19, officials said there were 5,101 people under active public health monitoring as a result of exposure to the disease.