Family seeking COVID-19 is 'playing with a loaded gun' in B.C. city discouraging visitors: mayor
VANCOUVER -- The mayor of Revelstoke is appalled at a family rumoured to be trying to contract COVID-19 to “build their natural immunity” at a time when his city is discouraging visitors and grappling with a slew of active coronavirus cases.
Revelstoke has 32 active COVID-19 infections and a population of only 13,500 people, which is more than double the active cases per capita than in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, said Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz.
“We’ve become a little complacent because we haven’t seen this through the community in a big way over the last eight months so what we’re saying now is ‘it’s here, it’s not just those who are travelling in who are bringing this in, it’s here in our community,’” he said.
Sulz said residents need to be more vigilant.
“It’s our locals who are not being vigilant who are spreading it so we need to make sure that everyone does follow the rules.”
The mayor also raised serious concerns about a family rumoured to be seeking out people who’ve tested positive in the community so that they can become infected, reminiscent of ‘chicken pox parties’ among kids before a reliable vaccine was developed.
“We are a healthy family and we would like to safely expose ourselves to the virus to build our natural immunity,” reads the ad posted to a local Craigslist-style website.
The post was removed before CTV News could attempt to contact the family.
The post ends with a plea for “no hate mail.”
“You’re playing with a loaded gun,” warned Sulz.
“We don’t know what this disease can do, whether it’s an older person, younger person, someone who’s in their 30s and 40s. Because people feel they may be in good health doesn’t mean you should go out seeking this because it can have different effects for everyone. That, for me, is very concerning.”
While there were several cases in the United States of people trying to get COVID-19, scientists have repeatedly stressed that they don’t know whether contracting the virus will guarantee immunity and prevent a second infection.
Interior Health cases rising sharply
While Vancouver Coastal Health has brought down its active caseload per capita in the past week and Fraser Health has seen a smaller increase than before, cases in Interior Health have nearly doubled in that time.
Last week a CTV News analysis found there were 37 active cases for every 100,000 people who live in the Interior Health region. However, current data as of Dec. 1, shows there are now 65 cases per 100,000. Fraser Health has grown from 301 to 337 cases per 100,000 people, while Vancouver Coastal Health has dropped from 116 to 111 per 100,000.
In Revelstoke, where the exact number of residents is up to debate as the city claims double the number of inhabitants than the federal census, CTV’s analysis was based on the city’s declared total of 13,500, which puts their active cases at about 237 per 100,000.
That has the mayor pleading with those who think it’s safe to visit over the holidays to simply stay away.
“Snowmobiling, skiing, that’s the ultimate physical distancing but it is when you gather afterwards (that the virus is spreading),” he said. “We’re finding that COVID is spreading because of social gathering so we’re basically saying to people ‘avoid that the best that you can, stay in your own family bubble’.
Revelstoke has only 13 beds in its hospital, with two additional rooms for ventilators. While there aren’t any coronavirus patients there now, the mayor fears the mountain city will soon see its first COVID-19 deaths.
“There isn’t any leeway,” said Sulz bluntly. “If it gets into our hospital or seniors centre or something like that, it’s going to be devastating for this community.”