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Howe Sound health region saw 287 new COVID-19 cases last week

The region surpassed its 2020 COVID case total in less than a month this year

The Howe Sound health region saw nearly 300 new COVID-19 cases last week, according to the latest figures from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). 

Comprising Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish, Lions Bay and parts of the southern Stl’atl’mx Nation, the region's caseload continues to grow, with 287 new cases between Jan. 24 and 30, up from 224 the week prior and 63 the week before that. 

At nearly 600 cases so far this year, the health region has already surpassed its total 2020 caseload of 503.  

With its case numbers climbing, Whistler was home to a rapid COVID testing trial last month administered by the Sea to Sky Division of Family Practice. Pique is still awaiting more details on the trial and any potential future rapid testing plans from VCH. 

The pandemic has hit resort businesses hard as well. On Monday, Feb. 1, the Amsterdam Café Pub became the seventh resort restaurant or bar added to VCH’s list of possible public exposures in the span of a week, meaning health officials have been unable to contact everyone who may have been exposed. The possible exposure dates are noted as Jan. 11 to 17, 19, 21, and from the 23 to 25. 

Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub, Black’s Pub and Buffalo Bills Bar & Grill were added to the potential exposure list on Wednesday, Jan. 27, joining Hy’s Whistler, El Furniture Warehouse and The Longhorn Saloon added earlier that week. 

The potential exposure dates are noted as between Jan. 1 and 27 for the Dubh Linn Gate; from Jan. 5 to 27 at Black’s; from Jan. 4 to 27 for Bills; from Jan. 16 to 25 at the Longhorn; on Jan. 12, and from Jan. 14 to 21 at El Furni’s; and on Jan. 13, and 15 and 16 at Hy’s.

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler also confirmed, in a statement to CBC, that 12 of its employees have tested positive, while Whistler Blackcomb said last month that several staff were in isolation after possible exposure.