The medical health officer for the Sea to Sky took to Facebook Live this week to answer residents’ questions on COVID-19.
First off, Dr. Geoff McKee provided an overview of the situation, both locally and provincially, applauding British Columbians for following the recommended health guidelines that helped to flatten the curve.
“British Columbians have come together and done an amazing, exceptional job at listening to public health advice and really making a lot of changes in their lives and doing what they can to protect themselves, their families as well as their communities,” he said.
While unable to provide community-specific figures due to privacy regulations, across Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) Howe Sound health area, which stretches from Lions Bay through the Sea to Sky up to parts of the southern St’atl’mx Nation, McKee said there have so far been 18 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are also currently no active cases in the Sea to Sky.
Even with those promising numbers, however, McKee said it is not the time to grow complacent.
“We need to continue to be vigilant and take precautions, as these are only the cases we know about based on testing and there will continue to be risk, really, until we get a treatment or a vaccine,” he noted.
Answering a question about what safely expanding our social bubble might look like as B.C. moves through Phase 3 of its recovery plan, McKee said it would look different depending on your situation and risk tolerance.
“The key piece here is about being careful and being thoughtful about how we do it,” he noted, adding that health authorities continue to recommend against large social gatherings. “As we continue to move into the summer, I think just because we’re able to start this up, doesn’t mean we can go back to the old ways we were socializing and engaging with our communities. We still need to take precautions, to consider physical distancing, particularly if we’re not used to engaging with those folks in social environments.”
Another question asked whether it’s possible to be infected by the novel coronavirus more than once, something researchers continue to study.
“These are things we are still continuing to learn about, particularly around the degree of immunity after infection of COVID-19, but it’s also going to be very important for the development of vaccines,” he said. “In general, there is some evidence developing that there is immunity following an infection with COVID, but I think the degree to which that immunity lasts is still unknown.”
McKee also addressed a topic on many people’s minds in the Sea to Sky: Travel. He said that travel both within B.C. and between provinces “can be done in a way that reduces risk” as long as “we have public health measures implemented in our businesses, throughout our communities as well as travellers continuing to adhere to precautions and being respectful when they’re visiting.”
He urged anyone thinking of travelling this summer to research the places they plan to visit beforehand “to ensure you understand that community’s expectations, what’s open and not, etc.”
Visitors should try to keep their stays short, and prepare to be as self-sufficient as possible.
“If you’re going camping in the Sea to Sky, try going grocery shopping before you go. It’s one less stop to the store while you’re there,” he said. “If you come prepared, you can be in a better place to reduce your risk and the risk you bring into the community.”
At the conclusion of the Q&A, VCH provided a thorough list of links to COVID-19 resources, which can be found below:
• COVID-19 self-assessment tool bc.thrive.health.
• BC Centre for Disease Control: bccdc.ca.
• COVID-19 testing centres: experience.arcgis.com/experience/3862560c5a41418e9d78f4f81688e9d0
• VCH.ca COVID-19 page: vch.ca/covid-19.
• VCH Health Protection resources for businesses and operators: vch.ca/public-health/environmental-health-inspections.
• WorkSafeBC COVID-19 page: worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates.