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Whistler Blackcomb confirms COVID cases in staff housing

VCH has not declared outbreak in Whistler; no impact on WB operations
Screen Shot 2020-11-27 at 11.45.01 AM
A satellite view of Whistler Blackcomb's staff housing buildings, where 'multiple' cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed. Screenshot.

A rash of COVID-19 cases is making its way through Whistler Blackcomb (WB) staff housing, though Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) isn’t calling it an outbreak—nor will it confirm exactly how many positives have been returned.

In a letter sent to residents of staff housing on Nov. 24, VCH warned of “multiple COVID-19 cases” in the buildings at 4802, 4810, 4812 and 4804 Glacier Lane.

The first risk of exposure was Nov. 11, and ongoing through at least Nov. 24, the letter said.

Asked about the letter, a VCH spokesperson said it cannot comment on specific cases due to privacy reasons, but noted it has not declared an outbreak in Whistler.

In the letter, VCH said public health is working to identify close contacts of those who have tested positive. Close contacts will be notified directly and asked to isolate for 14 days, the letter said.

If you do not receive a call from public health, your risk of exposure is considered to be low, and you are not asked to isolate.

WB is working closely with the health authority and following its guidance regarding the cases, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“The Whistler Blackcomb team is supporting these employees as they manage through this difficult time. The health and safety of our employees is our top priority,” the statement said.

“Ahead of this season, we developed heightened safety protocols for these facilities, such as closing recreational common areas, requiring face coverings in hallways and other common spaces, implementing a no-visitor policy, and communicating with residents directly, and through signage on site, about COVID-19 safety guidance. We remain committed to our safety protocols and thank our residents for their support.”

The mountain operator has set aside 10 per cent of its staff housing beds for isolation purposes, and positive cases are isolated immediately, a source told Pique.

Isolated employees are taken care of with food and necessities until their isolation period is over.

Roommates of those who test positive are required to self-quarantine with direction from VCH.

WB has a zero-tolerance policy around its COVID protocols, and those caught violating them will be fired.

So far, there has been no impact on WB operations.

WB opened Thursday with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.