Today, the government of British Columbia and the public health authority came out with a definitive restart plan for our province, coming out of the COVID 19 pandemic.
I’ve been mostly thankful, and sometimes critical of how things are managed in British Columbia during the global pandemic. I think the authorities had the luck of geography to thank for our province’s relatively low numbers, especially when compared to provinces like Quebec and Ontario, and even more so when compared to our American counterparts in Washington State.
The fact that almost 1/5 of the province’s population is located on a giant island (that would be Vancouver Island) certainly helped keep the overall depressing numbers low. There was a time where the Fraser Health Authority region of BC, with 2.5x the population of Vancouver Island had 700 new cases a day, when the Island’s Health Authority region was having 25 and 30 cases a day. This was a number seen over weeks and months, not days and weeks.
We do feel fortunate we have not had the full and utter lockdowns other Provinces, other countries have seen, here in BC. The most severe restrictions were restaurants and bars shut down for inside dining (patios and outdoors still okay), and for a short time, the “personal bubble” meaning only contact with your immediate household and perhaps one or two isolated friends and family who lived alone. Even then, normal day to day things like grocery shopping, going to parks, enjoying the outdoors, etc was still fine.
But again, I think a lot of this had to do with our geography and relative isolation. 900,000 people on Vancouver Island basically became the New Zealand of Canada, and we benefited from it for almost the entire time. Even today, the numbers are interesting: on May 25, 289 new COVID cases in BC, of which only 7 are on Vancouver Island (remember, with nearly 1/5 our province’s total population).
These two Dashboard charts really tell the tale. On the left is the total impact of COVID (plus today’s numbers) for Vancouver Island; on the right is the entire province.
As you can see, for the entire pandemic, Vancouver Island has had 4,990 cases of COVID-19. The province as a whole has had 142,636 cases. The province has a population of 5.1 million in total, of which over 900,000 live on Vancouver Island, or just under 1/5th the total population.
Why am I harping on this? Because the province and the provincial health authority have dropped the ball a lot as well, and if they didn’t have the benefit of geography, BC’s numbers could have been the worst in Canada. For instance, testing early on was horrible. Very slow. Testing for antibodies didn’t even start until last June in any real numbers. I know this because both my wife and I suspect we had COVID-19 back in early January 2020, before we even knew about the virus. My doctor believes we had it as well, but we were not able to schedule an antibodies test until at least early June last year, and by that time, we felt it wasn’t worth the effort (it required travel to Vancouver from Victoria).
The Provincial Health Authority also dragged their heels on masks. I actually started a thread in the Victoria Reddit group listing businesses that enforced mask policies (and it was crazy popular) because the Province for way too long did not enforce a mask policy last year. Dr. Henry should have made a province-wide public business space mask policy back in April, 2020. It didn’t come until the fall of 2020.
The vaccine rollout continues to be a national embarrassment for Canada (this isn’t BC’s fault). Where the USA just passed 50% of it’s entire population getting fully vaccinated (2 doses), Canada just only passed 50% where our citizens have had 1 dose. The number of Canadians fully vaccinated at the moment is something like 5%.
The above is today’s announced plans for BC’s restart. It’s a good plan, though I think they are being far too safe (erring on the side of caution) for outdoor sports. Honestly, by July 1, we should be allowing at least 25% capacity for things like the Pacific FC soccer matches, and BC Lions and Whitecaps games. By August 1, boost it to 50% or more. I can’t understand being allowed to have high intensity indoor excercise classes by June 15, but no outdoor sports.