A padlocked gate is seen outside Cambridge Elementary School, which was ordered closed for two weeks by Fraser Health due to a COVID-19 outbreak, in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday, November 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A padlocked gate is seen outside Cambridge Elementary School, which was ordered closed for two weeks by Fraser Health due to a COVID-19 outbreak, in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday, November 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

No mask mandate as B.C. breaks records with 1,959 new COVID cases, 9 deaths over weekend

Province’s pandemic death toll is inching towards 300 people

B.C. is reporting a record-breaking 1,959 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday (Nov. 16).

The weekend broke single-day records with 654 cases from Friday to Saturday, 659 cases from Saturday to Sunday and 646 cases from Sunday to Monday. Nine more people have died, bringing the pandemic’s death toll in B.C. to 299.

There have been 11 new health-care facility outbreaks. There are currently 181 people in hospital with the virus, 57 of whom are in critical care or ICU.

There have been a total of 22,944 cases since the pandemic began, with 6,279 people currently infected with the virus. Public health workers are currently monitoring 10,928 people.

The majority of the weekend’s cases were in Fraser Health with 1,361 infections. Neighbouring Vancouver Coastal Health had 455, while all other regions had fewer than 100 each.

“The virus is not stopping,” Henry said. “We need to say no to social gatherings.”

Henry defended the province’s lack of mask mandate, noting that most transmission happens in private, indoor settings where an order to wear face coverings would do little.

“There is an order that requires businesses to have COVID safety plans. A retail location, for example, should have plans that include mask wearing. That means making them available to people, making it clear that they need to wear a mask when they’re in those settings, making sure staff need to know when to wear masks as well,” Henry said.

“As a community we need to realize those are rules that keep workers safe and keep us safe. We all need to follow those.”

Henry said that while news of a second vaccine candidate showing positive results is encouraging, British Columbians need to continue to hold the line until one is approved and can be distributed. She said that distribution will be guided by an ethical framework developed on a national level, hopefully by spring.

“We’re working on all of those details. It’s logistically challenging,” she said, noting the Pfizer vaccine especially needs to be held at ultra-cold temperatures. The Moderna vaccine can can last longer in a refrigerator than initially thought, up to 30 days. Canada has signed deals for millions of doses of each vaccine candidate, pending approval by Health Canada once all clinical trials are finished.

VIDEO: 2nd coronavirus vaccine shows early success in U.S. tests

The provincial health officer said that a second lockdown was not currently being considered because places like salons, restaurants, and non-essential stores can operate safely as long as a COVID-19 plan is adhered to.

“We’re in a much different place than we were in April,” Henry said. “But in some ways, we need to be thinking the same vibe as we were in April, and that means thinking about our social gatherings. This virus spreads quite easily in the colder weather, it spreads indoors.”

The key, Henry noted, is to make sure that schools can remain open. There are more than 70 exposure events in Fraser Health schools alone, with four schools in the region having closed down temporarily due to COVID-19 outbreaks and clusters. Whether or not B.C. students will head to winter break earlier than usual is still undecided.

READ MORE: Surrey gym linked to 42 COVID-19 cases

READ MORE: COVID outbreak forces Surrey school to close for two weeks, along with one in Delta

READ MORE: B.C. teachers’ union calls on Horgan to limit Fraser Health class sizes to 15 students


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The current state of the Royal Hotel. (Photo Contributed by Richard Leeks)
‘No one is willing to step up to take any responsibility’: Royal owners plow on with renovictions

Heat, kitchen appliances, doors, running water and WiFi have been allegedly removed

RDEK reminds public to register for their emergency notification system. File photo.
RDEK reminds residents to register for East Kootenay Evacuation Notification System

Provincial Alert system cannot be used for local emergencies

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
City of Fernie: New orders a challenge, but community is supportive

Mayor Qualizza said that the new public health orders were an opportunity to safeguard the winter season

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Most Read