Cranbrook hit a new pandemic high since localized case data became publicly released from public health, with 90 cases reported between Sept. 26-Oct. 2.
It’s the most in the Cranbrook Local Health Area (LHA) since the BC CDC began tracking and publishing the data late last year.
Cranbrook’s latest case count at 90 is an increase from 65 that was reported from Sept. 19-25.
Small personal social gatherings is still the leading cause of COVID-19 transmission , according to Dr. Shobhit Maruti, a Medical Health Officer with Interior Health.
Cranbrook’s lower rate of COVID-19 immunization is also a factor, Dr. Maruti added.
“Unfortunately, Cranbrook is, in terms of when you look at the vaccination and immunization rates, it’s on the lower end of it, so it’s not too surprising that you would get more cases because you’ve also got more non-immunized people,” Dr. Maruti said. “Again, when you combine both scenarios where you’ve got a larger non-immunized population that is potentially still gathering and socializing, it’s almost expected that you’ll get a bump in cases.”
In Cranbrook, vaccination rates are still lagging in certain age ranges, based on the latest BC CDC data.
For the 12-17 age range, first doses are at 71 per cent and second doses are at 59 per cent. For the 18-49 age range, first doses are at 76 per cent and second doses are at 64 per cent.
Elsewhere in the region, Kimberley reported seven cases, a slight increase from five cases in the previous weekly data. Fernie reported 16 cases, a slight decrease from 20 in the previous weekly, and Creston reported 20 cases, an increase from 13 in the previous weekly data.
Once again, Trail reported a huge spike of cases at 74, which are in addition to the 79 that were reported in the previous weekly data.
As Cranbrook’s case counts soar, there are also an increasing amount of school exposures listed on Interior Health’s website.
Currently, seven public schools and one independent school in Cranbrook have listed potential exposure dates ranging from Sept. 22-30.
Up in Kimberley, Interior Health is also reporting a potential exposure at McKim Middle School — the first for SD6 — for Sept. 29 and Oct. 1.
Dr. Maruti also noted that much of the COVID-19 activity listed on the Interior Health school exposure website is not from in-class transmission.
“Most of the cases in the schools, the attribution is still linked to transmission happening outside the school setting, so private gatherings, events,” Dr. Maruti said, “whereas the in-school circulation is not that much, which is good, reassuring and speaks highly of the measures that the schools have taken on.
“Even now in the schools, the cases are there, but there’s not some rampant in-school transmission, so that’s good.”
Indeed, as the province’s top health official, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has noted in the past, schools are reflective of their community, in terms of COVID-19 activity.
Just because a school is on the list doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s unchecked transmission, Dr. Maruti said.
“We’re just saying once there’s even one exposure, that school goes on the list. So just because there’s a school there, it doesn’t really give an idea about the level, it just means there probably was one case, at least,” Dr. Maruti said. “Now it could be more, but they try to keep that information to those who need to know, in terms of the school parents of the children there.”
Interior Health also prioritizes school cases, he added.
“Once there’s any case that’s flagged as a school case, that immediately gets prioritized for case investigation, contact tracing, and close monitoring, and that’s why even one case would put the school on the list,” Dr. Maruti said. “And there’s direct follow up with anyone who’s a case, even if it’s staff or student, they get that direct follow up and then you get quick identification of who else may have been exposed.”
Dr. Maruti reminds people to stay in small social groups, especially with Thanksgiving approaching, wear a mask and practicing physical distancing and above all — stay home if you are feeling sick or presenting any COVID-19 symptoms.
On Oct. 1, Dr. Henry, acknowledged concerns about COVID-19 exposures or transmission in schools during a press conference announcing the expanded mask mandate to K-12 students.
Dr. Henry was asked if vaccinated parents or grandparents were catching COVID-19 from unvaccinated school-aged children.
“It is a challenge sometimes to know who is exactly transmitting to who,” said Dr. Henry, “but we know as well that there are communities — Fraser East, we know in much of the North, communities in the Interior — where vaccination rates are not high enough and we have a lot of transmission in the community, that it is going to continue to spread.”
In addition to the weekly LHA data released on Wednesdays, the BC CDC also released more specific data from the previous epidemiological week of Sept. 19-25.
In Interior Health, 1,041 cases were reported, lagging behind Fraser Health at 1,671, which led the province.
For hospitalizations, Fraser Health led the health authorities at 75, with Northern Health at 65 and Interior Health at 61. For ICU admissions, Fraser Health again led the way at 26, followed by Northern Health at 14, Vancouver Island Health at 11 and Interior Health at nine.
For deaths, Fraser Health reported 14, Vancouver Coastal Health reported seven, Interior Health and Vancouver Island Health reported five each and Norther Health reported four.
The BC CDC does not provide pandemic-related hospitalizations data or ICU admissions data for localized health care facilities in the province.