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

Desert Sun would like to house a winter shelter in the Oliver United Church. They are seeking a three year contract. (Google View)
Virtual meeting for Oliver winter shelter is tonight

Public invited to join Zoom meeting, ask questions

Penticton Secondary School has been added to the list of school exposures to COVID-19 by Interior Health. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
BREAKING: COVID-19 at Pen-Hi

Pen Hi is the third school this week to have COVID exposures

(Google Maps)
Osoyoos Credit Union staff member tests positive for COVID-19

The credit union made the announcement Dec. 1

Elkhart Gas Station, located on Highway 97C about 60 kilometres west of Peachland, opened in November 2020. (Google maps)
The Okanagan Connector now has a gas station

The highway previously ran for over 117 kilometres without a place to fuel up

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Access to a Bastion Road property in Sunnybrae was blocked with officers on scene on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (File photo)
Report clears RCMP actions that led to fatal shooting of Shuswap suspect

Independent Investigations Office of BC releases findings on Jan. 7 incident in Tappen

Vermilion Court has operated as the town's only assisted-living facility since for 16 years. Spotlight file photo
Princeton seniors complex eliminating services beginning this week

Funding for Vermilion Court, as promised by the NDP during the election, has yet to come through

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

A dirt bike crash on May 18 left Kelowna’s Steven Margetts paralyzed and without work. (GoFundMe)
Kelowna man paralyzed in dirt bike crash makes plea for help

GoFundMe launched for Steven Margetts, who shares a harrowing recap of his life-changing crash

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Highway 97 traffic was impacted by a crash in Lake Country Thursday morning. (DriveBC map)
UPDATE: Highway 97 cleared near Lake Country following crash

Vehicle incident between Vernon and Kelowna

Most Read