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High B.C. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations prompt government action

Hospitalizations rise by five to 138, the highest level since June 15
Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry addressed media August 24 | Photo: B.C. government

High levels of new COVID-19 infections, and serious cases, has prompted the B.C. government to take some new steps to combat the virus that has spawned a global pandemic. 

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry announced August 24 that she is reinstating a mask mandate for all public indoor spaces across the province. This requirement comes into effect on August 25, and it includes all individuals aged 12 years and older. The measure means masks are once again mandatory on public transit, in retail stores and in common areas of public buildings such as offices.

Henry also declared a new mask mandate for when school resumes in early September. She said all school staff, and students in grades four and up, to wear masks within schools, including in classrooms and while taking school transportation.

She pointed to government data to back up her moves.

B.C. on August 24 reported 641 new COVID-19 cases. Hospitalizations as a result of the disease rose by five to 138, which is the highest it has been since June 15. Of those, 78 are in intensive care units (ICUs), which is down by two, compared with yesterday, but double the 39 patients in those wards on August 11. 

Some good news is that there were no new deaths, leaving the province's death toll from the pandemic at 1,801. The number of active infections fell by 988, to 5,357.

Today's data on vaccination status among those infected includes that between August 9 and 22, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 83.4% of cases, and 85.6% of hospitalizations.

Of cases detected between August 16 and 22:
• 2,870 people, or 70.2%, were deemed unvaccinated, meaning that that they had either not received a shot of vaccine, or had not gone three weeks after receiving their first jab of vaccine before exhibiting symptoms;
• 541 people, or 13.2%, were partially vaccinated, meaning that they had either not received a second jab of vaccine, or had not gone one full week after receiving their first dose of vaccine before exhibiting symptoms; and
• 680, or 16.6%, were people who had received two doses of vaccine at least a week before exhibiting symptoms. 

Of people hospitalized with COVID-19 between August 9 and 22:
• 108, or 77.7% were considered unvaccinated;
• 11, or 7.9% were considered partially vaccinated; and 
• 20, or 14.4%, were considered fully vaccinated. 

Glacier Media crunched the numbers for how many of the 641 cases identified in the past day were in each of the province's health regions. The result for the number of new infections for each 10,000 residents (with total new cases in brackets) was:
• 0.8 in Fraser Health (149);
• 1 in Vancouver Coastal Health (125);
• 3.7 in Interior Health (273);
• 1.3 in Northern Health (39); and
• 0.6 in Island Health (53).

Two new cases were in people who normally reside outside B.C.

The result by health region for the number of people fighting active infections for each 10,000 residents (with total new cases in brackets) was:
• 6.8 in Fraser Health (1,223);
• 10.6 in Vancouver Coastal Health (1330);
• 27.7 in Interior Health (2,054);
• 10.3 in Northern Health (308); and
• 5.1 in Island Health (401).

An additional 12 people with active infections normally reside outside B.C.

The government yesterday announced that it is bringing in a vaccination-card system, whereby starting on September 13, customers must have had at least one dose of vaccine in order to enter restaurants, bars, concerts and other non-essential venues.

This has yet to prompt a surge in new vaccinations. 

The province reported providing 14,709 doses to British Columbians in the past day, including jabs to 5,048 new people, while 9,661 others received needed second doses of vaccine. These totals have been trending downward.

Of the 3,861,296 B.C. residents who have received at least one dose of vaccine, nearly 90.2%, or 3,482,876 are fully vaccinated. 

The B.C. government estimated in February that the province's total population is 5,147,712, so that means that 75% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 67.7% of the province's total population has had two doses.

The government's math holds that 83.3% of the province's eligible population, aged 12 years and older, has been vaccinated at least once, with 75.1% of eligible people being fully vaccinated. 

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