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

Qualicum Beach resident Harold MacDougall won $75,000 off a Casino Royale II Scratch & Win ticket, purchased the ticket at Qualicum Foods on Memorial Avenue. (BCLC photo)
Qualicum Beach man $75K richer thanks to scratch-and-win ticket windfall

MacDougall plans on trips to Cape Breton and Scotland

The property at 113 and 161 Island Highway is currently being dismantled as the developer attempts to salvage ‘usable’ lumber for their development application to the City of Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Development application delayed for high-profile Parksville property

Council refers application to staff for further improvements

(File photo)
RCMP warn of counterfeit bill use in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Police have received four calls in November regarding bogus bills

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

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

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read