The Fernie Chamber of Commerce hosted an online conversation with Dr. Ron Clark, Chief of Staff of the Elk Valley Hospital, earlier today. I was hoping for good news however that was not what Dr. Clark reported.

Dr. Clark stated that Covid-19 testing is producing positive results of more that 20% in the Fernie Local Health Area. He said, “Covid is as bad in Fernie as any place in the world right now. It’s spreading throughout the community and we’re one step away from being on the evening news.”

According to criteria published by WHO, a positive rate of less than 5% is an indicator that the epidemic is under control. It’s safe to say that with a 20% plus positive test rate, Covid-19 is now out of control in the Fernie Local Health Area. The Fernie Local Health Area includes the Fernie, Sparword, Elkford, RDEK Area A and Jaffray and Baynes Lake.

Here is the online discussion with Dr. Clark and other local health professionals:

Brad Parsell, Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, explains, “there has never been a more critical time for Fernie businesses since the start of the pandemic than right now. With reports of local cases and travel advisories already having a serious impact on our winter tourism season, we feel it is an important moment to have a conversation with our medical professionals. We need to refocus on the steps businesses can and should be taking to mitigate any escalation of cases and subsequent impacts on our local hospital.”

Earlier today Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C. Public Health Officer, said, “Right now, the numbers are concerning in the interior and the northern health regions, so we are monitoring closely to see what makes sense in terms of restrictions”. Interior Health has seen its number (257) almost catch up to the figure recorded in Vancouver Coastal Health (281).

Henry noted that in B.C., there is no health order against travel. There is, however, a strong recommendation against it, especially if it involves international destinations. What the health order does cover is the requirement to quarantine after someone returns from abroad, she added.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix was more direct, “What I can say is pretty simple,” he said. “’No to non-essential travel right now.’ I think what’s essential and non-essential is pretty clear. You don’t have to look far to see places where COVID has gone from a stable situation to a highly volatile one.”

Premier John Horgan continues looking at options to prevent Canadian visitors from other provinces from crossing the border and entering BC for non-essential travel.

BC’s latest figures given on Jan. 18:
• Total number of confirmed cases: 61,447 (4,326 active)
• New cases since Jan. 15: 1,330
• Total deaths: 1,078 (31 new)
• Hospitalized cases: 343
• Intensive care: 68
• Total vaccinations: 87,346
• Cases under public health monitoring: 6,865
• Recovered: 54,656
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 58

Please review the Provincial Public Health orders. Here’s a few of the points:
– Don’t host or attend social gatherings. This is currently the law.
– Enjoy some outdoor exercise with a friend.
– Avoid non-essential travel outside your home community (this is an advisory, not an order).
– Double down on wearing your mask, washing your hands, and PLEASE stay home when sick.

Together we will get through this!

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