Interior Health: ‘Jump’ in Revelstoke cases as B.C. sets new daily COVID-19 case record

Find out about several new developments in the COVID-19 situation in Revelstoke and B.C. on Dec. 23 here.

Grizzly Plaza in downtown Revelstoke pictured in late November, 2021. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Interior Health Medical Health Officer, Dr. Karin Goodison, says there has been a “jump” in COVID-19 cases in Revelstoke.

“We have seen a jump in cases in Revelstoke and we are closely monitoring the situation. Most cases are in socially active younger adults,” Goodison said. “We know that COVID-19 is present in the community and anyone with symptoms should stay home, isolate, and book a test. Testing site hours have been expanded to accommodate the increased activity.”

The statement came in response to questions from seeking a better picture of the COVID-19 situation here in light of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

Goodison said as a result, Revelstoke residents should take precautions over the holidays.

“I recommend that everyone keep their gatherings small and with the same people, mask up in public spaces, do outdoor activities rather than indoor, and get your booster dose as soon as you are eligible,” Goodison said.

B.C. sets new daily case record for second day in a row

B.C. has set a new daily record for new COVID-19 infections in B.C. for the second day in a row.

On Dec. 23, the B.C. Ministry of Health reported 2,046 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 8,739 active cases. B.C. also set a new daily testing record, with a total of 20,133 tests performed.

The surge is most pronounced in Coastal Health and Fraser Health. In Interior Health, there were 123 new cases and 669 active cases.

Demand exceeds local testing capacity

Starting on about Dec. 18, testing appointments in Revelstoke have been booked up quickly when new ones are made available.

Currently, for those who are able to reserve a testing appointment, the reservation is for about three days in the future. Some people have traveled to nearby testing sites in neighbouring communities.

On the evening of Dec. 23, Interior Health released new appointments for Dec. 26. They were all booked in under 10 minutes.

Interior Health has promised to make more appointments available, saying it already has made some extra appointments available. It did not provide details, such as how many extra appointments were added.

Revelstoke vaccination clinics being finalized

Interior Health said it is finalizing plans for new vaccination clinics in Revelstoke and the dates and locations will be added to its website soon.

The link to the vaccination clinics information and booking webpage is here.

Currently, the next listed Revelstoke clinic is on Dec. 31.

IH contact tracing

IH says that contact tracing is still functioning. In media conferences this week, provincial health spokespersons noted strain to contact tracing.

“Contact tracing is still happening,” IH said in a response. “People who test positive are encouraged to contact anyone they may have spent time with and public health contact tracers will follow up with people who test positive and anyone they deem a close contact.”

Latest Local Health Area report

The epi-week 50 (Dec. 12-18, 2021) new COVID-19 case map by Local Health Area in B.C. Image: BC Centre for Disease Control

The latest Revelstoke Local Health Area (LHA) case report, covering a period from Dec. 12–18, 2021, recorded 14 cases here.

However, a report that covered an overlapping and more recent period, from Dec. 13-19, showed a higher case rate of 17 for the week.

See our story on the Dec. 21 report here.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort clarifies ‘rumours’

The Stoke Warming Hut at the top of Mount Mackenzie at Revelstoke Mountain Resort on Dec. 23, 2021. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

In a Dec. 23 statement sent to media, Revelstoke Mountain Resort said it was responding to a rumour of 90 cases of COVID-19 at the resort among staff, saying it wasn’t true and needed clarification.

The resort, which has a mandatory vaccination policy for staff and visitors, said that it, “has had approximately 90 employees who were unable to come to work because they were feeling unwell. A small percentage of these individuals have been confirmed with a positive case of COVID-19, and some of these employees have already recovered and been cleared to return to work following the mandatory isolation period.”

The resort said others were away from work due to other illnesses, such as the cold and flu.

The resort said the absences were a result of its strict COVID-19 policies, saying it is also providing isolated accommodation for any employee that is unable to safely isolate at home.

The statement also asked staff and guests to follow COVID-19 protocols, including wearing a tight-fitting mask and following protocols.

B.C. government to make new announcement Dec. 24

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and the B.C. Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, have scheduled a “media availability” for Dec. 24 at 10 a.m.

B.C. COVID modelling group predicts ‘extreme’ demand on hospitals in January

The B.C. COVID Modelling Group, a group of scientists and academics who have been modelling COVID-19 scenarios in B.C., released its latest modelling report on Dec. 22.

The group’s modelling found that case rates have reached the highest seen during the pandemic with cases rising 13–29% per day.

In one model, the group modeled the Omicron wave’s impact on health care demand that accounted for differing severity levels in the variant. Even under the lowest scenario, 50% less severe, the added number of infections would exceed hospital capacity.

“All the levels considered lead to rapid growth in hospital demand, far in excess of capacity,” they write.

In its ‘key messages’ the group states: “Different models agree that demand on the health care system will likely become extreme in January without effective counter-acting measures. Only if Omicron is much less severe (more than 10-fold reduction in severity) would rising case numbers not lead to a crunch on hospitals.”

The group emphasizes there is little time to act and encourage getting vaccinations, booster shots, wearing tight-fitting masks, improving ventilation, avoiding large indoor gatherings, and improving rapid testing and isolation.

The group notes that models would change if government interventions changed.

Fire department cancels Santa Run

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services was celebrating 125 years of service on Canada Day.Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services has cancelled its Santa Run, a holiday event where decorated fire trucks travel through the community and distribute goodies to kids.

The cancellation was, “In an effort to protect our membership and to follow the heightened COVID-19 protocols,” Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services said in a statement. The event was originally scheduled for last weekend, but was postponed due to snowfall.

New support for businesses closed by new COVID orders

On Dec. 23, the B.C. government announced a new one-time relief grant of up to $10,000 for businesses impacted by the new temporary shut-down measures. The grants will be between $1,000 and $10,000 based on the number of employees. Applications will open in January. The B.C. government said the grant will augment other federal relief measures.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have or call/text him at 250-814-8710.