Province to update Local Health Area COVID-19 data weekly, November Revelstoke data now available

On Dec. 10, the BC Centre for Disease Control updated November COVID-19 statistics for Local Health Areas for the month of November. It also announced it would publish Local Health Area COVID-19 case numbers on a weekly basis.

Downtown Revelstoke pictured in late November, 2020. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has announced plans to update COVID-19 data for Local Health Areas (LHA) on a weekly basis, instead of monthly as has been the practice.

The change, announced Dec. 10, will mean small communities will learn of potential increase in case numbers sooner than in the past, when the province would provide an update on monthly statistics a week or two after the end of the calendar month.

The first update came on Dec. 10 and future updates are scheduled for Wednesdays. first reported that provincial health authorities could be moving to a weekly LHA reporting format in this Dec. 2 story.

The BCCDC also announced it will release more information on Health Service Delivery Areas (HSDA), which are sub-areas within regional health authories, including adding more data to the BCCDC Comparisons App, which will allow users to make custom visualizations of the data.

Revelstoke is located in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap HSDA, which includes larger centres like Kamloops and Salmon Arm, making extrapolating relevant data for Revelstoke challenging.

The BCCDC is also going to start posting the seven-day rolling average on their website.

“This average gives a better picture of the general trends instead of big peaks and valleys that can occur when cases are added to the public health databases we maintain,” the BCCDC said in a statement.

An update on the Revelstoke cluster is expected on Friday, Dec. 10.

Revelstoke November cumulative COVID-19 LHA numbers

The BCCDC LHA COVID-19 cumulative case rates in B.C. up until the end of November. This image was released on Dec. 10. Image: BCCDC

Revelstoke had a total of 49 COVID-19 cases in the Revelstoke LHA by the end of November, according to the December 10 update. Previously there were three cases from early in the pandemic, meaning there were 46 cases recorded in November.

It was the highest number in the small LHAs in the Kootenays, followed by Nelson with 44, Cranbrook with 35, Fernie with 25 and Golden with 19. (Revelstoke is not located in the IH Kootenay region, but shares similar demographics to the small mountain towns there.)

In Interior Health, the Central Okanagan, which includes Kelowna, had the highest number of cumulative cases, topping out at 1,077 at the end of November since the start of the pandemic.

Based on IH population numbers for their LHAs, Revelstoke has had a slightly higher per capita rate of infection than Kelowna since the start of the pandemic, with most of our infections coming in November.

Daily update for Interior Health

On Dec. 10, Interior Health (IH) reported 82 new cases since the day before, for a total of 2,502 cases. 679 cases are active and on isolation. Nineteen people are in hospital; five of them in ICU. The total number of deaths in IH remains at six.

B.C. sets single day record for COVID-19 deaths

There was a total of 28 COVID-19 related deaths in B.C., Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported on Dec. 10, a new one-day record.

There were 723 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including one epi-linked, bringing the total to 40,060. 9,524 are active cases, 346 people are hospitalized, and 83 people are in intensive care. 11,947 people are under active public health monitoring.

Oliver long-term care home outbreak

The McKinney long-term care home outbreak in Oliver, B.C. has increased to a total of 40 affected. 27 residents and 13 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19

Explainer: How to get up-to-date COVID-19 information for Revelstoke

Visitors mask up before entering the Revelstoke Museum on Dec. 4. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

This explainer has appeared in previous stories on monthly COVID-19 Local Health Area reports and has been updated with current information as of Dec. 10, 2020.

The B.C. Government compiles COVID-19 data with geographic details on this website. There are many kinds of reports, including the ability to break it down into health region, such as for Interior Health.

The website also contains case numbers for Local Health Areas (LHA), including the Revelstoke LHA. Until December, LHA numbers were only updated monthly, but on Dec. 10 the provincial health officer announced the updates would be weekly. Here is the link to the PDF for the period ending Nov. 30.

The Revelstoke LHA covers Revelstoke and rural areas around Revelstoke. See info on the Revelstoke LHA here.

Interior Health reports cases in school districts on this website, but removes the incidents from the webpage once they are concluded. Up to Dec. 10, there have been no cases in Revelstoke School District No. 19 reported there since that system started reporting this fall. There was one potential exposure event on Nov. 23 at Ecole Des Glaciers elementary school in Revelstoke, which is part of School District 93, Conseil Scolaire Francophone. That incident has now been archived from the website.

Another source is public exposure incident reports. Public exposure incidents are events where the public may have been exposed but health authorities can’t trace some of those exposed, such as guests at a restaurant, bar, or public venue. There have not been any public exposure incidents in Revelstoke since this system started reporting public exposure incidents, including through the Revelstoke cluster event that started in November. Once the incidents are no longer active, they are removed from the website.

In the early days of COVID-19 in March, there were publicly reported visitor cases, and cases of people reporting illness but not receiving tests due to limited availability. Also, the Mountaineer reported on several cases of COVID-19 cases during the onset of COVID-19 in March, some of which were non-residents who would not be counted in the total for the Revelstoke LHA, which tracks resident cases according to the patient’s residential postal code.

Health authorities also break down cases by health region on a weekly basis. Revelstoke is a small population in the larger Thompson Cariboo Shuswap Health Service Delivery Area. Find the weekly updates for our HSDA here.

Provincial authorities also notify of cases in long-term care facilities, but there have been none reported in Revelstoke since the pandemic started.

Why no daily local data for Revelstoke?

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has responded to questions about providing daily local data at various points. Essentially, the government argues it is protecting privacy and doing it in a way that promotes public confidence in the health care system. One of the results is limited local COVID-19 data breakdowns. At this point, health authorities will not provide more detailed information, including in response to media requests.

Several individuals and groups have questioned the government publicly on the policy that restricts access to local data, but the government has maintained its position, although the weekly regional and monthly local updates were added to supplement the daily data by health region. The most recent change that allowed for more timely access to information was on Dec. 10, when the BCCDC announced it would provide LHA numbers on a weekly instead of monthly basis.

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.