Editorial: Grownups deserve answers about COVID-19

A majority of people who live in qathet Regional District are adults. BC Ministry of Health, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer are treating them all like children.

After weeks and months of media pressure and public backlash, Vancouver Public Health finally put out a media release regarding the Powell River region. Unfortunately, the information contained within the September 15 document did little to inform residents sufficiently as to what is happening here.

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First, VCH stated that “the collection and reporting of COVID-19 data is under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the Ministry of Health, not individual health authorities.”

VCH went on to state: “what we can share is that there have been close to 30 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Powell River region.”

Is that not reporting on data?

Later in the release, VCH stated that “public notification has not occurred for Powell River as Public Health has been able to identify close contacts and safely isolate them while they monitor for symptoms for 14 days.”

That’s assuring, but isn’t the report of “close to 30” public notification? Contradictions continued throughout the release. VCH also noted that “there are cases in both the Tla’amin Nation and within the broader community.”

What does broader community mean? Tla’amin reported 28 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 tests on the same day as the “close to 30” comment from VCH. Could the health authority be more vague?

Individuals and groups took that media release and pasted it on social media, spreading confusing information around the community. VCH staff need to understand the ramifications of not providing clear details; at this point that’s worse than their status quo, which has been to not divulge information to residents.

VCH deputy chief medical health officer Dr. Mark Lysyshyn called the Peak on September 16 to clarify aspects of the media release. He said the “near” 30 cases were inclusive of Tla’amin and the Powell River region, and that the numbers (28) released by Tla’amin on September 15 are “not necessarily accurate, but probably not grossly inaccurate” due to issues with the data, although “all of the cases are related.”

Lysyshyn said not everyone discloses whether they are a member of Tla’amin, or if they live in the nation and are not a member, making it difficult to determine who should be counted there and elsewhere.

Does that clear anything up? Not even close.

qathet Regional District and Powell River Regional Hospital District are pushing for information and residents want answers.

We’re past the point of protecting privacy of individuals when they themselves are reporting they have COVID-19. We’re (mostly) all adults here, how about treating us that way?

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