Dr. Bonnie Henry warned us this spike in COVID-19 cases could happen | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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Dr. Bonnie Henry warned us this spike in COVID-19 cases could happen

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19, Sept. 17, 2020, as health minister Adrian Dix looks on in the background.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
September 23, 2020 - 7:30 AM

Periodic modelling updates from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry show she could see the possibility of the current spike in COVID-19 cases coming as the province started reopening in the spring.

Many businesses closed and streets became deserted after lockdown rules were imposed in mid-March. That resulted in the “flattening of the curve” of new COVID-19 cases.

While daily counts varied greatly from March 16 to April 19, it was rare to have fewer than 30 cases new cases a day while the peak was 92 on March 28. From then until May 4 there were only five days when the case count was over 50 and on many days, they were below 30.

It was on May 4 when Dr. Henry presented her first projections showing how many cases might be expected daily depending on how relaxed people became about socializing with others.

Image Credit: Submitted/B.C. Centre for Disease Control

Her target was for the province to be in the 60 to 65 per cent of normal range, which would see about 10 new cases a day from May through September.

She wasn’t far off with that projection, with many days being less than 10 but others were more than 20. There was a low of two new cases reported on May 19.

But her projection also showed what could happen if social interactions returned to 80 per cent of normal. That showed that cases could reach 60 a day by mid-July. The chart only went to 60 a day so there’s no indication of how high the number of cases would be by September.

On Aug. 13 she updated her projections.

Image Credit: Submitted/B.C. Centre for Disease Control

“We’re probably in the neighbourhood of the scenario that says we have a contact rate of 70 per cent of normal,” Dr. Henry said on Aug. 13. “But we can bend that curve back down by making sure that those contacts are safe.

“That includes things like our safe distances, keeping our numbers small, making sure, in those times that we can’t maintain distances, we wear masks. Most importantly it’s about staying away from others when we’re sick, minimizing the opportunities for this virus to spread rapidly to large numbers of people.”

She hasn’t updated the rate of social interaction B.C. residents are at in September but it’s clear from rising case numbers and her cracking down on nightclubs, banquet halls and parties, that her admonition that people have safe interactions hasn’t been strictly followed.

Her August graphs showed that if socialization hit 80 per cent of normal, there would be more than 100 cases a day by September.

That’s the point the province is at now with a record 165 cases recorded Sept. 17, and topping 100 on numerous days in September.

Even at 60 per cent of the normal level of socialization, she projected about 60 cases per day with the curve continuing to rise.

It would take a 50 per cent rate of normal socialization to start bending the curb back down, according to her graphs. Or, as she stated that day, by making sure a higher number of contacts were done safely.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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