Yes, there's probably someone with COVID-19 in your community - InfoNews

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Yes, there's probably someone with COVID-19 in your community

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March 25, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Just one week ago the questions on people's minds were: Where are the COVID-19 cases located and are there any in my community?

But as cases pop-up in Interior communities both big and small, it seems we can say with some degree of certainty that COVID-19 has found its way into the vast majority of our communities.

While residents want to know where confirmed cases of COVID-19 are located, Interior Health is keeping a tight lid on all information about which cities and towns those diagnosed with the virus live in.

Sources from Kamloops to Penticton have told about cases, some of them rumours but some of them we have confirmed as far as we can by speaking to people affected.

But Interior Health has refused to confirm or deny any of the information. For example, known and trusted sources have told us Vernon Jubilee Hospital has numerous COVID-19 cases. 

"We don’t discuss individual cases and locations," Interior Health spokesperson Susan Duncan said in an email. "The provincial health officer has asked people to assume (COVID-19) cases are in every community and take appropriate precautions."

It appears that is no longer an assumption, it's reality. We have confirmed cases in nearly every community in the area with a hospital but Penticton. 

Another trusted source told Kelowna General Hospital is currently treating at least one patient with COVID-19.

One of the earliest confirmed cases in the region came from the Revelstoke after the Selkirk Medical Group confirmed a COVID-19 case in the town March 17.

On March 20, Vernon resident Michelle Regnier spoke to on the phone from isolation at her home. Regnier said doctors diagnosed her with COVID-19 and to self-isolate, although she says she was not tested.

On March 21, Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine announced a COVID-19 case had been reported in the town. The following day, the Sun Peaks Health Centre confirmed the case, naming a doctor who practiced at the centre who had tested positive for the virus and also practiced in Kamloops.

As of March 24, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed 41 cases of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region, and 617 in B.C. Of these 59 people are currently in hospital. But it's important to note that those are only cases that have been tested. It's impossible to say how many cases have been diagnosed without formal testing and patients sent home to self-isolate or quarantine or how many people have self diagnosed and are in quarantine.

"No community in the province is immune," she said at a press conference today, March 24. 

Henry has said not everyone who presents symptoms or gets a diagnosis will be tested, as testing has been prioritized for people admitted to hospital, healthcare workers and people who may be part of outbreaks.

The province's criteria for testing means the official number of cases given by the province only includes people who tested COVID-19.

The provincial health officer has been steadfast in her reasoning for not giving the specific location of cases telling a press conference March 18, "we need everybody to be aware that the risk is not just in one place.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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