COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. highest since May

The 373 British Columbians in hospitals with the disease include 132 in ICUs

Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks to media as provincial health officer Bonnie Henry looks on | Photo: B.C. government

B.C. shows no sign of stemming the number of serious COVID-19 infections, which are afflicting residents across the province. 

The province has not had fewer than 300 people in hospital with COVID-19 since September 17. There are now 373 British Columbians in hospitals battling COVID-19 infections, which is the highest total since May 14, almost 21 weeks ago. 

Of those, 132 individuals have infections serious enough to be in intensive care units (ICU). That number has been falling since a recent months-high of 157 on September 22.

Hospital-bed occupancy has been relatively flat for the past while. Health Minister Adrian Dix said earlier this week that B.C.'s hospital beds are 78.2% occupied. That compares with those beds being 77.1% filled a week ago, and 78.5% filled about one month ago, on September 3. 

Dix has repeatedly said that there were times before the pandemic when B.C. hospitals were 103% occupied. Postponed surgeries are the reason that B.C. hospitals are less occupied now than pre-pandemic. 

Deaths, however, continue to rack up. Another four people died overnight while infected with COVID-19, raising the province's death toll to 1,996.

With 624 people newly diagnosed as having COVID-19, and 640 being newly classed as having "recovered," there are now 5,929 people actively battling COVID-19 infections – 16 fewer than yesterday. 

In total, 191,748 British Columbians have contracted the disease since the first case was detected in the province in January, 2020.

Of those, more than 95.6%, or 183,406 people, are deemed by the province to have recovered because they have gone more than 10 days after first feeling symptoms, and are therefore considered to be not infectious. 

Unvaccinated people continue to be largely responsible for much of the disease's spread despite the vast majority of British Columbians being fully vaccinated. 

Dix, earlier this week, repeated the government's refrain that this is a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."

New government data show that between September 29 and October 5, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 70.8% of new cases. Between September 22 and October 5, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 78.3% of hospitalizations.

Across B.C., 88.5% of eligible adults older than 12 have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 82.1% of those eligible people having had two doses, according to the B.C. government.

New vaccinations continue to crawl along at a sluggish pace, compared to a few months ago, largely because the vast majority of British Columbians have already received their needed two doses.

Health officials provided 11,480 doses of vaccine to British Columbians in the past day, with 4,425 being to unvaccinated individuals, and 7,055 going to those needing second doses. No data was available for any third doses, which have started to be administered to those who are considered extremely vulnerable, and immunocompromised. 

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry in September said that third doses of vaccine would be available for about 15,000 people in B.C. who are deemed most clinically vulnerable. Those people include individuals who have had organs, bone marrow or stem cell transplants, as well as those who have blood cancers and certain immune disorders. 

She announced earlier this week that the province would be expanding its eligible group of immunocompromised people who are eligible for a third dose of the vaccine to approximately 100,000 people who are considered moderately to severely immunocompromised. 

Of the 4,103,158 B.C. residents who have received one dose of vaccine since mid-December, 2020, more than 92.7%, or 3,804,517, are fully vaccinated, with two doses.

The B.C. government estimated in July that the province's total population is 5,147,712, so Glacier Media's calculation is that 79.7% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 73.9% of the province's total population has had two doses.

Northern Health remains the province's hot spot for new and active infections, whereas Vancouver Coastal Health has the fewest new and active cases on a per-capita basis.

Glacier Media's math broke down the 624 new infections by health region, for each 10,000 residents (with total new cases in brackets):
• 1.4 in Fraser Health (258);
• 0.6 in Vancouver Coastal Health (78);
• 1.6 in Interior Health (118);
• 3 in Northern Health (91); and
• 0.9 in Island Health (79).

There were no known new infections in people who normally do not reside in B.C.

The result by health region, for the 5,929 people fighting active infections, for each 10,000 residents (with total new cases in brackets) is:
• 12.9 in Fraser Health (2,323);
•  6.6 in Vancouver Coastal Health (823);
•  15.4 in Interior Health (1,142);
•  27.1 in Northern Health (813); and
•  9.1 in Island Health (770).

There are 58 active infections in the province in people who normally reside outside B.C. 

With no new health-care facility outbreaks, and outbreaks being declared over at Jubilee Lodge in Prince George, and Victoria Chinatown Care Centre in Victoria, there are now 16 active outbreaks at health-care facilities and seniors' homes. •