IH does not provide any update on COVID cases connected to the Big White cluster – Kelowna News


UPDATE: 4:55 p.m.

After 60 new cases of COVID-19 were connected to Big White over the past week, Interior Heath did not provide an update on the cluster on Thursday.

The health authority first publicly revealed that it had started testing staff at the resort on Monday, despite testing starting three days earlier. The 60 cases were then announced on Tuesday.

But despite continued testing at the station by IH staff this week, and a big effort backed by the Kootenay Boundary Regional District Emergency Operations Center to find separate housing for those infected, IH says ‘he will not provide an update on the situation until Friday.

Meanwhile, Big White deferred his comments on the matter to Interior Health and the regional district EOC.

The WCC spent Thursday working through the logistics of finding accommodation for staff at the resort to be quarantined, but no one moved into any of those rooms Thursday afternoon.

“Some people are probably going to isolate themselves together, some separately for people who may need them, so I don’t have a specific number of rooms that people might need,” the information officer said. from the RDKB, Frances Maika, Thursday afternoon.

But Maika did not know where the infected people were currently.

“What Big White is telling us is that they currently have enough capacity on the mountain to accommodate people there,” she said. “I don’t know how many of these hotels are hotels and how many of these can be, for example some workers can be in work rooms if it suits them.

“There will be people who will be part of the same bubble, or the same cluster, and in that case, they can stay together, and there will be other people who have to be in separate housing. a number of facilities. ”

Meanwhile, the station said on Wednesday that it plans to stay open.


The search for separate housing for people who contracted COVID-19 in Big White continues, now with help from the Kootenay Boundary Regional District Emergency Operations Center.

Interior Health reported on Tuesday that 60 cases of COVID-19 had been linked to Big White, after health officials learned of a number of cases at the station the previous week. IH believes the cluster is linked to large social gatherings and group housing among station staff.

As a result, Big White’s Michael J. Ballingall said the station had fired some of its staff for violating their “social responsibility contract.”

Internal health medical officer of health, Dr. Silvina Mema, said most people who tested positive lived at the resort in homes of eight or more, with some sharing rooms with up to four people.

On Thursday morning, IH enlisted the help of the Kootenay Boundary Regional District Emergency Operations Center to help find separate accommodation for those who tested positive for the virus.

« [IH] identified that they just needed help finding accommodation, so we made the phone calls and applied to Emergency Management BC for funding to cover the costs and off we went, ”said Frances Maika, RDKB information officer.

Maika did not know how many people they were looking to find housing Thursday morning, but on Wednesday IH said 60 people linked to Big White had contracted the virus. Maika says no accommodation was secured on Thursday morning. It is not known where those infected currently live.

Staff at the Emergency Operations Center are looking to keep those infected in Big White, rather than bringing them to other jurisdictions.

“There is housing available, it’s just that people need support for it, so they’re booked, paid and ready to go. As close as possible to where they are, ”Maika said.

She added that the work is similar to finding housing for people who have been displaced by forest fires and floods, which many people know inside. There are now nine RDKB staff working on the issue.

Ballingall said the resort employs 55% of the mountain’s 636 workers, but only 24% of those people are housed in accommodations run by Big White. The majority of mountain staff live in private residences, where Big White is unable to enforce COVID-19 measures.

On Wednesday, the RCMP announced they would step up patrols in Big White, presumably to enforce public health orders that restrict social gatherings inside.

Ballingall said in a press release on Wednesday that the ski resort plans to remain open.


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