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Critics call for return to daily COVID-19 updates in B.C., demand better transparency on data

Last Updated Nov 20, 2020 at 7:25 am PDT

FILE - A health-care worker does testing at a drive-thru COVID-19 assessment centre at the Etobicoke General Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. COVID-19 appeared to be gaining gain steam across Eastern Canada today as both Ontario and Quebec saw a surge in cases.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in B.C., critics continue to call on officials to do more

Some critics are calling out the provincial government for how the second wave of COVID-19 has been handled

Return to daily COVID-19 updates, better transparency some of the demands critics have as COVID-19 cases spike in B.C.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – British Columbians are being asked to stay put and stay safe as new COVID-19 restrictions, including mandatory masks in public spaces, come into effect but they’re asking for something in return.

As criticism over how the provincial government is handling the second wave there are growing demands for increased transparency and more data.

“We know that racialized and working-class communities are taking the brunt of the pandemic, and need far more support than gentrified neighbourhoods where everyone’s working from home and ordering their groceries online,” writes Crawford Kilian in an widely-shared op-ed in the Tyee, Friday.

Kilian argues British Columbians need to see the racial data and should be told where the illness exists at a municipal or neighbourhood level.

Meanwhile, Mayors in Delta, Surrey, White Rock, and the City and Township of Langley said “a better understanding of community transmission levels will help us make informed decisions regarding our facilities and the associated safety plans,” in a recent letter to the province.

“As baffled students might say of respected but ineffective profs, “They know their stuff, but they can’t get it across,” Kilian writes of recent communications from Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Dix.

He says the seriousness of second-wave numbers are not coming across in briefings and if we want to convince people to pay attention we need to see more information “that will make us all realize the danger we’re in.”

Kilian lists five ways he believes that can be achieved.

First, he argues the need for the return of daily updates and that they should be held every day of the week. “COVID-19 doesn’t go partying on Friday night and get back to work Monday morning,” Kilian says. He acknowledges that the provincial health officer and minister of health do need breaks, but says the need for data on the weekends is also required.

Kilian also highlights the need for “focused case and death counts,” adding people should know exactly where in the province people are getting sick or dying of the coronavirus, and that there’s no time to worry about “stigma.”

“If a neighbourhood in Surrey or North Vancouver or Kitsilano reports cases, the neighbours need and deserve to know that,” the op-ed reads. “They won’t panic, but they may well start wearing their damn masks and staying home more often.”

His third point addresses racialized data and the lack of it. Kilian says some jurisdictions, such as Washington state, have broken down data to show who’s getting sick by age, sex, race/ethnicity, however, that information is not available in B.C.

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He argues “B.C. has been silent about that, while Indigenous communities try to learn how much danger they face.”

In early November, a public health researcher also argued the necessity of gathering race-based data and enacting solution-based policies, such as what’s happening in parts of the U.S.

Kilian says racialized and working-class communities are being hardest hit by the pandemic, and need more support to get through measures such as lockdowns.

In addition to these, Kilian says officials need to look at what’s happening in long-term care centres; the cases and deaths need to be counted and explained, and officials need to explain what they’re doing to protect those living in these facilities, he says.

Finally, he stresses politicians need to be told the pandemic is “not about them anymore, and it never was.”

And while he notes both B.C. top doctor Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have done a reasonable job so far to get B.C. through the pandemic, Kilian says they need to convey the urgency of this ongoing emergency as it worsens exponentially.