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More than half of B.C.'s 681 seniors' homes lack plans to allow visitors

Just 318 of 681 senior care homes in B.C. have submitted plans to government
Adrian Dix Dr. Bonnie Henry
Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry. Photo: Province of British Columbia

Less than half of B.C.'s 681 seniors' homes have yet to submit plans to the government on how they intend to start allowing family members and others to visit residents.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said July 16 that representatives at 318 homes have submitted plans to government, and that this is up significantly from the 61 homes that had such plans a week ago. Dix did not say whether government had rejected any of the submitted plans, and the government did not call on Glacier Media at a July 16 press conference so he was not asked.

Dix said last month that he was earmarking $165 million in new funding for up to three new full-time staff per home to oversee the visits and train visitors on how to wear protective equipment. He did not say how that hiring was going.

Dix also announced in June that the government would provide a total of $26.5 million to care home operators to subsidize them for extra costs endured during the pandemic, including such items as hand sanitizer and masks.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said July 16 that there were 21 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, including three cases that they call "epi-linked," or presumed cases that have not been proven through testing but are being treated as official cases.

As of July 16, the province recorded 3,170 cases since the novel coronavirus first appeared in B.C. in late January.

Almost 88% of those infected, or 2,789 people, have recovered. Of those who haven't, 189 people have died and 192 people are actively fighting the virus. Only 15 people are hospitalized, with three of those in intensive care units. The rest are self-isolating at home. There were no new deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

Two seniors' long-term care facilities have active outbreaks: Holy Family Hospital long-term care facility and Maple Hill long-term care facility. There also remains an outbreak at Mission Memorial Hospital, which spawned the outbreak at Maple Hill, when infected patients were transferred from the hospital.

There have been 655 infections in seniors' homes, including 400 residents and 255 staff.

Of the existing COVID-19 outbreaks in B.C., 27 cases have been linked to a gathering in Kelowna that spawned cases in multiple locations. There are also four cases related to the Krazy Cherry Fruit Co. in Oliver. It is safe to eat cherries from that facility, Henry said.