The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up
News
  |  
Coronavirus
  |  
BC Politics

COVID Crisis in BC’s North Brings ‘Circuit-Breaker’ Restrictions

As cases surge among the unvaccinated, new measures aim to reduce pressures on hospitals.

Moira Wyton 15 Oct 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Moira Wyton is The Tyee’s health reporter. Follow her @moirawyton or reach her here. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

B.C. introduced tough “circuit-breaker” measures Thursday to deal with an “enormous challenge” as COVID-19 cases surge in the North and strain hospitals in the region and across the province.

Unvaccinated people in northern B.C. will not be allowed to socialize outside their households for more than a month, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced.

And the new restrictions will shut down bars, limit alcohol service in restaurants and require people to be vaccinated to attend social gatherings, which are still limited to five people or one additional household indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Weddings, funerals and other organized events must have a COVID-19 safety plan and enforce the vaccine card to only allow people who are fully vaccinated to attend. The same rule will apply to the rest of the province in 10 days. Indoor events may have 50 people maximum and 100 for events outdoors.

In-person worship services are not permitted and must take place online instead. Individual reflection or prayer may be set up in person, Henry said.

At least 58 patients, the vast majority unvaccinated and sick with COVID-19 and in need of critical care, have been flown hundreds of kilometres from their communities to hospitals on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland in recent weeks. The North has 40 total base critical care beds.

“The situation in the north… is an enormous challenge not just for the North but for all of British Columbia,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “They are sick. They are desperately ill.”

The region with just six per cent of B.C.’s population accounts for nearly one-quarter of patients in critical care and 13 per cent of active cases in the province.

While vaccination rates for adults over 50 are consistent across B.C., vaccination rates for younger adults in the North lag behind their counterparts elsewhere by as many as 20 percentage points.

“We are seeing ICUs filling up with young, otherwise healthy individuals struggling to breathe,” Henry said. “It is unvaccinated younger people in their 30s, their 40s and their 50s who are getting severely ill and, sadly, are dying.”

In the last 24 hours, a person in their 20s died of the disease in the North, Henry said. They were unvaccinated.

The effects are being seen most in communities in northeast B.C., where vaccination rates are much lower.

Communities in northwestern B.C. including Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Stikine, Telegraph, Snow Country and the Nisga’a Nation are exempt from the circuit-breaker restrictions due to their high vaccination and low transmission rates.

The restrictions target communities with the lowest rates of vaccination, including the areas around Peace River and Fort Nelson, where as few as 53 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated compared to the 83 per cent who have their shots provincewide. The measures took effect Thursday at midnight and will last until Nov. 19.

Bars and pubs without full meal service must close until the circuit-breaker ends, and restaurants need to stop serving liquor at 10 p.m.

These high-risk settings, where unvaccinated and vaccinated people mix, are no longer safe, Henry said.

And non-essential travel outside people’s communities is also being discouraged.

“These measures are to stop transmission and to save lives,” said Henry.

The high COVID-19 rate in Northern Health means third booster shots could be coming to seniors, Elders and those vaccinated first in the region. Details are coming in the next few days, Henry said.

Henry and Dix denied these measures were taken too late, despite concerning trends in the North since the fourth wave began to take hold in August and surges in the Delta variant in July.

The more transmissible variant now makes up virtually 100 per cent of cases, Henry said, meaning contacts with unvaccinated people are riskier than ever before.

“It is time to get vaccinated,” said Dix.  [Tyee]

Read more: Coronavirus, BC Politics

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.

Do:

  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll