Golden saw 13 new cases of COVID-19 for the week of August 8-14 as cases peak at their highest rate of infection since the onset of the pandemic.
Dr. Trina Larsen Soles and The Physicians of Golden say that they project the active cases in town to be over 30, with the peak still to come as they anticipate spread to continue.
“We’re teetering on the cusp,” said Larsen Soles.
“If you look at what’s going on in other areas such as Revelstoke, it’s unlikely we’ve hit our peak yet.”
With back to school so close, she says it’s important to help quash cases counts before kids under 12 return to schools, as the vaccine is not anticipated to be made available to them until late fall.
“If I see one kid on our community become seriously ill from this, it’s going to be heartbreaking,” she said.
She says that 95 per cent of cases that the physicians have seen are in unvaccinated people, with are double vaccinated and positive for COVID reporting mild symptoms.
Larsen Soles says that vaccinated people getting sick is not a knock on the vaccine, as it has proven effective at slowing spread and preventive severe illness, hospitalization and death.
She says that while Golden has had excellent vaccine uptake, COVID can still circulate, particularly in the 17 per cent of the population who are unvaccinated.
She says that while she respects everyone’s choice to be vaccinated or not, those who are not vaccinated should expect some social consequences and limitations.
“There shouldn’t be a free pass for those whose choice impact others,” said Larsen Soles.
“Going to shows, restaurants, events in person, those are non-essential. They are a privilege not a right. If you want to be in person, you have to protect other people.”
She touched on the fact that the idea of ‘vaccine passports’ is not a new concept – vaccine requirements have always been a part of travel and employment. Yellow fever vaccines have always been required to travel to Panama, and a hepatitis shot has been required to work in health care since it came out.
Larsen Soles says that she, along with any of the physicians in town, are always willing to discuss the vaccine and answer questions or concerns.
Larsen Soles applauded Golden for previous efforts in squashing rises in cases, saying that now is the time to pull together and stop what she says was a preventable fourth wave from becoming worse.
“I think every business should say that masks are recommended, just a sign outside it’s simple messaging. If there’s people you don’t know, stay 6 feet away, even if you’re vaccinated,” she said.
She also says that if you are COVID positive or awaiting test results, you must isolate. Under Public Health Orders, being found to be non-compliant with COVID orders is punishable by fine.
While this has been the case since the start of the pandemic, Larsen Soles says she has heard reports from nurses that people who are supposed to be isolating after testing positive have been walking around town.
“It’s a small town and we recognize people who should be at home,” said Larsen Soles.
“I wanna stress, this is not most people, almost everybody gets it – our community has been great but it only takes a few wildcards to see this happen if you’re diagnose stay home stay your ten days.”
She says it can be hard to have the same conversation over and over again, a year and a half into the pandemic.
“I feel like a bit of a broken record, I am super tired of this, and I am frustrated and I’m angry because the fourth wave is preventable across Canada and the US where have access to vaccines,” she said.
As for now, she says she can only wait to see how things unfold over the next few days, which will be critical.
The province is set to re-open with no restrictions after Labour Day, which Larsen Soles says is unlikely now. In fact, she says she wouldn’t be surprised to see Golden, along with other areas in Interior Health, go back to mandatory masks, like what happened in Central Okanagan a few weeks ago.
“Unless things radically turn around, the fourth wave is here. All we can do is keep on keeping on and doing what we can to protect ourselves.”