With the holidays around the corner, the Physicians of Golden are reiterating the importance of staying home and abiding by the Provincial Health Orders, which are in effect through Jan. 8.
The orders, which suspend all events and social gatherings, was an extension of the initial restrictions announced on Nov. 19, which were set to expire on Dec. 7.
Dr. Trina Larsen Soles of the Physicians of Golden explains that this is an effort to curb holiday expectations, stating the B.C. will be looking to avoid a steep spike in cases in the new year, similar to what was seen after Thanksgiving, where many travelled and gathered despite recommendations.
“Restrictions really depend on Christmas, if we keep abiding by the orders we can expect the curve to flatten and even go down,” said Larsen Soles.
“The expectation is pretty clear that you are not to gather or gather with limited numbers and in conditions that reduce the risk.”
For those who insist on travelling despite the essential travel only order, Larsen Soles the expectation is that people abide by the rules wherever they are,
With the current restriction in place for three weeks, Dr. Trina Larsen Soles says that you can start to see the B.C. curve flatten, but warns that restrictions likely won’t be lifted until after the numbers begin to steeply drop off.
“I know people are disappointed and we’ve seen people struggling with isolation and mental health during a particularly vulnerable time of the year in a normal year,” said Larsen Soles.
“But just remember the intent of the order and why it’s been put in place – wherever you are you need to follow the guidelines and minimize the risk of spread.”
Following the guidelines and public health orders is particularly important in Golden, said Larsen Soles, who emphasized the fragile ecosystem of resources in town.
One case can have a ripple effect, with the higher amounts of incidents resulting in higher exposures, more medical staff and resources being taken away from non-emergency procedures and taking up limited hospital space.
Larsen Soles said to pay attention to what’s happening in Northern Health and in particular Fort St. James, as they’ve had their capacity maxed out and have been shipping patients to Victoria for treatment.
“Things can change so quickly, they’ve had to bring in mobile medical units since they’ve had so many transfers out of the community,” said Larsen Soles.
“Our big goal is to not have a cluster here.
“We only have eight beds in Golden, we don’t have an ICU here or in Invermere so they’d have to go to Cranbrook, which also has a limited number of ICU beds serving the East Kootenays as well.”
Larsen Soles says that this is why it’s so important to stay home and to not visit small communities such as Golden, as it can upset the fragile health ecosystem that these communities have.
“There’s been some comments that we as the physicians haven’t been welcoming to Albertans and that’s not true – what we’re unhappy with is visitors when there’s an essential-only travel ban, weather they’re from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan or beyond,” said Larsen Soles.
“I feel badly, but if you come here and get sick it’s harder for us to look after us and it threatens the resources we have in place.
“We want to be able to look after you and do it well, but we can’t if we don’t have the resources.”
She says that there are essential reasons for travel, such as work, moving, or health emergencies and that there are some people who have made a long-term winter home in Golden. She emphasized that these people are a part of the community and that the problem lies with short-term visitors.
Larsen Soles also said she commends the people in Golden in shutting down a potential cluster in Golden, with everyone who was exposed from the hockey cohort abiding by guidelines and restrictions to help stop the spread before it could get out of control.
“It was based purely on the responsible behaviour of those who got sick , everybody who was diagnosed stayed home,” said Larsen Soles.
“As soon as they found out, they informed people, even before public health could notify them, which was very brave and outstanding behaviour.”
Larsen Soles also emphasized the need to wear a mask in the community and in indoor public spaces, per the public health order.
While she recognizes that there are people who are exempt from mask wearing and even those who simply refuse to comply, that doesn’t give you the right to enter a business without a mask, as those working in town also have the right to feel safe in their workplace.
Those who do not wear masks in indoors are to call ahead and arrange for curb-side pickup or other contactless options, which many businesses in town are offering.
“Our expectations is that everyone in Golden will be respectful of businesses and wear a mask when they go inside,” said Larsen Soles.
“There are few legitimate mask exemptions, if you chose not to wear one, that’s your choice, but businesses have the same right to protect themselves and the onus is on you to arrange something else.”