BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t mince words on Wednesday while expressing her views on those who are able – but choose not – to wear a mask in defiance of the provincial mandatory mask order.
“I have no time for people who are belligerent and are trying to make some sort of a statement about anti-masks, and think that this is not a truly challenging pandemic,” she said during a press conference. “And I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or wearing one is somehow a sign of a lack of freedom.”
For those who are “belligerent and defy the orders,” enforcement is in place for “people to know there’s consequences from taking unsafe actions like that,” she added.
However, Henry also recognized once again that “while masks are now required in many locations, not everyone is able to wear a mask.”
She once again implored people to remember that if they do see someone not wearing a mask, “understand that while we are all in the same storm, each of our circumstances is unique.”
Of particular concern to Henry is “people who truly cannot wear a mask for a variety of reasons, who are going to be treated poorly, because of people who are making a misguided point. I’m concerned about people with disabilities that may not always be readily apparent, and I know that they feel very vulnerable, and we do need to find that balance.”
The COVID-19 virus, she said, “is putting a strain on all of us, which is why compassion and care for others is so important right now.”
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British Columbia health officials announced 738 new test-positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 29,086.
Broken down by health region, this equates to 169 new cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 443 in the Fraser Health region, 21 in the Island Health region, 70 in the Interior Health region, and 35 in the Northern Health region.
There have been 13 more deaths in the past 24 hours as well, bringing the provincial death toll to 371.
There are currently 7,616 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 10,270 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.
Currently, 294 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 61 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
A total of 19,814 individuals who tested positive have now recovered.