"Call people out:" Dr. Bonnie Henry wants us to get serious about social distancing

Mar 21 2020, 11:23 am

BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is not mincing words when it comes to taking social distancing seriously.

In a press conference Friday, Henry once again repeated just how crucial it is for British Columbians to avoid groups and large gatherings in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

“Again this is not forever,” she said. “But right now we need to be in small groups … one or two of us. And we need to maintain our distance with others. We must be united in these efforts and we need to build that firewall and make sure we keep it as strong as we can and that there are no gaps.”

Despite Henry’s expert advice, and the province’s decision to declare a state of emergency and ban gatherings of over 50 people, some have simply not taken the social distancing measures seriously.

Several examples shared on social media show people gathering in large groups around the province. A particularly popular spot appears to be Vancouver’s beaches.

While Henry has encouraged British Columbians to go outside and enjoy the spring weather, she’s made clear that these activities must take place with small groups of close family or friends.

“It’s also important — and I have talked about this — for us to go outside but like we do when we are inside. We need to go outside with our close family, with our small groups,” she said.

“We are not to be outside in groups, we are not to be playing basketball, we’re not to be out sitting together in large groups on the beach watching the beautiful sunsets … because when we’re out in groups like that the chances are somebody will be exposed to this virus and we’ll bring it home to our family and our communities, and that is what is going to spread the virus.”

As for young people, Henry says they often “feel like they are immune” to the virus altogether, and that is simply not true.

“More information is coming out that young people are certainly not immune, as I have said many times. You know, [those] under 19 tend not to get as sick, not to get infected even with this virus, and that’s fine. But people in their 20s and 30s do get pneumonia with this and sometimes do get seriously ill.”

When asked what she would do to stress the importance of social distancing, Henry recommends using technology and social media to “call people out to say, ‘This is what we need to do now. We need to keep our germs to ourselves.'”

“I look at the young people in my life and they spend all their time texting each other and they’re sitting next to each other anyways. Let’s do that for now,” she said.

“Because the people we are going to bring it home to are the people that are closest to us. And that may be our grandparents, that may be our parents, that may be someone in our life whose immune system is compromised.”

To date, there have been nine coronavirus deaths in BC and 348 cases, the most of any Canadian province.