Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) will be holding a Facebook Live event on July 7 for residents of Powell River and the Sunshine Coast to give them an opportunity to ask medical health officer Dr. Geoff McKee any public health questions they might have about COVID-19. The 30-minute session will be held at noon and will be hosted on the Vancouver Coastal Health Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/649652615623085/.
McKee said VCH knows there is a lot of anxiety related to COVID-19 and the public health measures that have been implemented to reduce the risk of transmission throughout the province.
“As we continue through the phases of reopening this summer, we wanted to offer the opportunity for the community to ask questions based on local considerations,” said McKee. “In the past the provincial government has led communications around COVID-19 and continues to provide excellent messaging on a regular basis. We now have the opportunity to address questions at the local level, particularly as businesses and organizations look to develop COVID-19 plans and restart operations, moving into the new normal as we move into the summer.”
McKee said during the online session, an overview will be provided on where things are at as a province and as a community. He said there will also be a good amount of time given to address some of the questions that will come up through the event.
“It’s going to be a new platform for me to do one of these question and answer sessions but I know it’s been successful in other areas,” said McKee. “It will be a good way for folks to pose questions and to get responses in real time.”
McKee said in general, and throughout this pandemic, it’s important to make sure that people receive evidence-based public health advice. He said there is lots of different information coming from different sources in BC. The provincial health officer and province have been an excellent source of advice, said McKee, and there is also lots of really good advice online, he added.
“It will help to answer questions at the local level and to put a local spin on things to help ease anxieties or ask questions around the public health measures,” said McKee. That includes personal measures, as well as measures for businesses and organizations, as people try to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”
There has been a lot of change throughout the whole pandemic, there have been measures implemented and a careful relaxing of different measures as the province moves through the phased approach, according to McKee. Through all of the measures implemented in BC, McKee said he has been continually impressed by the work of people across the province in all communities, who have worked hard to implement measures for themselves, for their businesses and other organizations.
“It has really shown in the numbers,” said McKee. “We are in a very different place than other countries and other jurisdictions around the world. We really do have evidence of low community transmission right now.
“We haven’t only flattened the curve, we have suppressed the curve a lot. It really speaks to the amazing work folks have done throughout the province in our communities.”
McKee said it is amazing that people have changed their lives and behaviours so much to protect their loved ones and their communities.
In general, in VCH rural areas, there have been low COVID-19 numbers, but people need to continue to be diligent in adhering to public health advice, because even though the numbers are low, risk is still there, said McKee.
“It will be there until we get a treatment or vaccine,” said McKee.
That being said, McKee said he believes some things can be restarted in a safe way, but it’s not going back to the old normal.
“This is the new normal,” he said. “We are taking precautions and we are being careful.”
McKee said COVID-19 is unprecedented in terms of scope and the necessary response to a crisis like this.
“But I have to say, given the degree to which these types of measures have to be implemented, I have to go back to how British Columbians have taken that on and really followed the guidelines,” said McKee. “It’s that work that people have done that has led to us being as successful as we have, that many jurisdictions have been unable to get to.”
McKee said he is looking forward to the Facebook session.
“I’m sure there will be questions from many different areas,” said McKee. “I look forward to having that dialogue to see how we can take public health messaging and make it useful at the local level. It’s been so inspiring to see people come together in the way they have.”
McKee said he wanted to remind people that there is a wealth of information online for individuals, and for businesses and organizations, to make sure they are starting things in a safe way. Good information can be found at the VCH website, he added, and the BC Centre for Disease Control website.