B.C. on May 19 recorded only two new infections of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours – the lowest number of new cases in a day in months, and it comes on a day when many retail and service businesses have started to reopen.
The new cases bring the total number of viral infections to 2,446 people, including 325 who are still recovering from the disease, and 1975 people, or more than 80.7%, have recovered.
There are 45 people in hospital across the province, and 12 of those are in intensive care units.
The breakdown of hospitalizations by health region is:
• 20 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 21 in Fraser Health;
• 1 in Island Health;
• 1 in Interior Health; and
• 2 in Northern Health.
Three people have died in the past 24 hours in the province from the virus that has spawned a global pandemic. That makes 146 people who have died from the disease in the province since cases first were identified on January 28.
The three new deaths were all seniors in long-term care homes. One was in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, while the other two were in the Fraser Health region.
Of the dozens of seniors' homes that have had outbreaks since the virus started appearing, there remain 14 where there are active outbreaks. In addition, there are five active outbreaks at acute-care facilities.
So far, 326 residents and 203 staff at seniors' care homes or long-term living facilities have contracted the virus.
The breakdown of all infections by health region is:
• 883 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 1,196 in Fraser Health;
• 126 in Island Health;
• 181 in Interior Health; and
• 60 in Northern Health.
"Today is an important milestone for our province," said provincial health officer Bonnie Henry.
"Today is the first day that many businesses can begin to reopen. For employers, to customers and business owners, I want to reassure you that we would not be easing these restrictions if we did not feel that we could do so safely."
While businesses do not need WorkSafeBC authorization to reopen, that worker-safety organization does have a long list of guidelines. Businesses are required to have what Henry called "accommodations" for any concerns that workers might have about safety upon their return.
Henry said that there would be an inspection process to ensure guidelines are being followed.
"If you have concerns about safety in a business, whether it is a nail salon or a restaurant, then you can complain to your local public health [authority] and they will do an inspection depending on what the risks are, and there are various different levels of inspection," Henry said.
"Our first line of action is not to fine people or shut them down, it's to ensure that they are taking the necessary actions that we need to keep people safe. Having said that, there are abilities for environmental health officers to shut down a business if they feel that there are health hazards that put the public at risk, and there's protocols that WorkSafeBC can as well, and they have a provision to fine people if needed."