Castlegar COVID case spike continues

18 new COVID-19 cases in Castlegar last week

There were 18 new COVID-19 cases in Castlegar during the week of July 25 to 31, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The previous week, Castlegar saw 29 cases, the highest weekly count since the beginning of the pandemic.

Cases around the West Kootenay have been on the rise in recent weeks with Nelson reporting 38 (its highest weekly case count so far) and Trail reporting 11 for the July 25 to 31 period.

Those numbers also don’t include the August long weekend, during which there were 742 new cases in B.C. and 395 in Interior Health. The BCCDC won’t be releasing localized numbers for that time period (Aug. 1 to 7) until Aug. 11.

The Castlegar area has now had 109 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. More than half of those cases have been diagnosed since the middle of July.

READ MORE: Man found dead in Nelson’s Lakeside Park

Dr. Karin Goodison, a medical health officer with Interior Health, said the majority of people who are being infected and hospitalized have not had any vaccine dose.

“Our numbers are typically reflective of what we see in B.C., and those numbers indicate that 95 per cent of people who are hospitalized are not immunized or under-immunized,” she said.

If numbers continue to climb, Goodison said Interior Health will consider localized health restrictions similar to those in place in the Central Okanagan where an outbreak has been declared.

Those restrictions include a mandatory mask mandate in all indoor public places, and a 50-person limit on people in outdoor areas.

For that to happen in the West Kootenay, Goodison said Interior Health will consider whether new patients are exceeding the capacity of healthcare facilities, or if its contact tracing program is keeping up with cases.

It will also look at local immunization rates. Seventy-three per cent of eligible people have received at least one dose of vaccine in the Castlegar area as of Aug. 3. Across the province, 83 per cent of eligible people had received the vaccine as of Aug. 9.

“We factor all of those things into account when making those decisions,” she said.

Beginning Aug. 9, the province is now offering second vaccine doses as early as 28 days after a person’s first dose, cutting the wait time by three weeks.

Interior Health meanwhile said Wednesday that an outbreak is still active Nelson Jubilee Manor, a long-term care home. One patient and three staff members have tested positive.

COVID-19 testing is available in Castlegar at the drive-thru site near the Castlegar Health Centre at 813 – 10th Street. Appointments are available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They can be made through Interior Health’s online booking platform or by calling 1-877-740-7747.

With files by Tyler Harper

RELATED: Interior Health reports highest single-day COVID case count yet
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