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Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, and Stephen Brown, deputy minister of health, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:

"Today, we are reporting 203 new cases, including three epi-linked cases, for a total of 12,057 cases in British Columbia.

"There are 1,766 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 4,294 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases, and 9,993 people who tested positive have recovered.

"Currently, 70 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 21 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

"Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 4,215 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 6,517 in the Fraser Health region, 244 in the Island Health region, 632 in the Interior Health region, 361 in the Northern Health region and 88 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

"There have been two new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 256 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Bc Elections

Advance polls in Merritt have now closed, while elsewhere in BC one day remains for voters to cast an early ballot.

Across BC 564,951 voters utilized advance polls this year. Locally in Fraser-Nicola, 6,006 voters have already cast their ballot. During the 2017 election, 5,180 Fraser-Nicola residents cast an early vote.

In addition to early polls, Fraser-Nicola voters have also been taking advantage of the vote by mail option.

To date, 2,509 vote by mail packages have been requested by voters in the riding. While riding by riding numbers are not available, province-wide 347,900 packages, or 48% of the 724,279 requested, have already been returned to Elections BC.

Those numbers are expected to continue to increase as voters have until election night at 8 pm to return their ballots.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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Merritt Flourish Under the Sun

During a Committee of the Whole meeting yesterday, Merritt City Staff provided an update on the review process of the council’s strategic plan.

Council is currently undertaking a full review and revision of their most important document.

CAO Sean Smith said the reconciliation part of the document had been rewritten.

“Community engagement is throughout the document, so it kind of felt that what this category was, at its core, about first nations reconciliation,” said Smith.

The draft document now reads;

We are committed to First Nations reconciliation and regular communication with our First Nations communities. We will work to earn the trust and confidence of First Nations communities by acting with integrity, acknowledging our shortcomings, and inviting meaningful participation. 

Priorities include: 

1. Setting up a framework for regular communication with neighbouring First Nations 

2. Working together on challenges and opportunities in the Nicola Valley

Smith also addressed the next step in the revision for the council to consider.

“The second part is really, what are the key indicators that we have the data for or are able to develop the ability to crunch the data for, to be able to see how we are doing in these areas. And be able to report back on that as part as an accountability measure,” added Smith.

The next steps of the process will be taken during an upcoming committee of the whole which has not yet been scheduled.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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Community Futures NV

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) helps match foreign entrepreneurs with BC communities looking to expand their business sectors.

As of October 6, 2020, the City of Merritt has received 284 inquiries from foreign entrepreneurs. Merritt has hosted 20 community exploratory visits with foreign business entrepreneurs through the BC PNP program. There are currently 18 foreign entrepreneurs who have submitted the required documents and have their exploratory trips to Merritt planned once COVID-19 allows for international travel.

The program has also provided 14 letters of support to foreign entrepreneurs and the first successful applicant has recently arrived in Merritt and is preparing to open up shop.

The City created a committee to review and make referrals through the program back in April of 2019. One of the partners on the committee is Community Futures Nicola Valley (CFNV), and Manuel Olguin recently presented to Council requesting some changes to how they operate.

Olguin stated that CFNV was looking to ensure that prospective businesses have full business plans during their applications, not the currently required business concept.

“It is not fair to invite an entrepreneur to come to Merritt for an exploratory visit when they do not have an idea of how to start a business. Other communities realized that a business concept was not enough to make a decision on whether or not to issue a referral letter,” said Olguin.

Olguin also requested that CFNV become an equal partner with the City of the program to allow them to handle more of the workload.

It was stated by City Staff that a Committee of the Whole meeting could be scheduled to dive deeper into the requests.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

 

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Interior Health

People across Interior Health will soon have access to new, easier ways to book an appointment for a COVID-19 test with the launch of online booking for all IH COVID-19 Community Collection Centres. 

Testing is available for those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been sent for testing by their primary care provider or Public Health.

Beginning Oct. 20, appointments can be booked online for COVID-19 tests at Community Collection Centres in Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, and Penticton. The City of Merritt and the other 19 collection centres around the Interior will also begin accepting online appointments between now and October 30, 2020.

The online booking tool can be found at www.interiorhealth.ca. An IH COVID-19 Test Booking phone line is also available for these communities at 1-877-740-7747, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Testing is available for anyone with cold, influenza, or COVID-19-like symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Other milder symptoms may include: runny nose, fatigue, body aches (muscles and joints aching), diarrhea, headache, sore throat, vomiting, and red eyes.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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