The 170 illicit drug toxicity deaths reported in May mark the highest monthly total ever in British Columbia.
"It is both sad and deeply frustrating to see the number of illicit drug deaths reach a new high in B.C. four years after the declaration of a public health emergency," said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. "Despite the many collective efforts directed at this crisis, the toxic drug supply continues to take the lives of our family members, friends, and colleagues.
"We still know that illicit drug toxicity death rates in B.C. remain the highest for any jurisdiction in Canada, and every region in B.C. has been impacted. That said, were it not for the dedicated efforts taken to date, the death toll would be higher. We must continue to build on further access to safe supply in B.C. and for a regulated, evidence-based, supportive treatment and recovery system as important pillars in preventing future deaths."
The illicit drug toxicity death total of 170 for May 2020 surpasses the previous high of 161 reported in December 2016.
Dr. Bonnie Henry also addressed the crisis.
"The extent and complexity of the two crises we are facing, the overdose crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, have stretched our public health capacity to the limits. COVID-19 is forcing all of us to stay further apart from others, isolating people and adding to what is already an immense challenge,” said Henry.
"Addiction and substance use are complex. We must eliminate the stigma and shame that leads people to be afraid to reach out to their family or friends to even talk about their drug use, and we must all do our part to protect ourselves, our communities, and our loved ones,” added Henry.
Locally, the Interior Health Authority (IH) has reported 89 deaths this year already compared with 139 in all of 2019. In May, IH recorded 24 deaths, the highest single month since March of 2019.
Broken down further, the Thompson-Cariboo health delivery area has already seen 38 deaths this year, four less than the total for all of 2019.
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The Merritt RCMP are looking for assistance from the public in locating a missing Merritt man, Skylar Wayne Mcleod.
Mcleod is described as 5'8", 152 lbs with brown hair and brown eyes.
"On June 11, Skylar Wayne Mcleod, 24, was reported as missing to the Merritt RCMP," reads the release.
Mcleod was last seen on May 31/June 1 by family and was believed to be heading to Kamloops with an unidentified acquaintance.
"Mcleod has not been in communication with family or friends since June 1, which is out of character," continued the release.
Anybody with information into the whereabouts of Skylar is asked to call the Merrit RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
- Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:
"Today, we are announcing 14 new cases who have tested positive for COVID-19, for a total of 2,694 cases in British Columbia.
"There are 183 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 2,344 people who tested positive have recovered.
"Of the total COVID-19 cases, 13 individuals are hospitalized, five 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 917 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,386 in the Fraser Health region, 130 in the Island Health region, 195 in the Interior Health region and 66 in the Northern Health region.
"There have been no new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 167 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks. In total, five long-term care or assisted-living facilities continue to have active outbreaks.
"There have been no new community outbreaks and public health teams continue to provide support for the six ongoing community outbreaks.
Dr. Bonnie Henry has provided the latest figures of COVID-19 in BC.
(Previous numbers in brackets)
New Cases – 14 + Epi Cases
Total Cases – 2,694 (2,680)
Active Cases - 183 (185)
Patients in Hospital – 13 (12)
Patients in ICU – 5 (4)
Recovered – 2,344 (2,328)
New Deaths – 0
Totals Deaths – 167 (167)
Health region breakdown;
Vancouver Coastal – 917 (911)
Fraser – 1,386 (1,378)
Island – 130 (130)
Interior – 195 (195)
Northern – 66 (66)
More to come.
Update (June 11, 2020)
Superintendent Steve McNiven has provided an update on the number of students who have returned to classrooms across the local district.
"I would suggest that we're probably around the 24-25 per cent range," said McNiven.
Depending on what school is surveyed the amount of kids ranges from 48 per cent in a Princeton school, to closer to 16 per cent at the high schools.
The District is still hoping to see more students return classrooms across the district throughout the final two weeks of the school year.
Original (June 5, 2020)
This week, students across BC are returning to schools for part-time in-class instruction.
Province-wide, BC Education Minister Rob Fleming believes approximately one-third of students have returned. Locally, SD58 Superintendent Steve McNiven believes that the number is slightly lower.
“I think we’re a bit lower than that,” began McNiven. “Based on what I’m seeing right now, I think we’re in that 25-30 per cent range. So not far off the third.”
Minister Fleming did state that he expects more students to return throughout June, something McNiven agreed with.
“We sent out a message yesterday reminding parents that if they change their mind and want to send their children to school, let us know, contact your school in advance so we can prepare. We would love seeing more numbers coming our way,” added McNiven.
For K-5 students, they're in-class for two-days per week, older kids are scheduled in for one day per week.
Unsurprisingly more elementary-aged students have returned here in the district, while province-wide grade-6 is the most attended year.
There are just three weeks left in the school year and that has McNiven planning for all possible scenarios for what next year may look like, including a hybrid model suggested by Fleming.
“We heard that too, we’re connecting with the province on a regular basis, trying to look ahead to September in relation to what stage we might be in. There is a possibility that the Minister mentioned that we could still be in stage three. I don’t think we’ll really know until the middle of August,” said McNiven.
McNiven had a simple message to convey to the parents, students, and staff of SD58.
“A big thank you to our staff, coming back into our schools and helping support the safety and the learning for our students. A real reminder to our parents that we want their students to be back in school if they’re comfortable doing that. It’s also okay if they aren’t ready. So, thank you to our staff and students, and stay safe,” concluded McNiven.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
On Wednesday evening, School District 58 held an online board meeting and the first topic up for discussion was a 2021 Merritt Secondary trip to Belize.
“The trip was approved in principle at the October 2019 board meeting. It is the recommendation of Senior Staff that we cancel the approval for this trip and consider resubmission of the trip either within Canada in 2021, or for Spring 2022,” said Assistant Superintendent Jameel Aziz. “The Merritt Secondary trip to Belize that is scheduled for Spring 2021, is currently facing uncertainty due to COVID-19.”
The board agreed with the staff’s recommendation and the approval was not granted for the trip.
Trustee Gordon Swan also raised the idea of changing the district's current field trip policy to include robust cancellation policies which will be investigated by District Staff over the Summer.
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