An airplane towing a banner thanking health care workers flies over Peace Arch Hospital on Monday evening. (D. McBride photo)

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

All B.C. residents who display symptoms of COVID-19 now eligible for testing

Daily update for Tuesday, April 21 on the COVID-19 pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond. It will be updated as information becomes available:

• Sea Festival celebrations will be postponed by one month and the City of White Rock is working toward a virtual Canada Day celebration on July 1. The city and the SFN are also looking at whether the National Indigenous People’s Day on June 19 will be cancelled or turned into a virtual celebration.

• The City of White Rock has cancelled its spring recreation programming through to the end of June, it announced late Monday. In addition, the city is cutting back on other expenses, such as gardening, to help save money.

• An airplane hired by a Lower Mainland pub owner, and towing a banner thanking health care workers, flew over Peace Arch Hospital on Monday evening, shortly after the 7 p.m. salute. Gordon Cartwright, whose daughter works as an ER nurse at PAH, also commissioned the plane to fly over Royal Columbian Hospital near his home.

• Health officials have declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a chicken processing facility in Vancouver after 28 employees tested positive for the virus.

• B.C. is prepared to use donated and ‘alternative’ COVID-19 protective gear. With international supplies of medical protective equipment in huge demand world-wide in the coronavirus pandemic, the B.C. health ministry is preparing to introduce stocks of donated and unconventional supplies for health care workers.

• Nearly half of British Columbians don’t expect life to return to normal until at least fall, a poll from Research Co. suggests. The poll, released Tuesday (April 21) found that 44 per cent of people in B.C. don’t expect pre-coronavirus conditions till at least mid-September.

• The provice has opened COVID-19 testing to a wider segment of the population. “Right now, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 can now be assessed and tested, through your family physician,” Henry said at her daily briefing April 20. “If you have your nurse practitioner or a local community collection centre, you can call 8-1-1 to find out where those are.”

• A B.C. doctor has designed a special operating room for COVID-19 patients. Dr. Curt Smecher, an anesthesiologist at ARH, worked with the hospital’s maintenance engineers to develop the room, which has now been constructed at ARH, as well as at Surrey Memorial and Royal Columbian hospitals.

• Canada Post is asking pet owners to keep their dogs away from mail carriers, noting it makes it difficult to adhere to physical distancing guidelines when people have to retrieve their dogs.

• Minnesota-based 3M has filed a lawsuit against an Ontario company that allegedly claimed a phoney affiliation with the U.S. medical-gear maker to sell hard-to-find N95 face masks at exorbitant prices.

• The federal government has unveiled a $350 million fund to help charities and non-profits get through the COVID-19 pandemic.The Emergency Community Support Fund will be split; part will go directly to smaller frontline organizations, while the rest will go to national organizations like the United Way.

• The federal government will begin to accept applications for the wage subsidy Monday (April 27), as it rolls out a calculator for businesses to calculate how much they could receive. The $73-billion wage subsidy will provide businesses with 75 per cent of each employee’s salary, up to $847 each week. It is available for businesses who have lost 15 per cent of gross revenue in March, and 30 per cent in the months following.

• An advocate says a rise in tent cities and encampments is linked to health confidence among Canada’s homeless population. The growth of such tent cities are a natural occurrence when homeless residents feel unsafe about their living conditions, and the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened those feelings, said Tim Richter, the president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

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