Targeted efforts to slow virus spread in Summerland, Rutland seeing success

Virus 'hot spots' cooling off

Interior Health says hot spots of COVID-19 cases in Summerland and Rutland are starting to subside as vaccine clinics see strong uptake and residents are more cautious.

IH chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers spoke with Castanet on Saturday on local vaccination efforts, which are also expected to help at a Kelowna care home dealing with an outbreak.

Spring Valley Care Centre currently has 40 active cases with 28 residents and 12 staff and six deaths. Dr. de Villiers believes that since residents received their second dose on May 11, the vaccine’s effectiveness will work in favour of lowering cases by next week.

“With the elderly population, we have seen that the first dose works but the second dose works a lot better,” he said.

“We’re not quite over that period, so we’re anticipating that by next week the cases will start to go down. There might still be a little bit of an increase in the next few days, but then after that because of that second dose will start to kick in.”

The other active outbreak in the region, Orchard Haven in Keremeos, has just one resident and one staff member who have tested positive and is one of the facilities that got most residents vaccinated with both doses right away. Dr. de Villiers stated that this contributes to why they've had just two cases at the facility.

Dr. de Villiers attributed the decrease of cases in Rutland and Summerland to two things.

“For one I know the vaccine takes sometimes seven to fourteen days to start to work, so we are at the beginning stages of seeing the vaccine actually work, which is why we are seeing less cases."

“I think the other thing is potentially because we did put the word out there and were transparent in saying, listen Summerland has higher cases, the same they saw in Golden and people reacted to that.”

He said residents started to recognize that there were cases in their own neighbourhood.

“They started following the rules and they started following our recommendations, being more strict on the distance and inviting people over to the house socially. And the cases came down dramatically in those two communities.”

The cause for the uptick in cases in Summerland has not been connected to anything specific.

“We looked at the cases and there was nothing specific that we could pinpoint. There wasn’t a specific venue or specific event or a specific worksite. It honestly seemed like it just spread throughout the neighbourhood, throughout the whole community.”

The hotspot clinics in Summerland and Rutland, which have been open to all adults over the age of 18, have seen strong uptake.

Summerland, with a population of about 11,600, has seen more than 6,000 doses of the vaccine administered in the community

The Rutland clinic has administered 6,700 doses, although many in the neighbourhood may have already been vaccinated at the Trinity Church clinic as they became eligible.

By Sunday evening, all adults in B.C. will be eligible to book a vaccine appointment. You can register for your vaccine here. IH hopes to see younger people step up for the jab.

“We have seen the younger people tend to not register as quickly as some of the older people. I think maybe in part because we know with the original messaging, we need to protect our old people and the senior citizens...because they get the most side effects. But what we have seen after we’ve protected all of them, now we’re seeing cases in our younger citizens as well.”

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