Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, seen frying bacon for an event in the summer. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo)

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, seen frying bacon for an event in the summer. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo)

Williams Lake city council demanding specific COVID-19 numbers for the city, immediate area

‘How come some people are getting information that we are not able to get?’: Mayor Cobb

Williams Lake city council wants actual numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases for the city and immediate area.

Referring to the fact nearby First Nations communities are being provided confirmed COVID-19 numbers, Mayor Walt Cobb said it is frustrating.

“I’m being accused of withholding information, but I don’t have any,” Cobb said during the regular council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12. “We have to be on a level playing field. How come some people are getting information that we are not able to get?”

Coun. Scott Nelson said during a conference call with the Interior Health Authority (IH) on Tuesday afternoon, city council pressed for numbers and was told there ‘were just under 50’ positive COVID-19’ cases in the Williams Lake health region.

“We said we need to know how many are in Williams Lake itself, but they refused to give us that information,” Nelson told the Tribune. “It was quite clear that if we want the actual numbers we need to go to our MLA and Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.”

Nelson said it’s not a criticism of what’s happening, but that the city needs to know so that it can ramp up services if necessary.

“We are asking for openness and transparency,” he added.

Read more: COVID-19 cases jump to 22 at Williams Lake First Nation community of Sugar Cane

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson, who appeared as a delegation by telephone during the council meeting, said he would bring council’s concerns to the provincial government.

“I one hundred per cent agree with you and I will see if I can track down some more information and will report back to Mayor Cobb tomorrow,” Doerkson said.

Coun. Sheila Boehm said the COVID-19 vaccine distribution should be a provincial mandate, and not downloaded onto the health authorities who are already overworked.

“I know our nurses are being overwhelmed,” Boehm said, suggesting even nursing students could be hired to help.

Doerkson said he’s asked Dr. Henry what the plan is for vaccines.

“I think the lion’s share that the province received have been distributed and put in arms, but the question is where and how? We have multiple questions as to why there were vaccines initiated in places like Nimpo Lake, not that we don’t want those folks vaccinated, but why weren’t they going to some of the long-term care facilities in the region?”

When asked by the Tribune why First Nations communities are provided with positive test numbers and mayors are not, Interior Health’s media relations responded that there is no double standard in how numbers are reported.

“In an outbreak/cluster situation, Interior Health provides numbers, such as in Revelstoke and Big White recently and in Kelowna in the summer. Canim Lake has been declared an outbreak by our medical health officer and so the numbers are reported.”

IH noted on a weekly basis for non-outbreaks, numbers are reported per community based on their local health authority and the next update will be Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Numbers between Dec. 27 to Jan. 2 showed eight new cases in the Cariboo Chilcotin and eight in 100 Mile House.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13 the numbers will be reported for the week ending Jan. 9.

Read more: City of Williams Lake urges residents to follow COVID-19 provincial health orders


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