The majority of B.C. residents surveyed by the provincial government approve of public health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and most are following public health’s advice — but a third did not stay home when sick.
That last point needs to be addressed to ensure everyone can take sick leave as the province moves through the coming months of the pandemic, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
B.C.’s COVID-19 population health survey — Your Story, Our Future — resulted in more than 394,000 people taking part in all areas of the province. More than 56,000 people residing within the Interior Health region, about 14 per cent of all respondents, completed the survey.
About one in 10 adult British Columbians took part, with about 70 per cent being women and 81 per cent being not visual minorities, figures that are higher than those found in the general population. About 52 per cent of B.C.’s population is female and 66 per cent are not visible minorities, according to the 2016 census.
Four out of five people approved of public health’s response to the pandemic, but that rate was lower among younger people ages 18 to 29.
The survey showed 96 per cent of respondents indicating they practise preventative hygiene and 89 per cent avoid gatherings, but only 67 per cent were staying home when sick, with 79 per cent saying they can stay home when ill.
About 47 per cent of respondents said their mental health had worsened during the pandemic, while 62 per cent were concerned for the health of vulnerable family members. Fifteen per cent of respondents reported not working due to COVID-19, while 69 per cent had their work impaired due to the pandemic. One-third of those surveyed reported difficulty accessing health care and 31 per cent had increased difficulty meeting financial needs.
Residents ages 18 to 29 reported greater mental health and economic burden than other age groups, which may be because the pandemic has affected more of the occupations in which they work. Among respondents ages 18 to 29, one in two work in arts and entertainment, one in two work in accommodation and food service and one in three work in retail.
Families with children reported greater mental health and economic burden than the general population.
Henry said the survey will help inform what is needed in order to progress through the pandemic.
“We are going to be looking at many other questions and we have a plan for answering those questions that we need to help us put in place the right measures to support our communities and different parts of our communities as we move forward,” Henry said, noting that will mean looking at race-based and socio-economic data.
PPE pricy for B.C.
The provincial government has spent more than $114 million on personal protective equipment between January and the end of June as a result of the pandemic.
On Monday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix provided a breakdown on PPE spending — approximately $24.7 million was spent on surgical masks, $29.5 million was spent on N95 masks, $22.8 million was spent on gloves, $16.9 million was spent on gowns, $8.3 million was spent on face shield and goggles and more than $12.5 million was spent on other health-care products.
“It was money well spent, but it was expensive,” Dix said, noting B.C. will continue to need to stockpile PPE for the next six to nine months.
Costs for PPE skyrocketed during the pandemic.
For example, Dix said, each N95 mask cost 62 cents pre-pandemic, rising to as much as $8 at the peak of the pandemic and is now at between $3 and $6.
Surgical masks went from 15 cents pre-pandemic to as much as $1.25 and are now selling for between 20 cents and 65 cents.
The cost of gowns ranged from 65 cents to $4.40 and up to $9.65 at the pandemic’s peak, but now range from $2.20 to $8.45.
Dix said the costs of gloves and face shields did not vary greatly during the pandemic.