Just how many cases of COVID-19 are there in Squamish? We may never know.
Vancouver Coastal Health refuses to share information on the precise numbers of COVID-19 cases in Squamish, despite the community’s close proximity to Whistler, a COVID-19 hot spot in the region.
Last week, VCH cautioned that it has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in Whistler, and readily shared separate data for Whistler with that warning.
From March 22 to March 28, VCH identified 218 new cases of COVID-19 in Whistler. From January 1 to March 28, there have been 1,120 cases recorded in Whistler, VCH reported.
However, no such separate data is released for Squamish, and VCH refuses to share it, despite repeated requests by the Squamish Reporter.
Squamish data is always part of the Howe Sound health region numbers, which includes Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and some other communities north of Pemberton.
Unlike Whistler, no separate data is made available for Squamish or Pemberton, leaving people uninformed and worried.
When asked how many cases there are in Squamish, Celso Pereira, a media relations official with VCH, responded by emailing a link of the weekly update of COVID-19 cases by health region.
The weekly update of COVID-19 cases is released by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). The latest such data from March 28 to April 3 shows there were 410 cases in the Howe Sound region.
BCCDC does releases separate COVID-19 numbers for communities much smaller than Squamish. When asked what policy dictates these decisions, Pereira didn’t respond to the query.
Merritt, for example, a town of over 7,000 people, has had six cases in this time period. The number of cases for smaller communities such as Nelson and Creston are also available.
Closer home, the precise number of COVID-19 cases is also available for North Vancouver and West Vancouver as well as for Mission, Burnaby, Langley, etc.
For those in Squamish and Pemberton, however, that number remains a mystery, and VCH won’t answer why.