The situation regarding the COVID-19 virus (also known as coronavirus or the novel coronavirus) is fluid and rapidly changing, and many people are looking for factual information from reputable sources, have health concerns and questions, or want to know what local services are affected.
The following list is by no means comprehensive, but gives an overview of where people can learn more and how the pandemic is impacting our communities. All information is accurate as of press time (noon on Tuesday, March 17), but could change rapidly and without notice. If you have questions about a specific event, facility, organization, or business, contact the organizers/operators directly.
Black Press is providing full coverage of the COVID-19 virus and how it impacts British Columbians and Canadians. For the latest stories, go to https://bit.ly/2WkxT3A.
Health Link 8-1-1
If you have concerns about symptoms you are exhibiting, do not go to the hospital or to a local health clinic unless it is an emergency. Instead, call Health Link BC’s 8-1-1 line, where a trained health care professional can answer your questions and direct you as to the best course of action. Please be patient, as the 8-1-1 line is experiencing heavier than usual call volumes.
COVID-19 non-medical information line
In an effort to allow 8-1-1 health care professionals to support more people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who require assistance with other health issues, the Province has created a dedicated phone service to provide British Columbians with non-medical information about COVID-19.
British Columbians can reach service representatives seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., by calling 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319). Information is available in more than 110 languages.
Non-urgent surgeries cancelled
British Columbia’s health authorities have moved all hospitals in the province to Outbreak Response Phase 2. This means hospitals will undertake only urgent and emergency procedures and will postpone all non-urgent scheduled surgeries. Hospitals will review operating-room capacity daily to prioritize urgent and emergency cases. If you have non-urgent surgery scheduled, contact your physician/surgeon.
Dental procedures cancelled
Dentists across B.C. will no longer be performing elective or non-essential procedures, the profession’s regulatory body announced on March 16. Teeth cleaning, whitening, fillings, and regular check-ups will not take place for the foreseeable future, and the only patients who will be treated are those with infection, acute pain, or trauma.
British Columbia’s community pharmacists are committed to remaining available to patients in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. They are helping alleviate the burden on other parts of the health care system by providing an adequate supply of medication for patients, who are being asked not to visit doctors’ offices for their prescription needs.
While pharmacists are committed to ensuring every patient has an adequate supply of medication, they remain bound by existing regulations when providing medications without a new prescription. Patients must already be taking the medication or have an existing prescription for their medication, since pharmacists cannot provide a new medication to a patient without a previous doctor’s prescription.
Patients who have an expired prescription can have that filled by a pharmacist. Patients who have run out of their medication or need more should call ahead to their regular pharmacy to determine whether a pharmacist can provide the additional supply.
Patients are encouraged not to stockpile medications. Pharmacists aim to make sure all patients have access to their medications, so they are generally not providing more than a 30-day supply to support those who are self-isolating.
For up-to-date, factual information about the COVID-19 virus, its symptoms, how to tell if you have it, how to prevent its spread, and more, here are some sites to check:
Health Link BC has clear answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, treatment, and preventive measures: http://bit.ly/39RKeA2.
Health Canada has updates, travel advice, and more: www.canada.ca/coronavirus.
The BC Centre for Disease Control has the latest updates on the COVID-19 virus, information, and guidance about mass gatherings: http://www.bccdc.ca/.
The B.C. Public Health Officer and the Ministry of Health are providing daily updates on the coronavirus. Their news releases can be found at https://news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/health.
Village of Ashcroft
The Village office at 601 Bancroft Street remains open during regular hours (Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.). Until March 31, the office will also be open over the lunch hour (noon to 1 p.m.) to accept utility payments. Extra cleaning measures are being taken, and garbage pick-up will take place on the regularly scheduled days.
Anyone who has not yet paid their utility bill and who does not want, or is unable, to come to the office can mail a cheque to the Village of Ashcroft, P.O. Box 129, Ashcroft, B.C. V0K 1A0.
The Ashcroft Community Hall remains open to user groups, who may or may not decide to cancel or postpone planned programs and events. Extra cleaning supplies are on hand, but the kitchen will be closed.
For more information contact the Village office at (250) 453-9161.
Village of Cache Creek
The Village office at 1389 Quartz Road remains open during regular hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Extra cleaning measures are being taken, and garbage pick-up will take place on the regularly scheduled days.
Anyone who has not yet paid their utility bill and who does not want, or is unable, to come to the office can mail a cheque to the Village of Cache Creek, P.O. Box 7, Cache Creek, B.C. V0K 1H0.
The gym at the Cache Creek Community Hall is closed for at least two weeks as of March 16. Village staff are also recommending that anyone who has a gathering planned for the Community Hall in the next two weeks should either cancel or postpone it.
For more information contact the Village office at (250) 457-6237.
Village of Clinton
The Village office at 1423 Cariboo Highway remains open during regular hours, which have recently changed. The office is now open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Extra cleaning measures are being taken, and only one person is being allowed at the counter at a time. Anyone who is ill is asked not to come to the office.
Garbage pick-up will take place on the regularly scheduled days.
Anyone who has not yet paid their utility bill and who does not want, or is unable, to come to the office can mail a cheque to the Village of Clinton, P.O. Box 309, Clinton, B.C. V0K 1K0.
The kitchen at the Clinton Memorial Hall is closed until further notice. The fitness centre at the municipal building is still open, as are the public washrooms adjacent to the municipal building on Cariboo Highway. Both are undergoing more intensive cleaning.
For more information contact the Village office at (250) 459-2261.
Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis is asking constituents to practice precaution, avoid non-essential travel, and enact social distancing to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
He and his staff remain available to assist constituents via phone at (604) 814-5710 and via email at Brad.Vis@parl.gc.ca.
The constituency office (#7-32650 Logan Avenue, Mission) is not open to walk-in visits, and future appointments will take place via phone or video conference. Additionally, all previously scheduled in-person meetings will now occur via phone or video conference; this includes meetings that were planned this week for communities in the Fraser Canyon.
Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart will not be participating in events and engagements until the public health risk is reduced. In order to protect the public and her staff’s health, her office will be closed, with staff on site but not taking any in-person meetings at this time. If you have questions or concerns, call (250) 453-9726 or email Jackie.Tegart.MLA@leg.bc.ca, and someone will respond as soon as possible.
“We apologize for any inconvenience these measures might cause but are exercising an abundance of caution to keep the public and staff as safe as possible,” said Tegart in a press release. “We will be using email, telephone, and every other remote working tool to support constituents and continue our day-to-day work.
“Please look after yourself and your loved ones. Together we can defeat COVID-19.”
The Community bus operated by BC Transit and Yellowhead Community Services is continuing to operate all regularly scheduled services. Additional cleaning of the bus is taking place.
Thompson-Nicola Regional Libraries
As of Tuesday, March 17, all branches in the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library system will be closed until further notice. Staff will continue to be on site during regular branch hours.
All book drops will be closed during this time. Please do not return library items during the closure period. All due dates will be extended until Tuesday, April 29 and fines will be waived during the closure period.
All digital services and content will be available 24/7 during this time, so anyone with a TNRL library card and access to a computer can continue to access eBooks, magazines, audiobooks, eLearning, video streaming, kids’ resources, and all other online content and resources. For assistance using any of these services, call your local TNRL branch or visit www.tnrl.ca.
Community Tax Volunteers
The Community Income Tax Volunteers — who assist eligible local residents with filing their income tax returns — have been operating out of local libraries, with the service set to continue there until late April/early May. However, the closure of all TNRD library branches as of March 17 means the tax volunteers are without a home.
Ashcroft coordinator Vivian Edwards says that they are looking for assistance from the parent program. In the meantime, volunteers are available to assist people with simple tax returns over the phone; arrangements will be made to pick up tax returns at a later date.
Anyone with questions about the service, their returns, or new returns can call Vivian Edwards (250-453-9077); Shirley (250-453-2432); Chris (250-453-9534); or Maryann (1-778-517-0997) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
All Thompson-Nicola Regional District transfer stations and Eco-Depots are open as usual during their regularly scheduled hours.
ICBC driver tests
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia, ICBC is suspending all driver road tests effective March 17.
All motorcycle, passenger, and commercial road tests are cancelled until further notice. ICBC will reassess the situation in two weeks, taking into account public health recommendations and other operational considerations at that time.
All impacted customers scheduled to take road tests over the next week are being notified by ICBC that their appointment has been cancelled. ICBC will do its best to accommodate those impacted in rescheduling once ICBC returns to full operations. Customers with scheduled road tests are encouraged to visit www.icbc.com for more information, or to call 1-800-950-1498.
Better at Home
All Better at Home services are continuing as usual for the time being, and are being reviewed on a regular basis. Any clients who are experiencing symptoms of any illness are asked to call Better at Home at (250) 457-1019 to arrange for the postponement of services.
The Equality Project
The Equality Project clubhouse at 1260 Stage Road in Cache Creek is open as usual (9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday) for all regularly scheduled activities.
Ashcroft food bank/E. Fry Society
The food bank at the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society (601 Bancroft Street, Ashcroft) remains open on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from noon to 2:30 p.m.
For information about all other programs and services usually offered by the E. Fry Society, please call (250) 453-9656.
Clinton food bank
The Clinton food bank will be continuing to operate as normal at their location at 1401 Cariboo Highway (side entrance). The food bank is open on the first and third Tuesdays of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
As of Friday, March 20 and until further notice, Soup’s On at St. Alban’s Anglican Church hall in Ashcroft will be operating on a takeaway basis only, with no sit-down lunch option at the site. Lunch will be available between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with patrons able to go inside, select what they want, and take it away with them.
The Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store at 601 Bancroft Street in Ashcroft will be closed until further notice. Please note that the store will not be accepting donations at this time, and asks people not to drop items off outside the store.
Second Time Around on Railway Avenue in Ashcroft will also be closed until further notice. Please check their Facebook page (Second Time Around, Ashcroft, B.C.) for updates.
As of 5 p.m. on March 17, the Ashcroft HUB is closed to the public until further notice. All scheduled events and activities are being suspended, and Merv’s Gym will also be closed.
HUB executive director Vicky Trill says that they are following the recommendations from reliable sources and taking cues from other non-profits such as the YMCA, and that the situation will be monitored daily. The HUB Online Network will continue to operate, and Trill says she hopes to be able to use that to provide news and updates.
On March 17, the executive of the South Cariboo Minor Soccer Association made the decision to suspend the opening date of the 2020 soccer season. The situation will be reassessed at the end of April, and it’s hoped that play might start in May and June, with a possibility of extending the season into September as in previous years. Referee and coaches’ clinics have also been cancelled.
Anyone who would like their registration fees refunded, or who has questions or concerns, can email Lee Hand at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashcroft-Cache Creek Seniors
The regular monthly meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 19 has been cancelled. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie, who was due to be at the meeting with Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, has also cancelled her Ashcroft appearance.
The Seniors’ Centre at 601 Bancroft Street in Ashcroft will continue to be open for regularly scheduled activities. Extra cleaning is being undertaken, tables are being bleached, and hand wipes are available.
The next regular meeting of the Clinton Seniors’ Association is going ahead on Thursday, March 19 at the Seniors’ Centre at 217 Smith Avenue. At that time, a decision will be made about the meeting scheduled for April 16.
The Ashcroft Legion remains open as at the time of going to press, but has suspended its Friday night dinners and Saturday meat draws for at least three weeks.