A number of positive COVID-19 cases among employees of various Sun Peaks businesses has the resort municipality’s mayor worried that the numbers may rise even more.
On Friday (April 9), there were 15 positive cases confirmed, with about 20 positive cases recorded in the past 10 days.
“It is quite widespread,” Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine told KTW. “We are concerned.”
He said the cases mainly involve employees of businesses in the community, including restaurants and pubs, adding that he does not know of any positive cases among visitors to the resort, which wrapped up its ski season last Monday (April 5).
Raine said those who have tested positive are isolating and contact tracing of people who may have been exposed has been undertaken.
While it is not known if the cases at Sun Peaks involve any of the more contagious variants — genome sequencing takes about a week to complete — Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said earlier this week health officials will now assume all cases are one of the highly infectious variants.
According to B.C. Centre for Disease Control data, about 75 per cent of all variant cases in B.C. have been B.1.1.7, the so-called U.K. variant. it is also the dominant virus in the United States.
He said the municipality is getting to the message out to the community via email, the Sun Peaks Independent News, social media and websites. In addition, traffic signs are being installed to warn people coming and going of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the community.
Raine said the primary goal is to stop the spread within Sun Peaks.
“The concern we have is the mountain closes last Monday and a large number of employees packed their bags and went off to new jobs,” he said, noting they are being contacted to ensure they get tested and monitor for symptoms.
Raine said testing has been ongoing in the community on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with this past Friday (April 9) set to be the final day of testing as the focus turns to vaccinations. There were 45 tests administered on Friday. As a result of the spike in cases, he said the municipality and the Sun Peaks Community Health Centre are hoping to conduct more testing next week.
While the number of cases is concerning, Raine said the only saving grace may be the timing — coming as it did as the resort enters its quietest period of the year, that lull between ski season ending and the start of mountain biking, hiking and golf.
“As of Tuesday, when the lifts didn’t run, we’re like a ghost town,” he said. “Many restaurants are now closed completely. Pre-COVID, this is the period when businesses that have been running steady for six or seven days a week, this is when they take a break.”
As for now, Raine said the community is hoping for the best.
“We’re just crossing our fingers now,” he said.
KTW has asked Interior Health if the situation at Sun Peaks is considered an outbreak and what the health authority plans to do to address the rise in cases. KTW is awaiting a response.
Anybody who has been to Sun Peaks in the past 10 days is urged to monitor for symptoms and to call call 811 for further advice.