Nineteen Fraser Health mayors are taking part in a “community immunity” challenge, but one of the region’s hardest-hit cities isn’t taking part.
In a release from Fraser Health on Thursday (May 27), mayors from Abbotsford, Anmore, Belcarra, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Delta, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Kent, City of Langley, Township of Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and White Rock are all taking part in a challenge to see which city can reach immunization thresholds of 70 per cent, 75 per cent and 80 per cent first.
“Fraser Health is pleased to support this friendly community challenge to see the region be able to put the pandemic behind us, open businesses again and get back to doing the things we have had to sacrifice to respond to this pandemic,” reads the release.
Fraser Health says it will be sharing progress updates on social media.
However, both Aggasiz and Surrey aren’t taking part in the challenge.
Aggasiz has much lower case and positivity rates than Surrey and slightly higher vaccination rate for those aged 18 and older than northwest parts of Surrey, according to the latest weekly summary (May 12 to 18) posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s website.
While Surrey had several pop-up clinics and is continuing to hold neighbourhood vaccination clinics (there are three at the Newton Recreation Centre for May 28 and 31 and June 1), the city is seeing a mix of vaccination rates between 41 and 80 per cent.
The weekly summary breaks Surrey into nine community health services areas: Whalley, North Surrey, West Newton, East Newton, Guildford, Fleetwood, Cloverdale, Panorama and South Surrey.
The first four communities are seeing vaccination rates between 41 and 60 per cent, while the remaining five are seeing vaccination rates between 61 and 80 per cent.
While daily case rates per 100,000 people have gone down from the week prior, Whalley, North Surrey, West Newton, East Newton, Fleetwood and Panorama recorded between 20 and 40 cases per 100,000 people May 12 to 18. During that same time Guildford recorded between 10 and 20 and Cloverdale between five and 10. South Surrey recorded the fewest, between zero and five.
As for positivity rates, West Newton had the highest for the week of May 12 to 18 with more than 20 per cent. It was followed by Whalley, North Surrey, Fleetwood, East Newton and Panorama with positivity rates between 10.1 and 20 per cent. Guildford and Cloverdale recorded positivity rates between 5.1 and 10 per cent. South Surrey had the lowest positivity rate, between 2.1 and three per cent.
The Now-Leader reached out to Mayor Doug McCallum and city staff to find out why Surrey wasn’t taking part in the challenge.
Communications and media relations lead Amber Stowe emailed this statement from McCallum: “My focus has been on bringing more vaccination clinics to Surrey which was accomplished with the Neighbourhood Clinics held last week at Bear Creek Park and the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex. Our partnership with Fraser Health and the province in the creation of the Neighbourhood Clinics are producing results.
“All available doses have been used up each day, and we are hoping to have the same success for the new Neighbourhood Clinic at the Newton Community Centre that will get underway tomorrow. There is no question that getting people immunized is the quickest way for all of us to get back to normal. Whether you live in Surrey or not, I strongly encourage everyone to register and get their shot.”
Meantime, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker referenced South Surrey when encouraging the community to take part in this challenge.
“Let’s keep the momentum going. Encourage family members and friends to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Together, we can make this a fabulous summer in White Rock and South Surrey and all of the Fraser Health Region.”