The health board that includes the B.C. Centre for Disease Control held a maskless meeting inside its head office on Feb. 18, despite the rules published on its own website.
Provincial Health Services Authority directors met in three boardrooms at the 1333 West Broadway headquarters for the first webcast meeting since the Feb. 8 firing of CEO Benoit Morin over a bulk mask spending scandal.
Those at the meeting included director Dr. Ken Bassett of the University of B.C. Therapeutics Initiative and executive vice-president Dr. Maureen O’Donnell. Bassett did not respond to interview requests and O’Donnell refused to comment, instead referring theBreaker.news to the PHSA media relations department.
theBreaker.news wanted to know why the two doctors, who have backgrounds in epidemiology, were not wearing masks while the public was watching.
At one point in the meeting, unmasked Bassett coughed and wheezed audibly, at the same time O’Donnell was speaking.
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Chair Tim Manning also introduced interim CEO David Byres, who also went unmasked.
Spokesman Ben Hadaway refused to arrange an interview with Manning.
In a prepared statement, Hadaway claimed that board members “took care” to follow pandemic protocols.
PHSA leaders and staff “are asked to operate in compliance with public health orders on masking in workplaces, WorkSafe BC guidelines, and PHSA’s Workplace Health & Safety guidelines. Collectively, we use all of this guidance to employ a ‘layers of protection’ approach that balances effectiveness and practicality to achieve the optimal level of protection.”
“This was a safe approach, balanced with the practicality of not wearing masks when seated and trying to communicate with members of the public via Zoom,” Hadaway claimed.
When theBreaker.news pointed out that the PHSA website said masks were required in meeting rooms, even when physical distancing is possible, PHSA changed its website to say that masks were required when moving in or out of meeting rooms.
Meanwhile, when the Vancouver School Board met Feb. 22, officials in the chamber wore masks.
Research in the British Medical Journal in August 2020 supported findings of airborne transmission of the coronavirus and said that the two metre rule distancing may not be enough, especially in confined spaces where people spend extended periods of time together. Some studies cited in the BMJ article showed that sneeze droplets could travel as far as eight metres.
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