A White Rock father who filed suit against the provincial government last fall for its COVID-19 back-to-school plan has now launched an online effort to compile “critical data that we all have a right to know about and responsibility to share,” when it comes to preventing spread of the virus.
Bernard Trest said he and his son Max started the ‘COVID Reported’ Facebook page to show where exposure events have occurred locally, as well as highlight sites where safety protocols aren’t being followed – information that Trest says authorities and places of business haven’t been sufficiently forthcoming about.
“There is a deadly virus circulating and we are being kept in the dark about critical… information about specifically where the virus is within our communities,” Trest wrote in a Jan. 3 email to Peace Arch News.
Many businesses have been refusing to publicly share information on COVID-19 exposure events at their establishments, he continued, and B.C. health authorities “essentially list absolutely nothing as if a deadly virus is not circulating in our communities.”
Trest first went public with concerns about COVID-19 safety protocols in July, in connection with B.C.’s plan to return students to class last September. In August, he was one of two parents to file suit against the ministers of health and education, seeking an injunction restraining the ministries from moving ahead with back-to-school plans that didn’t include a mandatory mask policy in classrooms or compel physical distancing amongst students within the same learning group.
That application was dismissed in October, however, Trest said others are continuing to champion the school cause.
Meanwhile, he and Max hope to take the COVID Reported initiative Canada-wide. As of Tuesday morning (Jan. 5), it had more than 1,500 followers.
COVID Reported, Trest said, encourages people to submit exposure tips in a private message. In addition to disclosing their own contact information (which Trest says is for verification purposes only and will not be made public), tipsters are asked to include supporting documents and details such as dates, as well as photos or screenshots of the exposure location if possible. Businesses noted violating COVID-19 safety protocols may also be reported, he said.
Trest said he and Max will endeavour to verify the tips, however, followers are encouraged to “do your own due diligence prior to making decisions based on this information.”
“We are not posting any data blindly as COVID Reported is not a ‘gossip’ type site,” Trest added.
The site will be updated daily, he said, including a map showing the reported locations, dates of exposures and how many days between the exposure and notification.
Trest said the effort is about transparency around where COVID-19 infections are occurring, and helping people protect themselves from exposure.
“We are far from out of the woods and based on what we see in other provinces, the UK, and the United States, the COVID-19 situation in BC will get much worse,” he said.
“Since the BC CDC did not create and run a COVID Alert type app and since they refuse to provide transparency, it’s up to us as citizens to do it and share critical lifesaving data.”
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