Langford is expanding its COVID-19 response to help educate community members and offer home testing for those that need it in all West Shore communities.
On Tuesday, Langford rolled out a new van that will drive to various locations across the community and let people know what resources are available as well as “spread the message, not the virus,” according to Langford Mayor Stew Young.
On the van is the website Langford created for its COVID-19 response as well as a phone number and reminders of best practices such as hand washing and physical distancing guidelines.
“We want them to make sure they stay home as much as they can,” Young said. “We want them to phone the hotline, we don’t want them getting on public transit, going to a hospital, going to a clinic anywhere and spreading the virus.”
Residents who phone the hotline with concerns will have questions answered or be directed to fill out a self-assessment available online. If required, they will be referred to a nurse or doctor for further assessment. If a resident needs to be tested, the test will come to them at their home.
The City is administering 50 tests sent to doctors and nurses from Island Health. They have tested 20 people already. Young said Island Health originally discouraged Langford from pursuing a mobile testing unit. .
A letter from Island Health’s chief medical officer Richard Stanwick said the province’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, directed that swabbing should only be used for people in hospital or requiring hospitalization, long-term care residents, health care providers and for outbreaks or vulnerable individuals experiencing significant symptoms as determined by their health care providers.
“We desperately need to preserve our infection control and testing supplies for those people who will inevitably need it,” the letter said.
During a recent media briefing Henry, said she didn’t understand why a city would do mobile testing. She added that she did see a need for a similar service where residents could talk with somebody to help them if they didn’t have access to health care, are concerned or are sick.
Young said he was disappointed to receive the letter from Stanwick, but said two days later, Langford received 50 test kits.
“We’re a City and we’re a government and we will do whatever we have to do to keep our residents safe but I’m not very happy when they come out and tell us not to do what we want to do to help our residents,” Young said.
According to Young, many people are asking him how many test kits are available and what the cost of procuring them. Answers he doesn’t have.
Young said, other West Shore municipalities have expressed interest in Langford’s COVID-19 response so the services have been extended to everyone. Young said the hope is that they procure more test kits so the virus does not continue to spread.
“We need to make sure we have everything possible to fight this pandemic,” Young said. “The COVID-19 virus doesn’t know any boundaries.”
In addition to the call centre and mobile testing, the City will also be handing out flyers and putting up signs reminding people about hand washing, physical distancing, symptoms and who to speak with if help is needed.
More information about Langford’s COVID-19 response as well as the self assessment can be found at covidlangford.com.