Do large turnouts to anti-mask rallies as well as RCMP callouts to COVID incidents reveal troubling trend in West Kootenay? (Contributed)

Do large turnouts to anti-mask rallies as well as RCMP callouts to COVID incidents reveal troubling trend in West Kootenay? (Contributed)

Rossland doctor troubled by COVID deniers in Kootenays

Kootenay patient refuses heart treatment due to belief in ‘Big Pharma’ conspiracy

A frontline health-care professional at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital is troubled after an alarming encounter with a COVID denier.

“I had a patient refuse treatment here at the hospital because of a belief that treatment I was prescribing for his heart attack was part of a conspiracy between ‘big pharma’ and doctors to make obscene amounts of money and harm the public,” Dr. Jennifer Cochran told the Rossland News.

“And he was angry I was wearing a mask because ‘COVID is a hoax’. I wish I could say this was unusual. These days it isn’t.”

Cochran, a Rossland resident, has heard accounts of many incidents from friends and former patients weary of dealing with COVID deniers, conspiracy theorists, and anti-maskers, and points to a Facebook post on the page Ranting and Raving in the Kootenays encouraging residents to join in a “No mask flash mob” at the Trail Walmart on Jan. 17.

It’s mind boggling for many, as the number of deaths across the globe rise ever day. Hospitals and care homes have been overrun with cases, businesses shut down, people stressed and struggling mentally and physically, with more than 2-million deaths worldwide, including over 1,200 in B.C.

And yet, its surprising who believes resolutely that the pandemic is a hoax.

The pastor of Celebrations Church in the Waneta Mall received a hefty fine for holding a church event gathering without following COVID protocols.

However, according to Trail and District RCMP, since being issued a $2,300 fine for the illegal gathering, Celebrations Church is now following safety protocols.

“That church is now compliant with the Emergency Program Act (EPA) after we conducted a follow up investigation after receiving a second complaint,” said RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich.

Like Cochran’s own encounter, many of the COVID confrontations involve men who walk into retail stores or services and confront employees, most of whom are women.

From a women’s perspective it is scary, and from a healthcare worker’s perspective, ignoring science and following 5G conspiracy theorists and QAnon fabulists is a sure way to catch the virus.

“I’m from Nova Scotia,” said Cochran. “This is definitely a central and western Canada phenomenon. There are much more people here that value individual rights and freedoms over civic duty and doing what is needed for the health and safety of others and the community.”

The RCMP have responded to several calls regarding COVID protocols, and encountered many deniers and anti-maskers.

“We are receiving regular calls about people who are refusing to wear masks inside of businesses or holding social gatherings,” said Wicentowich. “We attend every call and conduct a follow up investigation on each complaint.

“So far, every person refusing to don a mask has left the business when asked without incident and before we have shown up. If someone refuses to leave a store and is not wearing a mask, we will issue a $230 fine.”

In spite of the protests and many incidents of people refusing to wear masks in local businesses, the COVID numbers from Fruitvale to Rossland remain among the lowest in the province.

Which, may be why some are bolder when it comes to defying provincial health orders, but for Cochran, the question is much larger than the virus, and more difficult to answer.

“The question I have is – what is it about our lives here in the Kootenays that draws people to the far right and all the conspiracy theories, anti-science sentiments that goes along with it?”

Trail and district police have issued just two tickets in total, one $230 ticket to an individual at Trail Walmart, and the other for the illegal church gathering.

There could have been more, as the RCMP’s original focus was on education. However, that is changing.

“(That) has now shifted to more enforcement due to the spike in COVID cases outside our area,” said Wicentowich. “Unfortunately, anti-maskers continue to spread misinformation and put themselves and others at risks.”

The province “enhanced” its enforcement measures on Dec. 16. This included tightening COVID-19 fine collections and asking enforcement officers to support police, and increase enforcement, by issuing violation tickets during their normal course of duties or when in public places.

The EPA was extended to Feb. 16, in an effort to curtail the spread. RCMP encourages even those who disagree with the pandemic protocols to abide by them.

“Trail RCMP note that our area has good practices and a high rate of compliance with the EPA,” said Wicentowich. “Trail RCMP are very thankful for this and this shows in our exceptionally low levels of cases in the area.”

“This pandemic will not last forever,” added Wicentowich. “And (Greater) Trail is poised to rebound quickly back to normal life once vaccines roll out.”

Read: Three more deaths in Interior Health



sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

L-R: The Nelson Skating Club’s Vienna Ferguson, Oceane Cheon and Paisley Jarvis wait for their performance times during the Kootenay Region Virtual Competition on Feb. 20. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Skating Club competes in regional event

The Kootenay Region Virtual Competition was held Feb. 20

Former owner and new manager Cole Johnston holds up the Reo’s sign outside its new location on Hall Street. The video rental store will reopen March 17. Photo: Submitted
Civic Theatre to reopen Reo’s at new location

The theatre has purchased the video rental store

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read