As the province's bars, restaurants, entertainment and sports venues begin checking clients for vaccination records, Public Health reports New Brunswick is setting records in the number of new COVID-19 infections.
The New Brunswick COVID-19 Dashboard indicates 76 newly confirmed infections in the province on Wednesday, Sept. 22, including 31 in Zone 3, the Fredericton and Upper River Valley region.
The province also reported the COVID-related death of a person in their 80s in Zone 3. New Brunswick has now lost 49 people to virus-related issues since the pandemic began.
While server problems prohibited releasing the daily update and potential exposure list to the GNB website, Department of Health communications spokesperson Bruce MacFarlane said the department shared the information on its Facebook site. He also emailed the update to the River Valley Sun.
Wednesday's new infections pushed the active number of cases to 557, including 26 people in hospital, with 15 in an intensive care unit.
The COVID update indicated 17 of Zone 3's 31 infections involved people 19 and under, with five infections hitting people in their 20s and four in their 30s.
Public health reported 22 of Zone 3's cases remain under investigation for the source of the virus.
Wednesday's update also reported the provincial rapid outbreak management team, known as PROMPT, activated to deal with the spread of the virus in 15 locations provincewide, including a pair of Carleton County long-term care facilities.
Public Health said team members are providing care at MacLeod's Too in Hartland and River View Manor in Bath.
PROMPT members are also attending situations at Victoria Glen Manor in Perth-Andover, Villa des Chutes n Grand Falls, and Tobique First Nations.
Public Health will conduct continuous testing at these facilities on a rotational basis.
The rising numbers appear to strengthen the reasoning behind Public Health's recommendation for the tighter measures aimed at the province's under-vaccinated population.
Public Health noted 58 of Wednesday's 76 new infections involved people not fully vaccinated.
As business owners and community facilities, such as Woodstock's AYR Motor Centre, scrambled over the past week to implement systems to check the vaccination records of customers and patrons, some reached out to the government for greater clarity.
For example, Woodstock Recreation Director and AYR Motor Centre facilities manager Kelly Foster Hallett told council at Tuesday night's council-in-committee meeting she was waiting for clarification surrounding vaccination requirements of children turning 12 between now and the end of the year.
Under regulations announced last week by the province, anyone 12 and older must prove they are double-vaccinated to enter the building. Health Canada and the vaccine manufacturers have not yet approved it for children under 12.
Foster Hallett told council government officials explained to her they would clarify that question surrounding 12-years-old shortly.
Parents with children in minor sports programs spanning the 11 and 12-year-old age group contacted River Valley Sun expressing concern their children may miss time even after starting the vaccination process. They said the young athletes could miss up to 42 days as they wait 28 days to get the second dose and another 14 for the vaccine to be fully effective.
River Valley Sun received a copy of a message circulating among school sources addressing the issue.
The information states students born between July 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, who have one vaccination only, and have their second scheduled before Oct. 31, are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities while awaiting their second dose. The grace period ends after Oct. 31.
River Valley Sun still has not confirmed that information, nor has it determined whether it addresses only student sports or all minor sports at that age level.
During her report to council Tuesday evening, Foster Hallett said AYR Motor Staff worked over the past several days to prepare for the new vaccination and mask mandates that went into effect the following morning.
Staff provided an opportunity for regular facility patrons to pre-disclose their vaccination status and get their name on a master list. Foster Hallett said the goal is to speed up the process at the door during events.
Woodstock Mayor Art Slipp urged everyone to be patient with town staff and others throughout the community as they try to implement the new rules, which, he added, are needed to stem the virus spread and growing hospitalizations.
"If they do have an issue, please be considerate and compassionate towards our staff," Slipp said. "They're just doing their jobs, and we want to make sure we have a minimum of confrontation."
As restrictions mount on New Brunswickers not fully vaccinated, vaccination rates appear to climb. Public Health announced that 78.1 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated, and 86.8 per cent have received their first dose of a vaccine.
Traffic appeared high at the Horizon Health public vaccination clinic at AYR Motor Centre Tuesday, with a long lineup outside the door through the late afternoon and early evening.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun