Thursday, August 5, 2021


Church of God Event Tied to Latest COVID-19 Deaths and Hospitalizations

Some congregants of the Church of God denomination in the Bahamas have died and others remain in the hospital after being infected with COVID-19 at a superspreader event.

Reports say the pentecostal denomination held a Youth Conclave at its William Johnson Auditorium earlier in the month, where all of its church branches attended.

The event became a hotspot for the infectious disease, which resulted in the spread among its congregants, which ultimately caused the closure of its branches for two weeks.

Vision of Hope Church of God in Yamacraw bore the brunt of infections. Reports say the church has since seen five deaths in its church as others are hospitalized at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Other infections remain among its varied branches.

Its Administrative Bishop Moses Johnson has said nothing publicly on the matter, except to post to social media stating “The Church of God Bahamas is praying for COVID-19 patients, covering the Church of God family and all health care workers.”

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has since limited worship service times in the country to one hour with 33% occupancy.

President of the Bahamas Christian Council Bishop Delton Fernander and Pastor of Mount Tabor Neil Ellis have criticized the measure stating that government should not dictate to the church the number of hours spent at a facility.

Health officials reported 132 new cases on Thursday, and 88 new cases were reported on Wednesday. There are presently 1723 active cases in the country.

Photo credit: Taken from social media, showing the congregation at its 66th Annual Youth Conclave

No Lockdown Plans but Minnis Pleads with Bahamians to Get Vaccinated

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis did not announce a national lockdown during his national address, as presumed by many. However, he begged Bahamians to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases claim more lives and hospitalization at the country’s hospitals surges.

In a national address to the country on Wednesday night, Minnis asked Bahamians to disregard the anti-vaccination disinformation circulating social media which are hampering vaccination efforts.

“These falsehoods are leading to serious illnesses and deaths by those who base their decisions on this false information. They are making people afraid of medical science and vaccines.

“I want to be very clear, we are in a struggle between life and death. Taking the vaccine will protect you from serious disease and deaths.

“The vaccines have been tested. They are safe. There is nothing to be afraid of. The virus that causes covid19 is easy to catch.

“Our public health experts recommend you take the vaccine. World health experts recommend that you take the vaccine. As a medical doctor of 40 plus years, I recommend you take the vaccine.  Do not listen to fake news over the medical science.”

Vaccines have been limited in the country as doses are only available for people receiving the second jab.

Minnis said his government has been working hard for many months to secure more vaccines.

“We have been trying to move heaven and earth to secure more vaccines.”

The 3rd tranche of prepaid vaccines of 33,600 doses of AstraZeneca through the COVAX facility is expected to arrive next week, Minnis said.

He said the government is also working with Caricom and the US government regarding donation of Pfizer vaccine.

Pfizer will be offered to 12 to 17-year-olds with the consent of parents and guardians.

Minnis to Focus On COVID-19 Hospitalization Care and Continuation of Businesses in National Address Tonight

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis will speak tonight in a national address to the country since re-implementing measures this week, to combat the increasing new virus cases in the country.

Wednesday will be significant as COVID19 cases surge during the third wave of the virus resulting in increasing rates of hospitalizations and deaths.

Nearly 50,000 Bahamian citizens and residents are fully vaccinated against the virus. However, many are still refusing to take the shot as health officials complain that 98.3% of its COVID-19 patients at Princess Margaret Hospital are unvaccinated.

A video went viral over the weekend, showing an overwhelmed hospital as patients lay on an outside corridor as rain poured nearby.

The Prime Minister is expected to discuss plans to assist with the care of people hospitalized with COVID-19, measures to limit further spread of the virus, and give an update on the country’s efforts to secure more vaccines.

The address will also focus on policies to ensure business continues and Bahamians are able to earn a living in a safe and responsible manner as measures are reintroduced.

This follows as pastors express disappointment in measures that limit their church services to one hour and spa owners are disgruntled as the Emergency Order prohibits operation of their businesses.

The address will air at 8pm on local stations.

Unvaccinated Overwhelm PMH

Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, Director of the Infectious Disease Programme at the Ministry of Health said more than 98% of hospitalizations and deaths at the Princess Margaret Hospital are among unvaccinated people.

Speaking at the latest Ministry of Health’s press conference on Friday, Forbes said the infectious disease is attacking individuals not fully vaccinated from the virus.

“98.3% of the infected have had no vaccination. A smaller percentage had one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she said.

Forbes added that individuals with just one jab of the vaccine contracted the virus less than 14 days after inoculation.

“Getting vaccinated will protect against hospitalization and death,” she said.

These comments came after Prime Minister Hubert Minnis received criticism from some fractions of society when he suggested that the virus was over for the vaccinated.

Last week, Minnis stated that the vaccinated individuals are now out of the pandemic while the non-vaccinated people are still in the pandemic.

When asked to respond to this claim made by Minnis, Pearl McMillan, Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health said, “He is partly right. More and more studies are coming through to show that those persons who have been vaccinated are less likely to have severe illness, hospitalization and death.”

State of play

Health officials said hospitalizations in this third wave have been much higher than in the second wave.

Officials said the country’s medical institutions experienced a peak in hospitalizations on July 20, which show a record of 92 cases.

Health Minister Renward Wells said, “These excessive numbers have placed our public health system to the test.”

The big picture

One hundred and ten new cases were confirmed on Thursday. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 13,957, with 1351 active cases.

A 50-year-old woman from New Providence died yesterday, due to the virus. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 280 people. Twenty-three deaths remain under investigation.


How Bad Is It? Enough to Retighten Restrictions as COVID-19 Cases Spiral

The government will retighten COVID-19 restrictions as health officials battle the latest swell in new infections.

Health officials confirmed 110 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, which brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 13,957.

A fifty-year-old woman from New Providence died on Thurday. This brings the total number of
confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 280. Twenty-three deaths are still being investigated.

Here are the new measures:

  1. Curfew changes on Monday from 10 pm to 5am for New Providence, Grand Bahama, North and South Eleuthera and Harbour Island.
  2. Unvaccinated travelers will require a PCR negative test.
  3. Church services will be reduced to 33% capacity and limited to 1 hour of service.
  4. Political groups are limited to 5 people and must be fully vaccinated.
  5. Weddings are limited to 30 people, excluding the officiant.
  6. Funerals are limited to the outdoors with a maximum of 30 people excluding workers and the officiant.
  7. Restaurants are limited to outdoors and takeaway services.
  8. Spas will be prohibited.
  9. Exercise groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people. There will be no recreational or sporting activities.
  10. Groups congregating on the beaches and parks should be no more than 5 people.

Over 3000 Doses of AstraZeneca Arrive to Combat Virus Swell

The Bahamas was supplemented with 3,496 doses of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine which arrived on Wednesday evening.

This comes as only a limited supply was available for individuals receiving the second dose of the jab.

The doses were a donation from the British Overseas Territories of Montserrat and Anguilla, with the assistance of United Kingdom High Commissioner Sarah Dickson.

Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, chair of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee and special health adviser to the Prime Minister was on hand to receive the donation at Jet Nassau FBO at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.

“The vaccines are a welcome addition to our current vaccine supplies and will be used to continue the administration of second doses.

“We express our deep appreciation to the governments and people of Montserrat and Anguilla and the United Kingdom for this much-needed support.”

Dr. Dahl-Regis also thanked the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for helping to coordinate the effort.

The big picture

The country is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases as vaccine supplies remain limited.

Ninety-five new cases were recorded on Tuesday, increasing the total number of cases in the country to 13,781, with 1264 active cases.

The upsurge in cases has placed a strain on the Princess Margaret Hospital as the country’s premier medical institution said it was implementing new measures “to manage the institution’s already strained services as a result of a surge in COVID-19 cases presenting at the Emergency Department.”

In a press statement, the hospital said, “The new measures are designed to reduce the spread of the virus among patients and staff and to account for an increase in the number of persons having to be admitted.”

Hospital officials said the overwhelming majority of individuals stricken with the virus are unvaccinated individuals.


A 4th Wave is Looming. The Bahamas Must Accelerate Vaccination Drive

COVID-19 cases in the country are swelling. The latest statistics from the Ministry of health show 95 new cases, increasing the total number of cases in the country to 13,781, with 1264 active cases.

Saturday’s statistics showed 100 new cases. Thirty-eight new cases were recorded on Sunday and Monday’s statistics showed 81 new cases.

The majority of the cases are concentrated in New Providence, with Grand Bahama, a far second. Abaco, Bimini and Cat Cay, Eleuthera and Exuma are a close tie in new cases.

Health Minister Renward Wells blamed the surging number of cases on the events and gatherings held over the Independent holiday weekend.

“Usually, there’s an uptick in cases about seven to eight days… 14 days out from any sort of major holiday. We have just come through the entire weekend of Independence, so folks would’ve gotten together in groups on beaches and homes, celebrating our independence and obviously we would’ve expected that given the fact that we would’ve had positive cases in the country that there would’ve been an uptick.

“We’re going to be looking over this week, assessing over the data and then seeing where we are and whether we have defined clusters or anything new that is developing.”

The uptick in cases is not unique to the Bahamas. The United States of America is battling cases that have tripled in number due to the Delta strain.

US health officials acknowledged that the country has hit its 4th wave of the virus as deaths and hospitalizations escalate.

While few numbers are among the vaccinated group like the elderly and the immune-compromised, the majority of those stricken with the latest attack of the virus are the unvaccinated group including children.

The director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Rochelle Walensky has labeled this latest wave, ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated.’

Minnis has followed suit, acknowledging that the unvaccinated individuals face the worst casualty in the pandemic as the government “aggressively pursues” more vaccination.

Currently, the government has a limited supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine and has since only offered second dose jabs.

The third tranche of Astra Zeneca is expected to arrive later this month, and Pfizer is expected in August.

If the country is to beat the virus and prevent the 4th wave of COVID-19, citizens must ignore the misinformation about the vaccine, and government must move quickly to mobilize a vaccination drive.

Passport Office Reopens After COVID-19 Exposure Causes Death

The Passport Office reopened on Wednesday following the death of an employee reportedly exposed to COVID-19.

The Thompson Blvd office was shut down for two days after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised the public of COVID-19 exposure in the building.

In a statement, the ministry said, “several positive COVID cases of employees” were identified, while acknowledging “the unfortunate passing of an employee.”

The two-day shut was to allow the Ministry of Health Surveillance Team to conduct a contact tracing assessment of the staff.

This comes as the country sees COVID-19 cases rise exponentially.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis described it as “concerning” and stated that the pandemic is attacking the unvaccinated.

He said the country is seeking to access more vaccines to protect the unvaccinated.

“One thing the Bahamian populace must understand, we are in two pandemics. The vaccinated individuals are now out of the pandemic. The pandemic is finished for the vaccinated.

“The non-vaccinated are still in the pandemic. Therefore, it is essential for us to aggressively pursue vaccines so that we can vaccinate our populace as quickly and efficiently as possible so that they can move into the vaccinated portion, thus the non-pandemic,” he said.

At last report, 81 new cases were confirmed in the country—55 in New Providence, 19 in Grand Bahama, 2 in Abaco, and 4 in Bimini and Cat Cay.

Watson’s Posturing; He’s Entitled to His Own Opinion, But Not Vaccination Facts

Clint Watson, the host of Beyond the Headlines, vehemently resisted recent comments by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, when he stated that the country is presently in two pandemics–one for vaccinated individuals and another for non-vaccinated individuals.

Minnis was addressing the climb in COVID19 cases in the country, noting that it was worrying as the Bahamas experiences a 3rd wave of the virus.

“One thing the Bahamian populace must understand, we are in two pandemics. The vaccinated individuals are now out of the pandemic. The pandemic is finished for the vaccinated.

“The non-vaccinated are still in the pandemic. Therefore, it is essential for us to aggressively pursue vaccines so that we can vaccinate our populace as quickly and efficiently as possible so that they can move into the vaccinated portion, thus the non-pandemic,” Minnis said.

Watson, during the taping of his show, is taken aback by the comments and is heard telling producers, “Did he say the pandemic is over for the vaccinated? No, no, no. I’m sorry. Control room can you play that sound bite again, please? No, no. I heard wrong.”

With a mocking smile, Watson then goes on to say, “How did he come to that conclusion? …I’m confused.”

Why is Watson confused? The facts about the pandemic are indisputable.

Here’s how Minnis came to that conclusion.

  1. Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said the virus is targeting people who are unvaccinated.  She said, “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated” as deaths and hospitalization are among the unvaccinated people.
  2. Fully vaccinated people who may contract the virus are less likely to spread the virus to others as they have less virus in their system compared to unvaccinated people, according to Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor.
  3. USA President Joe Biden, acknowledging that cases of COVID-19 have tripled over recent weeks in the US, stated on Friday, “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.”

Watson, as the host of an opinionated show, is entitled to his own thoughts and feelings. However, he is not entitled to the facts, no matter how much passion he demonstrates.

How is Minnis wrong about the statement he made? Does Watson need to hear PLP ‘experts’ say so before he believes?

Does Watson need to see body counts or hospitalization statistics of the unvaccinated?

Is Watson so politically blinded that anything Minnis says he refuses to believe?

Watson is simply benighted or politically posturing for his audience.

Prison Officers Want COVID-19 Testing As One of Its Own Fights for Life

Prison officers at the Bahamas Department of Corrections are calling on health officials to render COVID-19 testing for its officers and inmates after another correctional officer tested positive for the infectious disease.

In a statement, the officers said there is an upsurge of cases in the Maximum Security section of the prison.

The officers said Commissioner Charles Murphy has not been truthful in revealing the accurate number of infections at the facility.

“Enough is Enough…

“The commissioner [is] joking. The medical department [is] joking along with Sister Strachan and TCN/Principal Officer Mackey who are cherry-picking which officers should go on quarantine.

“The commissioner is in denial.  He failed to give a true report on the numbers of officers who have been sick with COVID since last year.”

Officer Kareem Jones is listed in ICU after contracting the virus.

One of its recent cases is a correctional officer who is reported to be in ICU a the Princess Margaret Hospital, connected to a ventilator.

“People’s lives are not a joke.  Please stop playing and test these officers who have been exposed and discontinue the practice of evaluating staff on paper and a phone call.

“Officers, staff and inmates were affected from day one,” officers said.

The big picture

The country is in the third wave of the virus and Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has called on everyone above the age of 18 to get vaccinated.

Vaccination centers have been opened to inoculate individuals willing to receive the jab.

To date, the country has recorded 12,889 COVID-19 cases; 11740 people have recovered while 812 cases remain active.