British Columbia health officials are reporting 33 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, including one new case in Island Health.

There are now a total of 2,145 cases: 823 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 978 are in the Fraser Health region, 121 are in the Island Health region, 174 are in the Interior Health region and 49 are in the Northern Health region. To date, 1,357 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

Seventy-nine people with COVID-19 are hospitalized, just a little over half the number recorded at the peak of the province’s epidemic. Twenty-four of those are in intensive care.

Of the 121 confirmed cases in Island Health, 101 have recovered and three are in hospital. There have been a total of four deaths since the pandemic began.

Less than one month ago, there were 149 people in hospital with COVID-19 in British Columbia, including 68 in intensive care.

There has also been one new COVID-19-related death in the Fraser Health region, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in the province to 112.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix released Friday’s numbers in a statement. They did not do a press conference today.

There have been no new long-term care or assisted-living facility outbreaks as of May 1. In total, 21 facilities and three acute-care units have active outbreaks, with outbreaks now declared over at 12 care facilities.

And there are 52 employees confirmed COVID-19 positive at Superior Poultry in Coquitlam, and 35 employees confirmed positive at United Poultry in Vancouver.

“Of note, the United Poultry case number has been decreased, correcting a reporting error in yesterday’s report,” Henry and Dix said in the statement.

There are also 133 inmates and staff confirmed positive at the Mission Institution federal correctional centre, as well as 15 positive cases of COVID-19 connected to the Kearl Lake plant in Alberta.

“Today is National Physicians Day, as well as the start of National Medical Laboratory Week. It is an opportunity for all of us to recognize the dedication and contributions of our physicans, our medical laboratory professionals and all our other health-care workers – the people whose responsibility it is to care for all of us,” Henry and Dix wrote.

“Let’s honour and protect them by doing all we can to continue to flatten the curve. When we are outside this weekend, think of them and always keep a safe physical distance from those around you. Be 100% committed to keeping our firewall strong.”

British Columbia government is counting on its $1.5-billion economic recovery fund to get the province through the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Carole James said earlier Friday.

James says she knows people are hurting as their finances are battered by the novel coronavirus, evident by the 16,000 people who applied for B.C.’s $1,000 tax-free emergency benefit in the first 45 minutes of the program going online on Friday.

“We all know that many British Columbians have lost their jobs or have had their ability to be able to work severely affected by COVID-19,” James said at a news conference. “Businesses, large and small, are also struggling, wondering what the future is going to bring for their business or their industry.”

Recent economic data from Central 1 Credit Union forecasts B.C.’s economy to plummet 7.3 per cent in 2020, eclipsing the depths reached during the recession in the early 1980s. Central 1 also forecasts a rebound of 5.1 per cent in 2021, but some key provincial industries, including tourism, will continue to flounder.

The C.D. Howe Institute’s Business Cycle Council reported Friday Canada has entered a recession due to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council said the economy peaked in February before the steps taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus brought the economy to a standstill.

Premier John Horgan said earlier this week the indicators for B.C.’s economy “are dark for the foreseeable future.” He said he is looking to provincial and federal relief measures to help B.C. endure the pandemic in the short-term.

James said the government introduced a $5 billion plan to help people, businesses and organizations affected by the pandemic. Part of that plan includes the $1.5 billion to help with recovery efforts.

“It is not going to be an easy process to look at coming out of the kind of challenges we faced with COVID-19,” said James. “We need to make sure the return is done carefully. We’re as eager to rebuild as you are.”

She said she expected the premier to announce initial stages of B.C.’s economic recovery strategy next week.

Discussions have been underway between government, industry, business and labour officials about how best to target the $1.5 billion recovery dollars, she said.

“The money has not been committed yet,” James said. “We are gathering plans now about how can we make sure that the money is going directly to supporting our economy and the kind of recovery we want to see.”

Bryan Yu, deputy chief economist at Central 1, said the $1.5 billion fund will play an important role in B.C.’s economic recovery.

“With the current downturn, it’s not going to be an immediate rebound or return to anything normal,” he said. :As we move forward, we’ll see how the economy ultimately evolves and rebounds, then we’ll know where that funding needs to be addressed.”

James said the $1,000 relief benefit is available to people in B.C. who are also receiving the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit of $2,000 a month.

To get the B.C. benefit, people must have been a resident of the province on March 15, be eligible and approved to receive the federal benefit, be at least 15 years old on the application date, and have filed or agreed to file a 2019 tax return.

Those receiving provincial income or disability assistance are not eligible for the benefit.

To see a breakdown of the COVID-19 numbers in B.C., visit the BC COVID-19 dashboard.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Medicine report that there are more than 3.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide with more than 213,000 deaths.

With files from the Canadian Press and CBC

Alexa Huffman