Skip to content

'Managed to clean my hands enough': Dr. Bonnie Henry under fire for controversial comment

British Columbians are expressing frustration with the provincial health officer for a remark she made this week.
dr-bonnie-henry-presser-may-10-coronavirus-covid-19
British Columbia residents are frustrated after remarks Dr. Bonnie Henry made during a May 10, 2022 conference about coronavirus protection and hand washing.

British Columbians are expressing frustration with B.C.'s top doctor following a controversial comment she made during a coronavirus press briefing this week.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters on Tuesday (May 10) that COVID-19 has more of an opportunity to spread as people come together more frequently. 

"We are still in this pandemic," she remarked. "I don't think there's anybody that I know — certainly not in this room...I don't believe — who hasn't known somebody who has had most likely Omicron in the last few months."

But while the virus has been rapidly circulating in the province, the health officer noted that she'd been able to avoid it. 

"I've managed to clean my hands enough I guess and wear masks in the right places," she said, adding that "we can see see the results of vaccination and how protective it is."

Henry then stressed the importance of social connectedness, adding that she has been going out more often recently, which was "slightly terrifying at first." 

"So I think again, we have always tried to find that balance of the negative consequences of the measures that we have in place and being able to do the best that we can to protect people through this," she said. 

COVID-19 BC: Locals react to Dr. Bonnie Henry's comments

In response to her hand-washing remark, a local teacher wrote on Twitter: "In March of 2020 I scrubbed my hands so much my knuckles bled. [Henry] said masks weren’t necessary. My husband brought home COVID from school, which he was soon hospitalized for. I am still suffering 25 months later. When will we start to listen to the science?"

Another woman remarked that her daughter's school no longer has protection measures in place, such as a mask policy. They still have "a reminder to students to wash their hands frequently," however.

"Not joking! No masks, but clean hands. Well, it didn't work!!" exclaimed the frustrated mother, adding that her daughter tested positive for COVID-19.

Mike Hanafin characterized the briefing as a "PR stunt" that included "gaslighting" and "a repeat of de-bunked hand-washing nonsense." 

Torrance Coste said his whole family, including his 22-month-old baby, tested positive for COVID-19 five days after Henry lifted B.C.'s mask mandate.

Dr. Birinder Narang, a clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, said the "conference was quite unhelpful in the large scheme of things" and data from the BC Centre for Disease Control would have been more helpful. 

A local woman echoed this sentiment, remarking that she would have liked to hear more information on children. 

Some people found the conference helpful, however. Judy Smith said a "data-driven" briefing would "bore" average British Columbians who are mostly looking for reassurance. 

Do you think you might have COVID-19? The symptoms of the virus appear to be changing. Find out more information with our COVID-19 guide