The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has announced 62 new COVID-19 cases today. Yesterday, our region had 93 cases, and on Wednesday there were 31 cases. Of the new cases announced today, 19 are from close contact with another confirmed case, seven are considered community spread, and 36 are under investigation. Our region has now recorded 14,664 cases since the pandemic began, 409 deaths, and 13,801 cases listed as resolved. There are currently 454 active cases in our region, with 17 confirmed cases in the hospital, with four in the ICU. A total of 127,583 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Across the province today there were 4,812 new cases, the most ever in a single day. Yesterday there were 4,736 cases reported, and on Wednesday there were 4,156 cases.
NEW COVID-19 MODELLING AND RESTRICTIONS
The Premier announced new restrictions today in response to the rising COVID-19 numbers across the province. The Stay-At-Home order has been extended by two weeks, for a minimum six weeks total. He also announced that non-essential construction will be shut down, and outdoor amenities like golf and playgrounds will be restricted. Outdoor gatherings with people outside a person’s household will be prohibited, effective at 12:01am tomorrow. The capacity of religious gatherings, weddings, and funerals will be limited to 10 people starting 12:01 am Monday. The Premier also announced that there will be checkpoints at the provincial borders with Quebec and Manitoba, restricting travel with exceptions to those who are travelling for an essential purpose, such as work or medical reasons. Police will now also have the authority to ask anyone outside their residence to indicate their purpose for leaving the home and ask they provide their address. This includes the ability to stop vehicles and potentially issuing tickets of approximately $750. You can read more here.
The decision by the Premier to implement virtually no new public health protections is yet another choice to ignore experts, and march Ontario deeper into crisis. And by focusing on increased enforcement and punishment, this government is putting the blame on the vast majority of Ontarians who are following the rules and public health advice. The Premier has been warned repeatedly by experts that more was needed to prevent this from happening. We need to listen to the experts and get more vaccines to hotspots, give all workers paid sick days, give them paid time off to get their vaccine, get non-essential workers out of workplaces, and close non-essential businesses. We need to accept the federal government’s offer to help – we need the Red Cross, the military, and health care staff any other jurisdiction can spare.
New provincial projections show that daily infections could reach 20,000 cases per day, and data indicates Ontario’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are at their highest levels since the pandemic began. The advisers have also said that vaccines are not reaching high-risk people fast enough to overcome serious illness seen in hospitals. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the province’s science table, said that part of the problem is that Ontario began easing public health measures too soon when variants of concern were on the rise. Our caucus echoed these concerns in February at the end of the second lockdown. We cautioned that the Premier was reopening parts of the province too quickly without taking additional steps to ensure it was safe by investing in more testing, tracing and public health protections, like paid sick days. You can read more on the new modelling here.
Dr. Ahmed has provided an update on modelling for local COVID-19 cases, saying that close to 30 per cent of cases in April have come from individuals between the ages of 18 to 29 and have been community acquired. Dr. Ahmed has again stressed the importance of following all public health measures and is asking individuals to be mindful every time they’re interacting with someone outside their household. You can read more here.
The local health unit has said they plan to start vaccinating agri-farm workers next week, and hope to administer 400 doses per day. The doses will be for temporary foreign workers, and well as locals working on Essex County farms. The local health unit also plans to start vaccinating adult recipients of chronic home care who cannot leave their homes. The health unit has been working with the LHIN and two teams consisting of a nurse practitioner and a nurse will be going home to home. You can read more here.
Canada’s Procurement Minister has said that the incoming supply of Moderna vaccines will be half of what was expected for the rest of April – receiving only 650,000 instead of 1.2 million. This limited supply is due to a slower than anticipated ramp up of their production capacity, according to the Procurement Minister. Moderna has also said that one to two million doses of the scheduled 12.3 million doses expected in the second quarter may be delayed as well. The federal government says they have secured additional Pfizer vaccines, and expect to see 4 million additional doses in May, two million in June, and two million in July. You can read more here.
A new case of COVID-19 has been reported at Queen Elizabeth Public School in Leamington. The Greater Essex County District School Board says close contact have been notified and are following the direction of the local health unit.
The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has said that their students will start online learning on Monday, with elementary students connecting with teachers in the morning and then will be provided with independent learning activities for the afternoon. Secondary students will begin their online learning on either Monday or Tuesday, depending on their cohorts, and those students in Quadmester 4 will start online learning on Wednesday as previously scheduled. The school board has asked students and parents to keep an eye on their email for any updates. You can read more here.
My office continues to hear from constituents about the struggles of remote learning. We know that children learn better in classrooms and we need to do more to ensure that kids can safely return to classrooms. Our caucus continues to call for the provincial government to put a cap on class sizes of 15 students, for broad asymptomatic testing, prioritizing vaccines for teachers, education workers, and child care workers, and for paid sick days so that parents can stay home with their children if they are sick.
Windsor Regional Hospital has announced they will keep their Met Campus COVID-19 Assessment Centre open for another week to test more residents experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The Met Campus Assessment Centre will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week from 8am to 3pm. The Ouellette Campus Assessment Centre remains open seven days a week from 8am to 3pm. Tests can be booked for either site online here.
LOCAL EXPOSURE POINTS
The local health unit has updated their list of possible exposure points. You can find the list of those exposure points here, along with the dates and times of possible exposure.
Please stay diligent and continue following public health advice by staying at home, only going out for essential trips, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing of 2 metres apart at all times when around others who live outside your household, and washing your hands frequently.