The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 191 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths today. Of the new cases, 32 are related to outbreaks, 20 are being blamed on close contact with another confirmed case, four are considered community spread and 103 are under investigation. There are now 952 active cases in our region, bringing our total to 5,203 cases, 4,160 resolved case, 82 people hospitalized, and 94 deaths. The province reported a new daily record for cases with 2,432 today. On Wednesday there were 2,139 cases, on Tuesday there were 2,275 cases, and on Monday there were 1,940 cases.
The President of Unifor Local 2458, which represents the workers at Village at St. Clair, has said that the province needs to step in, even if that means bringing in the military. The Minister of Long-Term Care says that they are working with community partners to address the situation at the Village at St. Clair, but there have been no further commitments from the Minister for the urgent assistance that we desperately need. Vague platitudes will not solve this crisis. We need help, and we need it now. Our caucus has called on the government to take immediate action to take over the management of this home and to hire more full-time PSWs, and ensure there is a minimum standard staffing level of four hours of hands-on care per day per resident. Today the provincial government announced an investment in long-term care to create new PSW positions by 2025 – this is unacceptable. Our parents and grandparents are in crisis with more becoming infected every day and more dying every day. We need an emergency mobilization to add thousands of PSWs to nursing homes right now – not by 2025.
Our caucus believes that the Ontario Hospital Association’s call for a four-week lockdown should be taken seriously after the provincial government failed to implement stronger measures in recent weeks and case counts have skyrocketed. Today, the provincial government would not commit to any new shutdowns in the province. We need infection control staff in long-term care, paid sick days to keep exposed workers at home, smaller class sizes and a COVID testing regime in schools. The government is sitting on $12 BILLION in COVID related funding, but they are not using these funds to keep our children, seniors, and essential workers safe.
The local health unit has declared an outbreak at Windsor Regional Hospital Met Campus on the 4N floor. Eight staff members and two patients on the floor tested positive. The hospital has put out a statement saying the hospital has already implemented aggressive infection prevention control measures at both campuses. They also emphasized that the hospital remains safe for care and people should still seek treatment when they need to. Additionally, effective today, all patients will be tested for COVID-19 on admission to the hospital as well on the fifth day of their hospital stay, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.
Windsor Regional Hospital announced that rapid testing is now available. Up to 200 individuals can now be tested per week, which is the maximum number of tests available for use at this time due to an international supply shortage. The hospital says the rapid tests will focus on in-patients who need to be tested and cannot be used for mass testing. Test results from the rapid test can be known within one hour.
The number of cases of COVID-19 at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare has grown to 58, with 39 of those from employees. The outbreak started last month.
Positive cases of the virus continue to be reported at local schools. A third case of the virus was found at Centennial Central Public School in Comber, Essex Public School saw its second case, and one case was found at Assumption College Catholic High School. Both school boards are working with the local health unit to notify all involved and contact tracing is underway.
The Ministry of Education is telling school boards across Ontario to prepare for the possibility of fully remote learning next year and staff and students should bring home essential learning materials before the holidays. The provincial government chose not to invest in stronger health protections in schools and downplayed the risk to children by saying that 90-some per cent of students aren’t sick. Parents, kids and staff deserve a plan that is more sophisticated than open-or-closed. There are months left in this pandemic to go, and we need a strategy in place that will protect our kids until this pandemic is behind us. We have been calling for a broad asymptomatic testing regime in schools, class sizes capped at 15, buses capped at 50 per cent capacity, and funding to implement better ventilation in schools.
The Canadian Teachers’ Federation is calling on the provincial government to include teachers and education workers on the vaccine priority list after vulnerable populations and health care workers. You can read more here.
Amherstburg’s Libro Centre is removing their ice as our region remains in Grey-Lockdown and unusable to the public. Mayor DiCarlo said there’s no sense in maintaining it at this time and it will be put back if and when possible for public use.
The annual S’Aints holiday fundraising concert will be virtual this year. The 2020 edition of “Sleighing Hunger” will be broadcast virtually on December 18 and 7pm. More information is available here.
Please continue to wear a mask when out in public, continue to practice physical distancing of two metres from other people, and wash your hands often.