The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting two additional deaths and 41 new cases of COVID-19 today. Of the new cases, 13 are from close contact of a confirmed case, one was community acquired, and 27 are still under investigation. There are currently 410 active cases in our region, bringing the total number to 3,740 cases, 3,248 resolved cases, and 82 deaths. Across the province there were 1,723 confirmed cases today, 1,707 cases yesterday, 1,746 cases on Monday, 1,708 cases on Sunday, and 1,855 cases on Saturday.
Today during question period in the Legislature, MPP Lisa Gretzky and I urged the government to provide emergency resources without delay to the local public health unit. Yesterday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported that local public health capacity will soon be “on the verge of collapsing”, and officials noted that they just don’t have enough staff to do critical contact tracing and case management in the community, and more school outbreaks are adding to the pressure on their staff. There are now 25 schools in Windsor-Essex where cohorts have been dismissed, and yet class sizes still have not been reduced. Local public health staff are working 12 to 15 hour days, seven days a week. They are doing the best with the limited resources they have. The Windsor-Essex Public Health Unit has been underfunded for years. Before COVID-19, it one of the lowest-funded public health systems in the province, which was made worse when the government decided to cut their funding by $1.5 million. The government didn’t prioritize public health and prevention measures before the pandemic, and they’ve failed to step up with the support we need now. They’re sitting on $9 billion in unused COVID-19 relief funding while exhausted frontline workers are scrambling to keep the virus at bay, people are getting sick, and people are dying. We need the government to get the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit the resources they need immediately and prevent this looming collapse.
The Windsor Regional Hospital has joined Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Erie Shores Healthcare in implementing a zero-visitor policy starting today after consulting with the local health unit. There are some exceptions permitted on compassionate grounds. The complete list of restrictions for WRH can be found here.
New cases of COVID-19 were reported in schools in our region today. Northwood Public School has one confirmed case, an outbreak has been declared at Corpus Christi Catholic Middle School after at least seven confirmed cases, a cohort of 23 students have been dismissed from St. Pius X Catholic Elementary School in Tecumseh, and a class of 10 students have been dismissed from St. Anne Catholic High School in Lakeshore. School board staff have notified the affected students and have been working with the health unit, who are providing additional directions for those affected to follow.
The local health unit has updated their Public Exposure Notifications list with a new case reported. You can find the updated list of where positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the community, here.
The provincial government said they will invest $115 million to help some hospital patients with high complex care needs transition to home or community care. You can read the full release here.
The Prime Minister announced today that the closure of the Canada-U.S. border will likely continue into 2021 for all non-essential travel. The border ban is being reassessed on a month-by-month basis and is set to expire again on December 21.
The provincial government said they want to see the quarantine for international travel replaced with a rapid COVID-19 testing program. Under this plan, international travelers receive a COVID-19 test upon entering Canada before going into quarantine. If the test comes back negative, then those travelers are free to leave quarantine but will be required to take another test a week following their initial arrival. You can read more here.
Researchers from the Cross Border Institute at the University of Windsor are calling on the federal government to start planning for border testing now. Specifically, they are calling for antigen testing, which is cheaper, quicker and the turn-around for results is much faster than standard test. Their hope is that with this testing, the border might reopen sooner. You can read the full article here.
Please continue to wear a mask or face covering when out in public, continue to practice physical distancing of two metres, and wash your hands often.