The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 127 new cases of COVID-19 today which is a new record for our region, including one new death linked to the virus. The health unit says the latest victim is a 27-year-old man with no underlying health conditions. Of the new cases announced for our region, 20 are listed as close contact with a confirmed case, one is a local health care worker, three are in the community, one involves a worker in the agri-farm sector and 102 are still under investigation. There are currently 556 active cases, bringing the total to 4,238 cases in our region, with 3,597 resolved cases, and 85 deaths. The province reported 1,890 cases today, 1,676 cases yesterday, 1,925 cases on Monday, 1,924 cases on Sunday, and 1,859 cases on Saturday.
I released a statement today, along with my colleagues MPP Lisa Gretzky and MPP Taras Natyshak, regarding these record number of cases in Windsor-Essex:
“Windsor-Essex is in crisis and it’s getting worse every day. The provincial government has waved the white flag in the battle against this virus, and are telling our region we’re on our own as COVID-19 continues to spread like wildfire.
We should not be in this situation. The local public health unit is doing their best, but they’re unable to keep up with the rising infection rates, and can’t do the critical work of contact tracing and managing the growing number of outbreaks in our schools. They need help urgently and they need provincial leadership. While the provincial government sits on $12 billion in unspent COVID-19 funds, and waits for a vaccine to arrive, the people of Windsor-Essex are suffering right now and are facing a lockdown.
Today we heard the devastating news that a 27-year-old man has died of COVID-19 in our region. We have now lost 85 local residents to this virus, and unless action is taken by the province we face seeing cases continue to surge and more lives cut short.
We have made multiple requests directly to the Premier and the health minister for immediate funding to flow to Windsor-Essex, and to cap class sizes at 15 students, but the government is still refusing to provide the support that’s needed in this region to save lives and get the virus under control. We need the government to take action now before our hospitals become overwhelmed, and more families are forced to suffer the loss of a loved one that could have been avoided.”
For COVID-19 news in local schools, there was one new case of COVID-19 reported at Riverside Secondary School today and one case was identified at Holy Names Catholic Secondary School. Close contacts of the students have been notified. The COVID-19 outbreak at F.W. Begley has officially been rescinded and the school reopened today with a staggered start for students. The school shut down on November 17 after an outbreak was identified and more than 430 students and staff were dismissed. The outbreak resulted in 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The motion to make masks mandatory for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 was defeated at the GECDSB Board of Trustees meeting last night.
Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer today. Canada is set to receive four million doses of the vaccine by March, including 249,000 doses expected to arrive next week. Windsor Regional Hospital has already purchased and received the necessary freezers to store the vaccine, which require ultra-cold temperatures below -70 degrees Celsius.
Our caucus released a statement today in response to this news, saying that while the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel, the provincial government is still condemning people to more agony and more tragic loss before we get there. The provincial government should not wave the white flag and wait for the vaccine while letting the virus run rampant through long-term care homes, schools, and communities because they don’t want to spend the money to help stop it. We are also concerned about how far behind Ontario is, as we don’t have firm answers on who will receive the first doses, and how people will be alerted it is their turn. We don’t know where vaccination records will be tracked, or how proof of vaccination will be issued. These systems should be in place now, but instead the provincial government has provided vague responses.
Please continue to wear a face mask when out in public, continue to practice physical distancing of two metres from others, and wash your hands often.