The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 56 new high risk cases of COVID-19 today. Due to the changes in eligibility for testing and limited testing capacity, the rise of Omicron cases, and the shifted focus of case, contact, and outbreak management to high-risk settings, these case counts are an underestimate of the true numbers of individuals who have COVID-19 within Windsor-Essex County. The health unit defines high-risk cases as those coming from individuals who are eligible for PCR testing in accordance with Ontario's current testing guidance. Yesterday there were 102 cases, and on Saturday there were 87 cases.
There are now a total of 535 active high risk cases in our region, with 49 people currently in the hospital with COVID-19, and 8 of those in the ICU. There are currently 18 community outbreaks, seven workplace outbreaks, and 14 outbreaks in long-term care/retirement homes. Locally, 85.9 per cent of residents over the age of five have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 82 per cent are fully vaccinated, and 52.6 per cent of residents over the age of 18 have received their booster shot.
Today, Toronto reported 335 new cases, Peel reported 134 new cases, and Ottawa reported 139 new cases. Across the province today there were 1,765 new cases of COVID-19, but health officials have warned that number is an underestimate due to testing restrictions. Yesterday, there were 2,265 cases, and on Saturday there were 2,944 cases. There have been a total of 1,074,485 cases of COVID-19 in the province since the pandemic began, and there are currently 1,369 people in the hospital with COVID-19, and 394 in the ICU.
AMBASSADOR BRIDGE BLOCKADE
Today, I joined Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath and my local colleague MPP Lisa Gretzky, to call on the provincial government to replace the income lost by workers and small businesses due to the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge. Auto parts, medical supplies, agrifood and agrifood supplies, and other critical shipments were stuck at the border, some schools closed, and neighbourhoods were disrupted. Workers who were not able to get to work or had their workplaces shutdown because of this blockade still need to pay the mortgage, hydro, and grocery bills. The government had the power all along to help end the blockade, but for too long they chose not to. Working folks shouldn’t have to pay for that choice. We are calling for the government to pay back workers for any shift that was cancelled and reimburse small businesses for their losses.
Mayor Drew Dilkens says the overall impact of the blockade at the bridge was substantial, and he estimates that the economic impact for the week of closure resulted in a loss of just over $3 billion from goods that could not cross the border. You can read more here.
EASING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS
The provincial government made an announcement today with an updated timeline of when COVID-19 restrictions will begin to ease.
Effective February 17, 2022, Ontario will further ease public health measures, including, but not limited to:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
- Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors
- Removing capacity limits in the following indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to:
- Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
- Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
- Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
- Indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
- Allowing 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas
- Allowing 50 percent of the usual seating capacity for concert venues and theatres
- Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs
- Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits are removed if the location opts-in to use proof of vaccination or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.
Effective March 1, 2022, Ontario intends to ease further restrictions as long as public health and health system indicators continue to improve. This step includes lifting capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings, and well as ending the proof of vaccination requirement for all settings. You can read more here.
My caucus colleagues and I have raised concerns over the plan to end vaccine certificate requirements early. We all want Ontario, including restaurants and gyms, and especially schools, to be fully open when it is safe, and to stay that way. Vaccine certificates are helping to keep everything open and protecting us all. Ending vaccine certificate requirements is risky, especially for seniors, parents whose little ones are too young to get the shot, and everyday folks who want to know that they are safe in public settings.
ONTARIO FISCAL UPDATE
The provincial government released their third quarter fiscal update today, and it shows that the government is still refusing to undo the big cuts to health care, public education, and public health. Families need more nurses and health care workers in their communities, and more teachers and education workers in their children’s schools. Families are expecting their government to spare no expense to clear the catastrophic surgery backlog, which will take years to get through while people are waiting in pain. There was nothing in today’s update about tackling the big challenges facing Ontario families right now. We should be investing in the services that people need, not making deeper cuts to health care, public health, and education. You can read the government’s fiscal update here.
RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS
The provincial government announced that 5.5 million rapid antigen tests will be available across the province each week. You can find participating grocery stores and pharmacies here.
Today, the province announced that booster shots will be available for youth aged 12 to 17 as of 8am on Friday February 18. Individuals must be at least 12 years old at the time of the appointment.
First, second, and third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available at one of the three mass vaccination sites, located in the former Sears store at Devonshire Mall, at Hotel-Dieu Grace HealthCare, and at the Grovedale House Community Hall in Kingsville. All mass vaccination sites are now accepting walk-ins. Moreover, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now available for individuals aged 30 years and older at any vaccination site. Grovedale House is open from 9am to 3:45pm Tuesday to Saturday for pre-booked or walk-in appointments. Hotel Dieu's clinic will be available from 2:30pm to 6:30pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. To book an appointment, please visit www.wevax.ca.
Pop-up vaccination clinics will be available at the following locations next week:
- Tuesday February 15 – Windsor Bus Terminal Downtown – 300 Chatham Ave, Windsor – 9am to 11:30am
- Tuesday February 15 – CMHA – 1400 Windsor Ave, Windsor – 1pm to 4pm
- Tuesday February 15 – Connections Early Years – 795 Giles Ave, Windsor – 2pm to 6pm
- Wednesday February 16 – St. Clair College Sportsplex (Gym C) – 2000 Talbot Rd, Windsor – 9am to 4pm
- Thursday February 17 – Mackenzie Hall – 3277 Sandwich St, Windsor – 2pm to 6pm
- Thursday February 17 – Multicultural Council of Windsor – 245 Janette Ave, Windsor – 2:30pm to 6pm
- Friday February 18 – Forest Glade Arena – 3205 Forest Glade Dr, Windsor – 9am to 4pm
- Friday February 18 – Adie Knox – 1551 Wyandotte St W, Windsor – 9am to 4pm
- Friday February 18 – St. Anne’s High School – 1200 Oakwood Blvd, Belle River – 11am to 6pm
Please continue to stay safe and follow public health guidelines.