The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has announced 76 new COVID-19 cases in the region today. According to the health unit, there was a reporting system issue resulting in 33 cases from yesterday and 43 from this morning. Of the new cases announced, 14 are related to outbreaks, 12 are from close contact with another confirmed case, 14 are considered community spread, two are travel related, and 34 are under investigation. There are now 328 active cases in our region, bringing our total number to 12,682 cases, 43 confirmed cases in the hospital with 10 people in the ICU, 11,999 cases listed as resolved, and 355 deaths. The province reported 847 new COVID-19 cases today. On Tuesday there were 904 cases, and on Monday there were 964 cases.
Windsor Regional Hospital has received its fourth shipment of the Pfizer vaccine that was delayed yesterday due to the weather. This shipment contained 3,900 doses. The hospital says they have now received 16,575 doses of the vaccine to date. The hospital has said that this shipment will allow for the completion of all second doses and allow more individuals to be vaccinated with first doses in accordance with the province’s prioritization plan, which can be found here.
The head of the province’s vaccine distribution plan says a call centre and online reservation system will be up and running in the next few weeks to help coordinate appointments for those eligible to receive a vaccine. The chair of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine task force said he hopes Ontario will start vaccinating adults aged 80 and over starting the first week of March and will utilize mass vaccination centres along with family care providers. You can read more here.
On Sunday, the government issued a memo to school boards that asked boards to identify education workers who could conduct testing and encouraged other staff to visit pharmacies for testing. The memo set testing targets of just 2 per cent of their student populations a week, with scant information on how the data will be analyzed or used. The provincial government is tasking already-stretched school boards with the work of COVID-19 testing for students. The more contagious variants are in our communities and are threatening to start a third wave. Testing students and preventing the spread of this virus is not a nice-to-have; it’s a must-do if we want out of this cycle of sickness and lockdowns. My colleagues and I, as well as health experts, have long been calling for a comprehensive in-school testing program that’s convenient for students, teachers, and education workers. That will take more than 50,000 tests – which is the top limit proposed by the provincial government, although they’re currently getting nowhere near it.
Yesterday, the government shot down our caucus’ attempts to pass our paid sick days bill; a bill to staff up and give long-term care residents four hours of daily care and attention; and a bill that would guarantee people in care access to their essential caregiver. Today, we asked for all-party support to pass an eviction ban during the pandemic, an equity strategy, and a plan to make schools safe. The government again said no to providing supports that people need to get through the pandemic.
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the Salvation Army, the local health unit declared today. The outbreak at the Salvation Army is in addition to the previously announced outbreak at the Downtown Mission. The local health unit says that there have been 65 confirmed cases at the two sites. The city has an isolation site for confirmed cases and the local health unit is working with the agencies to get the outbreaks under control. You can read more here.
The Downtown Mission has taken up temporary residence in the former Windsor Public Library Central branch. The owners of the former library stepped up to offer the Central Branch building as an emergency shelter to the Downtown Mission who are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak which has seen 40 guests test positive and 46 more awaiting test results. Staff with Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario are helping to operate the shelter. You can read more here.
The Windsor Public Library system is modifying in person services to align with our region’s Red-Control category guidelines. Starting Thursday, users will be able to access computers and photocopiers on a first come, first serve basis depending on building capacity limits. Browsing materials, classes, and programming of community services remain unavailable. The hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 10am to 6pm and Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5pm. You can find more information here.
Mayor Dilkens said that he doesn’t expect to see ridership for Transit Windsor return to normal until 2022 at the earliest due to the pandemic. Ridership is currently down by 85 per cent compared to pre-pandemic figures for January and February. You can read more here.
Please stay diligent and continue following public health advice by staying at home, only going out for essential trips, wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing of 2 metres apart at all times when around others who live outside your household, and washing your hands frequently.