The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 14 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths today – with three deaths coming from long-term care homes and six deaths in the community. Of the new cases announced, three are related to outbreaks, one is from close contact with an existing case, and 10 are under investigation. Our region now has 304 active cases, bringing our total 12,696 cases, 40 confirmed cases in the hospital with seven in the ICU, 12,028 cases listed as resolved, and 364 deaths. Across the province there were 1,038 cases today. On Wednesday there were 847 cases, and on Tuesday there were 904 cases.
Two new public potential exposure points have been identified at businesses in Windsor according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. For more information on these potential exposures, please click here.
This week during our first week back at Queen’s Park, we proposed nine positive solutions to help people make it through the pandemic and prevent a third wave. This week, we tried for an all-MPP agreement to pass motions and bills that would have:
- Given workers paid sick days
- Given long-term care residents enough staff to offer every resident four-hours of hands-on care per day
- Ensured care home residents couldn’t be denied access to their essential caregiver
- Put an eviction ban in place during the pandemic
- Created an equity strategy to put culturally-appropriate plans in place to support disproportionately impacted communities
- Made schools safer with a class cap of 15, a comprehensive in-school testing program and more
- Raised the pay of all PSWs by $4 an hour
- Put a small business support plan in place, including rent support
- Created a Seniors’ Advocate
Sadly, the provincial government didn’t bring forward a single change to help people, and blocked every last one brought by our caucus — which were all things widely and loudly called for by experts and community members all over the province.
Our caucus has tabled a bill calling for a full, public, independent judicial inquiry into Ontario’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, to make sure the province is better prepared for the next major health event, and never repeats the same mistakes again. There were invaluable recommendations made after SARS, including recommendations to maintain a stock of personal protective equipment and to provide personal protective equipment based on the precautionary principle, among others. This bill sets out that the examination of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic must be done under the Public Inquiries Act.
Windsor Regional Hospital has declared two new outbreaks. One in the Clinical Teaching Unit at the Ouellette Campus where three patients have tested positive for COVID-19. The other in 7N of Met Campus where five patients as well as one staff member have tested positive. The unit at Met Campus is closed to new admissions until further notice while admissions to the Clinical Teaching Unit at Ouellette Campus are still being accepted but must be approved by the WRH Infection Prevention and Control department.
Last week it was reported that variants of COVID-19 were identified in our region and tests were being done to determine the strains. This has now been confirmed, and a possible third variant is being tested. Dr. Ahmed has said the two confirmed cases are not associated with each other and the third possible variant is linked to a long-term care home. You can read more here.
Gale, my wife and a trustee with the Greater Essex County District School Board, has made a motion calling for a report on what the school board is doing to support staff, both personally and professionally, with the stress and extra pressures associated with the pandemic. The full report is expected to come back to trustees for discussion sometime in March. Teachers and education workers do so much to ensure our kids receive a great education and we need to ensure that they are being taken care of as well.
School boards across the province are expected to roll out COVID-19 testing in at least five per cent of schools by next week. The local health unit has said that none of the testing will be mandatory. Our caucus has been advocating for more protections and supports in schools, such as broad asymptomatic testing, caps on class sizes at 15 students, better ventilation, and paid sick days to help protect students, teachers, and families.
The Financial Accountability Officer released a new report today that said the province lost more than 355,000 jobs last year due to COVID-19, with Windsor the second hardest hit region, which saw a 10.9 per cent drop. The hardest hit sector was accommodation and food services, and young workers were the hardest hit group, as youth unemployment climbed to 22 per cent across the province.
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.