The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has announced 35 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths today. Four of the deaths were from long-term care or retirement homes and six were in the community. Of the new cases announced, five are related to outbreaks, eight are from close contact with another confirmed case, five are considered community spread, and 17 are under investigation. Our region now has 496 active cases, bringing our total to 12,194, 72 confirmed cases in the hospital with 12 in the ICU, 11,372 cases listed as resolved, and 326 deaths. The province reported 745 new cases of COVID-19 today, but said the sharp drop was due to data issues. On Monday there were 1,969 cases, on Sunday there were 1,848 cases, and on Saturday there were 2,063 cases.
The local health unit has urged residents to continue to follow public health safety measures and the province’s stay-at-home order with Super Bowl Sunday approaching this weekend. Dr. Ahmed says that our region has accomplished a lot in terms of reducing our daily infection rates and wants to see the trend continue downward.
A reminder that the deadline to apply for financial support under the government’s Support for Learners program is February 8, which is a week away today. The program provides one-time funding for parents to help offset costs during the school year. More information is available here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-support-learners
The Education Minister stated that reopening dates for the four remaining COVID-19 hot zones, including Windsor-Essex, will be announced on Wednesday. Dr. Ahmed said that while it is important to ensure the cases in the community are controlled, it is important for kids to get back into the classroom when it is safe to do so for in-person learning. Dr. Ahmed said he will give an epidemiological presentation on Wednesday morning regarding the reopening of schools. You can read more here.
Erie Shores HealthCare is reducing its COVID-19 Assessment Centre hours as the number of people getting tested in the region declines. The new hours at the testing centre in Leamington are 9am to 5pm, seven days a week. This change will take effect on February 3 and appointments are still required for tests. Appointments can be made by visiting the Erie Shores HealthCare website or by calling 519-326-2373 ext. 4263.
Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission is being forced by the provincial government to shut down its work prematurely, in the middle of the second wave of the pandemic. We are calling on the Premier to reverse that decision and to appear before the commission himself. Hundreds of seniors are sick. Hundreds of homes are in outbreak, causing anguish among seniors and their families. More contagious variants of COVID-19 are knocking at the door of long-term care homes. And this government’s slow and sloppy vaccine roll-out means some seniors in long-term care are still waiting for their first shot. The commission should continue to do its work examining what is going wrong in long-term care right now, and the Premier needs to go explain his choice not to invest in more protections for seniors.
The Globe and Mail today reported a claim that the Premier personally phoned the CEO of the William Osler Health System in an attempt to muzzle a physician who had spoken to the media about COVID-19. People need and deserve honest, truthful health information so they can make informed decisions, and physicians have a right to share their professional medical opinions. We should be thanking the doctors and scientists helping us all stay safe during the pandemic, not muzzling and bullying them. We need an independent investigation into the Premier’s attempt to control, undermine and threaten doctors.
My colleague MPP Doly Begum has been appointed to a new key role as critic for Citizenship, Foreign Credentials and Immigration Services in the Official Opposition. Over the past year, the pandemic has ravaged through the lives of Ontarians, including immigrant families across the province. People continue to suffer from the provincial government’s cuts to long-term care, education, and public health services. MPP Begum will focus on building equal opportunities for immigrant communities across Ontario and helping foreign trained professionals to contribute their skills and knowledge at a time when Ontario needs them most.
The Prime Minister said a deal has been struck with Novavax to produce its COVID-19 vaccine in Canada; however, the pharmaceutical company isn’t expected to have doses ready domestically until the fall at the earliest. Part of the delay is because the new National Research Council biomanufacturing facility, where the vaccine will be produced, won’t be ready until July. Once operational, the new facility is designed to produce around two million doses a month. You can read more here.
Please follow all public health guidelines to stop the spread of the virus, including staying home wearing a face mask when out in public for an essential trip, continuing to practice social distancing of two metres from other people (even if you are wearing a mask), and washing your hands often.