Let me begin today’s bulletin with an acknowledgment of the efforts our community has put into stopping the spread. Many of you have contacted my office to express your concerns and fears as we work through this pandemic together.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 19 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths – one death is from a long-term care home and the other is from the community. Our region now has a total of 12,393 cases, with 314 considered active, 53 confirmed cases in the hospital with 12 in the ICU, 11,734 listed as resolved, and 345 deaths. Across the province today there were 1,022 new cases reported, the fewest on a single day (without data problems) since early November. On Monday there were 1,265 cases and on Sunday there were 1,489 cases.
Windsor Regional Hospital announced today that the COVID-19 outbreaks on 6E at Ouellette Campus and 4N and 6N at Met Campus have been withdrawn. An outbreak remains in effect on 8W at Ouellette; however, the hospital has said that if there are no more cases identified on 8W, that outbreak will likely be rescinded by the weekend. You can read more here.
On that note, Windsor Regional Hospital announced that they will be amending their visitor policy as of tomorrow, Wednesday February 10th. The hospital will allow one essential visitor for a patient, once per day, in a designated time slot. A maximum of two essential visitors may be chosen by the patient to rotate over the patients’ stay in hospital; however, only one of the essential visitors may visit each day and only in one time slot. There are exceptions, and you should review the visitor policy before planning your visit to the hospital. More information can be found here.
Many of you are still looking for answers regarding the vaccine rollout. We have been in touch with the Health Unit trying to get you answers to your questions. This is the latest from the health Unit:
- Regarding the timelines or residents in long term care homes and retirement homes, the Health Unit continues to focus on administering the second dosage of the Moderna vaccine. A number of people were missed in the first round for any number of reasons. We had heard from constituents that these individuals were being denied the first dose of the vaccine until those who had already received their first does received the second shot. The Health unit confirmed that they are working with the long-term care and retirement homes to administer the first shot to approximately 376 residents who have not yet had their first dose. They are hoping to make progress towards this next week, after they have finished administering the outstanding second doses.
- We continue to hear from many in care homes/lodging homes and those receiving home care. Many are concerned about how they can ensure they get the vaccine when it is available to them. The Health Unit has confirmed that they are working with the Erie St Clair LHIN (formerly CCAC) on establishing the vaccine rollout plan for adult recipients of chronic home care. Plans have yet to be finalized.
- There is a new webpage maintained by the Health Unit that provides the most up-to-date information on the vaccination process. The webpage can be found access here. There is limited information posted at this time, but the Health Unit is updating the content as new information becomes available.
Our office has been receiving questions about the Premier’s announcement yesterday regarding the gradual reopening of the economy. While Windsor-Essex remains in lockdown with a stay-at-home order until at least February 16, Dr. Ahmed has suggested that if case numbers continue to decline as they have been as of late, he anticipates our region being placed in the Red-Control category, and expects the provincial government to make the announcement on Friday of which category our region will be in. As we have seen throughout this pandemic, things can change very quickly depending on the current public health circumstances, and this information is not definitive. There have also been modifications to the categories once again, so be mindful of this as well. If you have questions, you may wish to refer to the Government's webpage on COVID-19 public health measures and restrictions, the relevant regulations, or contact the Stop The Spread information line at 1-888-444-3659. Their service hours are from Monday to Sunday from 8:30am to 5:00pm. In the meantime, please continue to follow public health guidance.
We are looking forward to the Legislature finally resuming on February 16 so that we can hold the Premier accountable for the billions of unspent COVID-19 relief funds while failing to provide real supports to those struggling. Our caucus continues to call on the province to introduce new public health protections so that this reopening is safe and effective, rather than taking one step forward, and two steps back. We can’t afford to pay the price of making the same mistakes over and over again. We need to invest in new protections like paid sick days, in-workplace COVID testing, in-school testing, and more capacity to contact trace.
Canadians who received federal emergency benefits such as the CERB and made up to $75,000 in taxable income will not have to pay interest on any 2020 tax debt until April 2022. Additionally, Canadians who applied to receive the CERB using their gross income (as opposed to net) will not have to return their CERB payments as long as their application meets the other eligibility criteria. You can read more here.
The Prime Minister has said that starting next week on February 15, any non-essential traveller entering Canada by land will need to show a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test or face a fine up to $3,000 Canadian. Canada already requires that people who arrive in the country by air show a negative test.
The Ontario government said they will be providing $7 million to help increase access to mental health and addiction services for postsecondary students, both on-campus and virtually, during COVID-19. You can read more on this announcement here.
The Pfizer vaccine will now be labelled as containing one additional dose, Health Canada officials announced during a technical briefing this morning. This means that going forward, health-care professionals who are administering the shots will be able to extract six doses per vial, rather than five. This is in light of a scientific review that demonstrated that six doses could safely and accurately be extracted from each vial. 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.