The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 101 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths. The three deaths all came from long-term care or retirement homes. Of the new cases announced, 18 are related to outbreaks, 11 are from close contact with another confirmed case and 72 are under investigation. There are now 2,216 active cases, bringing the total number of cases to 11,447 in our region, 110 confirmed cases in hospital with 16 of those in the ICU, 8,951 cases listed as resolved, and 280 deaths linked to the virus. Across the province today there were 2,632 cases of COVID-19. On Wednesday there were 2,655 cases, on Tuesday there were 1,913 cases, and on Monday there were 2,578 cases. The seven-day average of daily cases fell to 2,751, marking 10 straight days of decreases in that figure.
Dr. Ahmed, the Windsor-Essex Medical Officer of Health, said he was optimistic in the slight improvements we’ve seen recently but cautioned that our region is still seeing the consequences of high community spread from a few weeks ago. Windsor-Essex currently has the most new cases per capita in the province with 289 new cases weekly per 100,000 people.
Our caucus has again called on the Ontario government to speed up vaccinations in long-term care, as only half of long-term care residents in the province have been vaccinated. With the revelation that a more contagious variant is now likely in at least one long-term care home in Barrie, only about 35,000 long-term care residents have been vaccinated, despite the province receiving nearly 280,000 doses of vaccine. We need to have a more robust plan in place to rush vaccines to this vulnerable population.
Internal government documents were revealed by the Toronto Star saying that the provincial government was advised to have a classroom cap of 15 students and a large in-school asymptomatic testing program. This matches what our caucus has been calling for the government to implement for months to ensure our students and educators are safe. There have been more than 7,300 school-based cases of COVID-19, and thousands of families are struggling to manage at-home learning because their school is closed, or they don’t feel safe there. This government had the expert advice, the power, and the money to fix this – instead they chose to save money over saving kids’ health and their education. It is unbelievable that the Premier, who vowed to spare no expense in protecting our children and educators, is calling back schools in seven public health units in southern Ontario for in-person learning on Monday. There has been no attempt by this government to respond or adapt to the more contagious variants that we know are out there. We can’t afford to gamble like this. Windsor-Essex region schools are not among those that will reopen next week. You can read the full article here.
A reminder that the deadline imposed by the Ontario government for people applying for the Support for Learners program is fast approaching. Online applications must be submitted no later than February 8. To apply, click here.
We have started to hear from a number of constituents that they have faced water shut offs by ENWIN in the midst of the pandemic. You may recall I raised this issue with the Ontario government through a question in the Legislature in November 2020. Since January 2021, we have heard from a number of constituents who let us know they were having their water shut off for arrears. I have been communicating with a number of Ministers urging them to put a stop to this practice. On January 15, 2021 my office received an email from ENWIN which reads in part: “I wanted to let you know that ENWIN did make the decision to stop residential water disconnections for credit as of January 14th to align with the provincial lock-down orders. We are also calling to schedule free reconnections for residential customers that remain disconnected for credit”. I have not seen this change in policy posted on the ENWIN website yet so if a residential customer finds themselves still without water due to arrears, please contact my office so we can follow up with ENWIN. Although absent from the ENWIN website, there is some limited assistance with those who find they have water arrears. To see if you qualify for assistance, contact the Unemployed Help Centre, 6955 Cantelon Dr, 519-944-4900, extn 100 or the Housing Information Services Windsor and Essex County, 3450 Ypres, Ste 200, 519-254-4824.
The federal government is reminding everyone to always be prepared in case you or someone in your household contracts COVID-19. They have released an infographic with tips and suggestions of things you can do to stay ready. You can find that 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.