For any questions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or provincial issues, please contact my Queens Park office at [email protected] or 416-325-6773 or my constituency office at [email protected] or 519-251-5199. While my staff are working remotely as a result of the provincial stay-at-home order, they remain available to assist and will return phone calls and emails as soon as possible. It is best to direct all inquiries to the offices to ensure that your questions and concerns are addressed in a timely fashion.
Today marks one year since the first known case of COVID-19 arrived in Canada. To date, there have been over 737,000 confirmed cases and nearly 19,000 deaths linked to the virus. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 68 new COVID-19 cases today and one new death from someone in a long-term care home. Of the new cases announced, three are related to outbreaks, one is from close contact with another confirmed case, one is considered community spread, and 63 are under investigation. Our region now has 1,520 active cases, bringing our total number up to 11,807, with 9,996 listed as resolved, 107 people hospitalized with 16 in the ICU, and 291 deaths. Across the province today there were 1,958 new cases reported. On Sunday there were 2,417 new cases, and on Saturday there were 2,359 new cases.
Ontario has extended the province’s state of emergency and all orders associated with it, including the stay-at-home order, for an additional 14 days. The emergency orders are now set to expire on February 9.
Windsor Regional Hospital announced today that due to further and more severe Pfizer vaccine supply issues, they have been forced to stop all first doses and delay second doses in accordance with the Government of Ontario directions following the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). The focus of vaccinations is to be exclusively on residents from long-term care and retirement homes at this time. In our region, the vaccination of these long-term care and retirement home residents will continue under the direction of the local health unit. You can find the full news release here.
We have heard from many of our constituents with concerns over the delays in the vaccination process and the availability of the vaccine for our vulnerable populations. With over 130,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine sitting in Ontario freezers as of today, our caucus is calling for all long-term care residents to receive their first vaccine shot by Friday. There is no reason seniors in long-term care should wait another three weeks for the light at the end of the tunnel. Those shots should be in vulnerable arms no later than Friday. Especially with the more infectious B117 variant knocking at the door of long-term care homes, we have to hire thousands of staff, put infection prevention and control experts in every home, give all staff paid sick days, and call in the Canadian Armed Forces to give us more capacity to care for residents who are crying out for basic care and comfort.
Windsor Regional Hospital says they have developed a new tool to eliminate the possibility of human error in administering the Pfizer vaccine. The new tool allows the leadership team to access the up-to-date vaccine inventory and better forecast. You can read more here.
A reminder that the Ontario Small Business Grant program is open and accepting applications. The program provides a grant to help with decreased revenue as a result of COVID-19 shutdown restrictions. Small businesses and non-profit organizations who meet the eligibility criteria can find more details about the program and how to apply here.
The deadline to apply for financial support under the government’s Support for Learners program is February 8 and provides one-time funding for parents to help offset costs during the school year. More information is available here.
Researchers from the Montreal Heart Institute and Toronto’s University Health Network may have made a major discovery in treatment of COVID-19. A recent study shows that Heparin, a blood thinner, and Colchicine, an anti-inflammatory drug, can help prevent COVID-19 symptoms from reaching critical levels. While a peer review of the study has yet to happen, this finding could contribute significantly to lowering the number of hospitalizations due to the virus. You can read more here.
Local bylaw officers and provincial inspectors conducted an enforcement blitz over the weekend that resulted in 21 tickets and 26 orders from the 97 businesses that were visited. The most common violations were proper screening, concerns around capacity, and businesses without a safety plan in place. You can read more here.
St. Clair College reported a positive case of COVID-19 and three people are self-isolating as a result. Classes with affected staff and students have been cancelled today as a precaution while the health unit investigates and assesses the level of risk. 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.