The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 today and eight more deaths. Six of the deaths were from long-term care or retirement homes and two were from the community. Of the new cases announced, 12 are related to outbreaks, nine are from close contact with another confirmed case, three are considered community spread, and 31 are under investigation. Our region now has 939 active cases, bringing our total to 11,915 cases, 92 confirmed cases in the hospital with 12 in the ICU, 10,679 listed as resolved, and 303 deaths. Across the province today there were 1,670 new cases, the fewest new cases for a single day since late November, and bringing the seven-day average of daily cases down to 2,205. On Tuesday there were 1,740 cases, on Monday there were 1,958 cases, and on Sunday there were 2,417 cases.
Dr. Ahmed, the Medical Officer of Health for our region, said that even though our new case counts are going down, our numbers need to be lower before our region can move into the red category. Our region remains under a provincial stay-at-home order until February 9, with schools closed for in-class learning until February 10. The province provides a framework to move from lockdown to the red category, though Dr. Ahmed says they will have to see where the numbers stand as we get closer to that date. You can read more here.
The outbreak at The Village at St. Clair currently has 24 active cases and three of the seven units are now clear of infection. Since the outbreak began in December, 164 residents and 137 staff members have tested positive, and 49 people have died. In order to prevent more outbreaks in long-term care, the government should be following the recommendations of health experts by hiring 10,000 more personal support workers and providing paid sick days so people are not forced to choose between working to pay bills and staying home when sick. Instead of stepping in to provide paid sick days and listening to the public health experts, the provincial government called on the federal government to make changes to a federal sick leave program. Paid sick days will save lives and prevent the spread of the virus. The Government has been sitting on billions of dollars in COVID-19 funding, and as a result, workers are paying the price for these choices, with longer, broader lockdown and more agony and tragic loss, that could be avoided. We have legislation drafted and ready to pass immediately when the Legislature returns that will provide paid sick days to protect workers and protect our seniors in long-term care.
The provincial government announced today that they will be sending hundreds of inspectors to focus efforts on curbing COVID-19 transmission at farms and greenhouses across the province. There are currently 13 farms in the region that are in outbreak, and 2,000 more migrant workers are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Last year, 2 workers in our region died after falling sick. You can read more here.
Canadian physicians are stressing that COVID-19 vaccines are proving overwhelmingly safe and protective for the majority of elderly patients. While there have been some reported deaths, experts say that just because somebody died after receiving the vaccine, does not mean the vaccine caused death. While one dose offers some level of protection, it is not the full amount that results from the two-doses and people are still susceptible to getting sick. You can read more here.
Last week we called on the provincial government to extend the deferral on OSAP debt repayments during the pandemic, and today we have called on the federal government to pause billing on new grads. Students, recent graduates and young people in general are dealing with financial and emotional hardships brought on by COVID-19, and they need relief from the financial pressures of student debt at both the provincial and federal levels.
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.