The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 14 new cases of COVID-19 today along with the loss of a community member. Yesterday there were 25 cases, and on Sunday there were 21 cases. Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been 16,572 cases and 427 deaths related to COVID-19. Of the new cases announced today, 12 are from close contact with a previously confirmed case, one is community acquired, and one is under investigation. There are currently 202 active cases in our region, with 115 of those identified as a variant of concern. There are 12 people in the hospital, five of which are in the ICU, and 15,943 cases have been resolved. There have been 247,613 doses of the vaccine administered. Across the province today there were 699 cases, the lowest number since October. Yesterday there were 916 cases, and on Sunday there were 1,033 cases.
INJURED WORKERS’ DAY
Today, on Injured Workers’ Day, we must stand and pledge to do better for injured workers. Injured workers are feeling abandoned, and the pandemic has only made that worse. Health care workers are called heroes by the government, but then they have their benefits denied when they contract COVID-19 in the workplace. In Ontario, around 50 per cent of those injured in the workplace live in poverty. That shouldn’t happen and we must do better. We need the government to take action right now by supporting the bills our caucus has brought forward to better support injured workers and provide presumptive WSIB coverage to workers who contract COVID-19.
ADVOCATING FOR SAFE SCHOOLS
With the remainder of the school year hanging in the balance, we are calling on the Premier to invest in making classrooms safe following revelations that his government lied about the risk to students, teachers, education workers and their families. A Toronto Star report confirms that Education Minister Stephen Lecce claimed schools were safe and COVID-19 transmission wasn’t happening in schools when his senior advisers were aware that “we don’t know” if that was the case. For weeks, our caucus and Education critic Marit Stiles have questioned the government on its claim that it would do 50,000 asymptomatic tests across the school system every week to learn more about how safe schools are or are not. Instead, they did little more than between 2,000 and 8,000 tests per week — collecting so little data, they would have no idea if transmission were happening within schools. Our children’s classrooms have been mothballed for months of this pandemic — and to this day — because the Premier didn’t invest to make them safe and withheld funding. And kids and parents struggling with at-home learning are paying the price for that. We need the Premier to start listening to experts and make the necessary investments in schools to ensure they are safe for kids to resume in-class learning. We continue to call for a cap on class sizes of 15 students, better ventilation and windows that open in schools, and infection control measures like touchless faucets. Any credible school plan needs to be made in collaboration with our frontline educators, the professionals who support our kids’ learning every day, to ensure that our kids can get back to learning in the classroom safely.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has said that anyone who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as their second dose, or can have a second shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. NACI says this advice is based on the risk of the rare bloodclots and emerging evidence that mixing and matching different types of vaccines is not only safe but may produce a better immune response. NACI also said that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be mixed for first and second doses. You can read more here.
The provincial stay-at-home orders are set to expire tomorrow, but most public health and workplace restrictions will remain in place until the province enters the First Step of the reopening plan. This means that restrictions on gathering, businesses, services, and activities will remain in effect. The change means that Ontarians will be able to leave their home to travel within the province to a secondary residence for any reason, but will not be permitted to host members of another household indoors except when a person from another household lives alone or is a caregiver. Other restrictions that remain in place are limited outdoor gatherings up to five people, limited essential retail capacity at 25 per cent, restricting non-essential retail to curbside pick-up and delivery, and limiting Ontario Parks and public campgrounds to day-use only. You can find the full summary of restrictions here.
LOCAL HEALTH UNIT NAMES NEW CEO
Current CEO Theresa Marentette will be leaving her position, and Nicole Dupuis has been named her successor. Dupuis will take over as CEO on July 1. You can read more here.
REOPENING THE BORDER
The Prime Minister announced that Canada will not be rushed into reopening the border with the United States to non-essential travel, saying that any easing of the restrictions needs to be done carefully and with Canadians’ safety in mind. The Prime Minister has suggested that 75 per cent of Canadians need to be vaccinated and daily cases need to continue to decline across the country before the federal government would be willing to ease travel restrictions.
Please stay diligent and continue following public health advice by staying at home, only going out for essential trips, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing of 2 metres apart at all times when around others who live outside your household, and washing your hands frequently.