The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 30 new cases of COVID-19 today. Of the confirmed cases, seven are related to outbreaks, 10 are from close contact with another confirmed case, seven are considered community spread, and six are under investigation. There are now 279 active cases in our region, bringing the total to 13,505 cases, 23 confirmed cases in the hospital with four in the ICU, 12,825 cases listed as resolved, and 401 deaths. Across the province today there were 1,553 new cases. Yesterday there were 1,508 cases and on Tuesday there were 1,074 cases.
The province’s scientific advisory table has warned that if the current trends continue, we could see between 2,500 and 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day in a few weeks. The new variants are now making up more than half of the new cases that are being reported. Experts on the scientific advisory table have said that lockdowns in some areas might be required to get the numbers under control again. You can read more here.
Theresa Marentette, the CEO of the local health unit, expects next week to be busy for our region’s vaccination drive. Two new vaccination sites will be up and running for seniors 80 and over, in addition to the current sites at the WFCU Centre and the Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre in Leamington. The WFCU Centre will also begin administering vaccines seven days a week. You can read more here.
The U.S. government has agreed to ship 1.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines to Canada as part of a loan deal. The agreement will see Canada repay the U.S. with doses later this year. At this time, the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved for use in the U.S. You can read more here.
All four Windsor-Essex school boards will be providing voluntary asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 this Saturday for people in Leamington. The testing will take place at a clinic at Leamington District Secondary School. For the full list of who testing is available for and the schedule for walk-ins, please see here.
Our caucus is calling for the provincial government to help students recover from the pandemic with new mental health supports and by hiring additional teachers and education workers, guaranteeing smaller class sizes and no layoffs. A memo this month from the Ministry of Education indicated that the provincial government is planning to cut $1.6 billion from education. Our students need more support and guidance to recover their learning loss, mental health and social well-being after COVID-19 – not less.
Our caucus has also called for the provincial government to pause OSAP repayments during the pandemic. Students need a break on student loan repayments. COVID has taken away their summer jobs, and delayed their career prospects, forcing many students and new grads into an incredibly shaky financial position. They deserve some help, including a payment and interest holiday on both provincial and federal student loan payments.
The provincial government has announced that local retirement homes in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent-Leamington will be receiving $1.2 million for things like training and testing, and purchasing items like cleaning products and personal protective equipment. You can read more here.
A new report shows that many child care providers in Canada are in financial crisis, with Ontario facing the worst drop in enrolment. Ontario's child care sector was struggling due to government underfunding before COVID-19, and this report confirms the dire financial straits centres have faced during the pandemic, with drops in enrolment of up to two-thirds in the first wave alone. The report is very clear: Canadian child care centres that are able to offer lower parent fees because of provincial funding have held their own during the pandemic. Yet Ontario continues to have the highest fees in Canada, with chronic underfunding over many years leaving the sector to rely on massive parent fees to stay afloat — an unfair and untenable model, as the financial burden of COVID-19 on so many families has forced them to pull their little ones. The provincial government must step in now and provide stable funding to the sector before it's too late, so child care centres can keep their lights on and retain staff.
The results of the COVID-19 compliance blitzes that were being conducted by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development show that roughly 73% of businesses across the province were in full compliance with public health measures. You can read more here.
The local health unit has said they are working with the Windsor Spitfires organization to develop a safety plan, though there is currently no word on when players will be able to get back on the ice. The health unit has public health inspectors on site to conduct walkthroughs and offer additional information regarding infection prevention and control measures. You can read more here.
The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed for non-essential travel until at least April 21 to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
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.