The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 29 new cases of COVID-19 today. Of the new cases, three are related to outbreaks, six are from close contact with another confirmed case, two are considered community spread, and 18 are under investigation. There are now 279 active cases in the region, bringing our total to 13,534 cases, 21 confirmed cases in the hospital with four in the ICU, 12,854 cases listed as resolved, and 401 deaths. Across the province today there were 1,745 new cases reported, the most new infections reported in a single day in Ontario since February 2. Yesterday there were 1,553 cases, and on Wednesday there were 1,508 cases.
Windsor-Essex will remain in the Red-Control category of the province’s reopening framework next week. The local case rate per 100,000 people over the last seven-day period was 46.5, which is an improvement from 54.8 the week before, but far above the 25 to 39.9 that is required to move to the Orange-Restrict category.
The province announced that starting Monday, anyone aged 75 and older can schedule their COVID-19 vaccine. It was also announced that the pilot project for pharmacies to give the AstraZeneca vaccine would be expanded. Anyone over the age of 60 will be eligible to register for the AstraZeneca vaccine and over the new two weeks, more pharmacies across the province will begin administering the AstraZeneca vaccine. You can read the full government release here.
The local health unit’s CEO Theresa Marentette said that on Saturday the health unit will be shutting down their COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration website for the 80 and over population and it will eventually be replaced with a new scheduling system that will include residents 75 and over. The health unit has said that residents who have already registered do not need to book again and they will be contacted by the health unit. The vaccine pre-registration phone number will remain active for those 80 years and older at 519-251-4072 until the new system is up and running. You can read more here.
Two more mass vaccination centres will begin administering vaccines to people 80 years of age and older on Monday. The new sites will be located at St. Clair College’s Sportsplex and the University of Windsor’s Windsor Hall, located in the old Windsor Star building. The Libro Centre in Amherstburg will also begin administering vaccines on March 29.
There have been two new possible COVID-19 exposure points according to the local health unit. You can find more information, including the dates and times of exposure, on their website here.
A voluntary COVID-19 testing clinic will operate tomorrow from 9am to 3pm at Leamington District Secondary School for all four school boards in our region. You can read more about the walk-in testing clinic here.
One student at F.W. Begley Public School has tested positive for COVID-19 and the public school board has said that close contacts of the student have been notified and are following the direction of the local health unit.
Following today’s announcement by the province that $106.4 million would be provided to universities and colleges, our caucus has called for more investments in the post-secondary education sector, echoing the call from the Council of Ontario Universities call for a $500 million investment. Post-secondary education is an integral part of our future, and key to our long-term economic recovery. Investing in colleges and universities is investing in people, investing in jobs, and investing in recovery. This sector needs concrete investments that will stabilize every college and university in the province, especially now that we have entered the third wave of the pandemic. Every post-secondary institution has seen significant cost increases and lost revenue, and every college and university deserves more support.
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.