The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced 21 new cases of COVID-19 today. Of the new cases, two are related to outbreaks, six are from close contact with another confirmed case, six are considered community spread, and seven are under investigation. Our region now has 229 active cases, bringing the total number of cases to 13,667, with 13 confirmed cases in the hospital, five of which are in the ICU, 13,037 cases listed as resolved, 401 deaths, and 73,978 doses of vaccine administered. Across the province today there were 2,380 new cases of COVID-19 reported, the highest daily number since January 24. Yesterday there were 1,571 cases, and on Tuesday there were 1,546 cases.
LOCAL HEALTH UNIT
Dr. Ahmed, our local medical officer of health, has returned after his approved two-week leave. Dr. Ahmed’s leave was approved by the health unit’s board and the health unit was receiving support from other public health units while he was away. You can read more here.
The local health unit has said that our region is likely to remain in the Red-Control level of the province’s COVID-19 reopening framework next week. While the announcement has not been made yet, which is usually done on Friday afternoons by the province, Dr. Ahmed has said that he has not been contacted by the province about the region’s status, suggesting that we will remain in Red-Control. You can read more here.
We have heard from several constituents about their frustrations with the vaccination process and continue to raise these issues with the Premier and his Ministers, along with the local Health Unit.
Homebound constituents: We have had a number of enquiries from people who are seeing articles in the newspaper claiming that Paramedics with Essex-Windsor EMS have also begun mobile vaccination which includes visiting seniors 80 and over in their home, who may not have the ability to go to a physical site. This is currently misleading. The local health unit is working with community partners on a plan to allow the vaccines to be administered to people who cannot go to a vaccination site; however, they are still not able to provide this service at this time in individual homes, as none of the current vaccines can travel without a lot of planning. Once the vials of vaccine are thawed and punctured, the contents must be used within five hours to vaccinate all individuals with that vial of multiple doses. As a result, individual home visits are not possible. As we receive other vaccines, like the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, individual home visits might be possible. We are asking people to be patient, and our caucus continues to advocate for you. We will keep everyone posted as we learn of new developments.
Those 80+ who pre-registered and have no appointment: We have heard from a number of you who are still waiting on an appointment, despite having pre-registered, some as early as February 25. I can assure you that we have been working with the local health unit to ensure those who pre-registered and have not yet heard from the WECHU about an appointment are not missed. Any Windsor-Tecumseh constituent, who is 80+ who had pre-registered prior to the closure of the previous online booking system on March 20, 2021, and not yet heard from the WECHU about an appointment, are encouraged to contact the WECHU. You can also email my office a copy of their pre-registration confirmation form to [email protected] and we will follow up with the health unit. The health unit has advised that they have set aside a number of appointments to ensure that those who pre-registered and qualify will be vaccinated.
Pharmacy rollout: We have also heard your frustrations over trying to access the AstraZeneca vaccine. While eligible residents are urged to book online, my staff did call around to the list of pharmacies in the area and located two who still had the vaccine available earlier today. They are Neighborhood Drug Store 519-903-7272 and Central Drug Mart 519-948-1177. This is not an endorsement of these pharmacies, but are simply the ones we located that still had a AstraZeneca vaccine supplies available. Constituents are still urged to pre-register with the participating pharmacies so that they can be called as new supplies of the vaccine become available. To do so visit their website here for a link to participating pharmacies.
New Vaccination Awareness Program: The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, the City of Windsor and the County of Essex, Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores HealthCare want to ensure that you know where to turn for the latest information as vaccination opportunities become available to different groups in our region. They have launched WEVax.ca, a vaccination awareness campaign providing local residents with the latest information on available opportunities, eligible ages and how to register for your COVID-19 vaccination. WEVax.ca aims to provide a one-window approach for local residents to get all their up-to-date information about our region’s vaccination plans and procedures.
The Ontario government said they will be prioritizing vaccine distribution to 10 hot spots, including Windsor-Essex, under Phase 2 of the provincial plan. As a result, the province says that our region will receive additional doses of the vaccine, up to 920,000. You can read more here.
Pfizer has announced that they will begin COVID-19 vaccine trials for children under the age of 12. The first volunteers in this early-stage trial were given their first injections yesterday. Pfizer has already been testing their vaccine in children between the age of 12 and 15 and that data is expected in the coming week. You can read the full article here.
The local health unit has rescinded its outbreak order that temporarily closed the Downtown Mission’s facilities on Victoria Avenue and Ouellette Avenue. Officials from the Downtown Mission have said that the transition from the temporary shelter at the Aquatic Centre back to the Downtown Mission will take place over the coming days. You can read more here.
COVID-19 IN SCHOOLS – ADVOCATING FOR YOU
The Greater Essex County District School Board reported one new case of COVID-19 from a student at Forest Glade Public School. The public school board says close contacts have been notified and are following the direction of the local health unit.
In response to the revelations that the provincial government is considering making expanded online learning a permanent fixture in Ontario, our caucus is extremely concerned that the government is focusing on finding a cheaper way to educate kids. If we learned anything over the last year, it’s that kids need to be in school for their mental health and emotional health. Their best education comes in the classroom, face-to-face with teachers and education workers. Online learning has been a rough experience for so many students and their families. We need to focus on our kids’ education and well-being, especially as our children, youth, and staff recover from such a difficult period.
The Auditor General has released a review today that says the Public Health Agency of Canada was not ready for the global pandemic and did not appreciate the threat it posed in its early stages. The full story can be found here.
We have received increased calls from constituents asking about a company identifying themselves as Ontario Home Warranty. They are seeking to sell product and constituents advise that the callers are identifying themselves as associated with the Ontario Government. They are asking people to give their banking information over the phone to deposit a carbon tax rebate into constituents’ bank accounts to deposit the rebate. My staff have reported these calls to the various regulatory agency and the Federal Anti-Fraud, Windsor Police. Keep in mind that no government agency would ask for this kind of information over the telephone. The scam itself is not new and has been around for at least a couple of years. If you have received these types of phone calls, please simply hang up and report the incident to the Canadian Ant-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
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.