The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 253 new high-risk COVID-19 cases since Friday. Of these cases, 96 were reported on Saturday, 83 were reported on Sunday, and 74 were reported today. Due to the changes in eligibility for testing and limited testing capacity, the rise of Omicron cases, and the shifted focus of case, contact, and outbreak management to high-risk settings, these case counts are an underestimate of the true numbers of individuals who have COVID-19 within Windsor-Essex County. The health unit defines high-risk cases as those coming from individuals who are eligible for PCR testing in accordance with Ontario's current testing guidance.
There are now 313 active high-risk cases in our region, with 38 confirmed cases in the hospital, and three in the ICU. There are currently five community outbreaks, three hospital outbreaks, and five outbreaks in long-term care/retirement homes. Locally, 86.3 per cent of individuals aged five and over have received one dose of the vaccine, 83.3 per cent have received two doses, and 50.8 per cent of residents over the age of 12 have receive a booster.
Across the province today, there were 1,741 new cases of COVID-19, but health officials warn this number is an underestimate due to testing restrictions. Yesterday there were 2,215 cases, and on Saturday, there were 2,754 cases. Since the pandemic began, there have been 1,155,046 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19, and there are currently 551 confirmed cases in hospitals across the province, with 181 patients in the ICU. The province has a 17.9 percent test positivity rate, up from 13.3 percent this time last week.
ADVOCATING FOR AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE
The provincial and federal governments announced today that Ontario parents will be eligible to receive up to 25% of a fee reduction for their child care expenses starting in May, retroactive to April 1, 2022. In December 2022, parents could see a further fee reduction by approximately 50 percent.
While this is welcome news for parents who need relief from the sky-high cost of child care, Ontario’s parents lost nine months of lower prices and would have about $2,300 more in their bank account had the government agreed to a deal sooner. The government should rebate that money directly to parents now. With child care fees that can be the size of mortgage payments, parents say they’re racking up credit card bills and losing sleep over how to stay afloat. In 2019, the province cut $80 million from licensed child care across the province. Thousands of child care spaces were lost as a result of these cuts. With this federal funding, we can finally start to fix what’s broken, and move towards the universal, affordable child care system families deserve. Our caucus will continue to advocate for $10-per-day child care, expansion of the number of high-quality, public and non-profit child care spaces, and child care jobs that actually pay the bills.
RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS
Free rapid antigen tests continue to be available at select locations each week. Please remember to store your test kits out of the reach of children, as there have been reports of poisoning after accidental consumption. You can find participating grocery stores and pharmacies here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/rapid-testing-home-use
The mass vaccination site in the former Sears store at Devonshire Mall is scheduled to close on Saturday April 2. Walk-ins for the COVID-19 vaccination will be accepted until 3:30pm that day. The mass vaccination site is open for walk-ins on Tuesday from 11:30am to 6:00pm and Wednesday to Saturday from 9am to 3:30pm. Students in grades 7-12 that have not started or finished their vaccination series for Hepatitis B, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and/or Meningococcal Disease and want to receive the vaccine at Devonshire Mall, must book at appointment before April 1, pending availability.