The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 23 new cases of COVID-19 today along with five additional deaths, all of which were from the community. Of the new cases announced, five are related to outbreaks, three are from close contact with another confirmed case, five are considered community spread, and 10 are under investigation. There are now 280 active cases in our region, bringing our total up to 13,037 cases, 44 cases in the hospital with seven people in the ICU, 12,370 cases listed as resolved, and 387 deaths. Across the province today there were 966 new cases of COVID-19. On Monday there were 1,023 cases, and on Sunday there were 1,062 cases. We lost five more community members to this deadly virus today, and as this pandemic continues, we must remember that behind these numbers are families and friends who have lost their loved ones.
The local health unit has announced a new possible COVID-19 exposure site. The updated, full list of potential COVID-19 exposure points can be found on the health unit’s website here.
One student at Kennedy Collegiate has tested positive for COVID-19 and the Greater Essex County District School Board has said they have notified close contacts and those affected are following the direction of the local health unit.
Today our caucus launched our campaign for paid sick days for workers in Ontario. The provincial government has blocked the expedited passage of the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act three times, and then voted against the bill at second reading yesterday. A paid sick day is what would keep a personal support worker with a cough from going into the homes of vulnerable seniors, or stop a sick factory worker from accidentally starting a massive outbreak. Paid sick days are not only the right thing to do for working folks. Paid sick days will help stop the spread, and end the lockdowns. Paid sick days have been endorsed by mayors, municipalities, medical officers of health and public health experts, as well as the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. By providing sick days, we can stop the spread and save lives.
With the recent approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine, our caucus has called for an immediate plan to prioritize, contact and book appointments for the people most at risk under the age of 65. The Premier’s vaccine roll out has been slow and sloppy so far, and we know that people are anxious about getting their vaccines or knowing when their loved ones will be eligible to get their vaccine. We are expecting the AstraZeneca vaccines to arrive in a matter of days, and we should have a plan in place to get vaccines into the arms of those most at risk.
Provincial public health officials are exploring whether the interval between doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be extended, which would allow for more people to receive at least one shot. There has been some evidence that suggests that single doses could provide significant immunity to COVID-19. Yesterday, British Columbia provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said BC would extend the time between doses to four months with the goal of providing first doses to any residents who want one by July. You can read more here.
Transit Windsor is expected to receive $6 million from the province to help address municipal funding shortfalls due to COVID-19. This new funding is in addition to the previously announced provincial and federal funding through the Safe Restart Agreement. You can read more here.
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.