The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 28 new COVID-19 cases today, along with the loss of a community member who lived in a long-term care home. Of the new cases announced, 10 are from close contact with another confirmed case, seven are considered community spread, and 11 are under investigation. There are now 291 active cases in our community, bringing the total number of cases to 13,837, 19 confirmed cases in the hospital with five in the ICU, 13,143 cases listed as resolved, 87,489 doses of the vaccine have been administered, and 403 deaths. Across the province today there were 2,336 cases of COVID-19. Yesterday there were 2,094 cases, and on Sunday there were 2,448 cases.
Dr. Wassim Saad, the Chief of Staff at Windsor Regional Hospital, has endorsed the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the wake of concerns that have been raised over its safety. The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations recommended yesterday that the vaccine not be given to anyone under the age of 55, pending results of further study into a possible link to a rare blood clot in some patients in Europe. Dr. Saad has stressed that the blood clots being reported are extremely rare, and of the 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca given so far in Canada, not a single case has been reported. You can read more here.
Pfizer has agreed to move up delivery of five million doses of its vaccine to Canada to arrive in June. This accelerated delivery means that Canada now expects to receive 9.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in June. More than 3.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive this week as well. Additionally, the 1.5 million AstraZeneca doses from the United States arrived today. These doses were a loan agreement with the U.S. You can read more here.
Our caucus has pushed the Premier to take action to protect people, after an Ontario Science Table report showed that the pandemic is now “completely out of control” in Dr. Peter Jüni’s assessment. The new Science Table report shows that the surging variants of concern are deadlier, including a 103 per cent increased risk of ending up in intensive care, and a 56 per cent increased risk of death. The deadliest time is 14 to 28 days after diagnoses, which could mean Ontario’s hospitals system is heading into a crisis that can no longer be prevented. We need to listen to frontline health care workers, doctors, and scientists, and take immediate action to save lives and mitigate the damage of the third wave. We need solutions like paid sick days, a vaccine rollout that works for people including paid time off to get a shot, small class sizes, in-workplace testing in factories and warehouses, and financial support for businesses to make it to the other side safely.
The Ontario Hospital Association has said the province could face a surge in patients transfers and cancelled surgeries as it deals with the third wave of COVID-19. If the trend of increasing patient numbers arriving in hospitals continues, capacity will be strained, leading to patient transfers running 24-7 to ensure they receive life-saving care. It could also lead to additional cancelled surgeries, adding to the current backlog of 250,000 procedures. You can read more here. One of the priorities that our caucus wanted to see in the budget is funding to eliminate the backlog of surgeries and cancer screening. British Columbia has had success with an aggressive plan to eliminate that province’s surgery backlog, which included annual funding, and their wait times for surgeries have been significantly reduced. With the proper investment into our hospitals and health care, Ontario could follow suit.
The Premier today said at a press conference that further lockdowns could happen depending on guidance of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and that people shouldn’t make plans for Easter. No further details were provided, but you can read the story here.
The local health unit has announced that some funerals are responsible for clusters of COVID-19 cases recently. The health unit has said that they know it is hard to maintain distance when you’re grieving, but they are asking individuals attending funerals to follow all public health safety measures. You can read more here.
The Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board has said there were new cases of COVID-19 from St. Rose Catholic Elementary School, where 21 students are isolating, and from E.J. Lajeunesse Catholic High School, where one class is in isolation after a positive case was reported. The Greater Essex County District School Board has said that two students from Tecumseh Vista Secondary School have also tested positive for COVID-19. The local health unit has contacted students and staff who may have been affected, and parents are being asked to continue to monitor their children for symptoms of COVID-19 each morning and keep them home if they are feeling ill.
The Minister of Education announced today that spring break for the provinces schools will not be postponed again and will go ahead as scheduled for the week of April 12. The break, which usually occurs in March, was postponed in February. You can read more here.
The latest budget from the provincial government put Ontario’s colleges and universities – and students – on even shakier ground. Universities alone said they needed $500 million in that budget, and we have also called for help for students in the form of a pause on OSAP payments or interest accumulation. Instead, schools got just one fifth, about $100 million, and only in the form of a one-time payment – while students got next-to-no help at all. We need to reverse these cuts to OSAP, pause interest accrual and student loan repayments until the end of the pandemic, and provide direct and immediate funding for students to access culturally responsive mental health services.
The federal government announced today that they would continue to fund the temporary foreign agri-food workers isolation and recovery centre. The new funding of $17.8 million will last an additional 12 months to allow the city to operate a 125-room site. 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, practicing physical distancing of 2 metres apart at all times when around others who live outside your household, and washing your hands frequently.