The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 19 new COVID-19 cases today, as well as one additional death in the community. Of the new cases announced, two are related to outbreaks, five are from close contact with another confirmed case, two are considered community spread, and 10 are under investigation. Our region now has 264 active cases in the community, bringing the total number to 13,066 cases, 44 confirmed cases in the hospital with nine in the ICU, 12,413 cases listed as resolved, and 389 deaths. Across the province today there were 994 new cases reported. On Wednesday there were 958 cases, and on Tuesday there were 966 cases.
Dr. Ahmed said today that he does not expect our region to move to the Orange-Restrict category of the province’s reopening plan next week, but that the health unit will provide more information tomorrow about the weekly case counts. The average daily case counts would need to be lower than 23 for our region to move into the Orange-Restrict category.
Our region is seeing more and more cases of COVID-19 emerging at local schools. Local health unit CEO, Theresa Marentette, says that there is currently one outbreak listed, but 15 cohorts across 10 schools and three school boards have been dismissed. Yesterday, 31 students were told to stay home after a positive case was identified at St. Theresa of Calcutta Catholic Elementary School and today two more cases were reported in the public-school board at Herman Secondary and Kennedy Collegiate. This all comes as the government has failed to provide asymptomatic testing for schools in Windsor-Essex and is choosing not to invest in the measures that public health experts say are critical to protect students and education workers. Two weeks ago, a memo was sent by the Minister of Education to Windsor-Essex school boards outlining asymptomatic testing in our schools. The memo stated that five percent of elementary and secondary schools and two percent of the student population within the Greater Essex County District School Board, would be tested each week beginning Monday February 22. Yet here we are two weeks later, without any plan to rollout testing and no testing being done in our Windsor-Essex schools. Despite the calls from experts and our caucus to cap class sizes, and provide testing in schools, time and time again this government chooses to not invest in our children or education workers.
The local health unit says they are considering allowing seniors who are receiving their COVID-19 vaccines to bring along their spouses to get their shot as well, if they are eligible. There has not been a commitment to implement the idea at this time, but the logistics are being considered.
The Ontario Pharmacists Association said a pilot project will be launched next week in Windsor-Essex, Toronto, and Kingston to test the distribution, storage, booking and administration systems necessary for pharmacies to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. The association says that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will be able to administer 46 vaccines per day once running at full speed. You can read more here.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) issued a revised direction yesterday that said the interval between shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be extended to 16 weeks. Clinical trials have shown that both vaccines can be up to 92 per cent effective after a single dose, and this change will allow for more people to receive their first dose quicker. Read more here.
A new report shows that almost 1,500 doses of vaccines were wasted in Ontario due to freezer failures, damaged vials, and administrative issues in the first three months of the vaccine rollout. The Ministry of Health shows that 1,100 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 400 of the Moderna vaccine went to waste between December 14, 2020 and March 2, 2021. You can read the full story here.
Starting today, both the Ambassador Bridge and the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel are requiring all non-essential travellers entering Canada to self-administer a COVID-19 test as part of new entry requirements. Travellers also have to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken in the last 72 hours and obey existing quarantine requirements. You can find all the details here.
Mayor Dilkens said today that he has received a letter from the federal government stating that the funding application has been approved to extend Windsor’s temporary foreign worker isolation and recovery centre. The city has spent $2 million after a change in the funding source, and it remains unclear if this new funding approval will address this deficit. The isolation centre is at risk of closing at the end of March if more money is not released. You can read the story here.
The City of Windsor is expecting to receive a little more than $8 million from the provincial government to help address pandemic-related costs. Mayor Dilkens said it is not known if this is an additional $8 million, or an additional $3 million over the $5 million that was already announced to offset expenses in 2021. You can read more here.
The City of Windsor is also looking at purchasing a hotel to better provide shelter for people with COVID-19 who are experiencing homelessness. Details about the location and dollar amount are not yet known.
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.