The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 29 new cases of COVID-19 today along with three additional deaths in the community. Of the new cases announced, two are related to outbreaks, 11 are from close contact with another confirmed case, seven are considered community spread, and nine are under investigation. Our region now has 235 active cases, bringing the total to 13,095 cases, 46 cases in the hospital with 10 in the ICU, 12,468 cases listed as resolved, and 392 deaths. Across the province today there were 1,250 new cases reported. On Thursday there were 994 cases, and on Wednesday there were 958 cases.
It was announced today that our region will remain in the Red-Control category of the provincial reopening plan for at least another week, while Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay Parry Sound will move into the Grey-Lockdown category. These were the last three regions to have a stay-at-home order in place.
Health Canada has approved the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The new vaccine is the first single-dose vaccine in Canada, and has the significant benefit of being stored and transported at regular fridge temperatures — between 2°C and 8°C — for at least three months. The vaccine has an efficacy between 80 and 85 per cent and Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses with options for another 28 million doses. You can read more here. The Prime Minister also announced that Canada will be receiving an additional 1.5 million Pfizer vaccines before the end of March, as well as an additional shipment of 1 million doses in both April and May. This means that Canada will have received a total of 8 million vaccine doses by the end of March and is set to receive 12.8 million Pfizer vaccines between April and June.
With the news of the increase of vaccine supply, the head of the provincial vaccine task force has said he is hopeful that anyone who would like a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will likely be able to receive it by June 20. The provincial government has also released a list of people who will be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine in the second phase of Ontario’s distribution plan. The province will begin mass vaccinations next month of adults aged 60–79 (in declining five-year intervals), people in high-risk congregate settings, individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers, people who cannot work from home and at-risk populations. According to the provincial government, up to nine million Ontarians will be vaccinated between April 2021 and July 2021. The highest-risk health conditions set out as priority populations for the province to vaccinate in phase 2 include organ transplant recipients, hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, people with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised, hematological malignancy diagnosed and kidney disease. The province hopes to begin vaccinating individuals with these health conditions in April. Elementary and secondary school staff are included in the list of employees who cannot work from home along with workers responding to critical events, childcare and licensed foster care workers, food manufacturing workers, agriculture, and farm workers. The province has also allocated supplementary doses of the vaccine for ‘hot spot’ areas, including Windsor-Essex, determined by high rates of death, hospitalization, and transmission. You can read the updated plan here.
The COVID-19 vaccination site at Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre in Leamington will open Monday to administer vaccines to residents 80 years of age and older. Residents who meet the age requirement must continue to use online the pre-registration form found here or call 519-251-4072 if you require support in completing the online form.
Windsor Regional Hospital has said that COVID-19 admissions have plateaued but are still very close to dangerous levels and the hospital is still an outbreak away from being overwhelmed. President and CEO David Musyj said that only two of the patients at WRH are from long-term care homes, which is down from the previous average of 30 per cent and shows that prevention measures are working. You can read more here.
Two students from St. Clair College have tested positive for COVID-19. The students are living in a residence at the main campus. The local health unit is working with the college on contact tracing but assess the risk as low. The students are self-isolating, and anyone directly affected has been notified and are being asked to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days.
Provincial health and safety inspection officers will be coming to our region on Saturday to check that businesses are compliant with public health measures related to COVID-19. Officers will be conducting “two-stage inspections” that focus on small businesses and provide COVID-19 safety education and guidance for small businesses in the first round, followed by enforcement during inspections in the second round. You can read more here.
The City of Windsor has encouraged not-for-profit organizations to use Lanspeary Park for fundraising events to help assist them raise funds for their organization, with fees being waived. An online portal is now available for interested charities to sign up to use the park, with a deadline set of March 19. You can find the portal 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.