The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 24 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death in the community. Of the new cases announced today, eight are from close contact with another confirmed case, four are considered community spread, and 12 are under investigation. There are now 254 active cases in our region, bringing our total to 13,224 cases, 39 confirmed cases in the hospital with 12 in the ICU, 12,576 cases listed as resolved, and 394 deaths. Across the province today there were 1,185 new cases. Yesterday there were 1,631 cases, and on Sunday there were 1,299 cases.
The local health unit has updated their website to include a section that specifically outlines COVID-19 variants in the community. As of today, the health unit is investigating 30 variant cases in Windsor-Essex and Dr. Ahmed has said that the majority of the variants of concern in our community have been discovered in the last seven to 10 days. You can find their website here.
Windsor Regional Hospital will be contacting those who have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to notify them that due to a change in the provincial government’s vaccine plan, the period between the first and second dose has been extended to 16 weeks, starting March 10. You can read the statement from WRH here.
The province is getting ready to begin the AstraZeneca vaccinations at more than 300 pharmacies starting Friday, as the province is expected to receive a shipment of 194,000 doses today. The plan in Ontario is to provide the AstraZeneca vaccine to people between the ages of 60 and 64 at the advice of Health Canada. The list of pharmacies that will be administering the vaccine is expected to be announced tomorrow and qualifying members of the public would be able to book appointments to receive their shots by the end of the week. You can read more here.
Amherstburg will be getting a mass vaccination site at the Amherstburg Libro Centre after town council unanimously approved the plan last night. More information on when the vaccination site in Amherstburg will open is expected to be released in the near future. You can read more here.
The local French Catholic school board has reported one case of COVID-19 at L’Essor Catholic High School in Tecumseh and one class is in isolation. No further details are available at this time.
New expert testimony at the Long-Term Care Commission has revealed that the provincial government rejected proposals that could have saved lives in LTC homes because of the cost. In testimony transcripts posted to the commission website, Dr. Allison McGeer, a professor and public health expert from the departments of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and Dalla Lana School of Public Health and a member of Ontario’s Science Table, said that when it came to savings lives in long-term care, “a number of proposals went to the Ministry about what could be done; and all of them were deemed by the Ministry to be too expensive.” These proposals included proposals from hospitals to send help, getting seniors out of crowded ward rooms, and hiring staff like Quebec did. You can read the full testimony here.
Our caucus has introduced a motion today to establish a Child and Youth Recovery Action Plan to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on children, youth, and young adults, especially those disproportionally affected by COVID-19. This motion seeks to create a Child and Youth Post-Pandemic Recovery Secretariat to ensure policies and programs supporting the well0-being of children and youth are centred in the post-pandemic recovery. Young people have been an afterthought for this government in their COVID-19 response, and the pandemic has widely disrupted the social, developmental, and educational lives of Ontario’s children, youth, and young adults. Many face economic distress due to their or their family’s loss of income and the impacts have been most pronounced for young women and girls, Black and Indigenous youth, racialized youth, LGBTQ2S+ youth, youth with disabilities, and those from low-income backgrounds. We need a clear strategy to mitigate the damages of COVID-19 to this generation of young people.
Our caucus has called for the immediate expansion of small business grants to ensure the survival of struggling small businesses across the province. Small business owners are worried they won’t survive the pandemic while big box stores report skyrocketing profits. We also know that small businesses are struggling to access the Ontario Small Business Grant, which although welcome, is minuscule compared to need, and excludes more businesses than it includes. We need the government to commit to expanding the criteria, increasing the funding level, and renewing the grant for another round this spring.
Following the provincial government’s workplace safety inspection campaign over the weekend to ensure COVID-19 compliance, five tickets were handed out along with dozens of warnings to local businesses. Nearly 100 businesses were visited in Windsor-Essex on the recommendation of the health unit, and the Ministry of Labour has reported that 70 per cent were small businesses with 25 employees or fewer, and 56 per cent were found to be fully compliant.
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.