The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 36 new COVID-19 cases today. Yesterday there were 70 cases, and on Tuesday there were 16 cases. Our region has recorded 16,255 total cases and 422 deaths related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Of the new case announced today, 15 are from close contact with another confirmed case, 18 are considered community spread, one is travel related to the United States, and two are under investigation. There are currently 348 active cases in our community, with 167 being variants of concern. There are 23 confirmed cases in the hospital, one in the ICU, and 15,485 cases have been listed as resolved. There have been 229,155 doses of the vaccine administered. Across the province today there were 2,400 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday there were 1,588 cases, and on Tuesday there were 1,616 cases.
ONTARIO’S REOPENING PLAN
Starting this Saturday, May 22nd at 12:01am, the province will be reopening some outdoor recreational facilities, including golf courses and driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks. Thank you to everyone who joined our campaign to fight to reopen safe outdoor activities and amenities. To have those things open safely this weekend is a victory for us all!
The province has announced a three-step reopening plan to lift public health restrictions based on vaccination rates and other indicators. The government has said that we will remain in each stage for at least 21 days, only moving to the next stage if specific vaccine targets are met and health-system indicators remain positive. The three-step program is as follows:
Step One – Expected to begin the week of June 14, and will see some non-essential retail open with 15 per cent capacity limits, allow outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, and outdoor restaurant dining with four people per table.
Step Two – Will allow outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people and the resumption of personal care services where masks can be worn, as well as indoor religious services with capacity limits of 15 per cent.
Step Three – further expansion of access to indoor settings with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where masks cannot be worn.
The provincial stay-at-home order remains in effect until June 2, with exceptions for specified purposes such as getting groceries, going to the pharmacy, getting medical care, or outdoor exercise. You can read the full details here.
Any re-opening news is good news, but we're shocked and disappointed that the Premier has ignored students and schools entirely in Ontario’s re-opening plan. The Government is leaving children, families and schools hanging, and there's no relief in sight. Children and families are exhausted and frustrated from trying to learn online. Their mental health and well-being are being eroded by the day. Schools should be the top priority for re-opening. And we can make schools safe by investing in small class sizes, windows that open, better ventilation and upgrades like touchless faucets. We’re going to keep fighting for safe schools.
The local health unit has said talks are under way with the Ministry of Health regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine and are looking at ways to help get the vaccine to individuals who are seeking their second dose. Dr. Ahmed has said that they will likely have details next week, but that if an individual decides to get a second dose of AstraZeneca, they will get it at the same place they received their first dose. However, at this time, Windsor-Essex does not have any doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. We continue to urge the Government to plan on ensuring that everyone who has received their 1st dose of AstraZeneca can also receive AstraZeneca for their 2nd dose. The Government needs to be transparent about their plan for the 2nd dose rollout of AstraZeneca, and we will continue working to get those answers. You can read more on Dr. Ahmed’s comments here.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has released a statement to clarify that quarantine exemptions that are currently in place are for travellers returning to Canada after receiving essential medical services in a foreign country, and do not apply to those seeking a COVID-19 vaccine. PHAC also points out that the decision to allow travellers into the United States falls on the American border authorities, and at this time, those trying to enter the United States, even with proper documentation, would be denied entry. You can read more here.
PLAN FOR RESUMING SURGERIES
With scheduled surgeries resuming slowly in Ontario, our caucus is calling on the government to have a plan and devote the funding needed to get people the surgery and care they need much quicker. Hundreds of thousands of people are waiting in pain, worrying that their condition is getting worse by the day. Instead of prioritizing relief for people waiting for surgeries, the provincial government has shortchanged the surgeries budget. We need to see a plan to expand capacity, dramatically ramp up procedures as soon as it’s safe, and get people the relief they deserve, right away.
BORDER TO REMAIN CLOSED TO NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States will remain in effect until at least June 21.
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.