The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 24 new cases of COVID-19 today. Yesterday there were 24 cases, and on Wednesday there were 13 cases. Our region has had a total of 16,484 cases and 426 deaths. Of the new cases announced today, 14 are from contact with a previously confirmed case, four are community acquired, and six are under investigation. There are 250 active cases in our region, with 132 of those being variants of concern. There are 17 people in the hospital, with seven in the ICU, and 15,808 cases have been resolved. In our region, 238,424 doses of the vaccine have been administered. Across the province today there were 1,273 cases of COVID-19 today. Yesterday there were 1,135 cases, and on Wednesday there were 1,039 cases.
The province has announced that they are shortening the interval between doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, starting next week with adults 80 and older. The province says the shortened interval could be as short as 28 days for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in the coming months, depending on supply. Those who received a first shot of AstraZeneca will be offered a second dose after 12 weeks, though it could be a different vaccine depending on federal guidance. The province has said those 80 and older can start booking their second doses next week, while those 70 and older will become eligible for their second doses in the week of June 14. After that, the province has said that residents will become eligible for second doses based on when they got their first dose. The local health unit has said they are ready and have the capacity to move forward with these second doses. Appointments for residents 80 years and older in Windsor-Essex can be booked starting Monday, May 31st at 8:00AM either online at www.wevax.ca or by phone at 226-773-2200. Earlier this week, a same-day waitlist for second doses was launched on the local health unit’s website for anyone 70 years and older and who received their first vaccine dose before March 31. The waitlist can be found online at www.wevax.ca. You can read the government’s news release here.
The news that second doses will be sped up is positive, but the booking and re-booking of the second-dose appointments should not be the same chaotic vaccine scavenger hunt of the first round – especially for seniors. Millions of Ontarians have second-dose appointments that need to be rebooked; and millions more have no appointment and may not know where they might get their second dose. There is no plan to help seniors book or re-book their second dose. We need a single, coordinated system to notify people when it’s their turn and what their options are.
Local health unit CEO Theresa Marentette has said that the vaccination rates in Windsor-Essex hot spots still trails behind the average for the region. She has asked that anyone with a child 12 years of age or older, and any adult who has not been vaccinated to please do so. Those hot spot postal codes are N8H, N8X, N8Y, N9A, N9B, N9C, and N9Y. You can make an appointment for a vaccine by calling 226-773-2200 or online at www.wevax.ca
As mentioned earlier this week, it has been confirmed that the former Sears store at Devonshire Mall will be the site of a new mass vaccination site. Windsor Regional Hospital says the site will open on Monday June 21 for appointments only. Effective June 19, the Windsor Hall will be vacated, and effective June 21, the St. Clair College Sportsplex will be vacated. Anyone who has an appointment after June 19 at the Windsor Hall and after June 21 at St. Clair College Campus sites will be contacted to make sure they are aware of the change to Devonshire Mall. You can read more here.
The University of Windsor has said that they will not require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus in the fall. They have said that they do encourage everyone to get vaccinated and will continue with existing precautions such as daily screening questionnaires but understand that there might be reasons why someone can’t receive the vaccine. St. Clair College has similarly said vaccine requirements aren’t being considered for either of their campuses. You can read more here.
RETURN TO IN-CLASS LEARNING
Dr. Ahmed has said that the local health unit supports kids returning to in-person learning, and the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health, which Dr. Ahmed is part of, has sent a letter to the province with their full support to re-open schools. Meanwhile, the Premier has said that he is still waiting to make a decision. I continue to hear from constituents on this important issue, and how it has impacted parents, kids, and teachers. The Premier has had many months to get a plan in place and ensure schools are safe. My colleagues and I continue to call on the province to put a cap on class sizes, ensure schools are equipped with better ventilation and windows that open, and infection control upgrades like touchless faucets. It was extremely upsetting that the provincial government ignored students and schools entirely when they released their reopening plan for the province. We will continue to fight for safe schools so that students can get back to in-person learning as soon as possible.
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.