The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 today and one new death. Of the new cases reported, six are from community spread, five are from close contacts of a confirmed case, three are agri-farm workers, and ten are still under investigation. This brings the local total up to 3,120 confirmed cases, 2,852 resolved cases, 191 active cases, and 77 deaths. The province announced 1,249 cases of COVID-19 today. On Monday there were 1,487 cases, on Sunday 1,248 cases, and Saturday 1,581 cases.
Today in the Legislature, I stood in question period and demanded immediate action from the provincial government to protect migrant agri-food workers during the second wave of the pandemic. In the first wave of COVID-19, migrant workers in the province were among the hardest hit in our region. The Ontario government failed to take pro-active measures to ensure these workers would be protected. Instead, the government’s response at that time was to allow them to keep working if they were infected and asymptomatic. As a result, three migrant workers died and hundreds of others were infected. Last week, we saw a spike again, as nearly 50 cases were identified in the agri-food sector in our region, and six others identified so far this week. Yesterday, the province announced a plan for protections in the agri-farm sector, but migrant worker advocates have said that the government’s plan doesn’t do enough to protect workers and left out input from employees in its creation. I asked the government today what their plan was to address this problem amidst the second wave and if they would commit to investing in the resources needed to make sure migrant farm workers in Ontario have adequate sick pay and safe accommodations, and that farmers have the support they need to ensure the safety of our local food supply.
The Erie St. Clair Regional Cancer program will be hosting a free workshop on Thursday, November 26 at 6pm to help those caring for loved ones when they can’t be at their bedside. The free virtual event is for anyone with a loved one in hospital, long-term care, hospice care or socially isolating. Registration information and more details can be found here.
Our caucus is calling on the provincial government to provide specifics on what threshold Ontario would have to hit for a lockdown to be imposed. This comes as thousands of people are testing positive for COVID-19 every week, hospitals are on the brink of becoming overwhelmed, seniors are dying in long-term care homes again, and health care workers are burned out. Instead, the province has been moving in the opposite direction, and opening things up by using a colour-coded tier system which relaxes public health protections compared to the stronger Stage 2 restrictions. Not only has the provincial government refused to reveal the threshold for bringing back lockdowns, but they are muzzling the experts who are advising the government on this by making them sign non-disclosure agreements. This follows revelations by the Toronto Star that the provincial government lied at least once about the role of experts designing and signing off on their risky colour-coded plan, which prematurely nixed public health measures in hot spots.
At FJ Brennan Catholic School yesterday, 11 students were dismissed after the school board received confirmation of a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school. The school board says they have been working with the local health unit by providing lists of staff and students who may have been directly affected and the health unit is contacting those individuals to provide directions to follow. Updates from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board are available here.
Ontario’s Education Minister said today students could get an extended winter break or start class remotely in the new year as a possible way to reduce COVID-19 transmission after the holidays. A plan is expected in the next week or two. You can read more here.
As new and returning international students are expected to start arriving this month at the University of Windsor, officials says they have a plan to welcome them that has been approved by federal, provincial and local health agencies. Among the details the university will require from students are the date of arrival and address where they will be staying during quarantine. The UWindsor’s International Students Centre will track the students and keep in contact with them. You can read more here.
The Windsor Regional Hospital announced that visitor restrictions will not be changing for the time being. Currently, the visitation policy allows for two visitors, one a day at certain time periods. Yesterday it was announced that Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare would be temporarily suspending their Registered Visitor Program due to COVID-19. You can find more on the visitation policy for WRH here.
Due to COVID-19, the Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare annual Tree of Lights fundraising campaign will be done virtually this year through a Facebook Live stream. For every Tree of Lights donation made, HDGH will hang a special ornament in memory or in honour of your loved one on its Christmas tree and send you a paper ornament for you to place on your own tree at home. This year’s funds will go towards providing comfort items for patients, such as blankets, gift cards, toys for children, hats and mittens, etc. More information can be found here.
The province is now accepting applications from municipalities for local infrastructure projects under the new Local Government sub-stream of the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream. Eligible projects include infrastructure to support physical distancing, social infrastructure, active transportation and disaster mitigation projects. You can find more information here.
Please continue to wear a mask or face covering in public, continue practicing physical distancing of two metres, and wash your hands often.