The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 today, with eight of those coming from close contact with confirmed cases, one from a local health care worker, one considered community acquired, and one still under investigation. There are 13 people currently in the hospital with COVID-19, four of which are in the ICU. Our region now has a total of 3,139 confirmed cases, with 2,873 cases resolved, 189 active cases, and 77 deaths. Ontario reported 1,417 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with 32 new deaths. On Tuesday, Ontario reported 1,249 cases, on Monday 1,487 cases, on Sunday 1,248 cases, and on Saturday 1,581 cases.
We have received a number of calls from constituents about the extension of the validity period for OHIP cards, Driver's Licenses, License Plate stickers, and other provincial documents. We would like to remind everyone that provided you had valid documentation as of March 1, 2020, and there are no other circumstances that would have led to an expired document aside from the expiry date falling on or after March 1, 2020, Ontario government driver, vehicle and carrier products and services will remain valid and legal until further notice. For more specific information on which products this applies to, please visit here. The government is encouraging people to renew their documents online if they are able to and to avoid visiting Service Ontario centres unless absolutely necessary.
The Windsor Regional Hospital has set up dedicated COVID-19 testing at the Met Campus for staff and students from F.W. Begley Elementary School after the entire school was dismissed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The COVID-19 Assessment Centre is located in the emergency department parking lot and will be open until 7pm today, and Thursday and Friday from 7am to 7pm. The health unit is recommending that all staff and students get tested and to self-monitor for symptoms.
The Greater Essex County District School Board has announced that masks could soon be required for all students riding buses after a motion passed last night at the Board of Trustees meeting. The recommendation will now go before the Windsor Essex Student Transportation Services board for consideration.
After the announcement yesterday by the provincial government that schools may remain closed after the winter break to help stop the spread of COVID-19, today they said schools will re-open as planned. Our Caucus has released a statement saying that if the threat of COVID-19 in our schools was serious enough for the provincial government to consider shutdowns, surely it is serious enough to cap class sizes to make students and staff safer. Our caucus has continually called for a cap on class sizes, additional classrooms and buses to allow social distancing, and funding for upgrades to help with infection control in schools.
The University of Windsor is reporting a new case of COVID-19. The affected person is self-isolating and all appropriate protocols and cleaning measures have been taken, according to the university. The health unit has said there is no additional risk to the campus community.
Today in the Legislature, our Caucus again called on the government to do more to deal with COVID-19 in our long-term care homes. After the first wave of the pandemic, front-line staff and home operators pleaded with the provincial government to aggressively recruit staff to meet the demands of the second wave. This was echoed by Dr. Ahmed, the medical officer of health at the local health unit, who also said inadequate staffing levels are one of the biggest concerns for Windsor-Essex as we face the second wave. You can read more here.
The provincial government announced they are providing $2.4 million to support an additional 13 Ontario Health Teams who will provide patients and families access to 24/7 navigation and care coordination services. This includes further expansion of virtual are for patients through dedicated funding to maintain access to care during the pandemic.
The provincial government also announced they are updating testing guidance for long-term care homes in communities with greater transmission of COVID-19. Starting next week, long-term care homes in the orange, red, and lockdown categories will see the following changes:
- Staff, essential caregivers and support workers who provide direct care to residents need to be tested for COVID-19 weekly and show proof of a negative test result
- Support workers who do not provide direct care to residents must verbally attest to having received a negative COVID-19 test result in the past two weeks and not subsequently tested positive.
More information on these announcements are available here.
During question period in the Legislature today, our Caucus asked the provincial government about the lack of high-dosage flu vaccines available as shortages are being reported across the province. The provincial government said they ordered more than one million more doses this year than last year, but with 4.6 million seniors in the province, many are still not able to access them.
The federal government released an update today saying that it is recommended that all non-essential travel is avoided until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who must travel or is already outside Canada, should get the latest advice and information for their safety, and anyone entering Canada will be asked if they have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine for 14 days. More information about this travel advisory can be found here.
Please continue to wear a mask or face covering when out in public, continue to practice physical distancing of two metres, and wash your hands often.