The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 33 new COVID-19 cases, along with the loss of another member of the community. Toronto reported 69 cases today, Peel reported 43 cases, Hamilton reported 30 cases, and Middlesex-London reported 5 cases. Yesterday, our region had 31 cases, and on Tuesday there were 21 cases. Of the new cases announced today, 10 are from close contact with another confirmed case, 11 are considered community spread, one case is outbreak related, one is travel related, and 10 are under investigation. There are now 261 active cases in the community, with 168 of those being variants of concern cases. There are 16 workplace outbreaks, six school outbreaks, one community outbreak, one outbreak at a long-term care home, and nine confirmed cases in the hospital, with eight of those in the ICU. Our region has seen a total of 20,152 cases, and 459 deaths related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Locally, a total of 626,310 doses of the vaccine have been administered, with 84.5 per cent of individuals over 12 having received one dose, and 79.4 per cent of individuals over 12 having received both doses. Across the province today there were 417 new COVID-19 cases. Yesterday there were 306 cases, and on Tuesday there were 390 cases.
ADVOCATING TO KEEP KIDS SAFE
My caucus colleagues and I are again calling on the provincial government to come up with, and publicly announce, a plan to roll out vaccinations for kids aged 5 to 11 in advance of Health Canada’s approval, so that resources are in place to get children vaccinated as quickly and smoothly as possible as soon as Health Canada deems it safe. Throughout this pandemic, we have seen the government take a wait-for-crisis approach. We need to get out ahead and be ready so we can launch and vaccinate all eligible kids within a matter of days.
HEALTH CARE RETENTION PLAN
According to the Ontario Science Table’s report that 43 per cent of members of Registered Nurses Association of Ontario are considering leaving nursing after the pandemic, my caucus colleagues and I are calling for an urgent health care recruitment and retention action plan to relieve and respect exhausted health care workers. Burnout is causing health care workers like nurses and personal support workers to leave their job, which leaves each shift understaffed, causing more burnout and more staff leaving. We need to launch an aggressive recruitment and retention strategy for health care. We need a retention plan for nurses with valuable skills, training, and experience, like emergency department and surgical team experience. We need a plan that trains new health care workers and gives them full time jobs and fair wages. And we need a plan that funds hospitals, long-term care homes, and other health care settings to have enough staff on each shift to ensure that people get the best care, and staff are protected from burnout. You can read the report from the Ontario Science Table here.
Stellantis has announced they will implement a mandatory vaccination policy for anyone entering any of their work sites, including the Windsor Assembly Plant. All employees, contractors, service provider workers, and visitors will need to be fully vaccinated by December 17, 2021. The company says that consequences for non-compliance could be severe, including termination of employment. Approved medical or religious exemptions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. You can read more here.
COVID-19 VERIFICATION APP
The provincial COVID-19 verification app to scan QR codes, called Verify Ontario, is now available on the Google and Apple app stores. The app will give businesses and organizations the ability to scan the QR codes on provincially issued vaccine certificates. When a valid QR code is scanned, a green checkmark will appear to indicate a valid vaccine certificate. If the vaccine certificate is invalid, a red checkmark will appear, and a yellow warning will appear for a QR code that cannot be read. Ontarians will have the option of continuing to use paper vaccine receipts to prove their vaccination status if they wish. You can read more here.
UNITED STATES BORDER REOPENING
With news that the US border will be reopening in the beginning of November, a few more details have emerged. Canadians travelling to the United States will no longer need a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States, however they will need to be fully vaccinated. At this time, it is unclear whether the United States will recognize the AstraZeneca vaccine, or those who have mixed-dose vaccines. Additionally, at this time, Canadians will still be required to show a negative molecular test when returning home. More details are expected to be released soon. You can read more here.
COVID-19 IN SCHOOLS
The Greater Essex County District School Board is reporting one new COVID-19 case from a student at Mount Carmel-Blytheswood Public School in Leamington. While outbreaks have been declared at Marlborough Public School, Northwood Public School, and St. Anne French Immersion Catholic School. The local health unit has contacted all those affected, and is reminding parents to continue to monitor their children each morning for COVID-19 symptoms and to keep them home if they are sick.
Up-to-date COVID-19 information on confirmed cases and outbreaks from each school board can be found here:
French Catholic: https://www.cscprovidence.ca/apps/pages/index.jsp...
Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board: https://www.wecdsb.on.ca/about/covid19/outbreaks
Greater Essex County District School Board: https://www.publicboard.ca/.../COVI.../Pages/default.aspx...
Please continue to stay safe and follow public health guidelines.