Good evening everyone,
Windsor-Essex reported three news cases of COVID-19 today. Two are attributed to travel outside of Canada and one came from the community. This brings up the new total to 2,667 cases locally. For the first time in several months, there are no listed outbreaks in long-term care homes or retirement homes in Windsor-Essex. Ontario reported 732 new cases of COVID-19 today, a new record, compared to 538 cases yesterday, 625 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, 554 cases Tuesday, and 700 cases on Monday.
Another record was hit today with the number of COVID-19 cases waiting to be processed in the province. Today’s total is 90,500, the highest since the outbreak began in January. For Windsor-Essex, Dr. Ahmed has noted a significant delay in one-day turnarounds for tests, confirming the strain being placed on Ontario’s labs. Ten percent of tests are coming back within one day and close to fifty percent are coming back in two days.
The Windsor-Essex Health Unit noted an increase in absenteeism in Windsor-Essex schools since September 28, but they have not been able to confirm the reason why and will use the data to find out more.
The Ontario Government announced new measures this afternoon to respond to the second wave of COVID-19. Starting Tuesday, October 6, 2020, Ontario assessment centres will be transitioning to appointment-based testing and will discontinue walk-in testing services. They will continue mobile testing and pop-up testing to reach vulnerable populations. They plan to increase testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by mid-October and 68,000 tests per day by mid-November and introduce new point of care testing and antigen testing once approved by Health Canada.
While there are new, targeted measures for Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel, the Government has also implemented new measures for the entire province. Starting Saturday, October 3, 2020 at 12:01AM, the following measures take effect:
- Extending the pause on any further reopening of businesses, facilities, and organizations for an additional 28 days, unless already permitted to open under O. Reg 364/20;
- Pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household; and
- Finalizing additional guidance for seniors (70 and over) on how to minimize their risk of acquiring COVID-19, including for upcoming annual gatherings such as Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day.
There will also be a province-wide mandatory face covering order for indoor public settings, including businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services.
With Ontario experiencing a big COVID-19 wave, the Government is putting Ontario at risk with half measures and contradictory rules. It is obvious to experts and nearly everyone else that tougher measures are required to beat this dangerous wave of COVID-19. Instead of opening more assessment centres urgently, they are restricting all testing to by-appointment-only. They are capping Toronto, Ottawa and Peel restaurants, bars and clubs at 100 people. Toronto’s cap is currently 75. They are suspending social bubbles, and replacing it with nothing but contradictory and often vague statements. We continue to advocate for expanded testing and lab capacity and financial assistance for businesses and their staff to stay afloat, so they could withstand the stricter measures that are clearly needed.
The Federal Government has expanded exemptions for border crossings for three new groups of people:
- Significant others of Canadians, who are not married or common law, but are in a committed, long-term dating relationship;
- Foreign nationals hoping to visit a relative who has serious illnesses or injuries and is dying; and
- International students who are enrolled in a designated school that has a COVID-19 plan sanctioned by provincial authorities.
Immigration, Citizenship, and Refugees Canada (IRCC) will have specific forms for applicants in each category to complete before visiting their respective port of entry so they can be pre-approved. Each traveler will be required to quarantine for 14 days among arrival into Canada, undergo screening by a border official and provide contact information to enforce the quarantine.
I hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable weekend! Please continue to wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible, wash your hands frequently, and practice physical distancing of 2 metres apart with those outside your household.