The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 45 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with the loss of two members of our community. Toronto had 116 cases today, Peel had 67 cases today, Hamilton had 19 cases today, and Middlesex-London had 18 cases today. Yesterday, our region had 48 cases, and on Sunday there were 78 cases. There are now 455 active cases in our community, with 236 of those being variants of concern cases, bringing the total number of cases in our region to 19,070 and 448 deaths related to COVID-19. Of the new cases announced today, 19 are from close contact with another confirmed case, six are considered community spread, and 20 are under investigation. There are 19 workplace outbreaks, two community outbreaks, one outbreak at a long-term care home, and 20 confirmed cases in hospital, with six in the ICU. A total of 590,178 doses of the vaccine have been administered locally, with 81.3 per cent of individuals over 12 having received one dose, and 74.3 per cent of individuals over 12 having received both doses. Across the province today there were 577 cases of COVID-19. Yesterday there were 600 cases, and on Sunday there were 784 cases.
POTENTIAL PUBLIC EXPOSURE POINTS
The local health unit has updated their website with the locations of potential COVID-19 exposure points, along with the date of possible exposure. You can find that information here.
VACCINE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM DETAILS
The provincial government has released a new guidance document for businesses, as the province’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate program will come into effect next Wednesday September 22. Patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination and a piece of ID to enter settings such as restaurants, bars, casinos, theatres, and gyms; however, a number of sectors and, such as retail, are exempt, and exemptions will be made for employees working in sectors where proof of vaccine would be required, or for instances such as patrons who need to enter an indoor area to pay or use the washroom. Enforcement officers will be visiting businesses this week to discuss the system’s requirements, and businesses are instructed to contact law enforcement about harassment or threats over the policy. The province says the new rules will not impact children under the age of 12 who cannot receive a vaccine. You can read the full guidance document here and a Frequently Asked Questions document from the government is available here.
The government’s certificate program is late, and the list of exemptions is long. All non-essential businesses and activities should require a vaccine certificate. With the list of exemptions and loopholes, the government is not putting public health first. There are gaps. For example, while vaccines are mandatory to eat in a restaurant, they aren’t required to serve or prepare food in one. The government also needs to do more by reaching out to people facing barriers or having challenges getting a vaccine, and they need to implement Safety Zones around hospitals and businesses to help protect workers from undue harassment. Ontarians who are fully vaccinated, and the few who have legitimate medical exemptions, deserve to be safe and confident.
The provincial government is expanding the eligibility for third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Third doses will soon be offered to:
- Those undergoing active treatment for solid tumors;
- Those who are in receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell;
- Those with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome);
- Stage 3 or advanced untreated HIV infection and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; and
- Those undergoing active treatment with the following categories of immunosuppressive therapies: anti-B cell therapies (monoclonal antibodies targeting CD19, CD20 and CD22), high-dose systemic corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents that are significantly immunosuppressive.
You can read more here.
The University of Windsor has a launched a new project to help break down vaccine hesitancy and increase education and vaccine literacy. A website has been launched to provide verifiable information on vaccinations from government-based sources and offers a quiz to test vaccination knowledge. The website and quiz can be found here.
The local health unit will be operating a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Sunset Amphitheatre at Seacliff Park in Leamington on Saturday September 18 from 6pm to 9pm. Vaccines are available daily from 8am to 3:30pm at the former Sears store in Devonshire mall for anyone who is looking for their first or second dose. No appointment needed. For more information, see here.
COVID-19 IN SCHOOLS
The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board announced two classes from L.A. Desmarais Catholic Elementary School and two classes from St. Joseph’s Catholic High School were dismissed today due to positive cases of COVID-19. The local health unit has contacted students and staff who may have been affected.
The local health unit says more than 600 elementary and secondary students from across the region have already been dismissed from school due to COVID-19, after returning to the classroom last week. There are currently eight schools in the public-school board and ten schools in the Catholic school board dealing with cases. This is why my caucus colleagues and I continue to call for the provincial government to do more to protect our students, teachers, and education workers. The Government should be capping class sizes to reduce crowding in classrooms, improve ventilation in schools, and implement paid sick days and family sick days so parents don't have to choose between staying at home with their sick child or going to work to avoid missing a paycheque. You can find the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases in schools from the public school board here and from the Catholic school board here.
The local health unit is reminding parents to check their children for symptoms of COVID-19 before they leave for school each morning, and to keep them home if they are sick.
MANDATORY VACCINE POLICY
The Town of Kingsville is implementing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees, which will require them to have one dose of the vaccine by September 30, and a second dose by October 30. The town will be reviewing any cases where staff cannot receive the vaccine or refuse to get the shot. You can read more here.
Please continue to stay safe and follow public health guidelines.