The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has announced nine new cases of COVID-19 today. Of the cases announced, four are the result of close contact with someone with the virus, two are in the community, one involves a worker in the agri-farm sector, one is travel related, and one is still under investigation. Our region now has a total of 2,608 confirmed cases, 2,440 resolved cases, and 76 deaths.
Our caucus continues to call on the provincial government to do more to protect kids returning to school. The best way to prevent COVID-19 is through reducing contact and that means providing additional classrooms and teachers to ensure smaller, safer classrooms so everyone can sufficiently keep 2 metres apart. We have also called for more custodial staff to be hired to ensure schools are cleaned more often and for an investment in infection control through upgrades to schools for things like no-touch faucets and better ventilation. This is especially important as the Windsor-Essex County Catholic School Board reported its first case of COVID-19 in one of our local schools today.
Windsor Regional Hospital has received government approval to purchase a new state-of-the-art testing machine that will reduce the wait time for a COVID-19 test to less than an hour in certain cases, compared to the current minimum two-day wait. You can read the full article here.
The YMCA gym located at Central Park Athletics is permanently closing its doors as a result of COVID-19. While the gym is closing permanently, the YMCA’s community programming will still continue in Windsor-Essex. All current memberships will be cancelled immediately with no additional action needed by current members.
My colleague MPP Lisa Gretzky introduced a new private member’s bill, the More Than A Visitor Act, in the Ontario legislature today. The new bill enshrines rights for people receiving care, support or services in congregate care settings, such as long-term care and group homes, to ensure consistent, continuous and safe access to their essential caregivers. The bill also sets out the framework for a Caregiver Strategy going forward, which will bring together residents, caregivers, workers and experts and advocacy groups with the goal of making policies related to the role of caregivers in Ontario. The strategy will also include a critically important staffing strategy for all congregate care settings in order to properly meet the care needs of residents while addressing chronic understaffing. Numerous reports have shown that the visitor policies in congregate care settings which keep out essential caregivers are causing devastating isolation, mental and physical decline, regressive behaviour, and depression.
As the provincial government’s limited long-term care commission starts in secret, a new letter shows that families who went through horrifying experiences with their loved ones in long-term care during the pandemic may never get a public hearing. Our caucus said this makes clear that the government’s backroom commission is a sham, and should be scrapped in favour of a full judicial public inquiry. We are urging the government to scrap their sham commission into long-term care, and give families in Ontario the full judicial public inquiry they deserve. The terms of reference allow all meetings, hearings and documents to be kept secret, and doesn’t give families standing to guarantee they can all be heard.
The number of people permitted in social gatherings will be lowered in a bid to stop the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. The provincial government has not provided more details of when the new guidelines will take effect or what the new limit will be.
Please continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands often and wear a face mask when out in public.