The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 40 new COVID-19 cases today, while there were 47 cases yesterday, and 30 cases on Saturday. We also lost two additional members of our community to COVID-19 over the weekend. Today, Toronto reported 117 cases, Peel reported 70 cases, Hamilton reported 46 cases, and Middlesex-London reported 15 cases. Of the new cases that have been reported between Saturday and today, 64 are from close contact with another existing case, 29 are considered community spread, nine are outbreak related, one is travel related, and 14 are under investigation. There are currently 307 active cases in our region, with 163 of those being variants of concern cases, and bringing the total number of cases to 19,590 and 453 deaths since the pandemic began. There are currently 13 workplace outbreaks, seven school outbreaks, two community outbreaks, and two outbreaks at long-term care/retirement homes. Locally, a total of 608,267 doses of the vaccine have been administered, with 82.8 per cent of individuals over 12 having received at least one dose, and 76.6 per cent of individuals over 12 having received both doses. Across the province today there were 613 cases of COVID-19. Yesterday there were 653 cases, and on Saturday there were 640 cases.
ADVOCATING FOR VISION CARE
I continue to receive dozens of emails and calls on a daily basis from constituents who are without vision care because the government has not negotiated a fair deal with optometrists. I have met with the Ontario Association of Optometrists, I have written multiple letters to the Minister of Health, Premier, and President of the Treasury Board, and I have spoken on this issue in the Legislature several times, calling for the government to meet and negotiate with optometrists and ensure they have the funding they need to provide vision care for those who need it. There are kids and teens struggling in school because they can’t see the board, or coping with eye pain and headaches. There are older adults facing the loss of independence because they can’t get a new prescription. The government must provide funding to stabilize the sector and ensure that patients have uninterrupted access to vision care while following public health measures. Today, our caucus again called on the government to immediately get back to the table with optometrists, and put fair funding in place to give children and seniors the eye care they are being denied.
COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE
The local health unit has issued a Letter of Instruction for all recreational facilities and community centres in Windsor-Essex, requiring anyone 12 and over to be fully vaccinated to enter, regardless of whether they are participating or spectators. You can read the letter here.
The local health unit has released a COVID-19 Vaccine Policy Support Package for employers to help them maintain safe working environments for their workers. You can find that here.
Vaccines remain available at the mass vaccination site located in the former Sears store in Devonshire Mall for anyone over the age of 12 looking for their first or second dose. No appointments are required. More information is available at www.wevax.ca
COVID-19 IN SCHOOLS
The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has dismissed a class from St. Rose Catholic Elementary School after one case of COVID-19 was confirmed. There was also one confirmed case at Sainte-Ursule Catholic Elementary School in McGregor. All impacted students have been notified and are following the direction of the local health unit. Parents are reminded to continue to monitor their children each morning before school and to keep them home if they are sick.
For up-to-date information on outbreaks at the public-school board, see here: https://www.publicboard.ca/News/COVID-19Report/Pages/default.aspx#/=
For up-to-date information on outbreaks at the Catholic school board, see here: https://www.wecdsb.on.ca/about/covid19/outbreaks
TOURISM RECOVERY PROGRAM FUNDING DELAYS
The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP) was announced in March this year, and after two years of uncertainty and stress for businesses, the government’s announcement today that the process to access the funds will be delayed again is a major blow. Waiting so long for this long-promised OTRP could be the last straw for some tourism business operators, who have done everything possible to keep their dreams alive and their staff teams employed. The OTRP would have helped businesses to hire workers and contribute to the province’s economic recovery over the summer months; instead, the government spent that time re-announcing old money and leaving struggling businesses in a state of uncertainty about when funding would actually come. My caucus colleagues and I are calling on the government to make sure that this money gets into the hands of businesses immediately, and that those left out of past funding be included in the OTRP.
Please continue to stay safe and follow public health guidelines.