WINDSOR-ESSEX WORKING THROUGH STAGE 2
All other Ontario regions in Stage 3 of COVID-19 protocols
Windsor and Essex County are stuck in Stage 2 of the province’s reopening strategy for a while longer.
The Ontario government announced Tuesday morning the region would once again be prohibited from entering Stage 3, something every other part of Ontario did a week ago or earlier.
“We are working hard with our federal and local partners to provide the communities in Windsor-essex with the support they need during their reopening,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health, in a news release. “With the health and safety of the people of Ontario our absolute top priority, Windsor-essex will remain in Stage 2 until the data indicates they can safely move to Stage 3.”
Public health officials will continue to “closely monitor and assess local trends of key public health indicators” before the region will be allowed to move safely into Stage 3, the news release said. Those indicators include lower transmission of COVID-19, sufficient hospital capacity, public health capacity to do rapid case and contact management, and increased testing.
The province’s Emergency Medical Assistance Team — deployed locally in July to deal with outbreaks among agricultural food workers in Leamington and Kingsville — continues to provide incident management and co-ordination to the local health unit sector.
The province also has wheels turning on a three-point plan to support the Windsor-essex County Health Unit in reducing the risk of transmission on farms and throughout the community, according to the Ontario government’s news release.
That plan includes “ongoing and expanded on-site testing, access to employment benefits and supports, and public health guidance specific to the agri-food setting.”
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-essex County Health Unit, said he expects another announcement from the province at the end of the week about whether or not the region can join the rest of Ontario in Stage 3.
“The numbers that we are seeing right now are definitely better than what we were seeing last week,” Ahmed said during the health unit’s daily video news conference. “(If ) we would continue to see less cases, that would be the strongest indicator we can look at before we move forward.”
Ahmed reiterated again this week that the health unit does not make a recommendation to the province one way or another when it comes to Windsor-essex moving into Stage 3. Instead, public health shares local COVID-19 statistics and hospital capacity to the provincial officials, who are responsible for making the call.
“What we are seeing is cases and activity in a very specific sector, the agricultural sector — those will come into discussion and help us understand what the true risk to the community is,” Ahmed said. “Those conversations will happen and we hope to see some favourable results soon.”
Ernie Hardeman, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, said his branch of government is also providing farmers and agribusinesses in Windsor-essex with “the help, tools and resources necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of their workers and employees,” adding, “we are all working together to fight the spread of COVID -19 while protecting our vital food supply chain and the health and safety of the people who put food on our tables.”
Local health unit chief executive officer Theresa Marentette reported an additional 10 cases of COVID-19 in the region on Tuesday, bringing the region’s total case count to 2,350 since the pandemic began. Five of the new cases are agri-farm workers, one is a local health care worker, and three are members of the general community. The last case is still under investigation by public health staff.
To date, 1,444 residents who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus have recovered, while 787 individuals with active cases are self-isolating.
Sixteen people with the virus are in hospital, with three of them in intensive care.
No additional deaths were reported Tuesday, leaving the number of lives lost in the region due to complications from COVID-19 at 71.
Two retirement homes are being monitored for COVID-19 outbreaks. They are Chartwell Leamington and Augustine Villas in Kingsville. Two staff members at each of the two facilities have recently tested positive for the virus.
In addition to the retirement homes, 12 other workplaces are experiencing outbreaks. Five are agricultural businesses in Kingsville and Leamington, and six are manufacturing facilities in Kingsville, Tecumseh, Leamington and Windsor. The remaining outbreak is at a construction facility in Leamington. The health unit has not released the names of any of the businesses under outbreak because they do not pose a risk to the public’s health.
Brandon Kolody, co-owner of My Homemade Home Inc., works with his crew to build a patio outside Sidebar Lounge on Pelissier Street in downtown Windsor on Tuesday under Stage 2 reopening guidelines. There were 10 additional coronavirus cases in the region reported Tuesday.