The Windsor Essex County Health Unit reported there are 674 cases of COVID-19, an increase of nine cases from Wednesday.
There are 18 people in hospital battling the disease and 229 have overcome it.
Of all the cases in Windsor-Essex, 41 per cent are in staff and residents of the area’s long-term care and retirement homes.
It’s been another week of heavy losses for some of Windsor’s most vulnerable.
The health unit reported five people have died this week — all residents of long-term care or retirement homes in the area.
There are now 11 facilities currently experiencing an outbreak.
“Despite an inconsistent supply of swabs for mass testing, the mass swabbing at long-term care homes is ongoing,” said medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed, on Wednesday.
Ahmed thanked Windsor EMS for assisting in the endeavour which began Easter weekend.
Ahmed said about 600 residents were tested in long-term care homes on Tuesday as mass testing is continuing.
As Ontario moves to reopen some businesses in the coming days, Ahmed said people should still wash hands, stay home when sick, and avoid going out unless it is necessary.
“COVID-19 is not yet over,” he said. “It’s not a free-for-all when going out to these facilities … it’s better you gather your stuff, you pick up, and you leave to do the work that is necessary.”
Even when interacting with staff, Ahmed said to continue to follow guidelines especially physical distancing.
WATCH| The health unit’s COVID-19 update for May 7:
Ahmed said that as businesses begin to slowly reopen in the area, people should flush out pipes before drinking any water
Garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores are set to reopen so long as they adhere to the same public health measures currently in place at grocery stores, Premier Doug Ford says.
The public will be allowed to shop in these stores as long as physical distancing, contact-less payment and sanitization measures are in place, Ford said at his daily briefing Wednesday.
Select retailers can reopen according to this schedule:
- Friday: Nurseries and garden centres
- Saturday: Hardware stores and safety supply stores
- Monday: Retail stores with street entrances will be permitted to reopen for curbside pickup.
The province will also expand what counts as essential construction with work allowed on condominiums and apartments, Ford said.
Backlog of tests
Windsor-Essex is experiencing another backlog of tests recently, with nearly 1,200 people awaiting results as of Thursday.
Ahmed said this week the local area would be better served if tests did not have to be shipped to labs in other cities.
“Given the size of Windsor and Essex, I would be pushing for having something here, but some of those conversations will happen at the provincial level for sure,” said Ahmed. “I’m hoping that that will be given a consideration, given our unique location and the number of our population, to enable us to do a better job in testing individuals in a timely manner.”
Windsor-Essex could’ve had a facility capable of processing COVID-19 tests, but health officials say the provincial laboratory that would’ve handled such testing was closed in 2010 and eventually demolished to make room for the Herb Gray Parkway.
“It was something we took a stance against as the health unit at that time … and tried to keep it here in Windsor and Essex County,” said Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain, who was chair of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) in 2010.
Though Bain and others petitioned the provincial government, he said efforts ultimately “fell upon deaf ears.”
According to Windsor Regional Hospital chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad, COVID-19 swabs conducted in Windsor-Essex were initially sent to Toronto for processing until a lab was set up in London, Ont. That dropped the turnaround time for tests from 10 to 14 days down to 24 to 48 hours.
But with increased testing conducted across Windsor-Essex and in London, Saad said turnaround time has once again increased.
Access to testing materials like swabs are also an issue, explained Saad, so a lab facility might not have solved the delay.
Due to costs and a lack of space, Saad said it’s not possible to build a lab at this time.
Windsor resident hands out packages for those experiencing homelessness
Every few days for the past two weeks, Windsor resident Joseph Antone has loaded up his red pick-up truck with food, water, fruit and other essential supplies.
With the help of his friends and family — including his four daughters — Antone has been visiting sites across the city to provide the supplies for people experiencing homelessness, hard-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a situation happen where we had some extra food so we brought it downtown because we all know downtown has those people that are struggling right now,” Antone said. “We said let’s give it to them, they’ll appreciate it.”
During that first run, Antone and his family packed 111 brown paper bags with sandwiches to provide to those in need. His daughters wrote inspirational messages on the bags.
COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton
Lambton Public Health reported Monday there are 193 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in that region.
Overall, 16 people have died and 126 people have recovered from the disease.
Lambton Public Health declared outbreaks at two seniors’ homes as being over.
Landmark Village retirement home had 30 cases among residents and 10 cases in staff members, according to the health unit. Six residents at that facility have died. The health unit reported the outbreak there was over on May 6.
Sumac Lodge long-term care home in Sarnia had one staff member tat has tested positive for COVID-19, however the outbreak was declared over on May 5.
Long-term care home Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia is currently under an outbreak. There are four cases among residents and two cases in staff members. Two residents there have died.
COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent
Chatham-Kent Pubic Health reported 89 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region as of Monday, with more than half of them connected to a single workplace.
The recent uptick was due to an outbreak at Greenhill Produce greenhouse near Kent Bridge. Fifty-one workers there have tested positive for the disease.
In Chatham-Kent, one person has died due to COVID-19 and 34 people have recovered.