CBC Windsor June 10 COVID-19 update: 38 new cases all in agri-farm workers

Here's what you need to know about COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex on Wednesday, June 10.

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit no longer gives daily live video updates

The Windsor-Essex Health Unit says there have been 1,179 reported cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex County. (Vince Robinet/CBC)

On Wednesday, the region's health unit reported the third-highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases since the onset of the pandemic and officials say they will now begin reporting workplaces that are under an outbreak. 

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit reported 38 new cases of COVID-19 in our region, all in workers in the agri-farm sector. 

Most of those workers are migrant workers, said medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed. 

The health unit will now begin reporting any outbreaks at workplaces where more than two or more employees are tested positive for COVID-19 within reasonable amount of time, said Ahmed.

"This disclosure will help the community understand better how the spread is happening and help us reinforce those important measures we need to take when we visit these workplaces," said Ahmed. "It is all of our responsibility when we visit these workplaces we are taking appropriate precautions and employers are too." 

With more people returning to work, Ahmed said the reporting is necessary. 

A list of current workplaces that are under outbreak will be provided on the health unit's website sometime this week, said Ahmed. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 81 new COVID-19 cases were reported in our region. The majority of cases are in farm workers. (Windsor Essex County Health Unit)

Ahmed said workplaces will be asked to track and log people coming in for appointments, for example, in case those logs can come in handy to proactively reach out to the individuals who may have become exposed. 

On Tuesday, the health unit reported 43 new cases of COVID-19 — the second highest day our region has seen for new cases since the pandemic began. Thirty-four of those new cases were in migrant workers. 

"The initiative from Ontario Health and supported by local health system partners to do mass testing in agri-food sector and the drive-thru testing led by the Windsor Essex County Health Unit will lead to a temporary rise in the number of new cases in our region," said Ahmed, in a media statement. 

Country Village Homes, a long-term care home in Woodslee, is back under an outbreak after one staff member tested positive for the disease. 

WATCH | The health unit's COVID-19 update for Wednesday June 10 live at 9 a.m.:

The health unit announced Monday they would no longer be providing daily COVID-19 live updates each morning, and would instead provide current numbers through its website. A live video update will occur this week on Wednesday and Friday, and continue the next few weeks on Fridays when Ahmed presents the epidemiological summary report for our region.  

Random drive-thru testing will be available on Thursday in Leamington at the Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre and Friday in Lakeshore at the Atlas Tube Centre. Both sites will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In LaSalle, 387 people were tested on Tuesday. 

Province's phase 2 reopening begins, but not in Windsor-Essex

As the provincial government moves ahead with the second phase of its reopening plan, Windsor-Essex is among the regions that will need to wait.

On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced 24 of Ontario's 34 public health units will be allowed to move into Phase 2. In those areas, restaurants, bars and food trucks will be able to open for outdoor dining on patios and in parking lots or adjacent premises.

(Peter Kovalik/Scott Galley/CBC)

Windsor-Essex, however, is among the 10 health unit regions not included on the list.

On Tuesday, Ahmed told CBC News that he advises against Windsorites travelling to other regions that are re-opening, unless essential. He added that people should consider the risks involved and be responsible. 

However, as of Friday the restriction on social gatherings will increase from no more than five people up to 10 people. This is effective across the province including Windsor-Essex. 

Places of worship are also allowed to open as long as physical distancing is met and attendance is no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity at any given time. 

Migrant workers' assessment centre has slow first day 

Erie Shores HealthCare's COVID-19 assessment centre saw 160 farm workers on Tuesday — significantly less than the 500 to 600 tests officials were hoping to conduct each day.

The centre at the Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre — formerly Leamington's recreational complex — opened as a way to improve access to testing for people in the agri-food sector. It also came after two migrant workers from Mexico died in Windsor-Essex due to COVID-19

In a tweet explaining they had conducted 160 tests but had more capacity, the hospital said they "would love to have farms, growers and greenhouses come" to the testing centre. 

Windsor-Essex's migrant worker situation has emphasized the need for systemic changes, said Ahmed, which includes assessing workers' accommodations, along with managing language and culture barriers.

In the short-term, Ahmed said they are focused on immediate supports like contact-tracing and management of cases. 

Testing centres open 7 days a week

The health unit said testing is available at two assessment centres in Windsor-Essex. People that have at least one symptom of the virus, and people who are asymptomatic but are at risk of contracting the virus can be tested. 

Windsor Regional Hospital has went back to usual testing hours, after briefly extending them due to an increase in the volume of people looking to be tested.

The assessment centre at the Ouellette Campus next to the Emergency Department is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The assessment centre at Erie Shores HealthCare is open from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton

Lambton Public Health reported 270 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region. Overall, 25 people have died. 

Another 233 people have recovered.

An outbreak at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia continues with 26 residents in total testing positive for the disease and 27 staff members.

Ten residents in total have died at Vision Nursing Home. 

COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent

Chatham-Kent's health unit reported 148 cases of COVID-19 for that community, with the majority of them linked to an outbreak at Greenhill Produce. 

There are now 103 workers at the facility who have tested positive for COVID-19. An outbreak was investigated at the end of April, when about 40 cases of the disease were discovered among workers at the greenhouse operation. 

Only two of those cases are still active, according to CK Public Health. 

In Chatham-Kent, one person has died due to COVID-19 and 142 people have recovered. 

A mobile drive-thru for COVID-19 testing will take place in Wallaceburg from Thursday to Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The clinic is for anyone wishing to be swabbed and will be located in the front parking lot of Chatham-Kent Health Alliance's Wallaceburg site at 325 Margaret Avenue. 

Those seeking to receive a test are required to bring a valid health card. 

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