CBC Windsor June 29 COVID-19 update: Highest daily counts reported over last 2 days

Here's what you need to know about COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex on Monday, June 29.

Sunday saw largest spike in new cases since onset of pandemic

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit provided its daily COVID-19 update Monday morning. (Vince Robinet/CBC)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported the second highest daily count of new COVID-19 cases Monday, following the highest day for confirmed cases on Sunday. 

On Monday, 88 new cases of the disease were reported in Windsor-Essex with 87 of those cases in the agri-farm sector. 

Sunday saw 98 new cases reported, the largest spike since the onset of the pandemic. Agri-farm workers accounted for 96 of those cases. On Saturday, 20 new cases were reported with 13 in agri-farm workers. 

The cases are all coming from one workplace, which the health unit says they are not required to name under provincial laws unless there is a significant risk to the public. 

"Almost all of the workers at the time of testing reported no symptoms," said medical officer of health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed. 

Ahmed suspects many workers may not currently have symptoms because they may have contracted the virus up to 90 days ago, meaning they might have had symptoms before but currently are not contagious. 

The health unit will have to investigate each of the new cases to determine when each individual may have contracted the disease, who they may have spread it to, if they were truly asymptomatic, and if they are currently contagious, said Ahmed. 

Due to the volume of this work, the health unit has called in about a dozen employees from other health units in Ontario to assist. Ahmed said he and CEO and chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette were in contact with federal and provincial officials over the weekend to stress the need for more support. 

Windsor-Essex saw the highest days of new cases on Sunday and Monday since the pandemic began. Almost all of the cases are in workers in the agri-farm industry. (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit)

As of Monday, all workers who have tested positive are self-isolating, said Ahmed. This, despite provincial rules outlined last week in the Ontario government's three-point plan to stop the spread of the virus on farms while helping farmers continue food production. The plan allows asymptomatic individuals to continue working if they are outdoors and the risk to spread the virus is low. 

"One of the biggest concerns as we are learning more and more is the role of contractors in many of these workplaces," said Ahmed, explaining that agencies may be sharing workers at different farms. 

At the end of May, the health unit issued a class order that stipulated farm workers were not allowed to work at multiple places. 

Ahmed said these orders may be enforced by OPP or the Ministry of Labour and the ministry has been investigating several farms in the region.

WATCH | The health unit's COVID-19 update for June 29:

Last week, most of the Windsor-Essex area moved into Stage 2 of reopening with the exceptions of Kingsville and Leamington. Those areas have not been cleared by the province to move forward due to the high rate of the virus, mostly at farms and among temporary foreign workers. Six farms remain under an outbreak. 

As much of the area reopens businesses, health unit inspectors will be providing education and tools to ensure safety for the community. 

For parts of Windsor-Essex entering Stage 2:

  • Shopping malls can reopen.
  • Restaurants and bars can serve customers seated outdoors.
  • Barber shops, hair salons, day-spas and tattoo parlors can operate.
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, recreational activities and guided tours can resume. 

Gatherings must continue to be limited to 10 people or less, and Ahmed said those who can work remotely should continue to do so. 

Mask policy in effect

Owners and operators of commercial businesses in Windsor-Essex must have a policy in place that would prohibit entry for most people who are not wearing a face covering, according to an order made by the health unit. 

It applies to places like retail and convenience stores, malls and plazas, restaurants, personal service settings, grocery stores and bakeries, gas stations, indoor areas of farmers' markets, mechanic shops and car dealerships.

Those attending restaurant patios do not have to wear a mask, because they are in open-air spaces, However, as the region prepares for moving into Stage 3 of reopening, the health unit said the policy will have to be revisited. 

WATCH | Are you making these face mask mistakes?

A face mask is meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. But if it slips below your nose, hovers around your chin, or you touch the outside with your hands, medical experts say that might be riskier than not wearing one at all. 3:55

The health unit is ordering businesses to make the following exceptions to face-covering policies:

  • Children who are younger than two years old.
  • Children — younger than five years old "either chronologically or developmentally" — who can't be persuaded to wear a face covering by their caregiver.
  • People who would experience breathing issues if they were to wear a face covering.
  • People who cannot safely wear a face covering due to medical reasons such as "respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information."
  • People who can not wear a face covering due to religious reasons.

COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton

Lambton Public Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 in the region since last week. There have been 285 total cases in the region and overall, there have been 25 deaths. 

Another 254 people have recovered.

An outbreak at Bluewater Health is now over, after four staff members tested positive for the disease. 

Afton Park long-term care home in Sarnia is now under an outbreak, after one staff member tested positive for COVID-19. 

COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent

Chatham-Kent's health unit also reported no new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. The area has had 157 total cases.

In Chatham-Kent, one person has died due to COVID-19 and 149 people have recovered. 

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