Windsor

CBC Windsor May 29 COVID-19 update: Windsor-Essex has 3rd highest rate in Ontario

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit will provide a daily COVID-19 update Friday morning. 

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit provides a daily COVID-19 update for our area

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will provide a daily COVID-19 update Monday to Friday. (Vince Robinet/CBC)

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 in our community, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the area to 950. 

Fourteen of the 23 new cases are in workers in the area's "agri-farm" industry. 

No new deaths were reported. 

Overall, 495 cases have been resolved, and 16 people remain in hospital with the disease. 

According to a weekly epidemiological report, Windsor-Essex has the third-highest rate of COVID-19 in the province and is above the provincial average rate. 

Medical officer of health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, attributes these higher numbers in our area due to the larger population of elderly people who are more susceptible to the virus. 

Windsor-Essex has the third-highest rate of COVID-19 in the province. Our region is also above the provincial average rate. (Windsor Essex County Health Unit)

Ahmed said we continue to see a decline in cases, and the primary source of exposure is close contact.

Two long-term care homes in our region remain under a COVID-19 outbreak. 

Heron Terrace in Windsor and Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville are still on the outbreak list, but 17 other facilities have been cleared of an outbreak. 

Random testing rolls out in the City of Windsor Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a drive-thru testing and a trailer-based testing unit at SilverCity on Walker Road. The site will also be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

Anyone over the age of 12 is welcome to be tested at the centre, which is conducted using a nasal swab. 

WATCH | The health unit's COVID-19 update for May 29 live at 9 a.m.:

The health unit is looking to gather about 1,300 samples in the City of Windsor and 2,300 to 2,400 across the region. They say the testing will help give them a sense of the spread of the virus as more business and services reopen in the province. 

Anyone will be able to receive testing at these sites, run by the Windsor Essex County Health Unit and Essex-Windsor EMS. Having a health card is highly recommended, but not required. People will need to provide a phone number and contact information in case their test comes back positive and the health unit needs to contact you. 

Spike in 'agri-farm' workers

This week, 57 new cases of COVID-19 in the region were in workers in the area's "agri-farm" sector, said the health unit. 

The health unit did not specify which businesses the workers were at, saying there is no risk to public health and no reason to expose those operations. 

Ahmed said the health unit is working closely with farms on testing and making sure people stay self-isolated. He said many businesses are doing this by having their workers stay in hotels rather than the shared accommodation they normally stay in. 

Ahmed said shared accommodations are inspected by the health unit, however work places are monitored by the Ministry of Labour. 

This spike in numbers has increased the number of cases seen in the Leamington area. Kingsville's numbers are also high due to long-term care homes in the area, said Ahmed. 

This graph shows where cases of COVID-19 are located in our area. A spike in Leamington's numbers was due to positive cases in agricultural workers. (Windsor Essex County Health Unit)

On Wednesday, the health unit issued a class order to try to fight that spread. All farm employees, including contract workers, must work exclusively at one workplace as of Wednesday. The health unit said the order didn't come sooner because a risk assessment needed to be carried out first. Failure to comply with the order can result in fines of up to $5,000.

So far no fines have been issued. 

Medical officer of health, hospital CEO disagreed over testing protocols

Emails obtained by CBC News through the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act show that Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj was begging Dr. Wajid Ahmed to authorize EMS paramedics to do COVID-19 testing at nursing homes and seniors residences as cases at the homes began to ramp up.

The 65 pages of emails — first obtained by The Windsor Star — contain heated exchanges between Musyj and Ahmed between March 1 and May 25.

The exchanges reveal a frustrated Musyj pleading with Ahmed to allow Essex-Windsor EMS paramedics to conduct COVID-19 testing in nursing homes and seniors residences. This after outbreaks had been reported in the homes and deaths had occurred.

Musyj at one point had swabs that he wanted to give to the health unit to pass on to paramedics to do the tests.

But Ahmed was hesitant to authorize it.

In heated exchanges between the two men, they disagreed over who should be tested and who should do the testing. There was a thread of emails that showed that testing was scheduled, cancelled and re-scheduled.

On Friday, Ahmed said his decisions were always based on public health recommendations and guidelines when he was making decisions. 

"There is a specific structure in place, and all of those are based on evidence and public health science," said Ahmed.

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 asymptotic but are at risk of contracting the virus can be tested. 

Windsor Regional Hospital has extended hours for the assessment centre at the Ouellette Campus next to the Emergency Department. That site has seen record numbers of people come in for testing with 319 visiting on Wednesday. 

Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 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 261 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region. Overall, 22 people have died and 196 people have recovered from the disease. 

An outbreak at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia has worsened with 24 residents testing positive for the disease. Another four staff members tested positive since Thursday, bringing the total to 24 staff members there testing positive for the disease. Seven residents in total have died at Vision Nursing Home. 

On Monday, Lambton Meadowview Villa in Petrolia came under outbreak again after one staff member tested positive for COVID-19. A previous outbreak at the facility, also involving one staff member, was reported as being over April 23. 

The outbreak at Marshall Gowland Manor long-term care home in Sarnia and Village On The St. Clair retirement home in Sarnia have been cleared of an outbreak.  

COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent

Chatham-Kent's health unit reported 144 cases of COVID-19 for that community, with the majority of them linked to an outbreak at Greenhill Produce. 

There are now 100 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 five of those cases are still active, according to CK Public Health. Another 95 workers have recovered. 

In Chatham-Kent, one person has died due to COVID-19 and 134 people have recovered. 

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