Windsor-Essex Stays in Stage 2, Social Circles of 10 People Will Remain Until Next Year, As Ontario Reports 91 New COVID-19 Cases

Over the Civic Holiday Long Weekend, Ontario reported lower than 100 new cases of COVID-19 during the past two days with 88 cases on Monday and as many as 91 new cases today. 

Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter today that “29 out of 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, with 16 of them reporting no new cases”. 

Additionally, the Health Minister reported that over 42,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted over the past couple of days, which brings the province’s total tests completed to date a little more than 2.2 million tests.

Of the new cases that were reported today, 16 were found in the Peel region, 22 in the Toronto region, and 9 were found in the Windsor-Essex region, which continues to be grappled with outbreaks among migrant workers. 

Ontario Government says Windsor-Essex to remain in Stage 2

Following the consultations with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the local medical officer of health, other health experts and local authorities, the Government of Ontario announced today that the Windsor-Essex region will remain in Stage 2 of reopening. 

“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 Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott. 

“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.”

Although the Windsor-Essex is the only region in Ontario that has not advanced to Stage 3 reopening, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens reacted positively to the announcement on Twitter. 

Provincial health officials say that the outbreaks, especially in the agriculture and agri-food sectors, poses unique challenges that require a targeted and collaborative response. 

“We continue to take action to address outbreaks in the region and provide our 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,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 

“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.”

According to the Windsor-Essex Country public health unit, there have been over 1,100 cases of COVID-19 in the agri-farm sector of the region since March. 

As of Tuesday, there were 10 new cases reported in the region with as many as five cases in the agri-farm sector. 

In response to the outbreaks, the Ontario Government worked with the federal government and local authorities to recently deploy the Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT) to the Windsor-Essex region. 

The Ontario Government says that EMAT is providing both incident management support and coordination to the health sector in Windsor-Essex and will provide clinical support should it be required.

Additionally, Ontario officials announced they are implementing a three-point plan to support the health unit in Windsor-Essex to reduce the risk of transmission on farms and throughout the community. 

The plan included ongoing and expanding on-site testing, access to employment benefits and supports, and public health guidance specific to the agri-food settings. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who visited the region, said during his press conference that over 160 farms have been inspected and more people have been getting tested for COVID-19. 

“I want to thank the folks at the hospital in the Windsor-Essex area,” says Ford. “You guys are absolute champions. You come out, you support us. Right at the beginning, you set up the testing area, no one showed up, now people are coming.”

Ontario Premier says Social Circles of 10 people will likely last until the new year

Despite most of Ontario officially in Stage 3 as of last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced today that social circles of up to 10 people will likely be sticking around until at least the new year. 

“This pandemic is not over,” warned Premier Ford to Ontario residents during his afternoon news conference on Tuesday.

“It’s going to continue going and in my opinion – I could be wrong, I’m no medical professional – but, in my opinion, this is going until January, until we get a vaccine or hopefully sooner when we get a vaccine.”

Almost two months ago, the province’s 14.5 million residents were told by the Ontario government that they could add others who they did not live with into their social bubbles, capping at 10 people per circle. 

This had allowed many to finally be able to hug their parent, grandparent, or child for the first time in months since public health measures such as physical distancing were introduced. 

Currently, social bubbles in Ontario remains at a maximum of 10 people and physical distancing should be maintained around anyone outside your circle. 

On Tuesday, Premier Ford was asked if these restrictions would be amended any time soon, referring to both the social bubble limitations and physical distancing measures. 

Premier Ford responded saying that the province’s health table does not have any immediate plans to do so. 

“We have to be on guard constantly,” said Premier Ford. “We can’t take our eye off the ball for a second when it comes to this because it will come back and bite us in the backside like we’ve never seen before.”

The Premier went on to state that loosening these restrictions may result in “reckless and careless” behaviour seen by our neighbours south of the border.

“I don’t want what happened in the U.S. to happen here and it can happen real quick, real quick so let’s just continue on. We’ve all worked so hard. Everyone has done a great job so let’s just continue on as a strong province.”

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