Windsor-Essex ended 2020 in a critical state and has now entered the new year in "crisis"-mode after it sees 38 COVID-19 deaths in less than a week.
Additionally, in just 11 days, 2,000 more cases of the disease have surfaced in the region.
Sixteen of the new deaths were reported on Monday, the vast majority at long-term care and retirement facilities.
"We are starting to see the cases resulting from possible exposure from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and even other gatherings that took place before Christmas," said medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed.
There are crises in staffing at long-term care homes suffering outbreaks, he said, and hospitals that are partnered with these facilities are struggling to send them support.
"It has become a crisis now," he said.
Of the 16 deaths announced, 13 were residents of seniors' facilities, one was a care home worker, and two were living in the community, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU).
Paul Edwards is one of many who has lost a loved one to COVID-19 in recent weeks.
His 89-year-old mom, who was living at The Village at St. Clair, died on Dec. 21.
"No time is a good time, we were watching it closely since it started, expecting that there could be deaths," he said. "Christmas time is not a good time for anyone to have to go through something like this and watching the numbers grow at this time is even worse for what we fear for the rest of the folks in there and those that care for them so well."
Since his mom died, Edwards said they have yet to hear from the home or its parent owner Schlegel Villages. He said no one has reached out to offer their condolences, but the home has said Edwards will be able to retrieve his mom's belongings sometime soon.
Meanwhile, Imam Mohamed Mohamed from the Windsor Mosque told CBC News that he knows three community members that have recently died as a result of COVID-19 complications.
"It was hard especially for the families at this difficult time and we hope they recover from that and we wish those people [to] rest in peace, they are going to [a] better place. Yes, we are going to miss them, but this is life," he said, adding that the hard part for some has been the sudden nature of the deaths.
During the health unit's briefing, WECHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed shared what he described as the "harsh realities" the region is facing.
There were also 202 new cases of the virus reported on Monday.
Between Christmas Day and Monday, more than 2,000 new cases were reported.
The health unit is following all the new infections as best it can, Ahmed said, but it is now dealing with more than 2,500 active cases.
By comparison, Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent have not had that many cases throughout the pandemic, Ahmed said.
Vaccine roll out
Meanwhile, WECHU CEO and chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette said the vaccination of long-term care and retirement homes got underway on Jan. 1.
Health officials are vaccinating their fifth long-term care home on Monday. Ahmed said the rest are on track to be completed in the next seven to 10 days.
The region has a total of 19 long-term care homes, meaning that a little more than a quarter have been vaccinated so far.
Snapshot of the pandemic in Windsor-Essex
Since the start of the pandemic last March, 167 people in the region have died from COVID-19.
There have been 8,502 cases of COVID-19 recorded in the region.
Of the new cases announced Monday, 48 are related to outbreaks, while 12 are close contacts of confirmed cases, three are community acquired and 139 cases ares still being investigated.
There are 103 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the region, according to the health unit, 15 of whom are in intensive care.
There are two school outbreaks, at St. Rose Catholic Elementary School and Georges P. Vanier elementary.
Two hospital outbreaks are also ongoing, at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Windsor Regional Hospital's Met campus.
Two community settings — Salvation Army Centre of Hope and Victoria Manor Supportive Living — are also in active outbreak.
Outbreaks are active at 16 workplaces:
Three in Leamington's agriculture sector.
Five in Kingsville's agriculture sector.
Two in Windsor's health care and social assistance sector.
One in Essex's health care and social assistance sector.
One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector.
One in Tecumseh's health care and social assistance sector.
One in Tecumseh's manufacturing sector.
One in Windsor's food and beverage service sector.
One in a personal service setting in LaSalle.
There are 20 COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care and retirement homes:
Devonshire Retirement Residence in Windsor, with four resident cases.
Iler Lodge in Essex, with one staff case.
Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville, with one staff case.
Rosewood Erie Glen in Leamington, with three resident cases.
Chateau Park in Windsor with three staff cases.
Leamington Mennonite Home in Leamington, with three staff cases.
Riverside Place in Windsor, with three staff cases.
Brouillette Manor in Tecumseh, with one staff case.
Augustine Villas in Kingsville, with 13 resident and three staff cases.
Sunrise Assisted Living of Windsor, with four resident cases and four staff cases.
Huron Lodge in Windsor, with 42 resident cases and 12 staff cases.
Chartwell Classic Oak Park in LaSalle, with one staff case.
Sun Parlor Home in Leamington, with five staff cases.
Banwell Gardens Care Centre in Windsor, with 48 resident cases and 30 staff cases.
The Shoreview at Riverside in Windsor, with seven resident cases and five staff cases.
Extendicare Tecumseh, with 71 resident cases and 27 staff cases.
Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor, with 82 resident and 38 staff cases.
The Village at St. Clair in Windsor, with 127 resident cases and 74 staff cases.
Chartwell St. Clair Beach in Tecumseh, with 53 resident cases and 12 staff cases.
Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh, with 31 resident cases and 11 staff cases.