The latest data from the local public health unit in Windsor-Essex show COVID-19 rates have changed little since last week despite the ongoing vaccine rollout and a shutdown that has been in effect for the last six weeks.
The most recent seven-day incidence rate for COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex is 65.1 per 100,000 people, according to the weekly epidemiological report presented Friday by Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the region's medical officer of health.
That's almost on par with the previous week's rate of 67.1.
The most recent rates would place the region well above the criteria for the red "control" tier of restrictions under the former provincial COVID-19 restrictions framework, which is set at 40 or more cases per 100,000.
Provincial officials, however, announced a new, phased reopening plan on Thursday, with the first change — the reopening some outdoor amenities — to take effect Saturday. The three-part approach is tied to vaccination rates.
"I think using that phased approach with gradual reopening, it would ensure that by the time we get to each of these stages, our vaccination rate is really high and it would also allow us to bring the weekly rates down everywhere, not only in Windsor-Essex but in the province," Ahmed said at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) daily briefing.
2 COVID-19 deaths
Meanwhile, the pandemic has claimed two more lives in Windsor-Essex, Ahmed announced, a woman in her 50s and man in his 60s. Throughout the pandemic, 224 people with COVID-19 have died.
The health unit confirms both deaths are linked to variants of concern.
WECHU also reported 38 new cases of COVID-19. A dozen of those are close contacts of confirmed cases, 10 were community acquired — meaning there is no known source — and 16 are under investigation.
Fifteen people are in hospital, including one person in intensive care.
49.5% coverage rate
The region is also nearing a milestone in its vaccination rollout, with nearly half of the population receiving at least one shot to date. So far, 216,954 people, or 49.5 per cent of all residents, have gotten one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Per a provincial directive, those 12 and up will be eligible as of the week of May 31.
Ahmed said he was "really excited to see that benchmark crossed," but said he thinks a 70 per cent coverage rate is the minimum that Windsor-Essex needs "to feel much safer in our community."
There are 352 active cases in the region, and nine ongoing outbreaks. The Southwest Detention Centre remains in outbreak since late April, and the remainder are taking place at workplaces:
Four in Windsor's health-care and social assistance sector.
One in Lakeshore's health-care and social assistance sector.
Two in Windsor's manufacturing sector.
One in Windsor's mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector.
COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent
On Friday, Sarnia-Lambton reported 11 new cases of COVID-19, and the active case count stands at 71. One more resident has died from COVID-19, bringing the pandemic's death toll to 59 in the area.
There were no new cases of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent announced Friday but 35 are active overall.