The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported nine new COVID-19 cases in the region Friday, on the same day they've reported the region has the second highest rate of the disease in Ontario.
Windsor-Essex's rate of COVID-19 is also now higher than the provincial average.
Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Windsor-Essex has had much higher rates of the disease among residents of long-term care homes and on farms.
Of the new cases reported Friday, two people are farm workers, four people are close-contacts to someone who had the virus, and three cases are being investigated.
The numbers reported this week by the health unit— 46 new cases Thursday and 47 new cases Wednesday — were in discrepancy with what the province has reported, confusing many. Public Health Ontario reported 86 cases for our region on Wednesday - significantly higher than what was reported locally.
Dr. Ahmed explained that the health unit has a "cut off time" of 8 p.m. when reporting daily tallies, meaning any new cases or other data coming in past that time would not be included until the next day.
The uptick in new cases in the farming community have now shifted the prevalence of the disease from the City of Windsor to both Leamington and Kingsville.
About 37 per cent of the total amount of cases are in Leamington, compared to 33 in Windsor.
Of the some 750 farm workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, about 290 are still considered active cases, said Ahmed.
That number is expected to drop soon, he explained, as dozens of self-isolated workers who are being monitored for new or worsening symptoms will shortly be cleared following a 14-day period and that monitoring.
Ahmed also made mention Friday that the province has indicated that antibody testing would be made available in pediatric departments "soon."
"Those conversations are actively happening and we just heard from the public health lab that there will be some testing," he said.
The national immunity task force has already started testing thousands of blood samples for COVID-19 antibodies and should be able to produce a more detailed picture of how many Canadians have been infected with the novel coronavirus within a couple of weeks.
Ahmed said there is no clear timeline on when this type of testing will begin at hospitals in Windsor-Essex.
Outbreaks in Windsor-Essex
Two seniors' homes in the area are currently under a COVID-19 outbreak. Riverside Place long-term care home in Windsor has had one staff member test positive, Devonshire Retirement Residence retirement home in Windsor has had three staff members test positive.
An outbreak at Extendicare Tecumseh long-term care home is now over. One resident had tested positive for COVID-19 there.
Five workplaces are currently under a COVID-19 outbreak. One is in the manufacturing sector and four others are in the agricultural sector. The businesses are located in Leamington and Kingsville but the health unit does not name businesses under an outbreak unless there is a risk to public health, say officials.
WATCH | The health unit's COVID-19 update for July 10:
Leamington mayor wants faster COVID-19 testing, with only 19 farms swabbed
Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald wants COVID-19 testing in the agriculture sector to happen at a faster rate so that the region can better understand what it's dealing with.
"I wish it would be quicker," MacDonald said Thursday. "But we're still at the stage were it isn't mandatory so farms and employees can choose not to be tested. I wish we had a way to do it so we can get through it quicker."
As of Monday, 19 of about 175 farms in the Windsor-Essex area have completed onsite testing, according to Ontario Health, amounting to about 1,800 workers being tested.
About 11 per cent of all workers who have been tested are positive for the disease.
In response to what the province can do to increase testing on farms, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that when he visits the region next week, he'll be able to make a first-hand assessment of what is going on.
"We have a complete team down there from Ontario health public health, emergency services from the province down there and they are in constant communication... the farmers are cooperating, the workers are cooperating, so its all hands on deck down there," Ford said.
Since the pandemic began, more than 750 farm workers have tested positive for COVID-19 with dozens of new cases reported this week alone by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
"The biggest challenge, what we have been identifying right from the beginning of this pandemic, especially in these workers, is the living arrangements and the accommodations that these workers live in," said Ahmed.
COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton
Lambton Public Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 in the region since last week. There have been 286 total cases in the region and overall, there have been 25 deaths.
Another 259 people have recovered.
COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent
Chatham-Kent's health unit is reporting no new cases of COVID-19. The area has had 162 total cases, but only five cases are currently active. Those individuals are self-isolating.
In Chatham-Kent, one person has died due to COVID-19 and 156 people have recovered.