The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 21 new COVID-19 cases for our region Friday, with the bulk of those among agricultural workers.
This is the highest daily count of new cases since August 18.
CEO and chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette said 17 of the new cases are among agricultural workers, three cases are close contacts of someone who already had the virus, and one case is under investigation.
An outbreak has been declared at the Kingsville business where the spread happened. The health unit isn't releasing the name of the operation.
"We were aware of the one case in the farm and as is our best practice we would look at the close contacts which are in bunkhouses so all of the close contacts were isolated and tested and as a result of that testing we have these cases," said Marentette.
After the initial case was identified, Marentette said all close contacts were relocated to a hotel to isolate and be tested.
Earlier in the week, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed announced upgraded guidelines to his Section 22 Order in relation to migrant farm workers and the owners and operators who employ them.
However, Marentette said that update to the order was not in relation to this outbreak.
"It really is coincidental. There was really no anticipation at this particular farm but all along we have known the farms are at a higher risk of the virus," she said.
The Kingsville farm is said to have "good practices in place" as precautions to COVID-19, but Marentette said accommodations are once again a factor in the severe spread of this virus among workers.
Highest daily numbers for Ontario
Meanwhile, a surge of new cases across Ontario has prompted an emergency cabinet meeting Friday, as Premier Doug Ford's government scrambles with how to stop the spread.
Health officials have been sounding the alarm ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend, pleading with the public to avoid large gatherings.
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Two sources with knowledge of the data told CBC News that Friday's daily count of new confirmed COVID-19 cases will exceed 900, shattering the previous record of 797 set Thursday.
This would be consistent with modelling from epidemiologists who forecasted last month that Ontario's second wave of the pandemic was accelerating at a pace that put the province on track to hit 1,000 new cases per day by mid-October.
Public exposure notices
On Tuesday afternoon, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit alerted the public to COVID-19 exposures at three stores:
- Value Village at 4322 Walker Rd. in Windsor on Sept. 25, 26
- Walmart at 3120 Dougall Ave. in Windsor on Sept. 21, 26
- Walmart at 400 Sandwich St. S. in Amherstburg on Sept. 25 - 30
In a news release, the health unit said the exposure risk is low, but they advise that anyone who visited the stores on the specified days monitor for symptoms 14 days from the date of exposure.
How and where to book a COVID-19 test
Walk-in tests for the novel coronavirus ended across the province over the weekend, and anyone in Ontario who wants to take a COVID-19 test will need to book an appointment at an assessment centre or select pharmacies.
According to the province, those looking to book a test at an assessment centre should do so only if they:
- have a symptom of COVID-19
- have a high-risk exposure to someone who has the virus as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app
- is a resident or works in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak
- Residents or workers in long-term care home
- Visitors to a long-term care home
- Residents or workers in homeless shelter
- International students that have passed their 14-day quarantine period
- Farm workers
- Individuals who require a COVID-19 test for international travel clearance
- Self-Identify as Indigenous
- Resident or worker in other congregate living settings and institutions
Windsor Regional Hospital is operating two assessment centres — one at the hospital's Ouellette Campus and one at St. Clair College's Sportsplex.
People can no longer walk-in for testing at these facilities, and instead will have to book an appointment online here, or get assistance by calling 519-973-4443. Those sites are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Erie Shores HealthCare is also operating an assessment centre under the same criteria as Windsor Regional Hospital.
Those looking to book a test at Erie Shores Healthcare can do so online here or call 519-326-2373 extension 4263. The assessment centre in Leamington is open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Asymptomatic testing is currently available at three Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies in Windsor.
The person must also fall under one of five categories:
- Living, working in or visiting a long-term care facility.
- Residing or volunteering at a shelter.
- Have been given a clearance for international travel.
- An international student travelling into the country to start school after the 14-day isolation period ends.
- An Indigenous person.
For more information or to find a testing site closest to you, visit Ontario's COVID-19 testing website.
COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton
Lambton Public Health reported no new COVID-19 cases since last week. There have been a total of 347 cases in Lambton County.
Twenty-five people have died.
COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent
Chatham-Kent Public Health reported no new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. There have been a total of 371 cases in Chatham-Kent.
Three people have died.