The health unit reported four new COVID-19 cases and an additional death for Windsor-Essex Thursday.
Two of the new cases are the result of close contact with someone who had the disease, one is non-work related travel to Michigan and another was contracted from the community.
During the health unit's daily COVID-19 briefing Thursday, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed confirmed a second death this week. The woman, who died in hospital, was in her 90s and lived in a retirement home. On Wednesday, a woman in her 80s who also lived at a retirement home also died in hospital.
The region now has a total of 74 deaths.
There are 91 active COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex, which are being monitored by the health unit, officials say.
Seventeen people are in hospital and one person is in the ICU.
According to the health unit's website, Leamington's New Beginnings retirement home is the only care facility in outbreak.
As of Thursday, 21 residents and six staff at the home have tested positive for COVID-19.
One manufacturing workplace in Tecumseh is currently in outbreak.
WATCH | The health unit's COVID-19 update for September 3:
First major COVID-19 community cluster, health unit confirms
During the health unit's briefing Wednesday, Ahmed said that 31 community cases of COVID-19 have been linked to social gatherings in the region that began with one event on Aug. 16.
This is the first major community cluster of COVID-19 in the region that was spread through events, Ahmed said.
Ahmed added that 19 of the cases sparked by this event are in youth between 10 and 19 years old. Other events included card games, a sleep over and swimming party.
"It creates more challenges when we are talking about many of the things that we are seeing right now especially in younger children when their physical distancing is not maintained and especially when these children will supposedly will be going to schools in the next couple of weeks," he said.
For this reason Ahmed said children and adults need to take responsibility and be more vigilant, otherwise "when the schools open and they go to school they can potentially infect an entire class, an entire school."
Anyone who thinks they may have attended a gathering that had a positive case should self-isolate and get tested, recommended Ahmed.
Number of businesses flagged as having COVID-19 exposure risk
Several public exposure notices have been issued by the health unit and companies since Friday.
In each case, a customer or staff member has tested positive and the health unit wants anybody who may have come into contact with them to be alerted, self-monitor for symptoms and seek care if symptoms develop.
The affected businesses and dates include:
- Fred's Fresh Farm International Market at 2144 Huron Church Rd., on Aug. 29 and 30.
- McDonalds at 3354 Dougall Ave. on Aug. 23 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Xanadu Gym at 446 Advance Blvd in Tecumseh on Aug. 19, 20, 21, 25 and 26.
- Tim Hortons at 5775 Malden Road in Windsor on Aug. 25.
- Spirit Halloween store in Devonshire Mall in Windsor on Aug. 25.
- Wineology on 19 Main St. E. in Kingsville on Aug. 21.
- El Diablo on 16 Main St. W. in Kingsville on Aug. 21.
- Muscedere Vineyards on County Rd. 18 in Harrow on Aug. 21.
- Xanadu Gym, at 446 Advance Blvd., Tecumseh, on Aug. 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 30.
- Xaco Taco, at 300 Cabana Rd. E., Windsor, on Aug. 24 and 25.
Windsor-Essex public health can now track COVID-19 through wastewater
Windsor-Essex public health is now part of a pilot project using waste water to track and detect outbreaks of COVID-19, and it could give the health unit early warning of infections in the community, say researchers.
For the last two months, scientists at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor have been taking weekly samples from four wastewater treatment plants: two in the City of Windsor, and one each in the towns of Lakeshore and Amherstburg.
They've also done sampling in partnership with the City of London.
"We know that Canada and the Province of Ontario has been quite successful ... flattening the curve," said Mike McKay, executive director of the institute. And as students go back to school and concerns over a second wave increase, McKay says that baseline will be very valuable.
At the same time, since the early months of the pandemic, his team of researchers have also been developing a way to detect the genetic signal of the novel coronavirus.
They've done that now, says McKay, which means the institute is now working directly with public health units, like Windsor-Essex, to help them interpret these genetic COVID-19 signals in the waste water — and maybe even use the data as an early warning sign of impending outbreaks.
"We'll pick up the virus likely seven to 10 days in wastewater before we see manifestations in the community infections," says McKay.
3rd assessment centre opens
Starting Thursday, Windsor Regional Hospital plans to use the St. Clair College Sportsplex for COVID-19 testing, in advance of the Labour Day weekend. It will be open Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As of Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Sportsplex assessment centre will be open the same hours as the Ouellette Campus location: from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays.
COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton
Lambton Public Health reported one new case Wednesday. There have been a total of 340 cases in the region, with 311 resolved.
Twenty-five people have died.
COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent
Chatham-Kent Public Health reported no new cases Wednesday. There have been a total of 363 positive cases, seven of which are still active.
Two people have died from the disease.