Concerns over COVID-19 variants could force another lockdown: Windsor hospital CEO

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Windsor Regional Hospital currently 28 COVID-19 patients in hospital. (CBC News - image credit)
Windsor Regional Hospital currently 28 COVID-19 patients in hospital. (CBC News - image credit)

Despite a levelling off of COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex, Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj is concerned that more contagious COVID variants could push the entire province into a third wave in the spring.

Reporting to the hospital board Thursday, Musyj presented a graph showing a best-case scenario of about 1,700 cases a day up to a worst case scenario of 5,000 a day. He said, according to the figures released by the Scarsin Corporation and the Toronto Star, the projections show another lockdown is likely in coming days in order to keep the cases to a minimum.

"It's concerning with what we're seeing and hearing and in talking to our colleagues across the provinces, literally everyone's on eggshells right now," Musyj said. "It almost feels like the time before we had our first case and we're a year post our first case now."

Musyj points to spikes in cases of the variant first reported in Brazil after the country relaxed precautions.

"The unknowns about these variants: be it Brazilian, be it South African, be it the U.K. variant and the impact they might have and that results in these types of projections," said Musyj.

"We're all tired of COVID but COVID isn't tired of us." - David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital

On the optimistic side, within about three weeks Musyj expects to see the supply of vaccines coming to Windsor-Essex increase from 4,000 doses a month to 12,000 or 20,000 a month and be sustained through April, May and June.

Musyj also reports that the number of people from long-term care homes hospitalized with COVID-19 has dropped from about 30 per cent to about 10 per cent.

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj is concerned about the spread of COVID-19 variants.
Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj is concerned about the spread of COVID-19 variants.(CBC News)

"Today we only have two long-term care residents who are actively COVID positive out of the 28 [patients]," he said, adding precautionary measures being taken in long-term care homes and the vaccines are working.

None of the people experiencing homeless who are involved in the outbreak at the Downtown Mission or the Salvation Army were hospitalized or died of COVID-19, Musyj said.

Musyj said the number of children 17 and under being tested has spiked since students returned to in-class learning, but he said that's because students are sent for testing if they exhibit any symptoms. Most test negative and the positivity rate has remained about the same as before.

Windsor Regional Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Wassim Saad reports the number of surgeries being performed are back to normal at the Ouellette campus and at 90 per cent at the Met Campus, however it will take a long time to alleviate the backlog of delayed surgeries, which number between 2,500 to 3,000.

"Despite us going back to 100 per cent...you would really have to be at 200 per cent to be able to catch up on those numbers, and it could take us six to 12 months if we doubled the number of [operating rooms] that we're able to do," said Saad.

He said it is possible to catch up once the pandemic is over by running the operating rooms on weekends and after hours as long as extra funding comes from the province and they have the bed capacity.