The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported Monday the lowest daily increase in COVID-19 cases since late November.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with WECHU, said the health unit doesn't believe the increase of 35 new cases is related to an intentional delay in test results, but noted there have been big swings in the numbers in recent days.
"At this point, I don't have any official notification from the labs about any planned delays in reporting," he said during his daily briefing. "But it is possible due to the high volume, test results are prioritized in a different way, leading to day-to-day fluctuations in our daily case counts."
On Saturday, the health unit reported 87 new cases, while there were 270 on Sunday.
There are 2,673 active cases in the region, out of a cumulative total of 11,057.
Ahmed said he remains cautiously optimistic about the numbers, and noted that taken as an average, the recent numbers still show improvement. Over the past seven days, there has been 177.4 daily reported cases, on average.
"I would take that as a good sign for us moving in the right direction," he said.
The sharp decline comes after the region saw a weekly decrease in a few key indicators such as case rates and test positivity.
But Windsor-Essex is not out of the woods, Ahmed said Friday, and remains one of the regions of Ontario most badly affected by the virus.
The last time the health unit reported a daily case count lower than Monday's total was on Nov. 29, when there was an increase of 26 cases.
Across Ontario, 40,300 test samples were processed over the past 24 hours, which is lower than many recent days, when that number topped 70,000.
Ahmed said the number of people tested fluctuates every day locally, but he doesn't have any reason to believe that the number has gone down in recent days.
1 new death as vaccinations continue in seniors' homes
On Monday, the health unit also reported the region's 256th COVID-19 death, a woman in her 90s who was a resident of a seniors' home.
Ahmed said vaccinations are continuing at retirement residences this week.
While the health unit previously said the initial round of vaccinations could be complete by this early week, Ahmed said it's looking more like Thursday, barring any issues.
Vaccinations at the homes are rolling out with varying levels of support from the health unit. Ahmed said some homes don't have the nursing capacity to administer the vaccine to residents themselves.
"We are supporting them as quickly as possible," he said.
48 outbreaks active
There are currently 48 active coronavirus outbreaks across the region and 119 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.
Three outbreaks are active at Windsor Regional Hospital, two on the Ouellette campus and one on a unit of the Met Campus.
One community setting, Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario, has been in outbreak since Jan. 3.
Outbreaks are active at 23 workplaces:
Five in Leamington's agricultural sector.
Four in Kingsville's agricultural sector.
Four in Windsor's health care and social assistance sector.
One in Leamington's health care and social assistance sector.
One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector.
One in Windsor's food and beverage service sector.
One in Windsor's manufacturing sector.
One in a personal service setting in LaSalle.
Three in public administration settings in Windsor.
One in a retail setting in Essex.
One in Essex's finance and insurance sector.
There are 21 active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities:
Chartwell Leamington in Leamington with one staff case.
Regency Park in Windsor with two resident cases and one staff case.
Richmond Terrace in Amherstburg with two staff cases.
Chartwell Royal Marquis, with one resident case and one staff case.
Harrow Woods Retirement Home, with five resident cases and two staff cases.
Seasons Retirement Home in Amherstburg, with three staff cases.
Devonshire Retirement Residence in Windsor, with 31 resident cases and four staff cases.
Chartwell Royal Oak in Kingsville, with three staff cases.
Rosewood Erie Glen in Leamington, with 30 resident cases and four staff cases.
Chateau Park in Windsor with four staff cases.
Leamington Mennonite Home with seven staff cases.
Augustine Villas in Kingsville, with 51 resident and 14 staff cases.
Sunrise Assisted Living of Windsor, with 11 resident cases and eight staff cases.
Huron Lodge in Windsor, with 44 resident cases and 26 staff cases.
Sun Parlor Home in Leamington, one resident case and 10 staff cases.
Banwell Gardens Care Centre in Windsor, with 115 resident cases and 53 staff cases.
The Shoreview at Riverside in Windsor, with 28 resident cases and 11 staff cases.
Extendicare Tecumseh, with 83 resident cases and 57 staff cases.
Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor, with 94 resident and 60 staff cases.
The Village at St. Clair in Windsor, with 150 resident cases and 122 staff cases.
Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh, with 53 resident cases and 25 staff cases.
Cases in Chatham-Kent, Sarnia
In Lambton County, officials reported two new COVID-19 deaths and 31 new cases on Monday. There have been 1,647 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
Chatham-Kent saw 46 new cases over the past three days, bringing its total to 1,017, and one additional death. Chatham-Kent does not update its figures on Saturdays and Sundays.