Windsor-Essex is handling more than a dozen COVID-19 outbreaks across various sectors, including two in hospitals, the local health unit reported Monday.
There are now 17 outbreaks across several sectors in Windsor-Essex, including one at Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) and another at Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare that were both declared on Sunday. Between the outbreaks and more than 400 active cases, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed noted the strain public health is experiencing as the region moved into its first day of the province's red COVID-19 category Monday.
Ahmed said resources are "limited" and that the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) is one of the "lowest funded on a per capita basis in the province of Ontario."
"There are some disadvantages from a resourcing perspective that we are dealing with but our staff are dedicated and motivated," Ahmed said. "It's a monumental task given what we are dealing with. Just by the case rate, roughly our case rates are similar to what the city of Toronto is dealing with and you can imagine what kind of infrastructure and supports they have."
During the health unit's daily briefing Friday, chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette said they are reaching out to the Ministry of Health for additional support and hiring at least 17 new staff members to join their COVID-19 team.
The outbreak at WRH is taking place on the 7th floor at the Ouellette Campus after four staff members tested positive. All patients were swabbed on Friday and have come back negative, though a re-swabbing will be performed, the health unit said Monday. Many staff members have also been tested and received negatives at this time.
The floor is a medical, non-surgical area that has 60 beds and makes up more than 10 per cent of the hospital's bed capacity, the hospital said in a news release.
There will be no admissions or transfers from the 7th floor, unless a patient is being discharged home or for medical necessity.
Meanwhile, the outbreak at Hotel Dieu is taking place on the 3rd floor of its rehabilitation tower, the hospital said in a news release Sunday.
Three staff and two patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and are associated with the outbreak.
More than 400 active cases
On Monday, the health unit reported 41 new cases for the region.
Of these, five are close contacts of a confirmed case, five are local health-care workers, five are community acquired, one is an agri-farm worker and 25 are still under investigation.
There are 424 active cases in the region, 89 of which were reported over the weekend.
The new cases come as Windsor-Essex enters the red "control" zone of the province's COVID-19 public health restrictions framework. The new designation — one stage short of the lockdown tier — comes with further limits on dining and other activities.
The number of new cases and outbreaks has put a strain on local public health resources, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Monday. As a result, he said that anyone who has been in contact with a positive case should start to trace back their steps and develop a contact list before they are contacted by public health to speed up the process.
There are seven workplace outbreaks, including:
Three in Leamington's agriculture sector.
One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector.
One in a Leamington place of worship.
One in Leamington's finance and insurance sector.
One in Windsor's manufacturing sector.
Two community outbreaks are still active, one at Victoria Manor Supportive Living in Windsor and another at Riverplace Residence in Windsor.
Two schools — Frank W. Begley Public School and W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School — also remain in outbreak.
Begley now has 49 cases, 40 are students and nine are staff members. W. J. Langlois has seven cases, with four students and three staff members confirmed positive.
As of Tuesday, Begley will technically be out of its 14-day isolation period, though the school is closed until further notice.
Ahmed said that unless told otherwise, students should remain in isolation. He said they are working to discharge cases and students.
He also said that the health unit is working with the board to develop a return to school plan that will likely see students incrementally head back to class.
There are four long-term care and retirement homes in outbreak, including:
Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with one staff case.
Chartwell Royal Oak Residence in Kingsville with one staff case.
Riverside place in Windsor with 17 resident cases and three staff cases.
Iler Lodge in Essex with 18 resident cases and three staff cases.
Meanwhile, officials with the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance say they are preparing for a possible second wave of the virus.
Hospital officials told reporters Monday they are watching closely as the number of infections rise In neighbouring regions
But right now, Chatham-Kent has just 18 active cases of COVID-19, including one hospitalized patient at CKHA.