Windsor-Essex is on the cusp of meeting the criteria for a downgrade in COVID-19 restrictions, but the region's medical officer of health says there's a risk of moving from the red "control" zone to the orange "restrict" zone too quickly.
"We're right at the border. I'm not saying we are in a clear red or clear orange," said Dr. Wajid Ahmed at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's daily briefing Friday.
Among the criteria for the orange zone is an average case rate of 25 to 39.9 per 100,000 population per week.
Windsor-Essex is currently at 39.3, but that average doesn't include the 29 new cases announced by the health unit on Friday, Ahmed said.
The percentage of tests coming back positive — most recently 2.5 per cent — is also on the border between categories, Ahmed said, while the current Rt value, another key indicator, is better than the orange zone criteria.
Generally, when the province changes a health unit's standing in the COVID-19 restrictions framework, a discussion takes place with local officials, Ahmed said, adding that there was no conversation this week.
"I would be surprised if they do it," he said of loosening restrictions. "... but the numbers are getting in the right direction," he said.
Later on Friday, the province announced updates on restrictions for several regions but no changes for Windsor-Essex, which has been in the red zone since Feb. 16.
As of Friday, there are 235 active cases of COVID-19 in the community.
Of the 29 new cases, two are related to outbreaks, 11 are close contacts of confirmed cases, seven were community acquired and the rest are under investigation.
The region saw an increase of three deaths — an man in his 60s, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 80s. All lived in the community as opposed to seniors' residences.
In total, 392 people have died from COVID-19 in Windsor and Essex County.
Forty-six people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 10 people are in the ICU.
There are about 11,600 people locally who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 30,000 doses have been administered overall since December.
Extra vaccines prioritized for Windsor-Essex
Windsor-Essex is one of 13 "historic and ongoing hot spots" that will receive additional vaccine doses, on top of those allocated to all regions for Phase 2 vaccinations.
The province said Friday that that up to 920,000 extra shots will be divided among 13 regions that have seen high death rates, hospitalizations and transmission.
These shots can go to older adults in Windsor-Essex and the other regions ahead of Phase 2 due to the heightened risk in these areas.
Leamington vaccine centre opens Monday
Starting Monday, WECHU will begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to residents 80 and older at the Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre, formerly known as the Leamington Kinsmen Recreation Complex.
It is located at 249 Sherk Street and residents must pre-register in advance as walk-ins are not being accepted.
This site is in addition to the one that opened in Windsor on March 1 at the Windsor Family Credit Union (WFCU) Centre.
12 settings remain in outbreak
A dozen settings are currently in outbreak across the region.
There are two outbreaks at Windsor Regional Hospital and two at shelters serving the homeless population, the Downtown Mission and the Salvation Army.
Outbreaks are active at five workplaces:
One in Kingsville's construction sector.
Two in Windsor's health-care and social assistance sector.
One in Windsor's repair and maintenance sector.
One in Windsor's manufacturing sector.
There is one new outbreak at a seniors' home. A staff member at Devonshire Retirement Residence has tested positive for the virus.
The other outbreak, at Dolce Vita retirement home, was declared Wednesday. There are three resident cases associated with the outbreak.
COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent
There were 24 new COVID-19 cases announced in Sarnia-Lambton on Friday. There are now 122 active cases.
There were no new cases in Chatham-Kent on Friday, and overall, there are 11 known cases active in the municipality.