Three Windsor-Essex hospitals have issued a strong warning over the current surge in COVID-19 cases — and what could happen if the trend continues.
In a joint statement, they pleaded with the public to continue to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus.
"The scenario that our Windsor-Essex region residents have seen on TV taking place in other jurisdictions around the world, where hospital resources are stretched beyond capacity, is showing signs of occurring in our area of the province," chief executives from Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores Healthcare said Friday.
Recent COVID-19 outbreaks at Hôtel-Dieu Grace and Windsor Regional risk "significant reductions" in bed capacity, while use of beds is already above 100 per cent, they said.
"As hospital bed capacity deteriorates, clinical teams will have no option other than to cancel scheduled surgeries and other procedures to ensure we have bed space available for emergency and other urgent cases," they stated.
There are currently 27 people in hospital with COVID-19 and seven in ICU, according to the Windsor-Essex County Public Health Unit (WECHU).
"There is definitely a lot of pressure on the health-care system in the region and also across Southwestern Ontario, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with WECHU, said Friday.
The health unit announced 65 new cases on Friday, bringing the active case total to 424.
21 outbreaks in Windsor-Essex
Dr. Ahmed said there's also record number of outbreaks in the region — 21 across workplaces, long-term care homes and other institutions.
"We have never had that many outbreaks, clearly indicating that we need to do more," Dr. Ahmed said.
As of the most recent data, which Dr. Ahmed presented on Friday, Windsor's seven-day average test positivity rate is 4.3 per cent -- the fourth highest in the province behind Toronto, Peel and York regions.
Analysis of the presence of the virus wastewater suggests rates of infection exceed the number of known cases, Ahmed said.
Not moving to lockdown
Despite the rising cases, the province did not announce a lockdown for Windsor-Essex on Friday, meaning the region remains in the red "control" zone of COVID-19 restrictions in place since Monday.
Dr. Ahmed said earlier on Friday that he didn't anticipate a lockdown would be announced, though earlier in the week he said the region is at risk of heightened restrictions.
"We would like to see the results of us in the red zone first before we move on to any criteria at this time," he said.
Snapshot of the pandemic in Windsor-Essex
Since the pandemic started, 3,864 cases have been diagnosed in Windsor-Essex, 3,358 of which have been resolved.
Eighty-two people have lost their lives to COVID-19, including 56 death in longterm care and retirement homes.
Of the 65 cases announced across the region Friday , five are close contacts of a confirmed case, two were community acquired, 58 are still under investigation. Twenty-seven people are in hospital, with seven in the intensive care unit.
There are 21 outbreaks in the community, including two at hospitals — one at Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare hospital and another at Windsor Regional Hospital.
In a news release Friday, Hotel Dieu said 11 patients and 20 staff have now tested positive in relation to the outbreak.
There are eight 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.
One in Kingsville's manufacturing sector
Two community outbreaks are still active: one at Victoria Manor Supportive Living in Windsor and another at Riverplace Residence in Windsor.
There are three school outbreaks: Corpus Christi Catholic Middle School - Central Park Athletics Campus, Frank W. Begley Public School and W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School. The latter two schools have been closed for two weeks. Officials are working on a reopening plan for both schools.
There are outbreaks at six long-term care and retirement homes:
Chartwell St. Clair Beach in Tecumseh with one resident case.
Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh with one staff case.
Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with two staff cases.
Chartwell Royal Oak Residence in Kingsville with two staff cases.
Riverside place in Windsor with 17 resident cases and three staff cases.
Iler Lodge in Essex with 18 resident cases and three staff cases.