A dedicated "hot unit" for COVID-19 patients has opened at Windsor Regional Hospital to deal with the continued spread of the disease, according to the organization.
About seven to 10 days ago, Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) said it has staff operating a dedicated unit for COVID-19 patients as it deals with people who are suspected or confirmed positive cases.
"We expect that [unit] to continue through the holidays and probably into January as we try to bear the brunt of this Omicron wave," said WRH chief of staff Dr. Wassim Saad during the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's (WECHU) Wednesday news briefing.
At this time, Saad said they do have capacity in the intensive care unit (ICU) and inpatient units.
The region is ramping up its COVID-19 vaccine program as it prepares for this wave of infections, hospital president and CEO David Musyj said Wednesday.
The program is currently administering more than 6,000 doses a day, and the goal is to add another 2,000 doses a day to that total. Public health announced that a new mass vaccination clinic will be opening in Leamington on Jan. 5.
But an Ontario shortage of Comirnaty, the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, is causing problems.
"Ever since it was announced that there is no longer any Pfizer for adults 30 and above, we have about 244 people a day, on average, just not showing up," Musyj said. "They booked their appointment and they just failed to show up."
Musyj said he recommends people take the Moderna booster, known as Spikevax, as there is a greater supply available.
If not, he said people should cancel their appointment, as that opens up a slot for someone else.
Musyj said some people are also trying to "negotiate" with nurses to get a Pfizer shot.
"They don't have the ability to switch," he said of the nurses administering the shots. "So please, in order to ensure we can get as many people through as safely and effectively as we can, please don't negotiate."
Musyj encouraged people with doubts about a particular vaccine to talk to their primary care practitioner, but noted Windsor-Essex health officials have spoken about the benefits of the interchangeablity of mRNA vaccines.
27 patients in hospital
As of Wednesday, Windsor-Essex has 27 COVID-19 patients in hospital. According to Windsor Regional Hospital's website, as of Tuesday it had 22 of those patients, with 10 in the ICU.
The health unit reported 84 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths Wednesday.
Three men from the community, one in their 50s, another in their 60s and another in their 70s, have died. In total, the region has had 487 people die from the disease.
There are currently 540 active COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex.
Additionally, there are dozens of active outbreaks, including:
18 in schools or daycares.
14 in workplaces.
four in the community.
Two long term care homes in Leamington — Franklin Gardens Long-Term Care Home and Sun Parlor Home for Senior Citizens — are also in outbreak.
'Get boosted' regardless of vaccine brand: Saad
As of Wednesday, WECHU said 84,982 residents have received a booster shot.
On Monday, appointments opened for people aged 18 and older to get a booster vaccine as long as their second dose was at least three months or 84 days ago.
WECHU health officials stressed the need for people to take the first booster shot available to them.
COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent, Sarnia-Lambton
Sarnia currently has 173 active cases and nine outbreaks, according to Lambton Public Health.
Meanwhile, Chatham-Kent Public Health is reporting 155 active COVID-19 cases and eight outbreaks across the region Wednesday.