Vaccine means the 'possibility of a future' for 80+ senior as COVID-19 case count passes 13,000

·3 min read
Don Thomas was among the first 148 people living in the Windsor-Essex community to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
Don Thomas was among the first 148 people living in the Windsor-Essex community to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

After getting his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Monday, Don Thomas says he felt hopeful and "delighted."

"I think it opens up the possibility of a future, before this ... you never knew what the next day would bring, or how dangerous it could be to make a small trip to the grocery store but now you know one can [have a] little more relaxed state of mind and look forward to things like movies and plays," he said.

The first targeted vaccination clinic for seniors 80 and older opened up in Windsor on Monday, as the region hit a new pandemic milestone with more than 13,000 COVID-19 cases since last March.

According to Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) CEO Theresa Marenette, 11,300 eligible people have signed up to receive the vaccine so far, and 148 appointments are scheduled for Monday.

"It's pretty amazing to see our over 80-plus seniors coming into the centre," she said at a media briefing on Monday, adding that many would have been home for most of the pandemic.

Betty Ing was the first to enter WFCU Centre on Monday morning, and one of the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, according to the health unit.

All immunizations are happening by appointment, and those who received slots were selected randomly and contacted by health unit staff.

Betty Ing was the first person to enter the WFCU Centre on vaccination day, and was one of the first to receive the shot, according to WECHU.
Betty Ing was the first person to enter the WFCU Centre on vaccination day, and was one of the first to receive the shot, according to WECHU.

Some couldn't believe they had been picked, Marenette said.

"[Staff] said that some people did cry on the phone," she said. "They were really excited."

Thomas told CBC News that the day he got the call was the "best day of my life."

A second facility will open in Leamington next week. Vaccinations for high-risk health-care workers are ongoing at the St. Clair College Sportsplex.

Possible exposure to COVID-19 variant

A COVID-19 variant has possibly been identified at FreshCo in Windsor. In an exposure notice, the health unit said that anyone who attended the store, located at 1550 Huron Church Rd., on Feb. 14 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. should monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the date of exposure.

If symptoms appear, the health unit says to call 211.

13,000 cases of COVID-19

Meanwhile, WECHU announced 28 new cases of the disease on Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 13,014.

It took more than a month to accumulate the most recent 1,000 cases, as the rate of infection slowed down considerably in February.

The region surpassed 12,000 cases on Jan. 29. Earlier in January, it took a little more than two weeks for the total to grow from 10,000 to 12,000.

While the pace of new COVID-19 infections has declined, the region's medical officer of health said Friday that case counts aren't low enough to leave the red zone of COVID-19 restrictions.

One of the new cases is related to an outbreak, nine are close contacts of confirmed cases, two are community acquired and the sources of the rest are under investigation. Currently, 290 of the region's cases are active.

10 outbreaks remaining

There are 10 ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, including two at Windsor Regional Hospital and two at shelters serving the homeless population — the Downtown Mission and Salvation Army.

Between the two shelters there is now 124 cases among staff and clients as of Monday, including 87 at the Downtown Mission and 37 at the Salvation Army.

Outbreaks are active at four workplaces: one in Leamington's agriculture sector, one in LaSalle's finance and insurance sector and two in Windsor's health-care and social assistance sector.

There are two active outbreaks at long-term care and retirement facilities: Franklin Gardens in Leamington, with 38 resident cases and 16 staff cases, and Regency Park in Windsor with 25 resident cases and 15 staff cases.