WINDSOR, ONT. -- It has been nearly a year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Windsor-Essex, since then, more than 400 people in the region have died related to the virus.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens issued a statement Tuesday after the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported there have been 401 deaths related to COVID-19 locally since the start of the pandemic.

“While we hope to have finally turned the corner, and we’ve begun to vaccinate our neighbours, today Windsor-Essex surpassed 400 lives lost to COVID-19,” Dilkens said in his statement. “There are no words to express the grief these families in our community have experienced this year. It starts with the fear of a positive diagnosis, anxiety upon hospitalization and the trauma of losing a loved one. This pain is aggravated because public health rules prevent many from visiting hospitals or attending memorial events.”

The first case of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex was reported on Mar. 20, 2020 with the first death associated with the virus a reported little more than a week later on April 1.

The latest deaths reported Tuesday were among three members of the community, two men in their 70s and one woman in her 80s, the health unit said.

In his statement, the mayor asks the community to remember those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

“Each one of us is impatient to return to our pre-pandemic lifestyles. Everyone wants to turn the page on this horrible pandemic year. As we continue to fight our way through this global crisis, we must always remember those who fell along the way. Lives lost and families heartbroken,” Dilkens said. “The world’s attention has been captured by headline figures: numbers of cases, number of vaccinations or numbers of jobs lost. But if you’re someone who lost a single loved one to COVID-19, none of the rest of that matters.”

He reminds residents to continue to do their part in following public health advice to “take care to never let your guard down.”

“We will get through this, in honour of those we have lost,” Dilkens said.