Windsor-Essex to remain in Stage 2 of reopening
Ontario Premier Doug Ford holds his daily COVID-19 news briefing on Aug. 4, 2020. (CTV News)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Ontario government has announced Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 2 of reopening.
The province announced Tuesday, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the local medical officer of health, other health experts, and local authorities, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will remain in Stage 2 as the province continues to monitor local transmission of COVID-19 and support efforts to contain its spread.
"We are working hard with our federal and local partners to provide the communities in Windsor-Essex with the support they need during their reopening," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "With the health and safety of the people of Ontario our absolute top priority, Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 2 until the data indicates they can safely move to Stage 3."
Windsor-Essex is the only region in the province that has not advanced to Stage 3.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens reacted to the announcement on Twitter, saying “when it comes to #COVID19, better that we take our time. We’ve seen too well what can happen when others have re-opened too quickly.”
Provincial officials say outbreaks, especially in agriculture and agri-food sectors, pose unique challenges that require a targeted and collaborative response.
"We continue to take action to address outbreaks in the region and provide our farmers and agribusinesses in Windsor-Essex with the help, tools and resources necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of their workers and employees," said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "We are all working together to fight the spread of COVID-19 while protecting our vital food supply chain and the health and safety of the people who put food on our tables."
Working with federal and local authorities, the province recently deployed the Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT) to Windsor-Essex.
The province says EMAT is providing both incident management support and coordination to the health sector in Windsor-Essex and will provide clinical support should it be required.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says there have been over 1,100 COVID-19 cases in the agri-farm sector in the region since March.
On Tuesday, there were 10 new cases in the region, including five in the agri-farm sector.
Ontario officials say they are also implementing a three-point plan to support the health unit in reducing the risk of transmission on farms and throughout the community.
This plan includes ongoing and expanded on-site testing, access to employment benefits and supports, and public health guidance specific to the agri-food setting.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday over 160 farms have been inspected and more people are getting tested.
“I want to thank the folks at the hospital in the Windsor-Essex area,” says Ford. “You guys are absolute champions. You come out, you support us. Right at the beginning, you set up the testing area, no one showed up, now people are coming.”
Ford has not indicated when Windsor-Essex will be permitted to advance to Stage 3, which includes gyms, indoor dining and many facial services.
The province says public health experts “will continue to closely monitor and assess local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, sufficient hospital capacity, public health capacity to do rapid case and contact management, and increased testing, before advising when the region can move safely into Stage 3.”
Windsor-Essex was also the last region in the province to advance to Stage 2, with Leamington and Kingsville advancing on July 7. Windsor, Lakeshore, Amherstburg, Tecumseh and Essex moved to that phase on June 25.
Chatham-Kent advanced to Stage 3 on July 17.