33 Of 36 New Cases Of COVID-19 Among Farm Workers In Windsor Essex As Of Monday

Monday May 25th, 2020

Posted at 9:50am

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The Windsor Essex County Health Unit has confirmed 36 additional cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, bringing the local total to 912. They said 479 people locally have recovered.

Cases increased from 876 on Sunday May 24th to 912 on Monday May 25th.

Health Unit CEO Theresa Marentette says 33 of the 36 new cases reported Monday are farm workers and 3 are in the community.  Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says the farm worker cases are from workers in many facilities and include migrant workers and community employees.

“The number of cases we are talking about are not necessarily the result of transmission happening at the facilities themselves,” Dr. Ahmed said. “A lot of these cases are happening because all of these employees share a common living area which most of the time does not allow proper physical distancing.  So it’s very easy to have one person who is infected and them potentially infecting everyone else who lives in the same house.”

Dr. Ahmed questioned the public health benefit to reporting the names of individual facilities where cases are taking place.  “These are private businesses that we are talking about,” he said. “If the risk to the community would be there, I will be the first one to report that, to disclose that, because there would be some public health action attached to that.”

He said the disclosure of cases at long-term care and retirement homes is different due to provincial requirements. “These facilities are where our community members live and these are the facilities which are part of our responsibility and our mandate to ensure that the outbreaks are managed,” he said.  “The province requires us to disclose [outbreaks].”

Dr. Ahmed said if the province changes guidelines on disclosing cases in business facilities, they will provide the names to the public.  “If the province comes back with a requirement to say that ‘you must disclose every business establishment that has a case,’ we will do that,” he said.

But he said if there’s a risk to the community, the Health Unit will name facilities where that risk exists, and if there’s risk of further spread, the Health Unit would “absolutely” shut down a facility.

“If there is a facility that is not doing the work they should in terms of protecting their employees, or if the cases numbers are significant enough that would warrant us to consider shutting down the facility, we will do that,” he said.

Dr. Ahmed noted there are 8,000 to 10,000 total farm workers in the community at more than 170 businesses.

The Health Unit says there have been no additional deaths due to COVID-19 as of Monday and the local death toll stands at 63.

The Health Unit says there are still ongoing outbreaks at four long-term care and retirement facilities:

  • Chartwell Royal Oak Long-Term Care Residence
  • Regency Park
  • Sun Parlour Home
  • Heron Terrace

The Health Unit says 15,083 total tests have been conducted since testing began locally and 777 tests are pending as of Monday.

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