Surge in cases overwhelming WECHU staff

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Windsor, January 16, 2020. Blackburn News file photo.

Windsor Essex County Health Unit nurses are being stretched to the limits as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the region, according to the health unit’s CEO.

Of the 45 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday morning, 18 remained under investigation. That means staff were either unable to contact the individual or were unable to complete the investigation at the time the cases were reported.

“The nursing staff are doing a great job and we have our dental staff helping with all of the phone calls but it really has, the surge so quickly, has impacted their ability to do all of the work in a timely fashion,” said CEO and Chief Nursing Officer Theresa Marentette.

In the last week, the health unit has been able to contact 75 per cent of all positive cases within 24 hours of receiving their test results.

“The case interviews can take quite a while. It can take over an hour or more depending on the acquisition and how many contacts they’ve had. Because in that interview you are also getting their list of high-risk contacts,” said Marentette.

Marentette said the case interviews are taking much longer than they did in the spring because people have so many more close-contacts to identify.

The latest epidemiological study shows the weekly incidence rate of COVID-19 continues to rise. The region had 41 cases per 100,000 population last week.

There are 230 active cases in the community now and eleven people are in hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19.