COVID-19 case rate almost doubles in seven days

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Windsor, January 16, 2020. Photo by Mark Brown, Blackburn News.

As the number of cases rises daily, Medical Officer of Health Doctor Wajid Ahmed is warning residents it will get worse before it gets better.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 69 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, as the case rate per 100,000 residents rose to 58.1 over the past seven days.

Last week’s rate per 100,000 residents was 30.1.

Ahmed said the case rate here is climbing faster than anywhere else in Ontario.

Of those cases, 22 were from close contact with another case public health officials are already following. Another nine people were infected in the community, while two infections are related to an outbreak, and one is travel-related.

There are currently 363 active cases locally.

Despite the spike in daily cases and the case rate, the virus spread slower this week than last with a reproductive rate of 1.46, compared to 1.62 seven days ago.

The health unit also reported the death of a woman in her 50s who lived in the community. Ahmed was not sure of her vaccine status. She is the region’s 438th fatality from the virus and one of two deaths reported across Ontario on Friday.

There are now eight outbreaks in the region, including six at workplaces, one in the community and one at a long-term care home. The health unit reported the outbreaks at a wedding in Tecumseh and at Village at St. Clair earlier in the week.

Outbreaks, daily case counts, and positivity rates are among the factors public health officials use to decide what restrictions are needed. Ahmed said those discussions are ongoing. He did not suggest they are imminent. He did say an increase was expected as the province moved into step three of the Roadmap to Reopening Plan.

As of Friday, there were seven people in the hospital with the virus, but none were in intensive care. Of those, five patients were unvaccinated, and one was partially vaccinated. The number of patients receiving hospital care could rise.

“Hospitalizations and ICU deaths are a lagging indicator,” explained Ahmed. “So, whatever we are seeing, we may see the impact two or three weeks at least or a month down the road.”

So far, 70.5 per cent of residents 12 and older had received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but Ahmed told reporters that the rate needed to be up to 85 per cent to mitigate the worst impacts of the fourth wave of the pandemic. The number of shots administered in the region has averaged about 400 a day over the past week.

The province reported two deaths Friday, including the one here and 650 new cases. The number of active cases across Ontario now numbers 4,447.