Did we miss the Thanksgiving bump in COVID-19 cases?

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

The Manager of Epidemiology and Evaluation at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit believes it’s still too early to say if we avoided a Thanksgiving spike in COVID-19 cases, but there are some signs we did.

“We haven’t seen the impact that we could assume we’d see by now, although sometimes there’s a delay,” said Ramsey D’Souza. “So, for us, we’ll just continue to monitor cases and to see if anything has linked back to Thanksgiving.”

The COVID-19 case rate is down, our test positivity rate is down, and we are closing in on the two-week mark when usually a spike would start to become evident.

Over the past week, the region’s daily case rate was 47.7 for every 100,000 residents. It was 50 cases last week. No longer does Windsor-Essex have the highest case rate in the province. That distinction now belongs to Chatham-Kent.

Cases among our younger populations are declining as well. A third are among those under the age of 19. However, that rate also is down from last week. D’Souza said the health unit is witnessing seven cases a day among school-aged children, compared to nine a week ago.

“The one positive thing we can take away is we are seeing less cases in our school-aged population,” added D’Souza.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Doctor Shanker Nesathurai is a little more cautious in his assessment, saying the burden of illness in school children is still disproportionately high. He noted about 300 cohorts have been dismissed since school began last month.

The percentage of positive tests is now the second-highest in Ontario. Sarnia-Lambton now has the highest positivity rate. Of the 5,800 tests locally, 3.6 per cent were positive compared to four per cent seven days ago.

We still have a high number of outbreaks, 19 overall, including at nine schools, but that number is coming down too.

Over 80 per cent of those eligible for a shot are now fully vaccinated, but Nesathurai admitted he’s not yet satisfied with the rate.

“It’s heartwarming to see that the vaccination rates are improving, but it’s still not where we want it to be, and a reasonable target, I think, is to get above 90 per cent,” he said. “If Leeds-Grenville can get to 90 per cent, then surely Windsor-Essex can get to 90 per cent.”

The health unit reported the death of a woman in her 70s and 22 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

Of the new cases, six are still under investigation, ten are from close contact with someone else who has been diagnosed with the virus, and six people caught it in the community.

The number of active cases region-wide continues to decline and is now 202. The province reported 3,356 active infections, 413 new cases and four additional deaths on Thursday.

The health unit is also asking anyone who was at Harvest Bible Chapel Windsor at 2001 Spring Garden Road to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 after an exposure on Sunday, October 17 between 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.