Children driving high Windsor-Essex COVID rate

Taylor Campbell 3 minute read October 15, 2021

A high COVID-19 infection rate among Windsor-Essex youth is keeping regional case counts above the provincial average.

Despite an overall drop in local cases this week, the public health unit on Thursday reported 34 per cent of recent infections (roughly one in three) were aged zero to 19. By comparison, those aged 20 to 39 made up a lower 30 per cent of cases, with the remaining 36 per cent of cases ages 40 and up.

“We are seeing a stable number of cases in our school-aged children, which is reflected in the number of (school) outbreaks that we see and also the number of dismissals,” said Ramsey D’Souza, the health unit’s manager of epidemiology and evaluation. “Across the other age groups, there has been a general decline among those cases.”

So far this school year, more than 250 class cohorts have been ordered to self-isolate following classroom COVID exposures. Last school year, before students were ordered to switch to remote learning in December, roughly 50 cohorts were dismissed.

“Young people are disproportionately affected,” said acting medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai. “There have been more young people excluded from school in the early part of this academic year than all of the fall semester the previous year. That’s something that still remains surprising to me.”

About 74 per cent of local youth ages 12 to 17 have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and nearly 66 per cent are fully vaccinated. With roughly 90 per cent of school kids in Ontario vaccinated against polio and other diseases covered by the Immunization of School Pupils Act — a list of shots required to attend school in the province — Nesathurai said he believes increasing the COVID-19 vaccination rate among youth is “an entirely achievable goal” and “particularly important.”

As of Thursday, school outbreaks were active at St. Anne French Immersion Catholic School, Northwood Public School, Marlborough Public School, École élémentaire Louise-Charron, École élémentaire catholique Georges P. Vanier, and École élémentaire catholique Sainte-Ursule.

Even with the high case rate among local youth, a number of pandemic indicators are heading in the right direction. The overall weekly case average has dropped this week to 47.2 cases per 100,000 people, down from 53.2 per 100,000 last week. Also, the current local reproduction number for COVID is 0.88, indicating each infected person spreading the disease to less than one other person.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that the burden of disease is less now than it was a few weeks ago,” Nesathurai said.

Windsor-Essex has the third-highest weekly COVID rate in Ontario, behind Chatham-Kent and the Lambton public health region.

The health unit reported 33 additional COVID cases on Thursday.

To date, 20,152 local residents have tested positive, including 261 cases that are still active, 459 people who have died, and 19,432 cases considered resolved.

The death of a man in his 70s living in the general community was also reported.

Outbreaks have been rescinded at the Village at St. Clair, a long-term care home in Windsor, and La Chaumiere, a retirement home in Belle River. A new outbreak has been declared at Augustine Villas, a retirement home in Kingsville where one resident has tested positive.

An outbreak at the Downtown Mission in Windsor has also been rescinded, and an outbreak at the Salvation Army remains active.

There are also active outbreaks at 16 workplaces in the region.


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