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Majority of recent COVID ICU patients unvaccinated

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As the rate of COVID-19 cases continues its steep climb in Windsor-Essex, most of those experiencing severe health outcomes from the disease are unvaccinated.

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Data presented by the local health unit on Thursday showed 86 per cent of people recently admitted to local intensive care units with COVID-19 had not received a single COVID vaccine dose.

After noting that unvaccinated people make up a small portion of the community — roughly 23 per cent — acting medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai said the trend is consistent with what’s happening in hospitals across Ontario.

“An individual’s risk of being hospitalized and dying is much greater if you are unvaccinated than if you’re vaccinated — that’s not a Windsor-Essex phenomenon,” he said.

Although data shows half of COVID-19 cases recorded locally from Nov. 8 to 14 were in fully vaccinated individuals, the unvaccinated minority continues to contract the disease at a much higher rate than the vaccinated. According to the health unit, the rate of infection is currently 3.52 times higher for unvaccinated people.

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Vaccinated individuals are also less likely to transmit the disease to others, said health unit CEO Nicole Dupuis.

Nicole Dupuis, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, is shown June 1, 2021.
Nicole Dupuis, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, is shown June 1, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Over the last week, the region’s COVID-19 infection rate has nearly doubled to 64 cases per 100,000 people per week. While four other public health units have rates even higher than Windsor-Essex, the local number is still dramatically higher than the provincial average of just less than 30 cases per 100,000 people.

Along with the uptick in cases has been a significant increase in COVID-related hospitalizations and intensive care admissions.

“When hospital beds are occupied by people who have COVID, which is, for the most part, a preventable phenomenon, that means other people who need ICU beds can’t get treatment,” Nesathurai said. “Not only are COVID cases using healthcare resources, but they’re affecting the health-care resources of people who don’t have COVID.”

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Roughly 51,000 Windsor-Essex residents who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines are not yet fully vaccinated. Most of those individuals have not received a first dose.

Fully vaccinated residents number 314,255.

About four per cent of recent COVID tests were positive for the virus or one of its variants.

The health unit on Thursday reported 66 additional COVID-19 cases and the COVID-related death of a person under the age of 20.

To date, 21,095 Windsor-Essex residents have tested positive for the virus, including 468 who died, 326 who are still infectious, and 20,301 whose cases are considered resolved.

The number of COVID outbreaks in the region rose to 27. They include six workplaces, 13 community settings, five schools, and two long-term care and retirement homes.

New school outbreaks have been declared at St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School, Leamington District Secondary School, Riverside Secondary School, and D. M. Eagle Public School. Another outbreak at Essex Public School remains active.

The Village at St. Clair, a long-term care home in Windsor, joins Chartwell Royal Oak long-term care residence in Kingsville on the outbreak list.

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