Two years ago, residents of Windsor-Essex faced the uncertainty that comes with news of a global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus – now more commonly known as COVID-19.
The World Health Organization made this statement on March 11, 2020.
CBC Windsor asked a few people to share their thoughts on what they’ve learned about themselves during the pandemic and what they miss the most.
Here is what they told us:
Sadaf Ahmed and Pradeep Kumar Dumak are now students at Windsor, but both were in India when the pandemic started.
“To be honest, we didn’t know what a pandemic was then. We just heard it in movies and TV shows,” Ahmed said.
The two soon learned that this would become an all-consuming event for them.
“It’s pretty bad. We faced total lockdown, we were in one room for over six months,” Kumar Dumak said.
They moved to Windsor amid the pandemic. Kumar Dumak said he learned to live in the moment after facing an uncertain future, while Ahmed misses the mundane actions of normal life.
“Greeting anyone, even if it was a stranger, there was not a shred of doubt to shake hands, give a hug. It was no big deal. Now it’s still hesitation. “
Meriya Wolin misses some of the mundane parts of life, including bowling.
“It’s really weird. I’m not even an avid bowler. I suck. I need the bumpers. But I just want to go bowling!” she told CBC News this week, pushing her newborn baby in a stroller.
Wolin gave birth during the pandemic and said her biggest concern when handling COVID-19 was her children and what’s next for them.
“I have a three-year-old daughter, she’s going to start school next year. What’s it going to be like?” she said.
Ashley Oriet, who works in the long-term care sector in Windsor, recalls the uncertain moment two years ago when the pandemic was announced.
“I remember it was kind of a chaos. No one in the world knew what was going on. Everyone was panicking,” Oriet said.
With family members scattered across the healthcare industry in various roles, she worked with a friend to start a Facebook group that connected people with recreational campers to families with healthcare workers so they could self-isolate while working around the virus.
“To a lot of people a trailer is a bit like your baby… it’s a lot to trust a stranger with your motorhome and I’m so thankful that the community came together and said yes, let’s- the.”
How it all started in Windsor-Essex
First, COVID-19 caused an extension of March Break.
Schools turned to online learning, asking students, teachers, support staff and parents to embrace virtual classrooms, which ultimately led to the cancellation of proms and ceremonies limited graduation.
But before these major events were interrupted, there was a previously unthinkable event for Windsor-Essex: the closing of the border.
International travel has been reduced to essential reasons only – unimaginable in a border community where dinners with family and friends on either side of the river were commonplace.
Businesses have pivoted. Auto parts makers produced personal protective equipment and local distillers moved to bottle hand sanitizer instead of spirits.
On March 20, 2020, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) confirmed the first case of COVID-19 for the region.
Three weeks later – on April 1 – the community learned that someone had died of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex for the first time.
In the summer of 2020, high case rates prevented businesses from reopening. Windsor-Essex saw other regions emerge from lockdown in the first wave.
The province ultimately decided to split the region, leaving Kingsville and Leamington as the last communities to fully reopen due to the spread of the virus.
Both communities are home to thousands of temporary workers who are employed on Essex County farms and often live in environments ill-equipped to prevent the spread of an infectious virus, and few options for isolation once infected.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has closed farms to prevent the spread while setting up mobile testing units.
At least four temporary foreign workers have died in Ontario since the start of the pandemic. They understand:
COVID-19 has pushed the healthcare system to the brink in many places and had a devastating effect on long-term care homes.
One of Ontario’s worst outbreaks occurred at the Village of St. Clair in Windsor, where 63 people died of COVID-19 during the second wave of the pandemic.
There were also moments of joy: fresh artwork popped up and weekly celebrations to honor frontline workers who were asked to care for the sick.
There were also convoys of cars passing long-term care homes to support loved ones isolated by new regulations.
Today, two years after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the pandemic is entering a new phase as regulations are lifted and people return to work in offices. .
In total, WECHU reported that 585 people have died from COVID-19.
The death rate per 100,000 population is the fifth highest in Ontario, according to public health data.
Why was it so bad in Windsor-Essex? Public health officials have pointed to an older population with a higher burden of chronic disease.