Three hundred and three. That’s how many lives in Windsor-Essex have now been cut short as a result of COVID-19.

It’s a grim fact, made more troubling by the trend: In all of 2020, it took until December 22nd for our region to record the first 100 lives lost, and since then, the death count has increased dramatically. It was January 8th, only 17 days later, for our community to record 200 fatalities and now, even before January 2021 ends, we record over 300.

At the same time, new case counts have started to decline and the intense and extreme pressure on our local health care system has been relieved somewhat in the past week. Vaccines have been approved by Health Canada and are being administered to priority populations across the country. Slowly, we are starting to see a new dawn rising and a return to pre-pandemic traditions anticipated.

But for 300 families in our region, life will never be the same. The passing of a loved one is always difficult. This past year, too many have had to cope with their personal losses from a distance. Unable, due to public health regulations, to be with their loved ones in their final hours. I can’t imagine their grief. Being able to hold the hand of a loved-one in their final moments is an act of love and kindness this pandemic has taken from over 300 Windsor-Essex residents. It underscores the trauma that COVID-19 has wrought, the world over.

I know we are all tired of social distancing, frustrated with lining up at Costco, and unable to visit friends for a simple dinner party. But today, somewhere in our community, there are more than 300 families who would gladly line up for 24 hours just to have one more day with someone they lost to COVID-19.

– Mayor Drew Dilkens