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For the past two weeks, the U.S.-Canada border has been closed in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus. However, between 1,500 and 2,000 of Detroit’s health care workers live in Windsor, just over the border in Ontario.
Essential workers, including those in trade and commerce, are still able to cross the border.
Experts have pegged Detroit as the next coronavirus hotspot: Michigan has nearly 11,000 confirmed cases and 417 deaths, the vast majority of which have been in Detroit.
Meanwhile, Ontario as a whole has around 3,255 cases and only 67 deaths. Around a third of Windsor’s 128 cases are health care workers who commute to the U.S. for work.
Some local leaders have called for further travel restrictions to better limit the spread.
This week, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens about the issue.
"[Dilkens] is very focused on it, as are the local MPs, and he has been in very close touch with all — he reported to me that he's been in close touch with both the Canadian hospitals and the U.S. hospitals," Freeland said.
Keeping the border open is of financial benefit, too: WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp. president and CEO Stephen MacKenzie claimed upward of $500 million in daily trade thanks to the border business between Windsor and Detroit.
He said that it is a “huge relief” that the border remains open, even as most citizens from either country are unable to cross.