Cases of young adults in Simcoe Muskoka with COVID-19 is coming down, just not as fast as other age groups, says health unit

Health unit does not criticize methods used by Barrie and Orillia to control waterfront crowds

As the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit announced zero new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the elephant in the conference call room remained young adults.

The province said on Tuesday that 70 per cent of all new cases in Ontario are in people ages 39 and under.

Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka Medical Officer of Health, pointed out that there were a lot more cases of COVID-19 overall in April and most of the people were beyond 65 and 70 and those above 80. Fast forward to July and Gardner said locally there has not been a surge in cases among young people.

“All age groups have come down including young people. Young adults have lagged. They haven’t come down as much but have not surged. They haven’t come down as quickly.” Gardner said.

There has been lots of attention of late which has focused on young adults gathering at large parties including one police shut down in Brampton that attracted more than 200 people.

Gardner pointed to several factors as to why the number of COVID cases in young adults here is not dropping as fast as other age groups.

“It’s not because we have a lot more cases. It could be linked to young people working and their work environments. They might be socializing more and relaxing their controls. Pandemic fatigue, perhaps. We have seen some family clusters.”

The health unit reported an institutional outbreak at Georgian Residences long-term care facility. One staff member and one resident are infected. The resident is in intensive care in hospital. Most staff have been tested and there have been 43 negatives and five results have yet to come in. Residents are also being tested.

Gardner emphasized there are other residences on the property and that it is the retirement home that is part of this outbreak and not the rest of the facility.

He also mentioned that they were expecting an announcement this week by the premier and education minister about the province’s approach to managing schools in the fall.

“People are anxious. We want school to happen but to happen in a safe way. It’s going to be a delicate balancing act to achieve that. We know countries that have managed to do that and have been successful and others have had outbreaks where schools have had to be closed.”

As for the premier’s potshot at Barrie and Orillia last week for raising waterfront parking fees for non-residents, something Doug Ford called price-gouging and disgusting, Gardner suggested there are various ways to control the numbers at beaches and encourage people to space out apart from their immediate social circle. He said municipalities have worked very hard to try and achieve that.

“They have succeeded in keeping rates of COVID-19 lower than in other parts of the province. It’s a challenge. If part of the strategy is to reduce the amount of parking or how they charge for parking or close some beaches, these are ways that achieve that public health goal. It’s consistent with approaches we are recommending.”