COVID-19 this week: Medical Officer of Health pleads for us to abide by guidance or watch caseloads continue to rise

Local health expert asking municipalities to ban those from red or grey zones from using rec centres

Short on time? Here’s what you need to know:
-The local medical officer of health is urging residents to stick with COVID-related restrictions to bring down an ever-rising caseload in Simcoe-Muskoka
-municipalities urged to prohibit those from red and grey zones from accessing recreational facilities.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s (SMDHU) medical officer of health has issued a statement urging local residents to continue following COVID-19 guidance, or watch the region’s caseload continue to balloon.

“This pandemic has been extremely challenging for all us and I know that the additional actions I am asking for are difficult, particularly as we approach the holiday season,” said Dr. Charles Gardner. “However, the only way we are going to slow the spread of COVID-19, which will allow us to keep our communities safe and healthy and our schools, organizations and businesses open, is through our own actions as individuals and as a society.”

Dr. Gardner has issued an advisory letter to municipalities within the SMDHU to consider prohibiting those from red or grey zones from accessing recreational facilities.

pandemic trajectory

On Tuesday, the SMDHU announced another 29 cases of COVID-19 across the region, and combined with the increase announced on Monday, already saw 104 cases. This comes as the health unit confirms the week ending November 21 saw the highest weekly caseload increase since the pandemic began, at 200. The seven-day rolling average of cases for Simcoe-Muskoka is 30.2, up from the week prior. The Health Unit’s goal is to see a decrease over 14 days or a stable trend of fewer than two cases per day.

To date, there have been 1,938 cases of COVID confirmed in Simcoe or Muskoka. Of those, 1,659 have recovered, while 52 have lost their lives.

spread and tracing

Close contact continues to be the main method by which COVID-19 is spread within Simcoe and Muskoka. Dr. Gardner says there have been roughly 40 instances of virus spread within a household this month, affecting some 100 people. “Since September we have observed a substantial increase in household clusters of COVID-19 cases, and in each cluster, every person in the household has been infected,” he said.

RELATED: Local and Provincial COVID-19 numbers for today

The majority of the region’s caseload is among those aged 18 to 34, while those in the 45-64 age range follow that. People aged 35 to 44 make up the third-largest group of people contracting COVID-19, while those under 17 and those over the age of 80 comprise the rest. The majority of lives lost to COVID in Simcoe-Muskoka are among those aged 80 and over.

outbreaks

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were twelve active outbreaks within Simcoe and Muskoka. That includes four long-term care facilities or retirement homes, two congregate homes, four educational settings, and two workplaces.

The long-term care homes or retirement homes under an outbreak declaration are Simcoe Manor in Beeto, Allandale Station Retirement Residence in Barrie, Sunset Manor in Collingwood, and Holland Gardens Retirement Residence in Bradford.

St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School, Willow Landing Elementary, and Warnica Public School, all in Barrie, are all under an outbreak declaration, as is Nottawasaga Pines Secondary in Angus. Three previous outbreaks have since been declared over at schools in Angus, Barrie, and Bradford.

Information on workplace outbreaks is not made public in order to protect patient identity.

While details were not immediately available from the SMDHU, an outbreak was reported among a hockey team in Barrie. Reports suggest nine people under the age of 17 tested positive.

Simcoe-Muskoka’s recovery

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and all the municipalities it covers are in the Restrict-Orange tier of the province’s COVID-19 response framework, meaning for capacity size caps at restaurants, meeting places, recreational facilities and other public gathering spaces. Masks must be worn in workplaces and indoor public spaces.

July jobless numbers show Barrie leading country in getting back to work

Simcoe and Muskoka were moved into the Restrict-Orange tier as of Monday morning in response to growing COVID-19 numbers. Dr. Gardner said on Tuesday there are some early signs we won’t go much higher than that. “Over the past two weeks, we’ve seemed to have leveled; that may change, it could go back up again. If we’re very fortunate, and if we work hard at this together, that’ll be the beginning of it coming down again,” he said. “But if we aren’t fortunate, and if we can’t work well together on this, then indeed, we could go back up, we could continue to grow, we could very easily surpass the threshold for the red level, the control level.”

Province-wide, there were just 1,009 new cases of COVID reported across Ontario on Tuesday.