COVID-19 continues to take a toll on resdidents at long-term care facilities in Simcoe Muskoka. At a media briefing today, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner said there were four new deaths at Owen Hill Care Community in Barrie and one new death at Bradford Valley.
Across the region, there have been 25 deaths from the virus, of which 14 have been in long-term care facilities. An outbreak at Woods Park Care Community in Barrie has been declared over, leaving six institutions still dealing with COVID-19. The other four are retirement homes, two in Muskoka (Muskoka Traditions-Huntsville/Bayview Retirement Home-Waubaushene) and Allandale Station and Whispering Pines residences in Barrie.
Overall, 15 new cases of COVID-19 in Simcoe-Muskoka for a total of 344, an additional three recoveries to 175 and seven patients are in hospital. Community transmission tops the charts in how COVID-19 is being acquired at 118 followed by close contact at 77.
Gardner also touched on the Ontario government announcement today of an easing of restrictions on retail stores. As of Friday, garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies. Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases on Saturday, May 9, and on Monday, May 11, retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery.
Gardner said relaxing restrictions helps the economy, our mental health and quality of life. He emphasized that lifting of restrictions must be careful and measured and was not without its risks.
He said caseloads are not rapidly going up and they are not going down in a steady way, adding it will be some time yet before physical distancing restrictions are lifted.