Six new cases of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka as Health Unit drives home need for physical distancing

Health Unit confirms it is probing Alliston restaurant

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) says there are six more lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region as it confirms it is probing the employee of an Alliston coffee shop.

“I can confirm that we are aware of this individual, that we’re aware of the work environment, that we’ve carried out an investigation, we’ve identified fellow workers who are now in self-isolation,” said SMDHU Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner, speaking in regards to the temporary closure of a Tim Horton’s store on Highway 89 and Dunham Drive in Alliston, “Based on the details of the situation, we didn’t identify patrons or customers who were exposed. We believe the nature of the exposure at the drive-thru would have been remote, and not of the nature that we would put out an alert to them.” The restaurant is said to have gone through a deep clean and sanitization since.

This comes as the Health Unit says there are now 35 cases of COVID-19 among area residents, as of Friday, March 27th. Of those, three people have died; two men at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, and a woman at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. All three were in their 70s. Five people are in hospital, 22 in self-isolation as the health unit further probes three other cases. Their age range, with the bulk of infections reported among the 35-64 year age group.

Dr. Gardner used his daily briefing to remind everyone that physical distancing doesn’t mean cutting ourselves off from everyone else. “People need to be mindful that this will go on for a long time, this will be weeks to months, and so I would also like to acknowledge this will be difficult for people. The kind of restrictions on their lives are new, and a disruption to their lives. A loss of activities they’re used to, their children are used to, is difficult,” he said, “all of that is very hard on people. While we’re talking about physical distancing from others, it’s important that we maintain social contact with others.”

“We’re not saying you can’t go out, you should certainly think about if you need to go out, but it is important for people to choose carefully how they go out to get some exercise and to get some fresh air, and certainly meeting their needs for shopping,” he concluded.

Details of the SMDHU caseload via its website. Information on cases 34 and 35 were not immediately available.