Local medical officer of health says rise in COVID-19 cases is “quite worriesome,” advises people to stay within their household for close contacts

Dr. Charles Gardner said people need to respond like the second wave is on the way

Messaging from the region’s top doctor reflects his concern about an increase in COVID-19 cases in Simcoe Muskoka.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner said, “given we’re having this substantial increase in cases I think we need to revisit our control measures in the community.”

He said, “I would advise people at this time to actually stick with their household for close contact and essentially shrink down your social circle to be in your household.”

Gardner also wants people to avoid large gatherings. The province still allows up to 100 individuals to be gathered in the community. He recommends people shrink that to below 10, if possible.

Barrie remains a local hot spot for new infections. Since September 8, there have been 37 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Barrie – 33 of the infections were in people between 18 and 34 years of age.

In Simcoe County, including Barrie and Orillia, Gardner said the number of cases is up quite dramatically. There have been more cases in September than in the month of August.

Gardner is also concerned by a spike in cases in Muskoka where the September total has surpassed that for all of July and August, with seven new infections this month compared to five the previous two months.

Gardner said we need to respond like the second wave is on the way.

Asked how people are supposed to keep contacts within their household when more workplaces have reopened and kids have returned to school, Gardner said control what you have control over.

“Most people need to send their children to school and most people need to go to work, so you have control over what you do otherwise in your life. You can control the contact you have in your social life and that will help to reduce your overall risk, and if we all do it, reduce transmission within the community.”

Gardner believes the great risk that remains and is the underlying cause for this transmission is the connections we make in our social lives and “that is where we need to make a change in order to bring this under control.”

He said social gatherings, the workplace and household contacts were the three factors for driving up the number of new COVID-19 cases in the 18 to 34 age bracket.

Gardner expects recommendations from the province shortly regarding Hallowe’en but he hopes people will take it to heart and reduce contact with other people.