Simcoe Muskoka now in the orange zone
With the growth of COVID-19 levelling off slightly in the region, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner is somewhat confident that the area will not have to go from orange to red, under the province’s framework for deciding what is open and what is closed.
If we stay the course, Gardner said, he does not anticipate going into the red.
Gardner referred to the week’s numbers as the “beginning of hope for us, and the province,” which has also seen a slight levelling in the number of new cases.
“In terms of our trajectory, the fact that we have not gone up a great deal over the past week compared with the week before is good news,” he said.
“Had we continued on that curve by this point we would have had an incidence rate of 50 cases per 100,000 population per week.”
The weekly incidence rate is now 33 cases per 100,000 for the whole of Simcoe-Muskoka, 36 for Simcoe alone, and 23 for Clearview.
The orange level brings some new restrictions, including limiting the number of people to be seated at a restaurant to four, no personal services to the face, and limits on liquor sale times.
Gardner said it is recommended, locally and at the provincial level, that people not travel between the different zones, meaning those currently in lockdown in Peel Regional Health Unit and Toronto Public Health should not travel into areas with fewer restrictions and vice versa.
Gardner said he is going so far as to send a letter to municipalities in the region requesting they do not allow residents of grey or red zones to use local recreational facilities. This is motivated by cases where groups from areas in lockdown have booked ice time to play hockey.
This week, there are 20 outbreaks in the region, including eight outbreaks in educational settings. There are a total of eight cases at Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School, with 162 high-risk contacts in isolation, and Sunset Manor long term care home in Collingwood has three cases – two staff and one resident.
Gardner said he is very hopeful about vaccines being available sometime in the New Year, and says the health unit is turning its attention to how to effectively administer them when available.