April is key for controlling surge

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“April is a very key month for us in this outbreak. This is the month in which we are going to see the extent to which the surge occurs,” said Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner.
Referring to the local epidemiological curve, Gardner continues to reinforce the message that people need to steer clear of each other to stop the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.
“I’m concerned with what I am seeing. We continue to have cases, we’ve had a substantial number of cases, even in the last 24 hours,” said Gardner.
During his daily media briefings. “There’s evidence of community wide transmission and people need to be exercising the social distancing precautions. We are expecting this to continue to rise perhaps through the month of April. Our task at hand is to do all we can together to flatten the curve and reduce community transmission. We expect that rise to continue, at least to some degree. Our goal is to flatten it so it doesn’t overwhelm the healthcare system but I’d say I remain concerned.”
This week, Simcoe Muskoka saw 42 new cases (as of presstime) bringing the total to 108, however there are always more cases that are not yet logged in the official count.
A fifth person in the region has died – a Wasaga Beach man in his 70s who caught the virus while travelling to Ecuador. In total, 40 have recovered and 14 remain hospitalized.
Gardner reiterated that this infection can manifest as being mild in some people, even asymptomatic – making the physical distancing measures crucial in stopping the spread.
“We know this is hard on everybody. The potential loneliness this causes is hard on our mental well being and also the restriction on our activity can be hard on our physical well being,” said Gardner.
A change in messaging about masks is coming down from Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, who is saying research is showing that homemade cloth masks can be worn to avoid infecting others, but are not shown to prevent the wearer from contracting the virus. Gardner said there is still a risk that people could touch their faces more, increasing the risk of infection.
Simcoe Muskoka has two long term care facilities in a COVID-19 outbreak – Bradford Valley in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Spencer House in Orillia.
Dufferin Oaks Long Term Care Home in Shelburne is also experiencing an outbreak, reporting a total of five known cases, two residents and three staff.

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