COVID-19 case count surpasses 10,000 milestone

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Simcoe Muskoka has reached a milestone in surpassing the 10,000 case mark for COVID-19 transmission.
The region’s medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner said this week that variants of concern (VOCs) have almost completely taken over – 95 per cent of cases reported last week were VOCs, compared to 50 per cent of cases at the beginning of the year.
“So far this week all of the cases that we’ve had have been identified as variants of concern,” said Gardner.
Three variants are spreading in the region, including a newly detected case of the variant from India, but the large majority are the UK B117 variant.
With many older adults having been vaccinated the transmission is largely between young and middle aged adults who now account for the highest incidence of cases in April.
The weekly case count has seen a slight reduction from 714 cases the week of April 11 to 617 cases for the week of April 18. Gardner noted this is the first downturn in cases since the second week of March.
“Even though it’s welcome to see it come down a bit, I do note that testing is slightly down and our percent positivity rate is slightly up so we need to be cautious in our interpretation of whether or not it has truly come down or not in terms of transmission in our community,” said Gardner.
Sporadic transmission is at 30.9 per cent and accounts for a majority of the infected who are hospitalized (45 of the 52 in hospital). On Tuesday, there were 13 people in intensive care, which is the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.
There are currently 27 outbreaks in the region including one declared at Creedan Valley in Creemore on April 15, categorized as having fewer than five resident cases and no staff cases, and Collingwood Collegiate Institute with two cases.
Vaccine rollout continues, reaching the 200,000 mark.
Gardner reported a new Ontario Science Table report states 56 to 89 per cent of the population of the province would have to be immunized to achieve herd immunity, and notes to get to the highest target will be a challenge.
He said the health unit is making good headway and more vaccine is coming to the area in May.
Currently, the health unit is focussing on its only provincially designated hotspot, Bradford West Gwillumbury, which is experiencing a weekly incidence rate of more than 300 cases per 100,000 population for the third straight week, compared to 107 cases per 100,000 population for all of Simcoe Muskoka and a provincial rate of 187 cases per 100,000 population. The health unit has also placed a focus on agricultural workers to protect them from outbreaks.
Pregnant people are now eligible to register for COVID-19 vaccination appointments under the highest risk health conditions in Ontario’s Phase 2 prioritization guidance. They can book an appointment through the provincial call centre by calling at 1-888-999-6488. A letter from a health care provider is not required for vaccination.
Additional COVID-19 vaccination clinics have been added to the 29 Sperling Drive vaccine clinic in Barrie.
Those who are 60 years of age and older who have not yet booked their first dose can book an appointment directly at www.Ontario.ca/bookvaccine. Those who have pre-registered and have received their booking code from the ministry are encouraged to book an appointment at one of these clinics.
For more information about COVID-19 and who is now eligible to book an appointment or pre-register, please visit www.smdhu.org.
As of April 29 child care workers in licensed child care settings will be eligible to book an appointment through the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line number at 1-833-943-3900.
Eligible workers in licensed child care settings will receive a letter from their employer. This letter must be available at the time of booking and taken to the vaccination appointment.
In the coming weeks, eligibility will be expanded to child care workers in unlicensed child care settings across the province.

This week: 

• There have been 10,312 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Simcoe Muskoka since COVID-19 was first identified in Canada.
• There have been 277 new cases reported to the health unit for the current week. There were 637 new cases reported to the health unit last week (week of April 18), 11 per cent lower than the 715 cases reported for the week of April 11.
• There have been 22 COVID-19 deaths so far in April. In March, 12 Simcoe Muskoka residents died from COVID-19.
• To date 2,519 local cases have tested positive for the COVID-19 variant of concern UK B.1.1.7 (UK), 36 cases have tested positive for the P.1 variant of concern (Brazil), 7 cases have tested positive for the B.1.351 variant of concern (South Africa) and an additional 672 cases have screened positive (awaiting confirmatory testing).
• Over 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Simcoe Muskoka, including doses administered by local pharmacies. Over 184,500 individuals living in Simcoe Muskoka have received their first dose of vaccine, which represents nearly 30 per cent of the total population.
• Young adults (18-34 years) have had the highest rate of infection since February 2021.

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