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Health unit downgrades community COVID risk as cases decrease

At least 10 people from Simcoe County and Muskoka Region died last week after contracting COVID-19 and 47 COVID patients remain hospitalized
2020-07-28 SMDHU offices 2
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit offices are located on Sperling Drive in north-end Barrie. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

The region's health unit has downgraded its risk rating for COVID-19 in Simcoe County and Muskoka to moderate, after continued decreases in case counts and outbreaks. 

Slower to change, however, are severe outcomes such as death and hospitalization, which are still classified as "high," according to stats published by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit on Nov. 24. 

The latest update, which includes information collected by the health unit since Nov. 17, shows 175 more cases confirmed, 47 people in the hospital with COVID-19 and 13 more deaths.

The health unit has reported four deaths between Nov. 6 and 12, and 10 deaths between Nov. 13 and 19 so far. Reporting can be delayed. 

Of the last 15 deaths reported, 12 were seniors at least 70 years old. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit notes the rate of death is five times higher among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated adults aged 60 years or older than it is for those with at least one booster dose. 

Of the 634 deaths reported by the health unit since March 2020,  529 were COVID-19-related, 97 deaths were not related to COVID-19 but the person tested positive, and for eight of them, the cause of death is unknown or pending. 

By hospitalization date, there were 21 COVID patients admitted during the week of Nov. 6-12 and 18 admitted during the week of Nov. 13-19.

There are 17 active outbreaks in the region, including 15 at institutional settings like hospitals or long-term care homes, and two at congregate settings like group homes and shelters. This is a decrease from 24 outbreaks on Nov. 17.

Since the start of the pandemic, the local health unit has confirmed 53,901 cases of COVID-19, with 52,944 of those cases recovered and 634 cases ending in death.

About 22 per cent of Simcoe-Muskoka residents aged 12 or older are fully vaccinated and have had a booster dose within the last six months. Another 34 per cent is fully vaccinated and has had a booster dose more than six months ago, and more than 31 per cent of the population has had the primary series without booster doses. Eleven per cent of the population aged 12 and above is unvaccinated.

Wastewater monitoring in Barrie shows a decrease in COVID virus DNA in those communities. 

Monitoring in Orillia, Penetanguishene, Midland, Bracebridge and Collingwood show COVID-19 virus DNA as present in each of the communities, but there's been no increase or decrease noted in the last week. 

Anyone who has not yet received their COVID-19 vaccination or booster doses is encouraged to do so as soon as they are eligible. Information about eligibility and clinic locations is available at smdhu.org/GetVaccinated.

The health unit is advising people use more layers of protection for themselves and those around them, this can include wearing a mask and not visiting crowded spaces. But those measures are voluntary. As always, the health unit strongly urges people not to leave home if they are sick and experiencing symptoms of illness.


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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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