Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
SIMCOE-MUSKOKA — A single Gravenhurst case today is no cause for celebration in Muskoka, says Dr. Charles Gardner.
Not with 85 cases the past 24 hours across the region. (The province posted 102 this morning).
And a weekend cluster in Lake of Bay that is of “concern” to the medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU). It was among 25 cases reported yesterday.
Or that 96 per cent of regional positive tests now are variants of concern (VOC). Last week that number was 87 per cent.
VOCs “are taking over,” he said.
Then there’s the drop in the average age of those locally tested and that is seriously threatening younger and younger residents.
Sixty per cent of the cases the past week have been under age 35.
Not to be forgotten are the 7 people in Simcoe who died the past week — none of them vaccinated. Total deaths now are 212.
The Gravenhurst man under investigation was 18-34, and reported yesterday with a first episode the day before.
Gardner said in his weekly press briefing this afternoon that cases keep climbing: 308, 449 and 656 the past three weeks.
Already this week SMDHU reports 188 in just the first two reporting days of the week — Sunday and Monday.
He said the current count of 8,862 as of today is an increase of 668 since last Wednesday’s update.
Now there are 1,106 active cases, almost double the total of 679 last week.
There are 43 people in hospital and 16 in ICU. A week ago 13 people were in intensive care units.
Ontario, meanwhile, has 1,822 in hospital and a record 626 in ICU.
The local numbers bring the region’s average incident rate to its highest yet in the pandemic at 110 per 100,000 per week.
Gardner said “that’s in the grey territory” of the province’s old zone formulation.
Lake of Bays is now in the 200 per 100,000 territory — but that’s because of its small population.
And he blamed that on one household that resulted in multiple cases on the weekend.
This as Ontario reported a significant drop in cases to 3,670 from 4,401 yesterday.
Toronto stood at 1,016, York 519 and Peel 613.
North Bay-Parry Sound experienced a relative jump to 5 cases from 1 the previous day.
Ontario’s key 7-day average is now 3,868 or 186 per 100,000 weekly.
The 7-day average number of deaths is 17.7.
Simcoe-Muskoka’s positivity rate is 6.5 per cent, more than double the 3 per cent, which is a concern. But it’s about the same as the provincial rate at 6.6 per cent.
As well, 117,500 residents have had at least one dose and 19,400 2 doses.
There are just fewer than 600,000 people in the health unit’s coverage area.
COVID tracing continues to be a challenge as they try to reach people and get them to go in to isolation and follow-up with their contacts.
While the goal is to reach 90 per cent of people who tested positive, they’ve only been able to reach 45 per cent of our new cases in 24 hours and 51 per cent the past two weeks.
Muskoka’s positivity rate is also up — to 3.8 per cent from 2 per cent the previous week.
“This is the highest we’ve seen for Muskoka.”
So when in doubt, isolate, he said.
Ontario did 42,167 COVID tests yesterday with a positivity rate of 10.3 per cent.
Gardner said that’s important because “it’s going to be some time before we can vaccinate everyone.”
While “all three vaccines are excellent,” he’s concerned that the region isn’t going to get more vaccines and that its supply right now will remain the same.
He noted that primary care physicians who have gotten the AstraZeneca vaccine will be contacting patients to provide the vaccine.
And that the province has licensed 10 more pharmacies in hard-hit Bradford-West Gwillimbury to administer the vaccines. A Bradford high school will also be a site for a vaccination clinic Friday.
Gardner also added that he still prefers to have schools open, but that with cases in homes on the rise they could spread into classrooms and affect students, teachers and staff “it’s not workable.”
He hopes in-class studies will resume before the end of the year on June 26, but “we can’t guarantee it.”
And with more people wondering why harsher measures to contain the spread weren’t taken the past year, Gardner said he did push for them.
He said “it’s exceedingly difficult” to go it alone locally.
HEALTH UNIT HIGHLIGHTS:
- 1,429 UK variants, 18 from Brazil, 2 from South Africa.
- 457 cases have screened positive awaiting confirmatory testing.
- 132,400+ vaccines have been administered in Simcoe Muskoka, including doses administered by local pharmacies. Over 117,500 individuals living in Simcoe Muskoka have received their first dose of vaccine, which represents nearly 20% of the total population.
- There have been 188 new cases reported to the health unit for the current week. There were 656 new cases reported to the health unit last week (week of April 4th), which is 46% higher than the 449 cases reported for the week of March 28th.
- In March, 12 Simcoe Muskoka residents died from COVID-19. There have been 10 COVID-19 deaths so far in April.
IN OTHER COVID NEWS …
- Gardner wouldn’t comment on new details emerging today about the U.S. putting a pause on the J&J vaccine due to more reports of blood clots. Canada says it is watching that closely.
- CHEO — the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario — is getting ready to accept adult patients, like Sick Kids in Toronto.
- Quebec had 1,490 cases and 12 deaths.
- France suspends flights from Brazil.
- India had another record day with 161,736 new cases for a total of 13.6 million to lead the world.
- Gardner also said 2 videos online showing restaurant confrontations with inspectors are different. One involves an Alcohol and Gaming Commission worker who was shouted at by patrons. Another does involve health unit staff who were issuing summons.
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