Mark Clairmont |

SIMCOE-MUSKOKA — Break out the patio lanterns.

A dreary Friday didn’t dampen enthusiasm for Ontarians who were happy to sit this one out — outdoors.

Thanks to another zero sum gain for Muskoka, as Simcoe was stuck with all 26 of the region’s COVID cases.

That’s just over a third of this week’s total of 76 cases.

Patios and sidewalk cafes, while not busy, were doing a relatively brisk business at most restaurants, bars and establishments as patrons were again allowed drink and dine outside.

That was just one of the welcome benefits to Stage 1 of Ontario’s reopening plan.

And fresh air enthusiasts welcomed the opportunity to eat and imbibe — albeit mostly under cover for parts of the about noon.

Rachel Kitchen and Alec Kerr, of Toronto, toast Ontario’s reopening on the patio at Sawdust City Brewery in Gravenhurst this afternoon.

That’s as Canada now leads all major industrial countries with 63.5 per cent of the population vaccinated, just ahead of Israel at 63.25.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health unit continues come close to those numbers with 60.5 per cent of all residents with one vaccine and 9.3 with two doses.

And only 1 new hospitalization since yesterday — but also no deaths.

Provincially, 200,000 vaccines were administered Thursday bringing Ontario’s total to 10,826,669.

Ontario’s overall case numbers came down a bit to 574 and 4 deaths, which beats 590 and 11 deaths Thursday.

Public Health Ontario pegged Simcoe-Muskoka cases a 10 this morning and 16 yesterday.

The province’s Big 3 health units all had drops in cases. Toronto dipped to 109 (114), York 28 (32) and Peel had the largest decline at 84 (130).

North Bay-Parry Sound returned to 2 cases from 9; however Porcupine took a huge jump to 51 from 18.

There was good news from the province for some beleaguered frontline health workers at LTCs and nursing home. The will continue until Aug. 23 to get $2 to $3 depending on where they work.

The temporary supplement extended in March 18 was due to end June 30.

Since October 2020, Ontario has invested $841 million to support personal support workers and supportive care workers. The province says it will continue to review the wage increase after Aug. 23.

The government also recently announced an investment of over $115 million to accelerate training for up to 8,200 new personal support workers for Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors. Registration for the program is available through the Ontario College Application Service.

The province has been providing a temporary wage increase since Oct. 1 to more than 158,000 workers who deliver publicly funded personal support services, including:

  • $3 per hour for approximately 38,000 eligible workers in home and community care;
  • $3 per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible workers in long-term care;
  • $2 per hour for approximately 10,000 eligible workers in public hospitals; and
  • $3 per hour for approximately 60,000 eligible workers in children, community and social services providing personal direct support services for the activities of daily living.

The government says it’s part of an investment of $141 million, which it claims will help stabilize, attract and retain the workforce needed to provide a high level of care during the pandemic.

Gage and Russul Thomson were happy to enjoy some sweets outside the Tea Room at Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst today.


  • 12,131 cases to date
  • 76 new cases this week, 152 last week, which was 27% lower than the 207 cases the week before
  • 1 death in June, 18 in May, 25 in April, 12 in March
  • 3,902 Alpha variants, 150 Gamma, 26 Beta, 13 Delta
  • 694 cases await confirmation of variant type
  • 418,400+ vaccines have been administered
  • 365,670+ residents have received their first dose of vaccine, which represents over 61% of the population.
  • 71% of adults 18 years and older living in Simcoe Muskoka have had at least one dose
  • 40% of youth 12 to 17 years have had their first vaccine dose.
Another relatively good week in Simcoe-Muskoka with 76 cases.


  • 1 million AstraZeneca vaccines are coming to Canada June 28; but the fate of 310,000 J&J vaccines in Canada remains in doubt.
  • Prime ministers Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson, of Britain, gave the thumbs up today to Canada’s contribution of 100,000 vaccines for the rest of the world, at the G7 in England.
  • With a national average of 1,500 cases a day now in Canada that’s an 80 per cent daily decline from two months ago, says Dr. Theresa Tam the country’s top doc this afternoon. The total is 27.7 million, including 2.6 million last week alone.
  • As Canadian businesses clamour for the U.S. border to open, 9,000 Canada Border Security Service Agency staff will vote next week whether to strike.
  • American authorities are allowing 10 million doses of the J&J vaccine to leave a Baltimore factory, which was earlier prevented from distribution due to control issues. Its original supplies of 60 million doses are being destroyed.
Kelly and her dog Remi, of Burlington, savour the day at the Gypsy Mews at Muskoka Wharf.


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