Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
SIMCOE-MUSKOKA — With 35 COVID cases today — 2 of them in Muskoka — the head of the health unit is “concerned” Simcoe-Muskoka has caught up with Ontario in the number of cases per 100,000 population.
Dr. Charles Gardner says for most of the pandemic the region has run about half the rate of the rest of the province.
Last week the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit had 35 cases per 100,000 and province 36.
He called that “cause for concern” with 13,063 cases now and 99 per cent of recent cases of the Delta variant.
The two Muskoka cases Wednesday were both in Huntsville.
One was a boy under 18 who is under investigation after reporting yesterday the same day he had his first episode.
The other young man, 18-34, whose community acquired result was reported Aug. 27 had his first episode Aug. 11.
Muskoka cases have risen recently to 16 per cent from an average of 5 per cent or less.
That includes Gravenhurst with a cluster effect that puts its per 100,000 population rate tat 68.
Add this to 182 more cases in September, a seven-week rise in the number of people infected with COVID and 245 active cases currently (211 last Wednesday).
And a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent compared to the provincial average right now of 1.5 per cent, then you can see why Gardner said the province’s latest relaxing of rules has opened the door to the fourth wave.
Garner told media this afternoon that the 204 cases last week were up 38 per cent over the previous week’s 148 cases.
Three more people are in hospital — 15 compared to 12 a week ago — with 8 in ICU an increase from 3. Those hospitalized range in ages from under 10 to in their 70s with 60 per cent are in their 60s.
In addition, of today’s reported cases 22 are men, 13 women; 26 are under age 50 with 14 aged 18-34.
All are self-isolating.
Seven of the 35 were fully immunized.
Gardner said that in July the average age of COVID-positive people was 31 and in August age 32.
He said most of the clustered cases remain in south Simcoe.
Another concern expressed by Gardner is the increasing number of children testing positive. In August 15 per cent of cases were among kids under age 12. In April it was 9 per cent and in January 6 per cent.
As well, he said a third of cases are community acquired in which the health unit doesn’t know the cause of the infection as opposed to being from work or family contacts.
Three Muskoka outbreaks today include an ongoing case at a day camp reported last week and a new cases at a construction site and an amusement/recreation workplace.
As vaccines continue to be the elephant in the room, the health unit’s new goal is for 90 per cent of residents to be vaccinated once and 81 per cent twice by October.
Right now those numbers are 76 per cent once and 83 per cent twice. That ranks SMDHU about the middle of the 34 Ontario health units, he said.
Of further concern is the 12 per cent “breakthrough” in cases of vaccinated people testing positive — today at 7 more. (See full figures in chart below.)
Gardner also said he was worried about average COVID contacts being up 50 per cent this week from 2 to 3 the number of people who end up infected by the person originally with the disease.
That, too, is number nearing the provincial rate.
He noted that you’re 10 times more vulnerable to transmission if you’re not vaccinated and even more likely to end up in ICU.
His key messaging continues to be: wear a mask, keep a safe distance, stick to gathering limits, wash your hands constantly and cover your mouth when coughing without a mask.
He said as pop-up out-reach vaccination clinics will continue in the communities this fall, Barrie’s Sperling Avenue mass vaccination clinic will remain open at least till the end of September and is open to all.
Gardner said that while Quebec is cracking down on unvaccinated public and private health care workers, he said he was OK with Ontario’s rules that allow for workers to refuse vaccines in exchange for health education training on COVID and twice-weekly testing.
He said he’s confident that there will be a “very high vaccination level” among those workers regionally.
He said the “goal is 100 per cent.”
Gardner also said he’s aware of anti-vaxxer protests at local vaccine clinics and at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie. He, too, has received emails from people with “fundamental distrust in our vaccine information.”
But that he is confident the health unit can overcome enough of their concerns to meet vaccine goals without serious threats to pubic health.
Return to school
On the topic of in-class learning that began yesterday, Gardner said residents “need to do whatever they can to safeguard schools.”
Parents are encouraged to get their youth vaccinated.
And for everyone to stay home from school or work if they have symptoms — and do get tested.
He said there are also about 20 public health nurses who liaise with schools to provide information, guidance and care.
In conclusion Gardner said booster shots continue in LTCs and for high-risk residents and at Indigenous elder care residences.
Zoom Q&A Wednesday night 7 p.m.
HEALTH UNIT HIGHLIGHTS:
- 13,063 cases to date
- 63 cases this week, 204 last which week, which is 38% higher than the 148 cases the week before.
- From December 22nd, 2020 onwards, there have been 151 confirmed COVID-19 cases among vaccinated individuals.
- 4,008 Alpha variants, 168 Gamma, 34 Beta, 716 Delta
- 661 cases await confirmation of VOCs
- 848,234 vaccines have been administered
- 438,845 residents have had one vaccine, which is 72.6% of the population
- 82.6% of kids 12+ have had one vaccine
- 79.2% of youth 12 to 17 years of age have also had one vaccine
IN OTHER COVID NEWS …
- Quebec reports 600 cases Wednesday.
- Bank of Canada holds interest rate at 0.25 per cent.
- Alberta mayors call for vaccine passports; as Newfoundland and Labrador announce plans for certification.
- California is the latest U.S. state to suffer bed shortages.
28 years of ‘Local Online Journalism’
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