Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
SIMCOE-MUSKOKA — Four Bracebridge girls under 18 are among 25 COVID cases being reported today by the health unit.
And a Gravenhurst woman, 45-64, with a travel-related illness is the fifth Muskoka resident to test positive.
The four girls are under investigation as the cause of their separate infections. They were reported as of yesterday, with 2 of them having first episodes last Friday and 1 each on Saturday and Monday.
The Gravenhurst woman also reported yesterday after experiencing her first symptoms Sunday.
The 25 cases included 8 under investigation, 8 with close contacts of others infected, 7 in institutions, 1 in an educational setting and the 1 travel case.
Eleven cases were under age 18 — with 5 under age 12.
There have been 130 cases in Simcoe-Muskoka since last Wednesday (bringing to 13,836 the total number of pandemic cases).
That’s a drop of 18 per cent from a week ago, when during Oct. 10-16 there were 111 cases and 135 the week before that.
Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) told media in a conference call this afternoon that it was “good to see the numbers slowly coming back down.”
As usual he remains cautiously optimistic.
Notably, he said, with 145 active cases now after 153 a week ago.
Hospitalizations are down week-over-week to 8 from 10 and range in age from under in their 20s to 70s.
Half of the 8 are unvaccinated.
But ICU patients are up to 4 from 3 — with only 1 unvaccinated.
And while Gardner said he expects most of the cases now to be “breakthrough” cases involving people who have already been vaccinated, Wednesday’s accounting showed 3 of the 25 cases still unvaccinated.
Last week 39 per cent of cases were breakthroughs.
He said that shows “how well” the vaccines are working.
Of today’s 25 cases, 17 of them were sporadic, 1 a school outbreak, 5 at a Simcoe correctional institute and 2 from in an institutional outbreak.
Their ages ranged from under 10 to their 50s. Men made up 13 of the cases, women 12.
Gardner said the region’s cases per 100,000 populations were 18, down from 22 last week and below Ontario’s number of 20 (which provincially was 26 last week).
He said last week 18 per cent of cases were under age 12, which was better than the 30 per cent two weeks ago.
5,300 have received booster shots
Simcoe-Muskoka is moving closer to the provincial goal of 90 per cent double-double vaccinations among those 12+.
The region has had 86 per cent receive one vaccine and 82 per fully vaccinated (last week that latter number was 81 per cent).
And 5,300 have received the third booster shot.
Noting the “sufficiency of testing,” the local positivity rate is 1 per cent, which is almost half the 1.9 per cent the province as a whole is reporting. He said 3 per cent is the number of concern.
Key messaging on annual fall flu vaccines
Ontario will begin its largest fall vaccination “ever” with 7.6 million vaccines available — an increase of 1.4 million over last season when there was incredibly only 25 lab-tested cases reported.
But Gardner expects that to spike in respiratory infections as restrictions are eased over this coming flu season starting next month.
He particularly urges those aged 65+, anyone aged 2-5 or who is pregnant or has heart problems to promptly be vaccinated.
And if you haven’t had a first or second corona vaccine you can also get the flu vaccine at the same time.
Kids vaccine coming soon, but delayed for Grades 7-8
Health Canada is expected to approve Pfizer vaccines for children 5-11 possibly next month, certainly before the end of the year.
However, annual booster shots for students in Grades 7 and 8 are regretfully being postponed for a year or more.
That’s due to the kids vaccine and booster shots for adults.
Those in Grade 7 will now receive them in Grade 8.
And Grade 8 students will receive theirs later in Grade 8 or Grade 9.
Gardner did admit, when asked, that there is a “greater risk” in delaying vaccinations for that cohort who could get Hepatitis B, meningitis and Hepatitis V.
He added that given recent reluctance by some families to be vaccinated, that hadn’t previously been a problem other years with school booster shots.
Muskoka municipalities not mandating vaccines
Gardner said while he urges vaccines for everyone, including reportedly half of Muskoka’s municipal governments who have opted not to make them mandatory, he said in areas like this where case counts are low he would support an educational approach for those who don’t get vaccinated.
On the topic of wider business openings for smaller businesses as they have for larger venues, the MOH said he would prefer the province “takes its time.”
“We don’t want a setback on successes.”
But he still gets “many calls” from businesses wanting fairer treatment.
Referring to post-Thanksgiving numbers, there has been little indication of a rise unlike last year when numbers jumped 15 per cent after the holiday break.
Rotary World Polio Vaccine Day Oct. 24
Gardner recognized this Sunday’s World Polio Vaccine Day by global Rotary clubs.
He lauded local Rotarians — including 1.2 million members worldwide — who have largely led the charge in all but eradicating debilitating polio globally.
Events — including a noon walk Oct. 24 in downtown Gravenhurst — are being held to highlight that vaccines work.
HEALTH UNIT HIGHLIGHTS:
- 13,836 cases to date
- 46 cases this week; 111 last week, which was 18% lower than the 135 cases the week before
- From Dec. 22 there have been 352 confirmed COVID-19 cases among vaccinated residents
- From Aug. 22 to Oct. 16 the rate of COVID-19 infection among the unvaccinated vaccine-eligible Simcoe Muskoka population is 10 times higher than it is for fully vaccinated population and the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations is 23 times higher.
- 4,007 Alpha variants of concern, 168 Gamma, 34 Beta, 1,449 Delta
- 898,850 vaccines have been administered
- 457,833 residents have received at least one vaccine, which represents 76% of the total population
- 86% of the population 12+ have had at least one dose of vaccine
- 86% of youth 12 to 17 have also received at least one vaccine
IN OTHER COVID NEWS …
- U.S. expected to approve vaccine for kids 5-11 Nov. 2 or 3, with immediate rollout.
- Canadian Olympians will have to be vaccinated for the Beijing Winter Olympics.
- Russia has had 226,353 people die in the pandemic — 1,028 yesterday.
- Toronto to make CafeTO patios permanent if council approves Mayor John Tory’s request.
- Canada’s inflation is up to 4.4 per cent driven largely by a 39 jump at the pumps. That’s the highest the consumer price index has been since 2003. Food prices rose almost 4 per cent the past year.
- Ontario has 159 people in ICU — with 113 of them on ventilators.
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