Mark Clairmont |

SIMCOE-MUSKOKA — As Canada’s U.S. border will open both ways for land travel next month, Canadian coaches and team assistants will have to be vaccinated before Christmas.

That’s the word coming down “soon” from the health unit’s medical officer of health.

Dr. Charles Gardner said this afternoon he will be issuing a “letter of instruction” that will make immunization “mandatory.”

He said it will particularly apply to “attendants” around minor league teams where players are ineligible for vaccination.

Team attendants and volunteers will have six weeks after the letter goes out to get immunized.

This as Wednesday 13 more COVID cases were reported by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU).

All in Simcoe, none in Muskoka.

Gardner said that last week’s 132 cases were the first increase in cases the past five weeks. There were 98 the week before.

And 33 so far this week.

It’s been a month since similar numbers were reported locally.

A third last week’s cases were also among children under age 11 — amounting to 41 the past week.

Two thirds were among students in elementary schools.

Thirty-two cases were close contacts from home and among friends. A few were travel related, according the tracking.

A woman in Simcoe, aged 45 to 64, who was unvaccinated died last week. Hers was a sporadic case unrelated to any outbreak.

Ten people in the region are in hospital, 3 in ICU who are unvaccinated. They range in age from their 20s to 70s. Eight of them were unvaccinated and 2 fully vaccinated. Ten are men and 3 women.

Four were under 11.

Of the 13 testing positive today, 9 were unvaccinated, 3 under age 11 and 1 was fully vaccinated.

Gardner said the region’s rate of cases per 100,000 is back to nearly the same as the province. And that there are 153 active cases today, up from 131 last week at this time.

Orillia has seen a recent spike and now has 30+ cases per 100,000 population.

He said schools now “figure very prominently” in case counts.

Including one of three schools in Simcoe where there are 20 cases reported now after a dozen last week.

Since September there have been eight school outbreaks (2 or more cases with tracking links to other student transmissions within 14 days).

Five are over, 3 are ongoing and all are students.

All 49 cases involve only students.

Vaccine-wise, Gardner reports 86 per cent of eligible residents have had one vaccine and 81 per cent two.

And while it remains a “slow go,” he said “vaccination is so foundational.”

But it will be “weeks” yet, he relented, before Simcoe-Muskoka reaches the provincial double-double goal of 90 per cent.

SMDHU, though, is within 1 per cent of the provincial rate of vaccine, he said, adding the region should be about a week behind Ontario overall in achieving that goal.

Leeds, Grenville, Lanark Health Unit, in eastern Ontario, has already reached the target.

But with the lowest coverage, SMDHU still has a problem convincing young adults (notably men) to get the jab.

But gains have come through 18 recent GOVAX bus clinics that have dispensed 1,356 doses since September.

Also during that time 45 health unit-led public clinics led to 3,762 people being vaccinated.

A further 18 school clinics have resulted in 2,177 more shots.

Gardner emphasized the importance for “those around” younger children to remain vigilant in keeping them safe.

Obviously for those under age 11.

That means parents and caregivers should screen children daily for signs of illness and to continue taking precautions like masking up and sanitizing hands.

A multi-ministerial enforcement blitz Oct. 4-6, which targeted newly-opened businesses, saw 240 compliance visits.

Only 3 charges were laid — including 1 by the SMDHU for compliance and safety planning. The other two were made by other ministries.

As well, Gardner said he was happy to say that as of Friday’s deadline, 97 per cent of the health unit’s own staff, contract workers and volunteers had reported their vaccine status.

And that 97 per cent had been vaccinated and the other 3 per cent were able to provide medical or religious exemptions.

Gardner added that while the province has opened the doors to large venue gathering while still limiting some small businesses, he would have preferred a more cautious approach on wider openings too soon to prevent a repeat of previous early openings.

He added that all hospitals in Ontario must adhere to the province’s “Directive 6,” which requires them all to mandate vaccinations  — or provide policies that allow opt out exemptions.

He said “most” in the SMDHU have done so.

A lunch break at the Kinsmen Park in Gravenhurst gave these visitors a little break from sightseeing as they got out of the city to visit the countryside and enjoy a break from the worst of COVID.


  • 13,709 cases to date
  • 31 cases this week; 132 last week, which was 35% higher than the 98 cases the week before
  • From Dec. 22 there have been 307 confirmed COVID-19 cases among vaccinated residents
  • 1 death in October, 5 in September
  • From Aug. 15 to Oct. 9 the rate of COVID-19 infection among the unvaccinated vaccine-eligible Simcoe Muskoka population is 11 times higher than it is for fully vaccinated population and the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations is 35 times higher
  • 4,007 Alpha variants of concern, 168 Gamma, 34 Beta, 1,335 Delta
  • 665 cases await confirmation of VOC
  • 892,396 vaccines have been administered
  • 455,583 residents have received at least one vaccine, which represents 75% of the total population
  • 86% of the population 12+ have had at least one dose of vaccine
  • 85% of youth 12 to 17 have also received at least one dose of vaccine

There are 153 active COVID cases in Simcoe-Muskoka today.


  • North America-wide the virus is declining — except in the U.S. Midwest and in Alaska and NWT.
  • Alberta, having finally come around to the reality of COVID, now says its live vaccine passport with QR code will remain in place in to 2022.
  • With 1,500 doctors and staff at Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s hospitals unvaccinated, a staff shortage threatens care there. And they risk losing their jobs over no jabs.
  • Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid have been fined $23,000 and $10,000 respectively and put on probation for preaching protest against COVID rules. They were also put on probation for 18 and 12 month.
  • Orlando and Tampa have lifted water restriction orders as hospitalization ease in their Florida counties.
  • Despite 512 cases and 7 deaths, Quebec is giving unvaccinated health-care workers another month past the Oct. 15 deadline to comply or they risk losing their jobs.


28 years of ‘Local Online Journalism’

Twitter: @muskokatoday, Facebook: mclairmont1

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