COVID-19 cases hit 'plateau' in Simcoe Muskoka, 30 new infections reported

The Simcoe Muskoka health unit reports a jump in COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, with 30 new infections, up from 18 on Tuesday.

"Most of our cases are in south Simcoe," said the region's medical officer of health.

Wednesday's cases are listed in Barrie (6), Adjala-Tosorontio (3), Bradford (2), Collingwood (2), Essa (2), Innisfil (2), New Tecumseth (3), Bracebridge (3) and Wasaga Beach (3). Plus, single cases in Midland, Oro-Medonte, Penetanguishene, and Springwater.

Simcoe Muskoka's top doctor said infection rates in children under the age of 12, who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, increased to 18 per cent, up from 13 per cent.

Dr. Charles Gardner noted the fourth wave had doubled infections in children compared to any other wave during the pandemic.

However, with schools having only been open for one week, Gardner said it's too soon to know if cases will increase.

"We have not yet seen the impact of going back to school," he said. "We have seen some cases with exposures in schools, not transmissions in schools, just individual cases," Gardner continued.

Simcoe Muskoka currently has 250 active COVID-19 cases identified, including 13 infected patients admitted to hospitals.

"One hundred per cent of our cases in the last week were due to the Delta variant," Gardner mentioned, adding it's in keeping with the provincial numbers.

There are currently 199 active variant cases across the region, including 18 newly identified cases.

Gardner said there is evidence of case counts "plateauing" the fourth wave.

"It is cause for optimism," he said, "but I think it's too soon to tell where the course will take us from here, but we do need to continue to be cautious."

WHY GET VACCINATED IF I CAN STILL GET COVID-19

Gardner said while it's still possible to contract COVID-19, it's "less likely to become severely ill and less likely to transmit the disease to others."

The medical officer of health added that unvaccinated individuals are "37 per cent" more likely to be admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 than those vaccinated.

The health unit has recorded a rise in community-acquired transmission, stating as cooler temperatures force more people indoors, the numbers could surge.

Barrie and Orillia recently announced city employees would have to show proof of vaccination status or be subject to regular COVID-19 tests and/or education on the benefits of vaccination. In some cases, disciplinary action may be taken.

"We are responding to the pandemic of the century," Gardner said of employers implementing vaccine policies.

The medical officer of health said the health unit had "sought legal council with regards to human rights issues," and feels this course of action is necessary to ensure the safety of the community.