Muskoka COVID-19 infection rates hit record levels

The District of Muskoka is experiencing a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, with variant strains attributed to driving infection rates.

The Simcoe Muskoka health unit reports the highest percent positivity rate in Muskoka at 6.4 per cent for the week of April 11. It marks the highest positivity rate cottage country has had in the past year.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare CEO Natalie Bubela said the increasing case counts prompted hospitals to open more intensive care beds.

"We've ramped up an additional two ICU beds, an additional 15 medical beds, so we have a total of 17 additional beds over our base 101 beds," she said.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare has received 13 patients from capacity-crunched area hospitals.

There are currently two COVID-19 positive patients being treated at Bracebridge and Huntsville hospitals after a third positive patient, who was on a ventilator, was recently moved. "That person has been transferred because they required a higher level of care than we can provide here in our level-2 ICUs," Bubela noted.

While most patients admitted to hospitals in Muskoka are not being treated for the deadly virus, the district's incidence rate is teetering on the verge of 60 cases per 100,000 population.

Health officials said for the first time ever, more people in Muskoka are testing positive at a higher rate than Simcoe County.

Muskoka makes up about 3.6 per cent of the region's overall numbers since infection rates spiked in March.

However, Bubela said infected Muskoka residents haven't been ill enough to require hospitalization.

Vaccination programs rolled out for residents 40 and up in local pharmacies, with the IDA in Gravenhurst averaging about 50 shots per day.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit logged 87 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, including a single case in Bracebridge.

There have been a total of 9,726 confirmed infections and 7,950 recoveries across Simcoe Muskoka.