The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reports 61 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, plus one virus-related death.

The region has had 187 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, mostly seniors. A Simcoe County woman in her 80s is the latest to pass away after becoming infected.

There are 564 active cases, including 24 hospitalizations.

The health unit lists two active school outbreaks, one at Innisfil Central Public School in Lefroy and one at a private school in Simcoe County.

No new UK B-117 variant cases were reported. The health unit lists 29 new cases that screened positive for a variant of concern, making 216 total; all require further testing to confirm.

Still, health officials remain concerned because the variant is more contagious and could play a larger part in a possible third wave.

Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital's President and CEO Carmine Stumpo said in a statement Tuesday how crucial it is to take a stay-at-home approach. "Let's continue with the distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings and stick to what is truly essential as we look to our solution - mass vaccination."

To date, 35,170 vaccines have been administered locally to health care workers and seniors in long-term care and retirement homes.

The provincial government said it had provided guidance on which priority groups to vaccinate, but each of Ontario's 34 public health units would be responsible for developing and carrying out a plan to immunize residents.

Stumpo said there would be more information in the coming days and weeks about a community vaccination strategy for early March.

"It will be an important collaborative effort led by SMDHU supported by the Couchiching Ontario Health Team partners. We will vaccinate everyone, starting with high-priority groups first, such as those age 80 years and older."