Simcoe Muskoka health unit reports spike in COVID-19 cases, plus two more deaths

Public health reports a significant jump in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday in Simcoe Muskoka, with 123 confirmed, plus two more virus-related deaths.

According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), a man and woman over the age of 65, both from Simcoe County, died from complications of the virus, bringing the region's total death count to 207.

Currently, there are 720 active infections, including 39 hospitalizations.

The SMDHU has three school outbreaks listed at W.H. Day Public School and Holy Trinity Catholic High School, both in Bradford, and Good Shepherd Catholic School in Barrie. The outbreak at Boyne River Public School in Alliston was declared over on Wednesday.

There are active outbreaks at two child care centres in Bradford and Alliston.

Of the 123 new cases listed, one is in Muskoka, the remaining are among Simcoe County residents, with two locations pending.

To date, 1,174 residents have tested positive for the UK B.1.1.7 variant, while 18 became infected with the Brazil P.1 variant and two tested positive for the South Africa B.1.351. variant.

The region's medical officer of health said 85 per cent of all COVID-19 cases this week tested positive for variants of concern.

The province-wide stay-at-home order is now in effect, requiring residents to stay within their households except for essential reasons.

The return to stricter measures is in response to worsening COVID-19 case counts across Ontario, plus the heightened concern over the more contagious variants.

With only essential businesses open, officials hope to get the numbers back under control.

Vaccination clinics across the region remain busy. In Simcoe Muskoka, 114,408 doses of the vaccine have been administered to eligible residents.

Currently, adults 60 and older qualify to pre-register for the shot. Additionally, select pharmacies are offering the vaccine to eligible residents 55 and older.