The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reports 248 new COVID-19 cases and three virus-related deaths to start the New Year.

The numbers released Monday would typically be for the week beginning on Sunday; however, due to the holidays, the cases listed show positive tests starting Jan. 1 to Jan. 4.

The health unit says the most recent deaths are a Simcoe County man, 65 to 79, who passed away at Southlake hospital, a man, 65 to 79, who died in association with an outbreak at an Orillia long-term care home, and a man in his 80s who died after an outbreak at an Alliston retirement home.  The Simcoe Muskoka death toll has hit 69.

The region has 1,220 active cases, including 29 infected patients who have been hospitalized.

The majority of cases are in Barrie, New Tecumseth, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Innisfil and Essa. Of the 248 new cases, 10 are listed across Muskoka.

Eleven long-term care and retirement homes are posted with COVID-19 outbreaks, including a new outbreak within a unit at Grove Park Home in Barrie.

Georgian Bay General Hospital has been trying to contain an outbreak of the virus since it was first declared on Dec. 4. To date, the Midland hospital lists 32 staff members, and 32 patients had become infected, while six people died after contracting COVID-19.

The outbreak at Penetanguishene's superjail has ended.

The province's website shows three Simcoe County childcare centres with a single staff member who tested positive. They include Stepping Stones Child Care in Wasaga Beach, Edukids Bradford in Bradford West Gwillimbury, and the French-speaking centre in Tiny Township, Garderie le Petit Voilier.

List of COVID-19 cases in local schools and child care centres

With the growing infection rate, the health unit projects a grim swell of about 85 cases daily by the last week of January.