Simcoe Muskoka logs 11 new COVID-19 cases, plus one death

The COVID-19 case count in Simcoe Muskoka nearly doubled in the past 24 hours as public health reports 11 new cases and the region's first death this month.

The health unit says a senior Simcoe County man died after contracting COVID-19.

The cases listed Thursday are Bracebridge (5), Gravenhurst (1), Barrie (2), Innisfil (1), Midland (1), and Penetanguishene (1).

According to the health unit, the five cases in Bracebridge result from close contact among individuals under the age of 18.

SIMCOE MUSKOKA COVID-19 DEATHS

To date, 252 residents have died after becoming infected with the virus.

Between Nov. 29, 2020, and May 22, at least one virus-related death was reported every week. Since that time, seven people have died with COVID-19, six in June and one in July.

Health officials say no one who died from COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka had both shots of the vaccine.

COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is focused on making getting first COVID-19 vaccine shots convenient and easy.

"We have a fairly high number of people who got vaccinated first of all, so I am very pleased," said Dr. Sohail Gandhi, the past president of the Ontario Medical Association. "But there's still a little bit of vaccine hesitancy out there that we have to deal with."

That's why this week, Grove Street Pharmacy in Barrie started accepting walk-ins.

"Suddenly, it went from lots of people booking (appointments) to less people booking," said pharmacist and owner Eva Rivera. "We are getting lots of people coming in now, so I think they are finding out that yes, we have the vaccine."

In Simcoe County and York Region, more than 75 per cent of people age 12 and older have received their first dose.

In York Region, around 50 per cent have rolled up their sleeves for their second dose. In Simcoe County, that percentage is closer to 40.

Dr. Charles Gardner, Simcoe Muskoka's medical officer of health, said the area is lagging behind others because of a shortage of doses from the province before it was declared a hot spot.

"Early in the pandemic, we were relatively late in receiving vaccines compared with the original hotspots in the GTA," he noted.

Complete information on booking an appointment and where to find a clinic in Simcoe Muskoka is available here.

DROP-IN IMMUNIZATION CLINICS

The health unit offers first doses without an appointment at any of its 13 clinics across the region.

Residents 12 and older needing a second shot can book an appointment online or check the health unit's Facebook page for walk-in opportunities.

A standby list is available for Saturday at a pop-up clinic at the Coldwater Arena for residents 18+ who need a first dose or those eligible for a second dose.

Residents who sign up for the standby list must be able to arrive for their shot between 30 minutes and one hour of receiving a call from a health care worker.

With files from CTV's Katelyn Wilson