Simcoe Muskoka logs six new COVID-19 infections, most in Muskoka

On Wednesday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit health unit reported six new COVID-19 infections in Lake of Bays (3), Huntsville (1), Bradford (1), and Barrie (1).

The region has reported a slight dip in cases since the last week of June.

Currently, there are 55 active cases. Those include 10 patients battling the virus in local hospitals. Of those, three are in the intensive care unit.

Simcoe Muskoka's medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner said none of the residents hospitalized were fully immunized.

There have been 251 lives lost locally to COVID-19 since the pandemic started.

ONTARIO COVID-19 CASES

The province logged 194 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and no new deaths for the first time since October 2020.

Health officials reported cases in Toronto (35), Waterloo (42), and Hamilton (16).

Over six million individuals in Ontario have had both COVID-19 vaccines as of Wednesday and are considered fully vaccinated.

RETURN TO SCHOOL

Following a school year unlike any other, the push is on to get students back into classrooms for September.

Simcoe Muskoka's top doctor said vaccinations are critical to getting there.

"I think the province, ideally, would want at least 80 per cent of youths vaccinated," Dr. Gardner said during a live conference Tuesday.

According to the Simcoe Muskoka health unit, 60 per cent of those 12 to 17 have received their first dose, while less than 10 per cent have had their second.

As of July 5, children 12 to 17 became eligible to book their second shot online at community clinics or participating pharmacies.

As officials prepare for schools to welcome back students in the fall, Dr. Gardner said the goal is to return to school with no hiccups. "The real priority is a safe environment that allows schools to open with in-class learning with success without any setbacks."

(Dr. Charles Gardner holds a press conference in this file photo.)

Students have just nine weeks to get immunized before the start of a new school year.

"We want them to enjoy their sports, music, theatre and social events, and for that to occur safely, we need a very high level of immunization," said Ontario's new chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore.

With the province in Step 2 of reopening, Dr. Gardner noted the need for continued COVID-19 protocols before resuming school activities in the fall. "I do think we need to be cautious about it to see what success we get going into the fall," he said.

The province was vague about the plan for schools in the fall, only saying more information would be made public in the coming weeks.