The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) posts a sombre record Friday, with 78 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the weekly total to a new high of 516.

The region's death toll sits at 71, with no new deaths reported Friday.  However, Dr. Colin Lee, SMDHU associate medical officer of health warns it won't stay that way long with case numbers rising week after week.

"Unfortunately, hospitalizations and deaths usually lag by two weeks, and unfortunately, what that means is we're going to see more hospitalizations and deaths in the next little while because the numbers are still increasing and are record-breaking, unfortunately," Lee said.

The health unit reports there are 1,164 active cases, including 28 people hospitalized with the virus.

SMDHU says that about half of the new infections in December are attributed to a known cause, most typically close to a confirmed positive case.

The region has had a total of 4,089 cases, 2,832 of which have since recovered.

There are 13 long-term care and retirement homes with a COVID-19 outbreak, including a new outbreak at Roberta Place in Barrie.

The Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland is still listed with an outbreak. The hospital has been working to contain the virus since Dec. 4.

Lee said the lockdown hasn't helped to slow the curve as hoped, adding, "We will have to consider those stricter measures. I'm sure the province is thinking about it already. It's really a question of how much we can tolerate this increase before we go to the next step."

Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford says the province-wide lockdown, which was set to end Jan. 23, may be extended as Ontario's daily case numbers continue to break records.

The province reported a staggering 4,249 new cases Friday, and said 450 of those were from a backlog. Even so, the numbers shatter records for daily infections.

Ford stated "extreme measures" could be implemented, but didn't elaborate on what the new measures would consist of or when they might be introduced, only saying everything is on the table if the virus continues to spread at these alarming rates.

Ontario's associate medical officer of health says the province may need to return to a stricter lockdown similar to the one imposed last spring.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe said the current case rates are "scary" and urged people not to be complacent about following public health measures.