Simcoe Muskoka reports 36 new COVID-19 cases, most Delta variant

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) logged 36 COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

Of the new cases, 25 are unvaccinated, four partially and seven fully.

Thursday's cases are in Barrie (15), Bradford (6), Essa (2), Huntsville (2), Innisfil (1), New Tecumseth (3), Oro-Medonte (2), Tay (1), Wasaga Beach (2), and Muskoka Lakes (2).

According to the region's medical officer of health, more residents are becoming infected with the virus outside of the home.

"Typically, in wave three, for example, 50 per cent of cases were due to household contacts, and now it's down to 30 per cent," said Dr. Charles Gardner. "We're seeing a pattern of more exposure out in the community."

The health unit has reported nearly two months of increasing cases week over week.

During a COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Gardner said that Simcoe Muskoka's incidence rate per week was nearly at par with the province. The only other time that happened was "briefly" in June 2020.

"I think this is cause for concern," Gardner said. "Throughout the pandemic, we have been riding at about half of the incidents of the province overall, and now we've caught up to the provincial average."

Simcoe Muskoka's weekly incidence rate is 34 per 100,000 population, and Ontario's is 35 per 100,000 population.

There are currently 266 active COVID-19 cases across Simcoe Muskoka, including 14 hospitalizations. Of those patients in hospitals, more than half are in intensive care.

Gardner confirmed none of the ICU patients were vaccinated.

VACCINATION LATEST

Gardner said children who aren't eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine made up 15 per cent of all positive cases last month, compared to nine per cent in April.

"We are seeing this trend towards younger populations making up a larger proportion of our cases," the region's top doctor noted.

Residents born in 2009 or earlier are eligible to get vaccinated.

The SMDHU reports 73 per cent of eligible residents have had at least one dose of a vaccine to date.

Several immunization clinics are open for residents wanting a first or second dose, with no appointment necessary.

A complete list of pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics is available here.

VARIANTS OF CONCERN

The seven-day moving average of new variant cases increased to 20 per day by early September.

SMDHU's medical officer of health said 99 per cent of COVID-19 cases tested positive for the Delta variant.

"So it's definitely dominant in Simcoe Muskoka," Gardner said.

The health unit reports there have been 5,639 variant cases in the region.

Currently, public health lists 204 active variant cases in Simcoe Muskoka.