Simcoe Muskoka's top doctor hints at stricter measures amid rising COVID-19 cases

A troubling trend of steadily rising COVID-19 infection rates in Simcoe Muskoka has the region's chief medical officer of health hinting at tightened restrictions.

"I'm very concerned now, and certainly considering with my colleagues what additional actions are needed and when," said Dr. Charles Gardner.

During a live COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Gardner said case counts had been increasing for nearly two months as vaccination rates slow with the closure of almost all mass immunization hubs.

The health unit reports six active outbreaks in Simcoe Muskoka, including a construction site, amusement centre and a camp.

It reports roughly 75 per cent of new cases are among residents either unwilling or unable to get the vaccine, with children making up 15 per cent of all cases.

"Even though so many people are protected with vaccination, many, many others are not. In particular younger age groups, youth and young adults. Men more so than women," Gardner said.

Local hospitals are treating 15 COVID-19-positive patients. Of those, eight have been admitted to ICUs. The health unit said none of the residents in intensive care had been immunized.

Gravenhurst currently has the region's highest incidence rate, with 68 cases per 100,000 population. Public health reports most positive cases in Muskoka are residents under the age of 35.

Gardner urged parents and anyone working in school or daycare settings to protect themselves and children under 12 who are unable to get the vaccine.

"We all need to do all that we can to safeguard the school environment to keep the schools open," he added.

A complete list of COVID-19 pop-up, walk-in clinics is available here.