Simcoe Muskoka logs 31 new COVID-19 cases, student infections climb

Public health logged 31 new COVID-19 positive cases in Simcoe Muskoka on Friday as student cases climb.

Most of Friday's cases are in Barrie (11), Innisfil (4), Springwater (4), and Essa (2).

Half of those who tested positive are unvaccinated, either because they refuse or are not yet eligible, while the remaining are fully vaccinated.

A dozen cases reported are due to close contact with a positive case. Four are community-acquired, and one is outbreak-related. The remaining are under investigation.

There are 171 active cases in the region, including 12 hospitalizations, one more than yesterday.

COVID-19 SCHOOL OUTBREAKS

The health unit said the outbreak at St. Marie of the Incarnation in Bradford is the largest outbreak in a school since the start of the pandemic, with 21 student cases.

Simcoe Muskoka's associate medical officer of health, Dr. Colin Lee, said during a Q&A with parents Thursday night that the goal is to keep schools open.

Lee said the risk of transmission among students remains low with safety measures in place, including cohorting, masking and physical distancing.

"We haven't seen any transmission between cohorts, like between Grade 1 and Grade 2 or during recess or other activities that mix classes.

And that really speaks to the effectiveness of the precautions of limiting inter-cohort mixing during regular school days and as of October first, no cohort mixing at all," Lee said.

He added that in the case of St. Marie of the Incarnation, 21 cases among a student body of more than 800 was not concerning enough to close the school. He noted that the infection was transmitted mainly within a single cohort and siblings.

Additionally, the number of students infected at Orchard Park Elementary School in Orillia has jumped to 10 since the outbreak was declared on Oct. 5.

W.C. Little Elementary School in Barrie has four confirmed cases among students.

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