Curve flattening in Simcoe Muskoka with dip in COVID-19 infection rates
Infection rates across Simcoe Muskoka are showing signs of decreasing, something that has the region's associate medical officer of health "pleasantly surprised."
"The numbers are trending in the right direction," says Dr. Colin Lee.
The health unit has reported a consistent decline in weekly cases over the past four weeks; something Lee says he anticipates will continue after the weekend.
"It is dropping, despite people interacting more with each other, and school has been opened for at least a couple of weeks," says Lee.
He attributes the positive numbers to vaccinations and says data shows that Simcoe Muskoka schools have remained relatively safe, now three weeks into the school year.
Lee says transmission within the school environment remains low.
"Not many kids are coming into school with COVID because they are not having much COVID at home or in the community," he explains.
"Even when a student does come in infected with COVID, transmission has really been limited to a handful of instances within the classroom cohort and not between classrooms."
The health unit has declared outbreaks at four schools in the past three weeks, which Lee says is good news.
"It's the best-case scenario we could hope for at this time given that under 12 years of age is still not eligible for immunization," says Lee. "Schools are doing great. Parents are doing great. Students are doing great trying to strike that balance in order to keep the students accessing those activities to maintain their academic, mental and physical health."
Still, Dr. Colin Lee says vigilance remains critical.
With children under the age of 12 not yet eligible to be vaccinated, he says continuing safety measures is important, especially as the cooler weather drives people indoors.
"My advice really is to continue to try to enjoy as much of the outdoors as possible, even if it means wearing more layers and not shorts because autumn is nice outside and because COVID is much more easily transmitted indoors."
He's encouraging everyone to continue to deploy what he calls the three greatest weapons against indoor COVID-19 transmission: vaccinations, masks, and physically distancing when possible.
Lee says the recently introduced provincial vaccination certificate will also prove useful.
"I do urge everyone, including customers and businesses, to be patient and respectful with each other as we all have the same goal with these vaccine certificates is to keep everyone safe and then keep the virus out of businesses that we want to continue to stay open and for us as customers to enjoy."
As for children, Lee is hopeful a vaccine will be approved in Canada for the younger population before the end of the year.
He also noted the 20 per cent of vaccine-eligible residents who have yet to roll up their sleeves for the shot.
"We're working hard to get vaccines to them or bring them to the vaccine," says Lee. "It continues to be readily available in the community."