'Dramatic increase' in COVID-19 cases, SMDHU logs 117 new infections, plus two deaths
A "dramatic increase" in COVID-19 cases has the Simcoe Muskoka health unit urging residents to follow health measures to "help reverse the increasing spread."
On Friday, the health unit reported the region's highest daily case count since the peak of the third wave in April, with 117 new infections, plus two deaths.
Public health said two men from Simcoe County, aged 45 to 64 and 80-plus, passed away one week ago after contracting COVID-19.
The region has lost 280 residents to the virus, 14 last month alone.
The week over week case count has been climbing since October, heightening concern for the region's medical officer of health.
According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), the region's incidence rate has surpassed the province's, with most cases among unvaccinated residents.
On Friday, Dr. Charles Gardner issued an open letter to businesses, organizations, and residents to stress the importance of COVID-19 safety protocols.
"I recognize the hardships and fatigue you have all faced during this lengthy pandemic, and I sincerely appreciate the ongoing efforts of the residents, businesses, and organizations in Simcoe and Muskoka in protecting our communities," Gardner stated in a release.
"Together, we can reverse our increasing community transmission of COVID-19 and help usher in a safer holiday season ahead for our communities," the region's top doctor continued.
Dr. Gardner noted the highest incidence rate of cases "is children between five to 11 years of age." This age group only recently became eligible for the vaccine. However, the health unit noted, "the majority of cases are actually occurring among youth and young to middle-aged adults."
The health unit pointed the finger at social gatherings with people outside one's household as a significant factor in community transmission.
There are currently 32 active outbreaks across the region, including 23 in schools.
"These outbreaks and exposures in multiple settings and amongst many contacts is straining our community resources, from SMDHU to primary care, hospitals and our first responders," the release stated.
The health unit pleaded with the public to make a "collective effort" to avoid further restrictions and "protect each other from COVID-19."
"This is particularly important during the holiday season and in the winter months, which is often a time of indoor gatherings and activities," it declared.