BARRIE, ONT. -- Grey Bruce posted the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the province on Thursday, with 22 new infections reported, followed by Toronto with 18.

Grey Bruce managed to keep infection rates well below the provincial average throughout the pandemic, with fewer than five daily cases until the end of May, when one case of the Delta variant was reported that resulted in an outbreak at a rooming house in Hanover.

"That's where it started," said the region's medical officer of health, Dr. Ian Arra. "It is definitely different from the previous strains that we've dealt with and managed very well."

There are currently 151 active COVID-19 cases in the region.

Still, Arra believes they can get infection rates under control.

"In Grey Bruce, we have proven that we have the assets to manage the pandemic optimally, and that was reflected in the low number of cases and the low number of outbreaks and the low number of deaths throughout," he said.

DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITY MOST AT RISK

Arra noted the pandemic unmasked the need to support those less fortunate, adding the virus attacked the transient community.

"It's affected the most disadvantaged of us, people who have a challenge with homes, challenges with substance abuse, those are not things of their own choice," he said.

He also mentioned gatherings and parties as contributing factors to rising case counts.

"I do believe younger people are transmitting the virus when it happens innocently. They're not being aware at the moment that this behaviour is going to be part of a chain of transmissions that affect somebody else," Arra said.

GREY BRUCE TIPTOES INTO STEP 3

On July 16, when the province moved into a more lenient phase of its reopening plan, Grey Bruce's top doctor strongly recommended modifications to contain transmission.

Arra focused on large private gatherings, advising indoor groups remain at five people and outdoor gatherings stick to 25.

He also urged residents to forgo dining inside restaurants in favour of outdoor patios.

'PANDEMIC OF THE UNVACCINATED'

Arra said most of those infected were unvaccinated and urged residents to get their shots to protect themselves and others.

The health unit reports the vast majority, or 96 per cent of the nearly 300 cases reported between July 1 and July 15, were not fully immunized.

Public health cautions that a single infected individual spreads the Delta variant to six to nine others on average.

"This high efficiency in transmission is causing the surge," Arra said.

Residents 12 and older are eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine New, over the phone, or by showing up at one of the walk-in clinics across the region.

WHERE TO FIND A WALK-IN CLINIC JULY 26 TO JULY 30

Several clinics across Grey Bruce offer no appointment vaccines to eligible residents as health officials ramp up immunization efforts.

Here's a list of where to find a walk-in clinic between July 26- July 30:

MONDAY
P&H Centre in Hanover - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
OSDSS in Owen Sound - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Dundalk Community Centre in Dundalk - 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

TUESDAY
P&H Centre in Hanover - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
OSDSS in Owen Sound - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Flesherton Kinplex in Flesherton - 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

WEDNESDAY
P&H Centre in Hanover - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Davidson Centre Hub in Kincardine - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Port Elgin Plex parking lot in Port Elgin - 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Ripley Community Centre in Ripley - 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

THURSDAY
P&H Centre in Hanover - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
OSDSS in Owen Sound - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Sauble Beach Community Centre in Sauble Beach - 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

FRIDAY
P&H Centre in Hanover - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
OSDSS in Owen Sound - 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Dr. Ian Arra said without vaccines as high as 85 per cent or more, the Delta variant will continue to run rampant.

"The way out of the current surge, or the way out of any situation related to the Delta is with higher level of coverage with vaccines," he said.

"We have a surge that is serious. We have all the resources that we need to deploy. I have confidence in the public of Grey Bruce," Arra concluded.