BARRIE, ONT. -- The Simcoe Muskoka health unit logged 71 new infections on Friday, for a total of 330 cases for the week.

The region's infection rate has slowly trended downward week over week since the province put the stay-at-home order into effect, leaving health officials cautiously optimistic.

"The situation right now is actually quite encouraging," said Simcoe Muskoka's associate medical officer of health, Dr. Colin Lee.

However, the health unit also reported a Simcoe County man, 45 to 64, lost his life Thursday after contracting the virus.

The third wave has resulted in more deaths in the region than the first two waves of the pandemic. So far, in 2021, nearly 160 COVID-19-positive residents died.

There are currently 906 active cases in Simcoe Muskoka, including 32 hospitalizations.

In Barrie, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) has admitted dozens of patients in recent weeks from overwhelmed GTA hospitals.

RVH staff have treated a total of 441 infected patients, but Dr. Lee said the situation is starting to recover.

"The hospital and ICU capacity has improved over the last week," Lee said.

With nearly 35 per cent of Simcoe Muskoka residents having received a dose of the vaccine, the health unit expects more supply to arrive in the coming weeks to keep the momentum going.

"We'll have another 17,500 next week, and the last two weeks in May, it gets bumped up to 25,000 per week,' Lee said.

With files from CTV's Mike Arsalides