Simcoe Muskoka logs 68 new COVID cases, two new deaths as Ford announces stricter measures
BARRIE, ONT. -- The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) reports 68 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, plus two new virus-related deaths.
The region's death toll has hit 75 with the passing of two seniors.
There are 1,206 active cases, including 33 infected patients hospitalized.
The SMDHU has declared the outbreak at Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland now over. This after the hospital battled a stubborn spread of the virus, that infected patients and staff members since being declared in early December.
There are currently 11 active institutional outbreaks listed by the health unit across Simcoe Muskoka, including eight long-term care and retirement homes, one childcare centre in Wasaga Beach, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie, and Waypoint Mental Health Hospital in Penetanguishene.
A devastating outbreak at Roberta Place Long-Term Care Home in Barrie has infected 40 residents and two staff members. According to the health unit, a resident died after becoming ill.
Residents in two long-term care homes in Barrie and Orillia received the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. The health unit hopes to have all long-term care residents immunized this week. "We've had a total of over 8,100 doses of vaccine administered to priority cases in Simcoe Muskoka," said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU chief medical officer of health, on Tuesday.
As more supply of the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, Gardner said, "We have every intention of moving on and protecting other groups as well."
To combat the skyrocketing cases across Ontario, Premier Doug Ford announced the second State of Emergency on Tuesday, along with a stay-at-home order, requiring Ontarians to remain home as much as possible.
The new order comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and requires everyone to remain home, except for essential purposes, including grocery shopping, pharmacy, exercise or essential work.
"I need you to do your part. Stay home, save lives," Ford said in an afternoon news conference. "We are at levels we have never seen before," the premier continued. "Cases and deaths are at the highest levels since the start of the pandemic."
Ford warned anyone caught violating the order could face prosecution and stated police and bylaw officers would provide enforcement. "I've seen the crazy lineups," he said of big box stores, adding he would be like "an 800-pound gorilla" coming down on stores that don't comply.
The order also means cottagers are urged not to travel to and from their secondary residence. "Right now, we are asking people to stay home and only leave their home for essential purposes, which could include emergency maintenance of a secondary residence. In the spirit of the stay at home order, at this time, we are not recommending intra-provincial travel," stated a spokesperson with the Premier's Office.
Schools in hotspot areas, including York Region, will remain closed until at least Feb. 10. Schools in Northern Ontario reopened to in-class learning on Monday and will remain open, the province stated.
The new measures also include a five-person cap on outdoor social gatherings. Wearing a mask is also now recommended outdoors when physical distancing is difficult.
The province reports 2,903 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, including eight new cases of a U.K. variant of the virus. There were also 41 more virus-related deaths.