Simcoe Muskoka reports slight dip in COVID cases as UK variant cases climb
BARRIE, ONT. -- The Simcoe Muskoka health unit reports 34 new COVID-19 cases Friday, and one virus-related death, bringing the number of residents who have died with the coronavirus to 189.
There have been 169 confirmed diagnoses reported this week, down from 275 the week prior - which was a 30 per cent jump from the week before that.
The region's medical officer of health said earlier this week he was considering advising the province to put Simcoe Muskoka back in lockdown amid rising case numbers.
And while the numbers may be down this week, the number of UK B.1.1.7 variant cases continues to climb, with two more confirmed Friday.
The health has confirmed 184 UK variant cases to date, with an additional 290 tests that screened positive for a variant of concern - 16 more in the last 24 hours.
Those results need further testing to confirm, but Dr. Charles Gardner said Tuesday he believes most, if not all, will test positive for the UK variant. However, they remain unidentified at this time.
Collingwood Marine and General Hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Michael Lisi, said the concerns surround how quickly the variant spreads and how it takes time to contain.
"Getting it under control, by putting on the brakes, is like trying to slow down an 18-wheeler at full speed. You have to put that brake on hard, and you have to do it for a long time," he said Thursday.
Public health lists seven institutional outbreaks, including a Lefroy elementary school, a Bradford childcare centre and the Barrieview Retirement Community in Barrie.
Four new active outbreaks have been reported in workplaces across Simcoe Muskoka for a total of 11 Friday.
Meanwhile, public health continues its plan to vaccinate priority groups.
There have been 38,231 health-care workers, residents of seniors' facilities vaccinated to date. This week, the health unit began immunizing Indigenous adults in the region.
The health unit revealed its plan to vaccinate residents over the coming months, including who is eligible, how to register and where clinics will be located.
Health officials hope to have at least 75 per cent of residents immunized with both doses by the end of August.