BARRIE, ONT. -- Six women have died from complications with COVID-19 in Simcoe County, marking the region's largest one-day death report since the start of the pandemic.

The death toll hit 81 with the passing of the six seniors, who the health unit says died between Jan. 6 and Jan. 11.

There are 81 new COVID-19 cases reported by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) Wednesday.

There are 37 infected patients hospitalized with the virus and 1,205 active cases.

The latest numbers come as hospital staff worry about capacity.

Dr. Dan Lee, chief of emergency at Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland, said the situation is "very serious."

"The larger centres, especially around the GTA, they're getting very full, and we're starting to see more and more patients come northwards to our area, to try to help out, but it's only going to be a matter of time if we don't stop the spread, that we're going to run out of space as well."

The region currently has 12 active institutional outbreaks. Among the facilities listed with an outbreak, eight are seniors' homes, two hospitals and one childcare centre.

The health unit states that roughly half of all January cases came into contact with a positive case, making it the most common source of transmission.

Meanwhile, more than 8,600 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Simcoe Muskoka, mainly to health-care workers, seniors' homes. More than 400 long-term care residents received their first dose.

Stay-At-Home Order to take effect

Ontario's stay-at-home order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and remains in place for at least 28 days.

The province wants everyone to remain home except for essential purposes, such as shopping for groceries, going to the pharmacy, exercising, childcare services, and working for those who can't work from home.

Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday that the message is simple, "Stay home. Save lives." The premier went on to add, "There is no confusion here, folks. There is no confusion. Stay home. Stay home. Stay home."

Ford appeared irritated by questions regarding the new order and how it would be enforced, the province said it would issue guidelines for law enforcement agencies.

He explained that while essential trips outside of the home mean something different to everyone, people should limit how often they venture out.

Among the new stipulations, outdoor gatherings are restricted to five people, and face masks are encouraged outside when social distancing isn't possible.  Hours of operation for non-essential retailers offering delivery and curbside pickup to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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