The pandemic continues to sweep across the region with case numbers rising steadily.
Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Offi cer of Health with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, reported on January 5 that the region has seen a total of 23,887 cases of COVID since the start of the pandemic.
This includes 2,425 new cases reported during the week of December 31, to January 5.
That number includes the highest one-day total of reported of cases when 715 were recorded on December 31.
“It is important to note that there has been a change in the approach to testing with prioritization for people to be able to get tested,” Dr. Gardner said. “This impacts the positive numbers that we get. This influences our approach to managing the pandemic.”
The rate of infection is now a 584 per 100,000 population. This is the highest rate the region has seen. Province wide, the rate is 657 cases per 100,000 population – that’s up from the 350 previously reported.
There are currently 6,245 active cases in the region. Of those cases, 33 people are hospitalized with nine in intensive care. The remainder are in isolation.
Of those cases, 78 per cent were people who had been vaccinated.
“This really drives home that point that you can’t rely on two-dose vaccination for protection, or even three doses,” Dr. Gardner said. “You need to also be exercising all of the other layered measures required to avoid transmission. It’s safest to stick with household contacts when you are out and choosing carefully when going out and maintaining physical distance and mask use.”
Vaccinations have a lower degree of protection against the Omicron variant of the virus.
As result, older people, those in their 60s and above are more susceptible to this variant of the virus.
Currently, the SMDHU is reporting “many outbreaks.” Of those, 21 are in congregate settings, 13 in group homes and 20 in institutions.
Thirteen long-term care facilities are reporting an outbreak. H
ospitals in the region continue to be faced with challenges regarding capacity and staffing. ICU units at some hospitals are now fully occupied.
When asked if he could predict when schools could again be open, Dr. Gardner said he supports in-class learning.
“To me, it’s always been very important that schools be open. My colleagues across the province are very supportive of in-class education for the physical and mental well-being of children for their ongoing education.”
If case counts continue to rise, it is possible that the province may extend the time that schools will be closed.
Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times