Health unit downgrades community COVID risk as cases fall

At least 10 people from Simcoe County and the Muskoka area died last week after contracting COVID-19, and 47 COVID patients remain hospitalized

The region’s health unit has downgraded its risk rating for COVID-19 in Simcoe County and Muskoka to moderate after case numbers and outbreaks continued to decline.

More slowly, however, severe outcomes such as death and hospitalization are changing, which are still classified as “high,” according to statistics released Nov. 24 by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

The latest update, which includes information collected by the health unit since November 17, shows 175 more confirmed cases, 47 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and 13 more deaths.

The health unit has so far reported four deaths between November 6-12 and 10 deaths between November 13-19. The notification may be delayed.

Of the last 15 reported deaths, 12 were seniors who were at least 70 years old. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit notes that the mortality rate in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated adults age 60 and older is five times higher than in those with at least one booster shot.

Of the 634 deaths reported by the health unit since March 2020, 529 were related to COVID-19, 97 deaths were not related to COVID-19 but the person tested positive, and eight of them are the cause of death unknown or pending.

By the date of hospitalization, 21 COVID patients were admitted in the week of November 6-12 and 18 in the week of November 13-19.

There are 17 active outbreaks in the region, including 15 in institutional settings such as hospitals or nursing homes and two in community settings such as group homes and shelters. This is down from 24 breakouts on November 17th.

Since the pandemic began, the local health unit has confirmed 53,901 cases of COVID-19, of which 52,944 cases have recovered and 634 cases have resulted in death.

About 22 percent of Simcoe-Muskoka residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated and have had a booster shot within the past six months. Another 34 percent are fully vaccinated and have had a booster shot more than six months ago, and more than 31 percent of the population have received their primary series of vaccines without a booster shot. Eleven percent of the population aged 12 and over are not vaccinated.

Barrie wastewater monitoring shows a drop in COVID virus DNA in those communities.

Surveillance in Orillia, Penetanguishene, Midland, Bracebridge and Collingwood shows the presence of COVID-19 virus DNA in each of the communities, but no increase or decrease has been detected over the last week.

Those who have not yet received their COVID-19 vaccination or booster dose are encouraged to do so as soon as they are eligible. For eligibility and clinic location information, visit smdhu.org/GetVaccinated.

The health department is advising people to use more layers of protection for themselves and those around them. This may include wearing a mask and avoiding visiting crowded spaces. But these measures are voluntary. As always, the health department is urging people not to leave the home if they are ill and showing symptoms of illness.

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