Barrie, Ont. –
The Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit has recorded 39 new cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday, along with another death linked to the virus.
The health unit says a man between 65 and 79 from Simcoe County died Thursday after contracting the virus.
To date, 261 residents of Simcoe Muskoka have lost their lives after being infected with COVID-19, including five in September.
Of the new cases posted since Wednesday, 14 are in Barrie. The remaining cases are listed in Bradford (10), New Tecumseth (4), Penetanguishene (3), Gravenhurst (2), Collingwood (2) and single cases in Bracebridge, Innisfil, Tiny and Springwater.
According to the health unit, 25 of the new cases involve people who are unwilling or unable to be vaccinated, 10 are fully vaccinated and four are partially.
The health unit reports that from August 1 to September 25, the infection rate among unvaccinated residents eligible for the vaccine was 11 times that of vaccinated residents. In addition, the hospitalization rate is 61 times higher.
There are currently 155 active cases in Simcoe Muskoka, including 10 hospitalized positive patients.
Still, the Stevenson Memorial Hospital chief of staff said there was a flattening of the curve locally with a “steady increase in cases.”
Dr Barry Nathanson added that health workers are concerned about the increase in cases if the restrictions are lifted.
“The numbers are very manageable at this point in most areas. And the hospitals themselves are still at a stage where they are preparing for what could happen if the measures are relaxed,” he noted.
Nathanson mentioned increased capacity limits at sporting events as one of the many factors that could lead to increased infection rates.
There are currently four active outbreaks of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka, including two outbreaks in local schools.
The health unit declared an outbreak at WC Little Elementary School in Barrie after two cases were confirmed, and at Monsignor Clair Public School in Barrie, where there are three cases.
The health unit also declared an outbreak at a Simcoe County day care center after three positive cases and a group home where two people tested positive for the virus.
Nathanson said hospitals were anticipating a possible increase in the number of cases among children who are not eligible for the vaccine.
“We are seeing the predicted increase in cases in children,” Nathanson said. “We are all bracing for a potential increase in cases in the pediatric population.”
About a quarter of Simcoe Muskoka residents have not received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including those who do not qualify.
The health unit says about 15 percent of the population are children under 12 who are not yet approved for the vaccine.
Meanwhile, he reports that nearly 70% of residents have rolled up their sleeves for both shots.
The RVH Sperling Drive vaccination clinic in Barrie saw a 30 percent increase in first doses after the province implemented the vaccination certificate requiring proof of vaccination to enter certain settings, such as restaurants.
Complete information on how to obtain your vaccination certificate is available here.
According to health officials, residents of Simcoe Muskoka between the ages of 18 and 29 are running late to get vaccinated.
The health unit reports that 64% of this age group had both injections, with men being more hesitant than women.
Experts say vaccines can reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection by about 85%.