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Simcoe Muskoka is now facing the second wave of COVID-19

October 1, 2020   ·   0 Comments

A sharp rise in COVID-19 cases over the last month has plagued Simcoe Muskoka and the rest of the Province.

The second wave of COVID-19 has arrived, but its size and severity have yet to be seen, according to Dr. Charles Gardner Simcoe Muskoka Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“We need to do all that we can now to flatten this curve again, but this is certainly bigger than the very small surges that we saw earlier in the summer,” he said.

Simcoe Muskoka has had 884 confirmed cases in total, with 92 of them currently active, while New Tecumseth has seen 102 cases in total, with 11 active infections, as of press time.

Dr. Gardner said while the second wave of the pandemic appears to be less severe because it’s impacting a younger demographic, who are at a low risk of complications from the virus, the public still needs to remain vigilant.

“This time around, it’s much younger people but the concern that I have is that it doesn’t stay that way, that there’s a potential for transmission in households to older individuals or transmission into long-term care facilities,” he warned.

“To me, I’m concerned about this being a gateway to transmission to those who are much more vulnerable.”

In comparison, the average age for positive cases during the first wave of COVID-19 was mid-50s with a very high proportion of cases being in their 60s, 70s or 80s. Outbreaks in long-term care homes also plagued the region.

Meanwhile, clusters in households, as well as private gatherings, have been the primary sources of transmission for the second wave but business locations haven’t had much of an impact, noted Dr. Gardner.

“The control measures for businesses appear to be working,” he said. “They’ve been doing a good job with maintaining the control measures needed, masking…physical distancing, the screening of staff and hand hygiene.

“I would reiterate, now more than ever as cases rise we need to keep these controls in place.”

For larger employers, he recommends cohorting employees into groups to reduce the likelihood of widespread transmission throughout the workplace if there’s an outbreak.

When there is an outbreak at a business, its identity is often protected by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), similar to when a person gets infected, due to privacy concerns.

In some cases if it’s necessary to protect the public, the name of a business will be released but that only happens when the SMDHU can’t identify everyone who’s been exposed.

“We have found with the businesses involved, they have come forward and given that information to the public, but I do believe that stigma can be an issue for businesses or individuals and I would urge the public, everybody, to be mindful of that,” said Dr. Gardner.

“Know that we’re in this together, anyone can get this infection, we’re all vulnerable to it, we’re not going to address this well by judging those who have been unfortunate enough to get this infection because it could just as easily happen to any of us,” he continued.

“We all need to exercise all of the safety precautions together both to protect ourselves and reduce transmission levels in the community.”

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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