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Health District moves back to Red Alert

March 12, 2021   ·   0 Comments

One week after placing the Simcoe-Muskoka Health District into lockdown, the province has done an about-face and moved the region back into the Red Alert category.

In a statement released on Friday, March 5, Dr. Charles Gardner, Chief Medical Officer of Health for SMHD, said, “The return to Red-Control on March 8th, as well as the move to Grey-Lockdown one week ago, are in keeping with recommendations that I provided to the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams. My recommendation of a return to Red-Control is based on information that our overall incidence of COVID-19 has remained stable over the past two weeks despite the rise in the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant.”

The return to a Red Alert status is, no doubt, in part due a public backlash that occurred when it was announced the region was again going into lockdown the previous week.

Business owners in particular expressed frustration with the new lockdown situation saying they cannot afford to keep shutting down and re-opening their businesses on a weekly basis.

Many small business owners were angry that they were forced to close their doors while big box stores were allowed to remain open.

One small business owner posted on a local Facebook page his frustration saying can no longer “take loans on a line of credit to keep his business running” – especially since he only allows three people into his shop at the one time, while big box stores still have their doors open.

Just because we are out of lockdown, the statement makes it clear there is no guarantee it won’t happen again.

“It is important to remember that with large numbers of the B.1.1.7 variant cases in Simcoe Muskoka, and with the rise in Variants of Concern throughout the province, we may see an increase in the incidence of COVID-19 in the weeks to come, and the potential need for further protective measures in the future,” the statement said.

Fearing the potential of a third wave due to variants of the virus, the Health Department said it is closely monitoring the local situation.

Dr. Gardner said the variant of the virus has caused several outbreaks in the region.

“We have a very large number of cases and outbreaks of the B.1.1.7 variant in Simcoe Muskoka. This started with three outbreaks of the B.1.1.7 variant in January, which has been followed by rapid spread throughout Simcoe County (including in Barrie) and the District of Muskoka. We have seen many workplace outbreaks (including restaurants, a personal service setting, offices, manufacturing, and an agricultural setting), long-term care facilities, a childcare centre, a school and an apartment complex. There have also been a large and growing number of cases in the community that are unattached to outbreaks. We have the highest number of the variants of concern cases in Ontario.”

By Brock Weir
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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