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COVID-19 News: Easter holiday testing confirms 371 new COVID-19 cases in Simcoe Muskoka

COVID-19 testing clinics across Simcoe Muskoka experienced an influx of patients over the Easter long weekend, resulting in 371 confirmed cases from Friday to Monday.

Barrie reported 126 positive tests, Bradford had 71, New Tecumseth had 58, and Innisfil had 37. The remaining infections are listed in Adjala-Tosorontio, Essa, Clearview, Collingwood, Springwater, Oro-Medonte, Tay, Wasaga Beach, Tiny, Midland, Orillia, Severn, and Penetanguishene. Muskoka had eight cases total.  They are listed in Muskoka Lakes, Bracebridge, Huntsville and Lake of Bays.

The health unit also reports three Simcoe County men over 65 passed away from complications after contracting COVID-19.  To date, 203 residents have died with the virus, including 12 last month.

There are currently 665 active infections, including 41 people hospitalized, as health officials grow concerned about hospital capacity.

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre currently has six COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit, four of whom are on ventilators as of Tuesday morning.

Stevenson Memorial Hospital’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Barry Nathanson, says the third wave is proving more dangerous than the first two, impacting a younger demographic. “We’re seeing younger people, and we’re seeing people younger who get sicker much more quickly.”

In Simcoe Muskoka, the number of variant cases continues to grow, with three COVID-19 variants identified.

Premier Doug Ford warned during a briefing on Tuesday about variants of concern in Ontario. “This variant is moving hour by hour, day by day,” Ford said.

The UK B.1.1.7 is most common in Simcoe Muskoka, with 1,084 positive tests to date. Eighteen residents have tested positive for the Brazil P.1 variant, and one individual was confirmed to have the South Africa B.1.351 variant. The health unit says 374 other cases screened positive for a variant of concern.

There are currently four active school outbreaks at W.H. Day Public School and Holy Trinity Catholic High School, both in Bradford, Good Shepherd Catholic School in Barrie, and Boyne River Public School in Alliston.

Ford said the government is working on plans to immunize teachers but is continuing to focus on older residents. “I know we’re working on a plan as well, for the teachers, and we’ll be working along with the boards, the minister of education and the minister of health,” the premier said.

Meanwhile, vaccination clinics across the region are booked with appointments to immunize eligible residents. Nearly 110,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered in Simcoe Muskoka. In addition, more than 4,500 AstraZeneca doses and over 2,000 Moderna doses have been given to qualifying residents.

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