Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit raises COVID-19 risk level to high as cases increase

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit office in Barrie. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

With COVID-19 cases in the area increasing, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is once again moving the region’s current overall COVID-19 Community Risk Level to high.

Health officials say the virus continues to circulate within the community, leading them to increase the risk level on Thursday for the second time since it was launched in September.

“We are seeing a higher level of COVID-19 transmission in Simcoe Muskoka, which means there is a greater risk of getting sick with potential for severe illness,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, the health unit’s medical officer of health.

“We note this in the context of ongoing elevated transmission of influenza as well as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Given this, we continue to encourage individuals to use more layers of protection, such as increasing frequency of mask use and maintaining physical distance in indoor public settings.”

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Amid rising infections, Gardner is reminding people about the importance of getting their bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster and influenza vaccination.

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The COVID-19 Community Risk Level is based on five indicators that are monitored weekly; local per cent positivity of PCR tests, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, institutional outbreaks, and wastewater signals.

According to the active outbreaks section on the health unit’s website, there are currently 10 outbreaks in institutional settings for COVID-19 and five related to influenza.

The numbers also show that the weekly per cent positivity rate, COVID-19 wastewater signal, and active hospitalizations are all listed as high.

The health unit says people should stay up to date on their recommended COVID-19 vaccination, stay home when sick, and wear a face mask.

Information on where to get your COVID-19 vaccination, including pop-up and GO VAXX bus clinic schedules, is available on the health unit’s website.

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