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First COVID-19 'outbreaks' reported at two local farms today

There are currently 47 active cases of COVID-19 in Simcoe County including five people in hospital - two in intensive care units
2018-07-27 Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit RB

Four more cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Simcoe County and one in Muskoka District today. 

Three cases have been reported out of Bradford-West Gwillimbury. Yesterday the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reported eight new cases out of Bradford, but two of them have been transferred to other health unit districts due to their primary residence address. 

The Bradford residents reported today are all female, two in their 30s and one in her 50s. All the cases are reported as community-acquired.

The other Simcoe County case reported today is a woman in her 60s from Adjala-Tosorontio. The Muskoka case is a man in his 60s from Hunstville.

Two of the Bradford cases reported yesterday, an Innisfil case reported yesterday, and the Adjala-Tosorontio case reported today are all deemed workplace-related transmission.

This is a new designation from the Simcoe Muskoka health unit, and, in this case, is related to outbreaks on two unnamed farms in Simcoe County. 

Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the region, said one farm has a confirmed nine cases in workers and the second farm has confirmed three cases. Of all the cases, four are residents of Simcoe Muskoka region, so only four of the cases are included in the health unit’s list of COVID-19 cases. 

Gardner said all the farm workers have or are being tested. He said the health unit will not be releasing the name or location of the farm as he does not consider naming the farms as necessary for public health safety. 

Gardner did confirm some positive tests include migrant farm workers, although of the eight that have been identified as living out of the Simcoe-Muskoka jurisdiction, it wasn’t clear how many of those are temporary foreign workers.

“We are conducting an investigation. We have been there on site,” said Gardner.

Community, home care as well as paramedicine staff have been to the farms to conduct swab tests onsite. So far, there have been 42 negative results.

The second farm was first identified on June 14 and then declared an outbreak on Tuesday with three people testing positive, one originating from another jurisdiction.

Health unit staff members are now investigating the farm and testing other staff members.

While Gardner wouldn’t identify the farms or their locations, he did say both employ fewer than 100 workers.

“I am concerned about farm outbreaks here given the experience elsewhere in the province,” said Gardner, who said he has been in contact with the medical officer of health in Windsor-Essex.

A large migrant worker population in that area has fallen ill with COVID-19, and two relatively young men who have died. 

Gardner said that many who work in the farming sector can be quite vulnerable to this infection, and he’s concerned that those conditions could lead to many more cases. 

“I am well aware of the large number of farms that have been affected, the large number of farm workers that have been infected” in southern Ontario, he said. “Therefore it is a dangerous situation that we have to manage diligently and carefully.”

Gardner said health unit staff are looking into whether workers on the affected farms also work on other farms, creating the potential for it to spread. And although that is a possibility, Gardner said the health unit doesn’t yet have evidence of that happening.

The health unit has confirmed a total of 527 COVID-19 cases in the region to-date and 442 of those people have recovered. 

There have been 36 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the region. There are currently 47 active cases of COVID-19 in Simcoe County including five people in hospital (two in intensive care). There are two active cases of COVID-19 in Muskoka District.

Case breakdown by municipality

Municipality Total cases Recoveries Deaths Hospitalized Last case reported
Barrie 164 142 14   June 11
Bradford W-G 116 90 12 1 June 16
New Tecumseth 55 46 1 2 June 15
Innisfil 42 36   1 June 15
Orillia 17 14 2 1 May 21
Collingwood 15 15     May 19
Wasaga Beach 14 13 1   June 8
Clearview 8 6 1   June 15
Springwater 12 8 1   June 11
Midland 6 6     April 29
Oro-Medonte 6 4 2   June 1
Adjala-Tosorontio 9 7     June 16
Essa 14 12 1   June 5
Ramara 8 7     June 15
Tiny 3 3     May 14
Tay 5 5     May 19
Penetanguishene 6 4     June 12
Severn 6 6     June 2


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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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