In general, the indicators of COVID-19 spread in the Simcoe-Muskoka region seem to be decreasing, with case counts and wastewater monitoring trending downwards.
Slower to change, however, are severe outcomes such as death and hospitalization, which continue to remain high, according to stats published by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit on Nov. 17.
The latest update, which includes information collected by the health unit since Nov. 10, shows 236 more cases confirmed, 57 people in the hospital with COVID-19 and five more deaths.
The five deaths reported include two men over 79 years old, and a man and a woman between 60 and 79 years old from Simcoe County, and a woman between 40 and 59 years old from Muskoka District. None of the five cases were connected to any outbreaks.
During the month of October, 41 Simcoe-Muskoka region residents died after contracting COVID-19. There were 15 deaths in September and there have been four reported so far in November.
Of the last 15 deaths reported, 10 were seniors at least 70 years old. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit notes the rate of death is four times higher among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated adults aged 60 years or older than it is for those with at least one booster dose.
Of the 621 deaths reported by the health unit since March 2020, 517 were COVID-19-related, 95 deaths were not related to COVID-19 but the person tested positive, and for nine of them, the cause of death is unknown or pending.
The health unit still assesses the COVID-19 risk in the community as "high" with 57 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized, and about 22-23 new cases confirmed each day by limited lab testing.
So far this week, the health unit confirmed 12 new hospitalizations since last week's update.
By hospitalization date, there were 10 COVID patients admitted during the week of Nov. 6-12 and 23 admitted during the week of Oct. 30-Nov. 5
There are 24 active outbreaks in the region, including 19 at institutional settings like hospitals or long-term care homes, and five at congregate settings like group homes and shelters. This is a decrease from 28 outbreaks on Nov. 10.
Since the start of the pandemic, the local health unit has confirmed 53,741 cases of COVID-19, with 52,631 of those cases recovered and 621 cases ending in death.
About 22 per cent of Simcoe-Muskoka residents aged 12 or older are fully vaccinated and have had a booster dose within the last six months. Another 34 per cent is fully vaccinated and has had a booster dose more than six months ago, and more than 31 per cent of the population has had the primary series without booster doses. Eleven per cent of the population aged 12 and above is unvaccinated.
Wastewater monitoring in Penetanguishene, Barrie, and Orillia, shows a decrease in COVID virus DNA in those communities.
Monitoring in Midland, Bracebridge and Collingwood show COVID-19 virus DNA as present in each of the communities, but there's been no increase or decrease noted in the last week.
Anyone who has not yet received their COVID-19 vaccination or booster doses is encouraged to do so as soon as they are eligible. Information about eligibility and clinic locations is available at smdhu.org/GetVaccinated.
The health unit is advising people use more layers of protection for themselves and those around them, this can include wearing a mask and not visiting crowded spaces. But those measures are voluntary. As always, the health unit strongly urges people not to leave home if they are sick and experiencing symptoms of illness.