MUSKOKA, ON-The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has confirmed that the COVID-19 testing that has occurred in the region is lower than the provincial average. 

Dr. Charles Gardner, with the SMDHU, said that while tests are low, the region has been successful with low infection rates compared to other parts of the province. 

“Our test positivity rate is 3 percent, which is the same as the province, and that is an indication as to whether we are doing enough testing to pick up what is out there. Having a low number means you are testing a lot, and seeing only three percent come back is positive.”

Gardner added testing is not everything, however. An important part is identifying where your risks are in the community and helping remove and reduce those risks. “Before you get into testing, you have really got to be talking about how people avoid getting exposed in the first place.”

When asked about how we can increase the amount of testing done in the region, Gardner said they need to make sure people have access to assessment centres and ensure the model they have is working for people.

He noted that there are people who are limited in the ways they can even get assessed as they may not have the proper transportation, or they may have a medical condition that restricts how far they can travel. “I don’t know how to overcome that, and I think we need to give some thought to that.”

Gardner said that as we will be living with the virus for another year and a half, or maybe more, the health unit needs to figure out how to do this well. “We have time to continue to improve this. Are there other ways to help those who can’t get to assessment centres to get tested, are there ways to have primary care also testing, are there ways to have work environment facilitating testing for large employers, are there ways for hospital emergency departments to do more of it? The ability for care testing in remote communities in the future is a possibility.”