In this week’s COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Charles Gardner of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says it’s unlikely the District of Muskoka and Simcoe County will split into separate health units.

According to Gardner, the SMDHU’s Board of Health’s formal position is that the health unit’s two regions should stay together. Gardner says he stands by the board’s decision.

“We’ve done well as a health unit, relatively speaking, with regards to COVID-19,” says Gardner. “Our overall case count and mortality count was slightly more than half of the provincial rate on a per-capita basis. We’ve performed well in the provision of vaccination throughout Simcoe-Muskoka.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said last week that he had spoken to Dr. Gardner about separating the health unit. Gardner says he has “not had any direct communication with the Premier on that topic.”

Gardner also says the SMDHU will be phasing out vaccination standby lists starting the end of this week, shifting focus to walk-ins. Priority for walk-ins will be given to those who have not yet received a dose of vaccine, and those who received their first dose on or before May 1st. With long lines expected, Gardner advises residents to make appointments rather than wait in line.

According to Gardner, the incidence rate of COVID-19 in Simcoe-Muskoka last week was 6.1 per 100,000 people, and all municipalities in the health unit had a rate of less than 20 per 100,000.