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Our Response

We have been actively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic since January 2020. Direct local public health actions combined with our strong relationships and work with health care partners, municipalities, partner organizations, businesses, and our community members continue to show the strong and meaningful progress we have all had on protecting our communities from COVID-19. 

Providing COVID-19 vaccination to people living in Simcoe Muskoka is a key component of the health unit's response to the pandemic. Along with the tremendous support of our health care, municipal, and community partners, we have been leading the rollout of our local COVID-19 vaccination program. This vaccination program is one of the largest, most complex, and most rapid mass vaccination programs in history.

From December 22, 2020, when our local COVID-19 vaccine rollout began, to June 30, 2021, we have:

  • Recruited 219 new staff and redeployed 86 staff from other programs to support our COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • Worked together with community partner organizations to onboard 489 volunteers to support our COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • Administered over 560,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to eligible groups, including over 392,700 first doses and over 167,800 second doses. 
  • Offered COVID-19 vaccination to all long-term care and retirement home residents. 
  • Launched and continue to operate 13 community immunization clinics across Simcoe Muskoka 
  • Worked with Indigenous health and community partners to offer vaccination in the four First Nations communities in Simcoe Muskoka along with additional clinics for urban Indigenous people living off reserve. 
  • Hosted 16 hot spot vaccination clinics in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, in collaboration with municipal and community partners.
  • Provided in-home immunization to over 800 housebound residents in partnership with Home and Community Care, paramedic services, and the Barrie Community Health Centre.
  • Hosted pop-up immunization clinics for key groups such as education workers, youth, agricultural workers, municipalities with lower vaccination coverage, and individuals living in congregate settings.
  • Supported over 130 pharmacies and primary care settings across Simcoe Muskoka to offer COVID-19 vaccination to eligible residents.

Although we still have a way to go as we work toward fully vaccinating most of our eligible population, the continued rollout and expansion of our COVID-19 vaccination program gives us reason to be hopeful. Ultimately, COVID-19 vaccines are a key tool to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect our population, and save lives and each dose administered brings us one step closer to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing us back to the people and things we love to do.

  • Recruited 219 new staff and redeployed 86 staff from other programs to support our COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • Worked together with community partner organizations to onboard 489 volunteers to support our COVID-19 vaccination program.

SMDHU follows up with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The information gathered through this process helps us to determine a person’s high risk contacts (someone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19), where a person may have been exposed to the virus, how the virus is spreading in the community, who the virus is affecting, and how it can be contained.

Case and contact management can be complex and time-intensive. The number of contacts (which can include both locations and individuals) that each COVID-19 case has can vary depending on the individual’s living, work and social situations. Each interaction is assessed to determine the risk to others. As close contacts are identified they may be informed by public health, a public health partner or by the person who has tested positive. More information about being a close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 can be found here.

If you haven’t already done so, download the COVID Alert app. The app helps to break the cycle of infection by letting people know of possible exposures before any symptoms appear. That way, we can take care of ourselves and protect others in our households and communities.

  • Received and responded to more than 157,002 calls through our COVID-19 call centre.
  • Investigated 76% of COVID-19 cases within one day of being reported. 
  • Partnered with Provincial and Federal contact tracers to identify, trace, and advise 27,796 people who had high-risk exposures (contacts) to confirmed cases of COVID-19. 
  • Conducted post-test follow-up calls. 
  • Processed and/or responded to over 2,380 media requests related to COVID-19. 
  • Launched social media awareness campaign to promote mental health, community supports, stop the spread public health measures during COVID-19. 
  • Posted 1,344 key messages to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which generated over 36,148 comments. 
    o Our Facebook posts had a reach of 5,483,989 and generated 99,000 link clicks.
    o Our tweets had 5,239,844 impressions and 42,297 link clicks.
    o Our Instagram posts, initiated in February 2021, had a reach of 228,153.
  • Developed and updated COVID-19 website portal with more than 2,893,436 page views. 
  • Posted local case data on our COVID-19 HealthSTATS and our HealthMAPS COVID-19 Case Explorer portals, generating a combined 5,055,021 page views. 
  • Engaged with community agencies and local partners including Indigenous organizations, First Nation communities, municipalities, acute care and partners supporting vulnerable populations.
  • Maintained critical health unit programs and services throughout COVID-19 response. 
  • Developed and distributed 96 Partner Updates to community stakeholders.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some changes to the way many businesses, organizations and agencies deliver their services. As an agency, we have supported most of our staff to work from home in order to prevent transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. To allow us to deliver essential services in new ways that reduce the risk of virus spread, many of our programs and services have been adapted to the current situation. Programs and services are regularly reassessed and adjusted as needed. Examples include:

  • Virtual/phone consultations with clients in the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program. 
  • Virtual/phone consultations for sexual health care and advice and critical appointments when required. 
  • Physical distancing, masking and screening at all offices in order to continue with the safe delivery of the private well water sampling program. 
  • Providing childhood immunization of children two years and under without a health care provider, by appointment.
  • New process for tick identification using a third-party online app to reduce the number of visitors to local offices. 
  • Extended hours, including weekends and holidays, for Health Connection COVID-19 response line. 
  • Temporary hold on in-school dental and vision screenings.
  • Temporary hold on several community-based initiatives and programs.

Since January 2020, our entire staff has worked in some capacity or another to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and/or continue to deliver essential public health services across Simcoe Muskoka. More than half our staff has been redeployed from their regular work to COVID-specific work, including public health nurses, public health inspectors, registered practical nurses, dietitians, dental hygienists, health promoters and support staff. Redeployed staff are dedicated to COVID-related work such as COVID-19 immunization, contact tracing and case investigation, and customer service support on our Health Connection line.



Page last updated: July 21, 2021

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