The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has developed a new way to communicate the current level of risk of COVID-19 in our communities and how individuals can best protect themselves and others from transmission and severe illness due to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Community Risk Level, available on SMDHU’s website, is based on five indicators (percent positivity of PCR tests, local cases, hospitalizations, institutional outbreaks, and wastewater surveillance) that are monitored weekly. Together, these indicators make up the current overall COVID-19 risk level in our community as one of the following levels: lower, moderate, high, or very high. Each risk level is explained, and guidance is provided about assessing personal and situational risks and what actions individuals can take to protect themselves and others from spreading and getting severely ill from COVID-19.
“As the virus continues to spread in our communities, we encourage everyone to be aware of the community risk level and to assess their own personal circumstances that could put them at higher risk, and to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others against COVID-19,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health. “The more layers of protection you take against COVID-19, the more your personal risk can decrease.”
Layers of protection include simple, yet crucial actions, individuals can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19, such as staying home if you have symptoms, wearing a face mask based on your assessment of risk or when required, and staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. Individuals are encouraged to add more protective actions as personal, situational and community risk increases. Additional protections can include adjusting if and how you participate in activities that have more risk.
“Individuals may choose to wear a mask, physically distance, socialize outdoors, and limit social contacts based on factors such as their own health status, whether they have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the health and vaccine status of close contacts,” said Dr. Gardner.
As of Sept. 22, the current overall risk for Simcoe Muskoka is moderate and is similar to the past week.
The COVID-19 community risk level will be updated each Tuesday by 2 p.m. Residents are reminded to visit smdhu.org/ to learn more about local COVID-19 transmission and ways to be COVID-safe.