COVID: 20 new COVID-19 cases reported, outbreaks at five schools – Owen Sound Sun Times

Five schools in Grey-Bruce were in outbreak status Friday and eight had dismissed cohorts of students as 20 new COVID-19 cases were added to the regional total.
The newest cases were confirmed in Grey Highlands (3) Owen Sound (3), Georgian Bluffs (2), Huron-Kinloss (2), Meaford (2), Saugeen Shores (2), Arran-Elderslie, Hanover, Neyaashiinigmiing, South Bruce Peninsula, The Blue Mountains and West Grey.
There we also 1,016 associated high-risk close contacts, which Grey-Bruce’s medical officer of health said was due to a large number of school-related cases, although Dr. Ian Arra was quick to mention actual virus transmission within the school setting is still low in the region, with only 15 of 2,727 known cases in Grey-Bruce confirmed to have been passed on at school.
The five schools with COVID-19 outbreaks are Timothy Christian School, St. Dominique Savio, St. Mary’s High School, Mildmay-Carrick Public School and John Diefenbaker Senior School.
The Timothy Christian School’s before and after school program childcare centre is also under a declared COVID-19 outbreak.
The eight schools reporting dismissed cohorts are Owen Sound District Secondary School, Saugeen District Senior School, Dawnview Public School, Hepworth Central Public School, Kincardine District Senior School, Grey Highlands Secondary School, Peninsula Shores District School, and Macphail Memorial Elementary School.
The number of cohorts dismissed at each school were not listed on Friday’s report, but will be updated Saturday.
Premier Doug Ford said Friday there was no official update on whether schools will reopen to in-person learning following the holiday break.
Arra said his contact-tracing team is “burning the candle at both ends” with more than 1,000 high-risk contacts in the region, but would keep schools open if given the option.
“If we have the option to keep one thing going I would go with the schools,” he said. “That is an environment our children need. It’s a balancing act. We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Meanwhile, the province announced new restrictions with the goal of buying more time for Ontarians to get vaccinated as a wave of new variant-fuelled cases continued to surge Friday.
Effective Sunday, indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25.
Capacity limits will also be reduced to 50 per cent at several businesses including restaurants, malls, grocery stores, gyms, pharmacies, indoor recreational amenities and strip clubs.
Restaurants and bars will have to close dining rooms at 11 p.m., and alcohol sales will be restricted after 10 p.m.
Food and drink will be prohibited altogether from sporting events, concert venues, theatres, casinos and other such venues. Dancing and singing at these establishments are not allowed as of Sunday, with an exception granted to “workers or performers”, according to the province’s news release.
Businesses will be required to post a sign indicating the capacity allowed inside.
Free from the new restrictions are facilities being used for wedding ceremonies, funerals and religious services.
Locally, Arra said he expects cases in Grey-Bruce to taper off next week after a few days in the range of 20 new cases a day.
He said that could change quickly based on several variables including community engagement, which he’s confident will be high, and the new Omicron variant, which has yet to be identified in Grey-Bruce.
“I will not breathe easy or be comfortable until it’s at less than 10 new cases a day,” he said.
Four Grey-Bruce residents were in hospital locally with COVID-19 Friday.
Twenty-four residents have died with the virus to date.
The health unit administered 10,289 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the past seven days. Arra said there has been a strong uptake of the booster shot that he expects will continue to grow in the region.

Public health units throughout Ontario reported 3,124 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.
The rolling seven-day average of new daily cases is now 1,914, which is up from 1,115 a week ago.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, 778 of Friday’s cases involve unvaccinated people, 96 involve partially vaccinated people, 2,120 involve fully vaccinated people and 130 have an unknown vaccination status. Nearly 68 per cent of Friday’s cases involved vaccinated people.
Meanwhile, there were 358 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 Friday and 157 patients being treated in intensive care units, up 49 and six from a week prior.
The province’s science table projected on Thursday Ontario could be reporting more than 10,000 daily new cases by January.
Ontario administered 156,525 vaccine doses on Thursday, including 137,775 third doses.
Across all age groups, 82 per cent of Ontario residents have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 77 per cent have two doses, and 10.7 per cent have a third dose.
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