Editor's note: The following story has been updated from a previous version to include comments from the County of Simcoe and Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.
After nearly two months, residents and staff at Simcoe Manor can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
On Thursday afternoon, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit declared the outbreak over at the Beeton long-term care home.
The outbreak was initially declared on Oct. 2.
Over the two-month period, 43 residents and 32 staff members came down with COVID-19. Ten residents died.
The health unit also declared an outbreak at the privately operated Allandale Station Retirement Residence over on Thursday afternoon. Three residents and two staff tested positive for COVID throughout the outbreak at the facility, which is located on Yonge Street in south-end Barrie.
In a news release issued Thursday evening, the County of Simcoe, which owns and operates Simcoe Manor, says it took "swift and aggressive action" to contain the spread of the virus. Immediate measures included visitor restrictions, rigorous screening, quarantining residents in their rooms with close monitoring, heightened nutritional care, and assigning staff to work only in their designated units.
On Oct. 13, the Ministry of Long-Term Care issued a mandatory management order appointing Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) to temporarily manage Simcoe Manor for 90 days. The order enabled RVH to deploy a rapid response team, including infection control, workplace safety and environmental services experts to the home.
Officials from RVH and the county also convened an emergency operations centre to direct recovery efforts.
An action plan was developed, which included rapid testing of all residents and staff, as well as a "deep clean" of the entire facility.
"Although strict infection control protocols were already in place, even more stringent safety measures were introduced and audits are conducted continuously," states the county release. "An intensive re-training program, led by infection prevention and control experts from RVH, was launched; the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) was enhanced; and staffing was stabilized. A detailed transition plan will ensure any changes and additional measures put in place are sustained to ensure safe, quality care."
“RVH has significant experience and expertise in managing and containing infectious diseases and we were pleased to share our practices, protocols and policies with our County of Simcoe partners to help end this outbreak and ensure infection control measures are sustained in the future,” RVH president and CEO Janice Skot says in the county news release.
“RVH’s team continues to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the Simcoe Manor team and we have found their compassion and commitment to the home’s residents has been inspiring," she added.
Jane Sinclair, the county's general manager of health and emergency services, called the virus "insidious."
“Despite our history of success in controlling outbreaks in our four homes prior to and throughout this pandemic, and our continued efforts to keep our residents and staff safe, this insidious virus made its way into Simcoe Manor by spreading quickly and silently,” she said. “We mourn those who we have sadly lost and we will never forget the efforts and support of those who demonstrated unwavering commitment to rid this virus and save lives. To our residents and families, our dedicated staff, our partners at RVH and the health unit, and the outpouring of community support, we thank you.”
Simcoe County Warden George Cornell says the well-being of residents and staff "remains our highest priority."
"We will continue to support our staff across all our homes in their steadfast commitment to fight against the spread of COVID-19,” Cornell said in the county release.
“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of our residents who passed away," he added. "Our gratitude goes to all our amazing staff and our partners at RVH and public health who worked with us to end this serious outbreak.”