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22 people from Simcoe-Muskoka have died at home with COVID-19

The health unit has not seen an increase in the proportion of people dying at home in the third wave, despite that being the trend in Ontario

Twenty-two residents from the Simcoe-Muskoka region have died at home with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. 

Those deaths do not include residents of long-term care homes who have died with the disease, but could include people living in retirement homes and group homes.

The Canadian Press reported last week there is an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients dying at home in Ontario. Between April 1 and April 22, coroners have seen 25 cases of people in southern and central Ontario who have died of coronavirus disease at home. The ages of the victims ranged from the late 20s to their late 80s. 

According to the local health unit, the people who have died at home in the region range in age from 30 to 100 years old with the median age at 79 years old. 

The April 22 death of 13-year-old Emily Victoria Viegas from COVID-19 made waves in the province; she is one of Ontario’s youngest victims of the coronavirus. The Brampton teen died at home after having difficulty breathing the day before. 

According to the Canadian Press report, coroners in Ontario have yet to determine a common thread among those who have died at home from COVID-related illnesses, but they have noted an increase in the third wave. 

But the local region hasn’t experienced the same trend as the province, as the number of at-home, COVID-19-related deaths have remained proportionally the same throughout all three waves, say local officials. 

Epidemiologists at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit have confirmed they have not had reports of individuals in the region dying at home because their condition worsened too quickly for an ambulance to be called. 

“People do die at home,” notes a statement from the health unit’s epidemiology team. “It would be concerning if people died at home because they did not or were unable to seek medical attention for their illness, whether it was COVID or another condition.” 

As of Tuesday, May 4, the health unit has reported the region’s ventilator bed capacity is 96.3 per cent occupied, and ICU beds are 81.8 per cent occupied. Local hospitals have been accepting patients from the GTA where hospitals are over capacity caring for acute and intensive care unit patients. 

As of May 3, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has reported 225 COVID-related deaths, which is more than two per cent of all cases. 

The deaths reported include 112 residents of long-term care homes, some of whom died in their long-term care home while others died in hospital.

In total, 81 people have died in hospital having never been in the intensive care unit, and 26 people have died after being admitted to an intensive care unit. 

In the first six months of the pandemic, the health unit reported 37 deaths. 

Since January 1, 2020, the health unit has reported more than 150 COVID-related deaths. There were more than 70 deaths linked to the outbreak at Roberta Place long-term care home in January and February 2021. 

The Roberta Place outbreak marked the start of variant cases spreading in the region. Since March, at least one death has been reported in the region every week. For the week of April 18 to 24, the health unit reported five deaths. 

The region is also experiencing higher numbers of COVID-positive patients requiring hospitalization during the second and third waves. 

Local hospitals, including Collingwood General and Marine Hospital and Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre report higher capacity in their ICUs. They also reported patients are coming in sicker and in need of more urgent care.

For the week of April 18 to 24 the health unit reported 39 hospitalizations; there were 40 new hospitalizations between April 11 to 17. Last week the health unit recorded 13 new hospitalizations, however reporting for April 25 to 29 isn’t complete and more hospitalizations will be reported. 

As of May 3, there were 51 people from Simcoe-Muskoka region hospitalized with COVID-19 related illness, and 22 of them are in intensive care units. This month has seen a record number of cases from Simcoe-Muskoka admitted to ICUs. 

Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor.
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