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2020 in Review: COVID-19 in Collingwood

There have been more COVID cases reported in December than in the rest of the year combined
Lily Findlay is one of four artists who have contributed to a temporary mural on some shoring fence along Huron Street. She’s standing in front of the section she painted. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

The following is a timeline of COVID-19's spread in Simcoe-Muskoka region over the past 10 months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The information included in this timeline is based on reports provided by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. 

March 12 
The first case in the Simcoe-Muskoka region is confirmed as a man from Barrie between 35 and 44 years old. The transmission was linked to travel in Germany and Spain. He was tested on March 9. The health unit confirmed 56 cases of COVID-19 and five deaths in March.

March 18
The first case in a Collingwood resident is confirmed. It was a man between 45 and 64 years old, and was a travel-related case. 

March 18 
A COVID-19 assessment tent was set up at the entrance to the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. The assessment centre was moved to the Erie Street medical building and was switched to a drive-thru model on March 31. The assessment centre has since been moved to the back parking lot of the Collingwood Legion, where it still offers drive-thru testing by appointment.

March 19
The first COVID-related death in the province is reported. The man died at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Hospital on March 11, and his death was confirmed by the health unit on March 17. He was one of two brothers who died with the coronavirus, they were close contacts of each other and both died in Barrie within 10 days of each other. 

April 6 
A Wasaga Beach man in his 70s died of COVID-19 while at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. He died on April 4, but his death was reported by the health unit on April 6.

April 29
The health unit confirms the eighth Collingwood case.

May 8
A woman in her 80s from Clearview Township died from COVID-19 at the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital.

May 14
The town commissioned a group of artists to paint a mural on a section of fence along Huron Street. In the centre of the mural are the words "we're all in this together." 

May 19 
Ontario enters Stage 1 of the provincial reopening plan, which allows drive-in religious gatherings, reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities. Golf courses reopen, as do marinas, public boat launches and private parks and campgrounds. Some in-store shopping also resumed with new restrictions. Social gatherings limited to five people.

May 19
The health unit reported seven Collingwood cases in May, including three women over the age of 80, all of whom are residents at Collingwood Nursing Home. All recovered. 

No cases of COVID-19 are reported in Collingwood for the month of June, one case is reported in July and one in August, and none in September.

June 12
Ontario enters Stage 2 of the reopening plan, allowing public gatherings up to 10 people, reopening restaurant patios, shopping malls, hair salons, places of worship, and pools. This is also when social circles of up to 10 people were introduced. 

July 13 
An order issued by Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the region, requires everyone to wear masks while indoors in public spaces and places of business.

July 24: Most of Ontario enters Stage 3. Indoor gatherings are limited to 50 people, and outdoor gatherings can be up to 100 people with physical distancing. Indoor dining is allowed again, and gyms can reopen. Playgrounds are also reopened. There’s still no dancing, buffets, overnight children’s camps, or amusement parks. The provincial emergency order is also lifted with new legislation in place allowing emergency orders to remain for the year without the state of emergency.

Oct. 12
A classroom is closed at Collingwood Collegiate Institute after one case is reported at the school. No other cases were reported at the school. 

Nov. 8
The health unit declared a COVID outbreak at Sunset Manor after one staff member tested positive and was showing symptoms. The county-owned facility reported one staff case and one resident case associated with the outbreak. Another staff case was reported and later linked to community spread, not the outbreak. It was declared over on Nov. 30.

Nov. 23
Simcoe-Muskoka region enters the province's orange zone as per the COVID-19 response colour-coded framework.

Nov. 24
The region's medical officer of health advises businesses and municipal recreation facilities prohibit access to their establishments by individuals from red or grey zone COVID hotspots. The Town of Collingwood does adopt such a policy and reserves the right to request proof of primary residence within Simcoe-Muskoka for use of its facilities. Currently, the policy is still in place for the outdoor rink.

Nov. 28
Admiral Collingwood Elementary School closes one classroom because of a confirmed COVID-19 case. No evidence of spread was reported and the class returned to school without further positive cases. 

Nov. 27 - Dec. 7
Six people employed at Loblaws in Collingwood test positive for COVID-19. The health unit later declares it an outbreak. 

Dec. 9
Collingwood General and Marine Hospital announced it experienced a surge of inpatients over the weekend, including six COVID patients, and opens its 18-bed field hospital at the Collingwood Legion, which it is using for patients awaiting a transfer to another facility and who have not tested positive for COVID. 

Dec. 10
Collingwood hospital staff plead with the community to do its part in preventing the spread of COVID and to keep the hospital from being overwhelmed. 

Dec. 14
Collingwood council votes in favour of a motion asking the province of Ontario to put forward more forceful messaging to reduce travel, particularly from lockdown regions, to prevent region hopping. 

Dec. 14
Simcoe Muskoka Region is placed in the province's red "control" zone.

Dec. 26
Ontario enters government-mandated province-wide shutdown. The shutdown prohibits any indoor gatherings except with the people you already live with. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and all non-essential businesses must close except for curbside service.The shutdown is in place until at least Jan. 22 for southern and central Ontario. Blue Mountain Resort, and all ski hills in Ontario are forced to close downhill operations. 

Dec. 31
There were two new cases reported in Collingwood in October, 10 cases reported in November, and 39 reported in December. By the end of the year, the health unit reported 67 Collingwood residents had contracted COVID-19 with one person hospitalized and 25 recovering at home. 

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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