Berrien County Interim Health Officer Courtney Davis says the county’s school mask mandate is working.
“So we’re seeing that positive impact of decreasing transmission, decreasing positive cases in the school setting, and keeping our kids in school, having that in-person learning,” she said.
But outside of school settings, Davis said the county is still seeing about 40 new cases a day, or approximately a 13.5 percent positivity rate.
And Spectrum Health Lakeland President Loren Hamel said while hospitalizations have remained stable, healthcare facilities are “utterly at capacity.”
“Our emergency rooms are packed. Our hospitals are full. Our staffing is challenging,” he said. “We can take care of those 20 to 25 COVID patients, but it is very, very tight.”
Hamel said Lakeland hasn’t had to cancel elective procedures yet, but it has had to go on diversion, meaning ambulances are sent to a different emergency room that has a higher capacity for care.
“Even diversion is really not a solution because every hospital is in the same circumstance,” Hamel said. “We really are completely full based on our staffing levels.”
With cold and flu season on the way, Hamel and Davis urged county residents to take as many health precautions as possible –– especially those who are unvaccinated.
“Your risk for getting sick with COVID is 4.5 times greater. Your chance of being in the hospital is 10 times greater. Your chance of dying from the disease is 11 times greater,” Hamel said. “So please, think hard about getting a vaccine.”
Davis said almost 57 percent of Berrien County residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated. She said about 27 percent of 12-15 year olds and 37.7 percent of 16-19 year olds are now fully vaccinated.
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