In a Facebook Live update Wednesday, Berrien County health officials said the county’s COVID-19 transmission has increased tenfold in the last month, and hospitalizations have increased fourfold.
Berrien County Health Department Medical Director Dr. Rex Cabaltica said the more-infectious delta variant and relaxed mitigation measures are to blame.
“We all thought that we were out of this,” he said. “But we’re seeing that even with the rise in vaccinations, we’re not quite out of the woods.”
Cabaltica said though public opinion differs, the data is clear – a combination of vaccination, masking, hand hygiene and social distance will slow the spread of the virus and keep the unvaccinated out of the hospital.
As students go back to class, Cabaltica urged parents to vaccinate their children over age 12 and encourage masking indoors.
“No one argues about wearing seat belts or putting kids in carseats because we know that it has reduced the deaths among children,” Cabaltica said. “It’s like that – it’s basically just putting on a seat belt for your kids when you send them off to school.”
Spectrum Health Lakeland President Dr. Loren Hamel agreed, stressing that COVID-19 “is still producing death and disability across the country."
“I believe the responsible thing to do – the loving thing to do – for our friends and neighbors is to do everything we can to protect our community from transmission,” Hamel said. “And for me, that includes a mask, hand hygiene and social distancing.”
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