Berrien County health officials say the county is still seeing a steady rise in COVID-19 transmission.
In a Facebook Live update Wednesday, Acting County Health Officer Courtney Davis said the county’s positivity rate is currently around 13 percent.
She said the county reported four times as many cases in August as it did in July, and that this year’s August case count was 73 percent higher than last year’s.
The uptick in community spread is already affecting schools –– Davis said the first four days of school alone resulted in 26 positive cases and 83 quarantines.
However, she said the indoor mask mandate the health department issued for county schools last week should help keep those numbers down.
“Universal masking allows us to exclude a lot less students and ensure that the transmission levels come down,” Davis said. “That’s what we’re working with the schools [to do] at this time.”
Dr. Loren Hamel, president of Spectrum Health Lakeland, said the majority of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized are unvaccinated and much younger than in previous surges.
“I watched out my window the other day as a 30-year-old was airlifted out of Lakeland to get a treatment called ECMO,” Hamel said. “That’s when the heart and the lungs can no longer deliver oxygen to the tissue. It’s a last-ditch effort to buy a little time to save a life.”
“We’re seeing that in 30-year-olds. That’s a new trend,” he added.
Hamel and Davis both encouraged county residents to get vaccinated if they haven’t already, and to keep taking precautions indoors and in crowded spaces even after vaccination.
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