Berrien County

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Berrien County Health Department Acting Health Officer Courtney Davis has resigned, saying in a statement that she can “no longer effectively do her job” due to the “politicization of public health” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Berrien County Interim Health Officer Courtney Davis says the county’s school mask mandate is working. 

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The Berrien County Health Department is hosting a free educational event Thursday focused on preventing infant mortality.

In a news release, the county health department said the event is part of Infant Mortality Awareness Month. 

Infant mortality means a baby died before their first birthday. In 2019, Berrien County had a 3-year average infant mortality rate of 7.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births, which is higher than the Michigan three-year average of 6.6 deaths for every 1,000 live births.

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Berrien County health officials say the county is still seeing a steady rise in COVID-19 transmission.

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News


Amid surging COVID-19 cases, the Berrien County Health Department has issued a public health order requiring students, teachers and staff at any county school — pre-kindergarten through grade 12 — to wear face masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

 

 

Southwest Michigan students are heading back to school this week. And amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, some districts are requiring face masks. 

 

Benton Harbor Area Schools are requiring masks for all students, teachers and staff. So are St. Joseph Public Schools — the board voted unanimously last week to implement a universal mask mandate.

 

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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. 

 

Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

The Berrien County Health Department is recommending that all residents wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

The Centers for Disease Control list Berrien County as having “substantial” spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus. 

Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/ Alissa Eckert, MS

 

Berrien County is continuing to see low COVID-19 cases. During a July 7 press conference, county health officer Nicki Britten said that on average, they’re seeing less than three cases per day. About three percent of tests are coming back positive, and the county currently has nobody in the ICU with COVID-19.

Britten also said the county has not detected any cases of the highly contagious Delta variant yet, but that does not mean there are none in the area.

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Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten will be leaving the health department next month to serve as the director of population health at Spectrum Health Lakeland. Deputy Health Officer Courtney Davis is expected to be approved as Interim Health Officer.

(Read the full release from the health department below.)

Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/ Alissa Eckert, MS

 

Berrien County is now averaging just under five new cases a day, a big decline from the height of the pandemic. Test positivity rates are also low, at around three percent. In addition, Michigan fully reopened on June 22, dropping all capacity restrictions and face mask mandates.

 

https://www.facebook.com/ALPACTBerrienCounty/photos/a.792460487561623/792460494228289/

In the wake of recent police-involved shootings in Minneapolis and Chicago, a Berrien County activist group is holding community forums on police de-escalation and mental health training.

The Berrien County Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust – or ALPACT – formed so community and law enforcement leaders could improve police relations within the community.

 

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Last week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer encouraged high schools to shift to remote learning for two weeks in an effort to slow the state’s surge in COVID-19 cases. However, students in Berrien County will continue to learn in-person.

Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten said she and other health officials believe the benefits of in-person learning outweigh the current risks.

 

“We really are not seeing school settings as being the driver of transmission amongst our youth,” Britten said.

 

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Following a federal recommendation, the Berrien County Health Department has announced it will pause use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. A J&J clinic scheduled for Thursday will use the Moderna vaccine instead, with a second-dose clinic scheduled for May 13. 

(You can read more in the release below.)

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As vaccine eligibility expands to Michiganders age 16 and over this week, officials from the Berrien County Health Department and Spectrum Health Lakeland say they’ll still be prioritizing residents at highest risk of contracting the virus.

 

(Read the joint release from the health department and Lakeland below.)

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Berrien County health officials say the county’s increase in COVID-19 cases hasn’t been as steep as in other areas of Michigan – but they say cases are once again on the rise. 

County Health Officer Nicki Britten said the rise could be partly attributed to the presence of more contagious variants in the county. She said Berrien County has had 12 confirmed cases of the U.K. variant so far.

 

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With signs of spring beginning to show in Southwest Michigan, Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten said the county’s new daily COVID-19 cases and percent positivity rate have crept up in recent weeks.

“None of these at this moment are causing significant alarm, but we do need to remain vigilant, especially as we’re getting towards the end of this,” Britten said.

 

Lake Rescue In Berrien County

Mar 4, 2021
From the Berrien Co. Sheriff's Dept. Facebook Page

BERRIEN CENTER, Mich. (AP) — Two men have been rescued from a lake in southwestern Michigan after one fell through thin ice while fishing. The Berrien County sheriff's office says deputies responded to O’Brien Lake in Berrien Center around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Captured via Facebook Live

Berrien County health officials say they’re working to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine equitably throughout the county.

At the county's COVID-19 update on Thursday, County Health Officer Nicki Britten said both the health department and Spectrum Health Lakeland are working to form partnerships that will help get the vaccine to underserved populations.

 

Berrien County Health Department logo

The Berrien County Health Department will postpone all vaccine appointments scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 23. Those appointments have been rescheduled for Monday, March 1.

(Read the full release from the health department below.)

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Berrien County health officials are urging residents to be diligent about following COVID-19 safety protocols after the more contagious UK strain of the virus was identified in neighboring Van Buren County earlier this week.

County Health Officer Nicki Britten said while the county’s new daily case count and hospitalizations continue to decline, the variant could drive those numbers back up if residents aren’t careful about masking and social distancing.

 

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At their weekly COVID-19 update, Berrien County health officials once again asked for patience as they work to vaccinate the nearly 40,000 county residents who are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

County Health Officer Nicki Britten said the county’s vaccine allotment is based 75 percent on its population of adults age 65 and older, and 25 percent on its population of essential workers. 

 

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Berrien County health officials say Phase 1A of the county’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign – which includes healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff – is well underway.

Spectrum Health Lakeland President Dr. Loren Hamel said over the last two weeks, about 20 percent of the Lakeland staff has received a first dose of the vaccine.

 

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It will be months before the general public has access to the COVID-19 vaccine, but some people are already wondering what the shots may cost.

Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten said nobody is allowed to be charged or billed for the vaccine itself.

 

“Cost will not be a barrier for anybody," she said. "That is something that is being provided to the American public.”

 

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During the weekly Berrien County COVID-19 update on Dec. 17, Spectrum Health Lakeland President Dr. Loren Hamel said the county received just under 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The first of those doses, he said, were administered Wednesday night.

"I was there with a line down the hall waiting to get vaccinated, folks with excitement and a few tears," Hamel said.

Hamel said the vaccine's arrival felt like a turning point, where healthcare workers can move from a "defensive" COVID strategy to an "offensive" one that's focused on prevention.

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Berrien County health officials offered their weekly update on the COVID-19 pandemic on Dec. 11.

County Health Officer Nicki Britten says the county is seeing an average of 120 new cases per day, or 10 times more daily cases than at the end of September. But, she said new cases and hospitalizations are beginning to slow, a trend she called “encouraging.”

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Last month, the election for one Berrien County Commission seat ended in a dead tie, and after the County Board of Canvassers failed to find any errors, the winner was decided by a tiebreaker. However, a new winner has been declared after a recount on Dec. 8.

https://www.michigan.gov/leo/0,5863,7-336-94422_11407---,00.html

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Admin. (MIOSHA) says it inspected and issued COVID-19 citations to nine Michigan businesses, including one in Berrien County. MIOSHA says the businesses were cited for serious violations for failing to protect workers and take safety precautions. 

In Berrien County the following business was cited: 

(Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases, many Michiana schools have returned to full-time virtual learning. That’s not the case with one school district in Berrien County that’s bucking the trend.

With the exception of Bridgman High School, which moved to virtual learning on Nov. 18 per Michigan’s most recent Epidemic Order, Bridgman Public Schools have been holding in-person classes for the entire fall semester.

(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Michigan began a three-week “pause” on several fronts in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state. 

Under the new restrictions from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, indoor dining facilities, movie theaters and ice skating rinks are all closed. Those are just a few of the new restrictions.

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