INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. — December will likely be Ingham County's second worst month in terms of COVID-related deaths in since the pandemic began, according to county Health Officer Linda Vail.
There were eight deaths in Ingham County in just the past week.
"Hopefully 2022 is our year to start making better progress," Vail said.
Right now the county has just shy of 5,000 cases, 1,345 new in the last week.
"We have been on a decrease in case numbers for a couple weeks now," Vail said. "But, that decrease started before Omicron was coming."
Vail said she fears the impact the Omicron variant — which is highly transmissible — will have on those numbers and on hospitalizations.
"This was a really steady, slow Delta wave that we've been on for a long time," Vail said.
There are 154 people hospitalized with COVID in Ingham County, 20 of them in intensive care units.
ER visits have been steadily climbing since May and cases have climbed steadily since July.
"For this wave, really the odd part of it is the steady slope line that we saw from the end of July through until close to the end of October, and then we started really taking off from there," Vail said.
Vail, who is vaccinated, tested positive for the virus in October, though said she was only sick for a few days.
"As a vaccinated person, it wasn't very severe at all," Vail said.
Based on October data, Vail said those who are unvaccinated were 4.3 times more likely to test positive for the virus and 13.2 times more likely to die from the virus than those who are vaccinated.
The vaccination rate in Ingham County is 70.9 percent of those eligible.
"Vaccines work against illness in general," Vail said. "I think we're seeing about 70 percent or so efficacy — 75 percent efficacy — against Omicron. But in particular, again, getting mild illness is very different than thinking whether that vaccine is protecting you from severe illness, hospitalization and death."
The Ingham County death rate is 1.1 percent of those who test positive.
With Omicron expected to spread quickly, Vail advises anyone who is sick to stay home until fever-free and symptoms are improving, even if it's for longer than five days.
"If you still have a fever, if you're still coughing bad, if you're short of breath, if you're fatigued, your symptoms are not improving and that is not the end of your isolation and you are still contagious," Vail said.
A new free testing site is set up in the parking lot of the Ingham County Health Department. The tests are PCR saliva-based tests with results in 48 hours. Vail hopes this will alleviate the long testing lines at Sparrow.
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