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COVID numbers continue to decline as state restrictions are set to lift later this week

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jun 21, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — COVID-19 infection rates and cases are down in mid-Michigan which is good news ahead of statewide coronavirus restrictions loosening later this week.

Since April, when COVID-19 vaccines became more widely available, mid-Michigan has seen a steady and steep decline in coronavirus cases. As of June 18, Michigan’s seven-day average was 176 which is down drastically from 6,714 last spring and down even further from over 7,000 in the fall of 2020, according to the mid-Michigan Department of Health.

“Our numbers now are pretty much the lowest they’ve been since COVID started,” said Dr. Jennifer Morse who serves as medical director of the mid-Michigan District Health Department.

Morse explained that she’s excited to see COVID-19 numbers fall so dramatically but cautioned that those numbers could switch directions depending on vaccinations and coronavirus variants.

“I’m really excited but I like to say I’m more cautiously optimistic because things could really change pretty quickly because we do have a very large portion of the population that’s not vaccinated,” she said. “We don’t know how many people will continue to be safe, hopefully, a lot of people will continue to do what they need to if they’re not vaccinated. But again things are really looking optimistic right now.”

Michigan became a national hotspot in the United States last April when it experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases that threatened hospital capacity. Today, however, there are far fewer patients in dire conditions.

“We’ve been in single digits, five to 10 patients for a while now-- pretty reasonably stable and minimal ventilations,” said Dr. Karen Kent VanGorder who serves as chief medical and quality officer at Sparrow Hospital. “I don’t think we’ve had anyone on a vent in a couple weeks and the death rate and the number of deaths has been zero for several weeks.”

VanGorder said she is also feeling cautiously optimistic about COVID-19 numbers in mid-Michigan.

“While I think COVID is going to be with us for a while longer, we're at a steady-state,” she said. “Every health care executive in the state loathes to say such a thing because lightning will strike and we’ll go back to being in a terrible surge which is just a really challenging thing for our healthcare system. You almost hate to say it but it would appear that the number of hosts for our virus is low enough so that the viral spread is not as terrible as it was even three months ago.”

She explained that protocols at Sparrow are changing as fewer and fewer patients need COVID care. For instance, many rooms are being transitioned back into regular care.

“We had to move a lot of equipment into the hallways so that we didn’t waste too much PPE going in and out of a room just to plug or unplug a machine or press a button, so we’re not having those kinds of arrangements right now,” Kent VanGorder said.

Both physicians agreed that vaccinations continue to be incredibly important for Michiganders as the state moves away from the pandemic.

“We will see increases in numbers, it’s just going to happen,” Morse said. “How big and how bad is yet to be determined so the sooner you can get vaccinated the sooner you’re going to be protected from that. When we do have an increase it will disproportionately affect those who are not fully vaccinated.”

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