Health department: COVID-19 cases are on the rise

Adam London Courtesy Kent County Health Department

The Kent County Health Department warned COVID-19 cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations are increasing.

Over the past week, the average number of new Kent County cases per day has increased from approximately 75 to over 100, including the 178 which were reported Wednesday. The county’s positivity rate has increased to 5.4% after two months of a 4% rate.

Local hospitals also are reporting an increase in COVID-19 inpatient admissions. These increases reflect trends being observed in many other parts of Michigan and around the world.

“It is critically important for everyone to remember that the arrival of coronavirus variants and prematurely relaxed attitudes about COVID-19 put our community in grave danger of a resurgence in cases and deaths,” said Dr. Adam London, Kent County Health Department administrative health officer. “Our county has already lost at least 656 residents to this pandemic. We do not want to see anyone else lose their life, especially when we are so near to the end of this pandemic.”

Public health and health care officials urge people to continue adhering to the prevention strategies that have been proven to reduce transmission: wear facial coverings in public places, stay home if unwell, avoid large social gatherings and practice good hand washing.

The health department also is encouraging residents to get vaccinated as soon as an opportunity is available. To date, 28.1% of Kent County’s population has received at least one dose of vaccine. Approximately 70% of residents aged 65 or older have received at least one dose and the number of cases in that age group has been cut in half.

The approved vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have shown themselves to be both safe and effective. The Kent County Health Department, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and many other partners anticipate the volume of vaccine allocated to our area to increase dramatically between now and the end of May.

The county said it continues to vaccinate health care workers, first responders, K-12 educators, child care providers, congregate care workers, all people aged 65 and older, people aged 50 and older with underlying health conditions, caregivers and guardians of children with special health care needs, and uniquely vulnerable/underserved populations of people.

All people aged 50 and older were eligible Monday.

At this time, the county said it strongly encourages other people in category 1B to pre-register. This group includes people who, by the nature of their business, work in close proximity to other people in the workplaces of food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, public transit, grocery stores, postal service, civil service, utilities and other critical infrastructure. Appointments will generally be made according to vulnerability and phase status. Pre-registered persons in upcoming Michigan Department of Health and Human Services phases may be scheduled early depending on vaccine availability.

Links for pre-registration at various clinics can be found here. People are encouraged to select the most convenient vaccine provider and follow the appropriate link for pre-registration.

Those without a clinic preference should select the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place, which receives the region’s largest weekly allocation of vaccine and is capable of serving the most people.

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