Berrien County health officials report increasing COVID-19 cases, encourage vaccination

Published 5:13 pm Wednesday, November 10, 2021

BERRIEN COUNTY — The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over — that was the message shared by Berrien County health officials this week.

The Berrien County Health Department and Spectrum Health Lakeland hosted a joint briefing Wednesday morning to update the public on the state of COVID-19.

During the update, Berrien County Health Department Medical Director Rex Cabaltica reported that case numbers are trending upwards, averaging more than 50 cases per day. He reported the greatest increase in COVID-19 cases is in the 0-11 age group.

Currently, the county has a percent positive rate of 15.6 percent, leaving it in a state of high transmission.

Spectrum Health Lakeland President Loren Hamel said the county’s COVID-19 transmission rate continues to have an effect on local hospitals.

“We still have significant COVID cases in our ICUs, folks on ventilators,” he said. “We are seeing an in-patient mortality that is running at about 10 percent.”

To protect the community during continued high transmission, both Hamel and Calbaltica encouraged residents to continue to take COVID-19 precautions including hand washing, social distancing and masking. They also issued a strong encouragement to residents to become vaccinated against the virus.

“It is going to be critical to have everyone vaccinated,” Hamel said. “We need everyone to be vaccinated. Vaccines in yourself and children far outweigh the risks of COVID.”

Along with calls for vaccination, Hamel reminded residents that COVID-19 can still be transmitted by vaccinated persons, even though the vaccines significantly reduce the chances of serious illness. He said vaccinated persons should still take additional COVID-19 precautions.

“It is critically important to continue being very careful with the control measures and to be careful that you don’t use vaccination status as an excuse to be careless,” he said. “We are still in the middle of a very aggressive pandemic in Berrien County and across Michigan.”

Before signing off, Hamel thanked the community for the work they have done so far to contain the COVID-19 virus.

“Thank you for everything you are doing to prevention transmission,” he said. “This is the way we can help protect the lives of those we care about. … We are trying to save lives here, and this pandemic is not over yet.”