Van Buren/Cass District Health Department pleads with public to take COVID-19 precautions

Published 12:11 pm Friday, December 3, 2021

CASSOPOLIS — The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department issued a plea to the Cass County public Thursday evening.

Health Officer Danielle Perksy appeared via Zoom at Thursday’s Cass County Board of Commissioners meeting to provide an update on the county’s current status regarding the COVID-19 virus and to plea with both the commissioners and the public to remain vigilant and continue to take precautions against the virus.

“I want to be really clear that what is happening, what we are experiencing nationally, locally and at the state level, is real and concerning,” Persky said.

As of Monday, the county remained in a state of high community transmission with 397 cases per 100,000 residents and a 32.7 percent positivity rate.

“This is climbing, and it’s climbing rapidly, and we’re concerned,” Persky said. “If we don’t get this under control, we are going to be in a world of hurt.”

Persky said the case numbers, which are higher than they were this time last year, are of extra concern due to staffing shortages at area hospitals and new variants of the virus.

“We are short-staffed, understaffed,” Persky said.

Persky is concerned that Cass County residents have become fatigued by the pandemic and are no longer taking precautions such as mask-wearing, hand washing, social distancing and vaccination. As of Monday, Cass County remained the county with the least percentage of eligible residents vaccinated in the state 46 percent.

Even if residents choose not to get vaccinated, Persky said the health department is strongly recommending mask use, as data has proven masks to be effective both locally and on a global scale.

“Everyone got a little lackadaisical over the summer, but we have got to bring it back,” she said. “In a county where we are not well vaccinated, our next best tool is masks.”

The health department will be issuing a plea to the public to make upgrades  to their COVID-19 safety precautions to help get the county’s current wave of cases under control.

“We are just saying, looking at you, as an individual, what upgrades can you make that will make a difference?” Persky said. “If one person can reduce their risk, exponentially, it starts to follow. … So if you stopped wearing your mask to the grocery store, consider wearing it again. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet or your kids haven’t or you haven’t gotten your booster yet, try to get it.”

Persky encouraged commissioners to share the health department’s plea with their constituents and to consider mask policies in county buildings.

“If we don’t get this under control, when this variant comes, I’m very concerned about what place we are going to be in,” Persky said.