Monday, January 25, 2021

Health Officer Linda Vail warns against Thanksgiving gatherings

November 25, 2020
<p>People walk around the checkout aisles at Meijer on March 12, 2020, after MSU canceled classes due to coronavirus.</p>

People walk around the checkout aisles at Meijer on March 12, 2020, after MSU canceled classes due to coronavirus.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

With an average of about seven and a half COVID-19 related deaths per week in Ingham County and a continuing pattern of widespread community transmission, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail cautioned against Thanksgiving gatherings amid the worst part of the pandemic to date.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Ingham County reports 8,005 total COVID-19 cases and 102 deaths. In the two weeks prior, the county saw an increase of 19 total deaths with three more since Monday alone.

Since September, when the county totaled 40 reported deaths, there has been an increase of 62 deaths — accounting for nearly 61% of the county’s current total. 

The month of November has seen a total of 29 deaths to date, up from 23 in October and 10 the two months prior. This totals just one death less in a single month than the entire five-month span between March and July, which reported a cumulative total of 30 deathsResidents of East Lansing (48823) account for 22 of the total Ingham County deaths, followed by Lansing (48911) at 17 deaths.

“We have to, in absence of a vaccine, be careful so that our basic community wide spread doesn’t continue to impact these vulnerable people, older people, people of color, who are dying,” Vail said.

County hospitalizations in Sparrow and McLaren health facilities report 161 confirmed and suspected cases. Of those, 20 are in the intensive care unit and 16 are ventilated.

While the county still sees continuously large numbers, Vail said the hospitalization rate might at least be beginning to flatten out and the case rate looks hopeful to follow the same trend. In order to stay on that path, however, community members need to recognize the risk of traveling and gathering this Thanksgiving. 

“We’re in a period of time where we have the highest number of cases we’ve seen during the entire pandemic," Vail said. "We have the highest number of hospitalizations we have seen since the pandemic started. We have the highest number of deaths we have seen since this pandemic started. If we want those things to go down rather than continue to go up, then that’s what we need to do."

As hard as it is, this is just not a time to gather in groups and with people from multiple households. If you are going to travel, Vail said the best practice would be quarantining for 14 days before departure and another 14 days upon return.

When Canada celebrated Thanksgiving back in October, Vail said evidence showed that celebrations can lead to an increase in COVID-19 transmission. With an ability to control the virus far better than what has been seen in the United States, she said if it happened to them then we are at risk to see an impact on an even larger scale.

“We’re at a time where these things could easily take off again,” Vail said. “It’s like we got dry wood and dry brush all over the place, and we’re going to throw a match in it if we don’t be careful.”

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