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Ingham County showing general improvement in COVID-19 conditions, disparities still exist

February 17, 2021
<p>Downtown East Lansing on Nov. 20, 2020.</p>

Downtown East Lansing on Nov. 20, 2020.

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Nearly a year since the first case of COVID-19 touched down in Ingham County, things are beginning to look up with cases and deaths are on the downtrend while vaccinations are increasing. Although, a disproportionate burden is still placed on people of color.

On Feb. 17, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail provided an update on the current state of Ingham County in regard to the pandemic.

Here's what you should know about COVID-19 in Ingham County:

  • 15,168 total confirmed cases, with 1,276 currently active cases.
  • Both hospitalizations and deaths have trended downwards since a December peak.
  • Vaccine allocations have been increasing.
  • The county's Black population has a 1.35x higher case rate, with a similar rate in the Latinx population. The same holds true for the death rate.
  • A recent spike in new MSU-related cases has subsided.

Vail attributed a decrease in deaths to the fact that cases and hospitalizations have also decreased. Deaths have decreased since a peak in January, when Ingham County experienced 23 deaths in one week. This past week, there was one. A reason she gave for this is that residents and faculty of long-term care facilities are mostly vaccinated, which has made up for a large proportion of deaths.

"I believe that the vast majority of our long-term care facilities have received at least one vaccine at this point in time, many have received two," Vail said. "The long-term care facility residents at this point in time have largely been vaccinated, with at least one dose and within a fairly short period of time here, will be vaccinated with the second dose as well."

Vaccine allocations have risen over the past few weeks, with a recent delivery of 6,575 doses, many of which are second doses for those that have previously received their first dose. Vail said that around 2,000 people will still be able to be newly vaccinated in the coming week.

"Per our scheduled appointments, which should not change even with the snow issue that we had yesterday, we should be at 26,467 doses administered," Vail said. "Now again, those are first and second doses."

Although a clinic was canceled on Feb. 16, those appointments were redistributed throughout other clinics this week. Vail said that this probably won't affect wait time, as the Ingham County Health Department has the capacity to handle greater volumes of patients. The reason that vaccine distribution is slow is due to a low supply of vaccines.

A spike in new MSU-related cases during the week of Jan. 25 has mostly subsided over this past week. Students returned to campus on Jan. 15, which is likely the reason for the spike, according to Vail.

"This is return to campus, we did peak out this week of Jan. 25 with 223 cases," Vail said. "We are coming down quite nicely from that at this point in time. Kudos to MSU for a lot of the efforts going on there related to containment issues as well as the continuation of basically messaging around the importance of following guidelines and safe practices."

A similar spike occurred in early November, which Vail said was likely the result of MSU vs University of Michigan gameday and Halloween gatherings.

There are currently 66 confirmed hospitalizations, adhering to a downtrend since the beginning of January, with a December peak of over 160.

"Hospitalizations are clearly coming down nicely, clearly we've got a little bit of room to continue to improve. Those numbers are still higher than what we were looking at back in April, when all of this began, I'd much rather see us in the range that we were in say late May."

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