As the second half of fall semester starts, concerns about the potential rise in COVID-19 cases have emerged. However, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said she believes that most likely there will be no drastic negative effect from what is currently presented in data.
“What we're seeing with MSU-related cases is just really a gradual decline,” Vail said.
Vail’s optimism for MSU’s future and current status with COVID-19 cases is due to the progress in comparison to last year and through data presented through a COVID-19 hotspot chart.
“I can tell you that at Michigan State University, we did identify 24 new cases over the last week,” Vail said. “So that's down from 40-something the week before. So we are seeing, really compared to last year, things being very calm with regard to these cases that are MSU-associated.”
Moreover, Vail said she also believes MSU will be resilient against COVID-19 after the return of students from fall break due to patterns over the past few months at MSU.
“Significant outbreaks or significant surges — like we saw last September — we still have not seen this year, so not after any football game, not after return to campus, not after rush for fraternities and sororities,” Vail said. “So I don't think that really a short, fall break will have any more significant impact than any of those events would.”
In addition to patterns and progress, Vail said she believes much of the success at Michigan State with battling against any rise in COVID-19 cases is due to the implementation of the vaccine requirements.
“(Michigan State’s) requirement for vaccines seems to been successful in making sure that those students do get vaccinated and we don't see a lot of cases,” Vail said.
As progress is being made in vaccination rates, booster and third doses are the next battles for the county, but Vail said there is positive growth being made in that area, too.
The booster vaccine is considered even more essential for vaccinated people after concerns of vaccinated cases emerge.
“I pulled a week's worth of data just a few days ago, and it was about five percent (of cases for vaccinated people) ,” Vail said. “It varies a little bit, but it is certainly higher than it was back at the beginning. (It is) really additional evidence that these boosters are needed and important."
Over the past week, there has been an increase in concern for vaccinated cases due to the recent death of Colin Powell — former four-star general, first Black Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — on Oct. 18. Powell was reported by his family to have complications due to COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated.
“It's so very, very important beyond just you and your vaccine to protect you is how our vaccines in a community help protect the vulnerable amongst us, and (Powell) was one of them,” Vail said.
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