As the new COVID-19 variant is brought into light and hospitals face more pressure, the Ingham County Health Department, or ICHD, Chief Health Officer Linda Vail updated the community on specific concerns rising within the health department.
Vail said there is a cumulative number of 36,698 cases, 5,005 active cases, 1,160 new cases and 10 deaths since Nov. 23.
“We are climbing up quite steeply with hospitalizations,” Vail said.
Along with hospitalizations, positive tests have been at a higher percentage. Vail said positive tests are higher than last fall.
As stated in the previous ICHD briefing, MSU’s campus still remains to be the location of most cases. Moreover, in the county, it seems the prime hotspots are areas with dense housing and some facility outbreaks.
With case rates regarding race, ”the degree of the disproportionate burden of illness” is more clear, Vail said.
There is a 47% increase in cases between Caucasians and African Americans, as well as a 34% increase over the Hispanic or Latinx population over those who are not part of that population, Vail said.
Death rates show a 41% death rate increase in cases between Caucasians and African Americans, and a 63% increase in the Hispanic or Latinx population over those who are not part of that population.
Looking at the trends for deaths by month since 2020, Vail said to expect some more deaths as we end November, and noted the gradual climb since July in deaths.
Comparing last year’s trends, Vail said death rates may “potentially now be followed by what we saw in November, December, January last year.”
Including MSU vaccination numbers, 71.3% of residents 16+ have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 66.7% of all eligible residents that are at least five years old have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
In terms of booster doses and general doses, Ingham County has worked to increase availability and encouraged people to prioritize vaccination.
Currently in Ingham County, approximately 25.3% of 5-to-11-year-olds have received their first dose of COVID-19.
As of recently, there has been a spread in concern for the new Omicron variant. However, as of now, Vail said most of the information about the variant is speculation or scientific hypothesis.
“Getting those answers is going to take a little time because science takes a little time,” Vail said. “So, in a week or two, we should see a lot more information about transmissibility, immunity, escape, as well as severity of illness.”
Given the spike in cases and deaths, Ingham County is currently aiming to do their best to mitigate positive cases, such as Sparrow canceling elective surgeries through the end of the year as hospitalization rises.
“We work alongside our health systems, but we don't have a way of directly taking that pressure off of them,” Vail said. “Other than these public health measures that say please wear masks, please get vaccinated. Please stay home when you're sick, please isolate if you have COVID. Those things will keep our hospital capacities down.”
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