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Ingham County sees low community risk in a national COVID-19 surge

July 22, 2022
<p>Drive-through COVID-19 patients waiting to get through first stage of screening at Michigan State University&#x27;s drive-through testing site on April 2, 2020.</p>

Drive-through COVID-19 patients waiting to get through first stage of screening at Michigan State University's drive-through testing site on April 2, 2020.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise again nationally.

A new subvariant of Omicron, BA.5, is responsible for 65% of these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

BA.5 presents with the same symptoms typically seen in COVID-19 cases but has increased transmissibility. 

From July 13-20, the national current 7-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases increased 15.7% from the previous week’s average. However, in Ingham County, the current 7-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases has decreased by 35% from the previous week’s average.

Ingham County currently has a low COVID-19 community level and has been on a 61-day downward trend in cases, Ingham County Health Department Health Officer Linda Vail said. 

“With a more transmissible variant, case counts can start going up,” Vail said. “They're at a baseline level right now that’s certainly higher than we've seen in other summers; July of last year was lower than what we're looking at right now, but we're not seeing increases in hospitalizations right now, so we're not having a hospital capacity issue which we've seen before.”

Vail credits the lower hospitalization rate to decreased virulence and increased vaccinations. 

“I think as we see these variants and this isn't absolutely solid in science, but what we're seeing is that, as these variants become more transmissible, they become what we call less virulent,” Vail said. “We know now at this point in time that your vaccine isn't necessarily going to prevent an infection, but when you look at the data, what you do see is that it's still very, very effective at preventing hospitalizations, and extremely effective at preventing deaths.”

Currently, nearly half of the American population over the age of 12 has received at least one booster dose. In Ingham County, 60% of the population over the age of 12 has received at least one booster. 

While the risk for infection and severe disease is currently low in Ingham County, Vail advises the population to stay cautious. 

“People always should be cautious about things like indoor gatherings,” Vail said. “There are appropriate times to probably wear masks. Those sorts of things are important precautions to continue taking. Staying home when you're sick, getting tested if you feel sick, getting home tests in stock so that you can do those at home. Really, pretty much the advice we've been giving since the beginning. Wash your hands.”

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