As the winter months approach, the fear of COVID-19 and other illnesses increase along with.
The Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard via Bridge Michigan states that there has been a 23 percent increase in hospitalizations during the week of Nov. 28 compared to the week prior. The week before claimed at 26 percent increase.
Mohamed Adawee, the director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Sparrow Hospital, said respiratory infections increase through winter, so seeing an increase in cases or hospitalizations is generally normal for the time of year.
When discussing the increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations, Michael Brown, an MSU physician, professor and chair of emergency medicine, said the increase now "is due to one of the lowest lows we had over the summer.”
Brown said he has not seen a pattern with COVID-19 as he has seen with other respiratory infections, so he doesn’t get too surprised when there are highs and lows at certain times.
“COVID hasn't had that pattern," Brown said. "We could see a new peak in the spring or summer."
However, Brown explained that numbers this winter could be misrepresented.
Brown said the popularity of at-home tests enables the idea that the true number of those inflicted by COVID-19 is “next to impossible to predict now."
Adawee also agreed that during increased times of vulnerability to the virus, at-home tests allow many positive cases to go unreported creating skewed statistics.
Brown added how MSU monitors COVID-19 instances.
He discussed that hospitalization statistics are one way to track the risk, but another way is the surveillance of the waste water. This process is sponsored by the CDC and Michigan Department of Health and Services and it is the monitorization of COVID particles in the waste water, as those infected can shed the virus with the use of wastewater.
Treatment plants in Ingham and Eaton County make up the data in this area, providing data from the wastewater to analyze overall community health.
Brown also discussed ways to protect others during a time period of increased risk of infection.
“If I am feeling ill, I should protect those around me by wearing a mask and testing myself for COVID,” Brown said.
Adawee and Brown both gave recommendations for what to be aware of and how to stay safe during peaks in COVID. They both recommended keeping up with current COVID vaccinations.
Adawee also recommended individuals with respiratory infections to “practice … basic infection prevention practices.”
“We need to … as a community protect (those with immune deficiencies) from ending up being in the hospital,” Brown said.
Brown said that a community can do this by wearing a mask in public places and staying away from large events when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
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