Allegan County Health Department officials Wednesday announced that COVID-19 levels and cases have reached an all-time high.
Indeed, the Hopkins, Otsego, Plainwell and Hamilton school districts shut down their classrooms just before the Thanksgiving holiday break in an effort to to mitigate the spread of the deadly disease.
Local health officials are asking that those who test positive for the virus, or who experience COVID-like symptoms, to reach out to close contacts and let them know. An alert could be sent out anonymously through the MI COVID Alert.
Allegan County Medical Director Dr. Richard Tooker told WWMT-TV News, “We need community members to work together to bring the level of community transmission down before the educational institutions and businesses are impacted further. Without quick and intentional action from the community, people can expect a decrease in the capacity for local hospitals to provide COVID-19 interventions, other emergency services, and routine care for other health concerns. We may see more schools and businesses close due to widespread illness and staff shortages.
Allegan County officials provided a look at some important data:
- Seven-day average case rate for Allegan County is 818.93 per 100,000 (11/14/21 to 11/20/21).
- Seven-day average test positivity rate of 21.56% from Nov. 12-18
- A total of 187 positive pediatric (0-18) cases were reported in Allegan County, with 14 pediatric hospitalizations at Region 5 and 6 health systems between Nov. 14 and Nov. 20.
- A total of 80.5% and 82.6% of hospital beds are occupied, with 24.2% and 25.8% of these COVID-19 patients (Region 5 and Region 6, respectively).
- 56% of Allegan County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine which is not enough to stem the transmission of the highly contagious delta variant.
- In Allegan County, an estimated 79.1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals.
To prevent transmission, health officials recommended the following:
- Vaccinate. If you are unvaccinated, speak with your trusted healthcare provider about the benefits of vaccination. The vaccine is free, safe, and effective, and is available from providers throughout the County. Vaccines are now available for anyone 5 years and older. Boosters are available to anyone 18 who received J&J, they are eligible at least two months after their last dose.
- Wear your mask. On Nov. 19, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a Public Health Advisory on the use of face masks. With current COVID-19 transmission levels so high, ACHD is urging all people to wear a mask indoors, at work, school and anywhere in public when gathered around other people, even if they are vaccinated. Masks provide an additional layer of protection from spreading and contracting the viruses that cause COVID-19 and influenza. This is especially important for those who may be infected without symptoms (asymptomatic), or infected but not yet having symptoms (presymptomatic), and who may be unaware of their infectiousness to others.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even minor symptoms, or if you think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, stay home.
- Get tested. With the holidays coming up, ACHD recommends getting tested before any planned gatherings to help prevent further transmission. There are testing sites throughout Allegan County this week and next.
- Fill out a self-reported form if you test positive for COVID-19. Since public health does not have capacity to complete all case investigations for COVID-19, ACHD prioritizes school age COVID-19 cases and other vulnerable cases for investigations. To help with the timely reporting of cases, ACHD asks community members that test positive to complete the self-reporting information found on the ACHD COVID-19 website.
- Notify your close contacts if you test positive for COVID-19. If you are a close contact, follow the recommended quarantine guidance. ACHD allows a shortened quarantine period after day 10 without testing OR after day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 7).