EAST LANSING, Mich. — Ingham County has seen a noticeable increase in the number of COVID hospitalization cases this month.
The uptick comes at the same time Michigan State University is preparing to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester, which is cause for concern.
As of Tuesday, there were over 54 COVID hospitalizations reported at the area’s two largest hospital systems.
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said that's an 86 percent increase from the start of this month.
"We are seeing an increase in hospitalizations. They will level and go back down if cases level and go back down. We don't know if we can maintain that because the environment around us right now says we really can't," said Vail.
The age group seeing the biggest jump are people aged 20 to 29 years old, which has sparked concerns as MSU welcomes back students for the first time in a year.
Bryce Opie is a sophomore who says he’s confident the numbers will stay down.
“Last year we were told to stay home. It was a little bit of a bummer. But this year they are giving us the opportunity to come to campus and prove ourselves I guess and show that we can keep the COVID numbers down while attending school. I’m pretty faithful they have everything set up and I feel really safe, honestly," said Opie.
Dr. Norm Beauchamp is part of MSU’s COVID response task force says the school is doing everything they can to make students like Opie and the surrounding community feel safe, including requiring students to get vaccinated.
“I think it's safe to say there will be some cases this fall because of the Delta variant being highly infectious. But what I’m really proud of is that we are closely monitoring it as you would suggest. And although the cases have started to creep up, they now have plateaued over the last 3 or 4 days," said Beauchamp.
It’s a big job because the school has nearly 40,000 undergraduate students.
“We’ve put a vaccine requirement in place, masking indoors and we think that with those things and then testing the unvaccinated, we’re confident that we’ll be able to keep our students, faculty and surrounding community safe," said Beauchamp.
University officials say they are planning to follow the recommended CDC guidelines and make adjustments as needed. They say they do expect to have some cases but have already planned for that by setting aside buildings for students living on campus who need to quarantine.