Health Officer: Upward trend of COVID-19 cases are coming from social gatherings

COVID-19 Social Gathering
Posted at 4:37 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 16:37:14-04

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — With the increase in COVID-19 cases statewide, health officials are seeing breaking records compared to this spring.

While testing has also increased, experts said that's not the reason behind this increase.

Health officials said contract tracing is showing that cases aren't necessarily developing at work or school but rather through social gatherings. Despite how people may feel, they said doing things like wearing a mask and social distancing are in fact helping.

"We are at the highest level that we have ever been at. We’re probably at least twice the number of levels that we encountered in April or May of earlier this year," said Kalamazoo County Public Health Department's Health Officer Jim Rutherford.

Kalamazoo County's Health Officer said they've seen an increase in cases of COVID-19, easily recording an average of 50 to 60 positive cases a day.

And, Kalamazoo County isn't the only one. Calhoun County saw a surge a couple of weeks ago, but now they're saying numbers are unprecedented.

"In fact, it is increasing. There is more virus circulating in our community right now, and we are having widespread, uncontrolled community-controlled transmission of COVID-19," said the Kalamazoo and Calhoun Counties Medical Director Dr. William Nettleton.

Whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, they said most cases aren't being contracted at school or work or places where protocols are in place, instead they're happening in social settings.

Health officials said while they're testing more people, the additional testing doesn't account for other factors.

"The percent positivity, that data point is telling. That is the total number of positives over the whole number we are testing. So if there was less virus circulating in our community, then the percent positivity rate would be low too. It is not," said Dr. Nettleton.

Despite what some people may be saying, Rutherford said masks are helping prevent the spread.

"In those environments where those public health practices are in use, in hospitals and what not, we are seeing a lot less disease transmission. So yes, they’re working and we need to continue to employ them," said Rutherford.

It's the same rules we've been following, but now it's even more crucial as the numbers get worse.

"I want our community to hear that message. That the trajectory that we are heading down does require changes in our behavior. We really have to wear our masks, physically distance more than six feet and to avoid those social gatherings," said Dr. Nettleton.

Kalamazoo County Public Health Department said data shows they're starting to see more cases in those under the age of 40, but the older population and those with preexisting conditions are still at the highest risk.