VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. — One west Michigan health department is thanking the state for extending the epidemic order earlier this week.
The Van Buren-Cass County District Health Department said they've seen a huge increase of COVID cases since the beginning of October.
In the last three weeks, they said they've had more cases than the entire pandemic, but in the last seven days, they've seen their positivity rate decrease.
"For us, the difficulty that we are in the stage of the pandemic is that the majority of the cases now are coming from community spread," said Van Buren/Cass County District Health Department's Deputy Health Officer Danielle Persky.
Just last week, the department said it hit its record in terms of COVID case averages since the pandemic began, but it's not just increased spread.
Deaths have also more than doubled in the past month in Van Buren County, now sitting at 54 when it was in the 20's just one month ago.
"In the last 3 weeks, we've had more cases than we have in the entire pandemic as a whole. That is for us a striking reality of we need to figure out how to get this under control," said Persky.
Persky said the state's epidemic order is doing just that, and the numbers are already starting to go down.
A week ago, both counties were seeing positivity rates above 18%.
"Now a week later, that seven day average for Van Buren is down to 15.8% positivity and for Cass down to 17.8% positivity," said Persky.
Persky said the order helped reduce the spread in places where they were seeing a number cases like indoor dining and youth sports.
"We were grateful for the epidemic order in terms of youth sports, because we were seeing sporting events being an opportunity for spread being that through coaches, athletes, etc. That really impacted our numbers as well," said Persky.
While the numbers are still much higher than just a few months ago, the department is hopeful these restrictions will continue to reduce the numbers.
"We are hoping to see more of a downward trend. More than anything, we are just pleading with our community, and the state as a whole, to please continue to take the precautions especially around the holidays," said Persky.
The health department also said they're in the thick of preparing for the vaccine and distribution once it's approved. They have been getting priority individuals signed up and locations set, so they are ready to go as soon as it's in their hands.
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