CADILLAC — The data related to COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and vaccinations continues to trend in the right direction.
Dr. Christine Nefcy, Chief Medical Officer for Munson Healthcare, said the 14-day average COVID-19 positivity rate in Northern Michigan has dropped to 1.7%.
“That’s really good news for us,‘ Nefcy said during a virtual press conference held Tuesday.
So far, Nefcy said Munson and their partners have administered around 85,000 vaccinations in this region, which also is good news, tempered somewhat by declining rates of vaccination in recent days.
“Vaccination is really the key for getting us through this pandemic,‘ Nefcy said.
Another topic of discussion during the press conference was the so-called “Delta‘ variant of the virus, which is believed to be more contagious and lead to more hospitalizations than the “Alpha‘ or “UK‘ variant of the virus.
So far, the Delta variant has been detected in about 10% of new U.S. cases. Nefcy added that vaccines still appear to be highly effective protection against the variant, although efficacy reductions of 1-6% have been observed.
Dr. Jennifer Morse, medical director of District Health Department No. 10, reported that as of June 15, the COVID positivity rate within the health department jurisdiction, which includes Wexford, Missaukee and Lake counties, was 2.34%.
As of June 18, Morse said 102,745 vaccines have been administered in the region.
Bonnie Kruszka, vice president and chief nursing officer of ambulatory services, provided an update on monoclonal antibody therapy treatments, which now are available without a referral from a primary care provider.
These one-time infusion treatments are available to high-risk patients who are suffering mild COVID-19 symptoms. The treatments have been shown to improve recovery time and reduce the severity of illness.
To receive an infusion, a patient must be at least 12 years old and weigh at least 88 pounds. The infusion must be done within 10 days of the first sign of symptoms to be effective.
Also during the press conference, someone asked the panelists if they had any suggestions about mask usage following the statewide relaxation of many COVID-related safety mandates.
Nefcy acknowledged that with the state not at the 70% vaccination threshold where it had hoped to be at this point, along with the potential arrival of a dangerous new variant, the relaxation of restrictions is a bit confusing. That being said, Nefcy advised people to continue wearing masks to protect themselves and others where they feel it’s appropriate, especially in group settings.
Morse added that unvaccinated people should still be wearing masks, even if it is no longer a mandate of the state to do so.
Mask usage is still required for staff and visitors at all Munson Healthcare hospitals.
According to District Health Department No. 10 and Central Michigan District Health Department, on Tuesday Missaukee and Osceola counties both added one new case, bringing their total number of cases to 1,268 and 1,698, respectively. No new cases were reported in Wexford and Lake counties.
Statewide cases increased by 91 on Tuesday, and the number of deaths increased by 15. According to the state of Michigan website, the deaths announced Tuesday included eight deaths identified during a vital records review. There have been 893,582 confirmed cases statewide and 19,662 deaths attributed to COVID-19.