Munson Sees Highest COVID Patient Count Ever, School Clinics Planned
Munson Healthcare says once again, cases continue to rise throughout northern Michigan. Overall case numbers are up and hospitalizations are also increasing. Munson hosted its weekly community update with several local health departments.
Grand Traverse Co. Health Department Health Officer Wendy Hirschenberger says, “We currently have the most active cases we’ve ever had in the community at 1,240.” Grand Traverse County is seeing a new high for active cases. Numbers appear to be leveling off, but it may be too soon to tell. “Our metrics are still high, but they’ve stabilized…. We’ll have to see over the next week or two if that is a trend or not.”
And Grand Traverse County is reporting four deaths over the past week – three seniors over age 70, and a young woman. “As of the last week, a female in her 20s, a female in their 80s, and overnight we reported a male in his 70s and a male in their 80s. So we’re at 80 deaths total now for Grand Traverse County.”
Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christine Nefcy says they’ve never had this many COVID patients. “We continue to see an increase in the number of cases. While our percent positive is down very slightly from what it was last week, our cases per 100,000 continue to increase and our hospitalizations continue to increase.” She adds, “We currently have 100 patients positive for COVID 19 who are hospitalized across our system. That is the highest number of inpatients we’ve had since the pandemic started.”
Vaccine supplies are steady for Benzie-Leelanau and the Health Dept. of Northwest Michigan. Health Officer Lisa Peacock says they can take everyone who’s ready to come in. “Our waiting list is literally non-existent at this point. We’ve been able to work through the entire waiting list or queue for scheduling… but we are definitely moving towards open scheduling.”
There is a community clinic in Antrim County on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. -4:00 p.m. at Elk Rapids High school – appointments and walk-ins are both allowed.
District Health Department #10 reiterated the guidelines for quarantine. Medical Director Jennifer Morse explains that if you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive, “You need to quarantine 14 days regardless of a negative test result at any time during that 14 days. Both antigen (rapid) and PCR tests can be falsely negative during the earlier stages of a COVID infection, which is why it cannot clear you from quarantine (i.e., the test could be negative even though you are infected).”
Dr. Morse says even after your second dose of the vaccine, you’re not immediately considered fully vaccinated. “You are considered fully vaccinated (i.e., the vaccine series is most likely fully effective) starting two weeks after you got your last dose of a vaccine series (whether it is one or two doses). If you are exposed on/after that two-week mark, you do not need to quarantine. If you are exposed before the two-week point, you need to quarantine for 14 days.”
She adds, “This is because, if you were infected when exposed, the virus was in your body and able to start reproducing before your immune system had fully built up its defenses from the vaccine. The virus would have a foothold on your body by the time you pass the two-week mark past your second vaccine and infection can still occur.”
However, health officials say getting vaccinated is your best way to stay protected and ease overall restrictions. “If they are (fully) vaccinated (plus two weeks), they aren’t subject to that quarantine in most cases. It can be an important plus to our businesses, our communities, and our economies.”
With Memorial Day and July 4 right around the corner, the time is now to get your vaccine before the influx of summer visitors and tourists start to arrive. Dr. Morse says, “They can get vaccinated now, have both their doses of Moderna or Pfizer prior to the arrival of all the visitors we are likely to see.”
Meanwhile, 620 Spring Breakers went to Traverse City Central’s Rapid Testing site three weeks ago – 42 of them came back positive, according to TCAPS. Additionally there were 118 PRC tests given and shipped to a lab for results. In a statement to 9&10 News, TCAPS says “The results from the 118 PCR tests came in the days following the testing event, but positive case information would have gone to the respective health departments, not the school district.”
Hirschenberger says plans for student clinics are now underway. “We will be starting first-dose clinics for 16-17-18 year old’s in high schools. Kingsley, Buckley, and TC West this week, TC Central next week. And working through additional high schools in our area in the coming weeks.”
Parents should keep an eye out for emails from the schools for consent forms and appointment information.