Cases, hospitalizations continue to surge in Berrien County

NOW: Cases, hospitalizations continue to surge in Berrien County

NILES, Mich. — Across Lakeland’s hospitals, all 18 of their ICU beds are full, plus an overflow of patients taking up other hospital rooms.

Right now, every COVID patient in the ICU is unvaccinated, while 85 percent of their other hospital patients have also not gotten the shot. 

The numbers mirror what’s happening outside the hospital, with Berrien County now at a 34 percent positivity rate.

“One out of every three tests done in a healthcare setting is positive, that’s not including people who are doing home tests,” said Rex Cabaltica, MD, Medical Director at the Berrien County Health Department.

The daily average is now 240 cases – last year at this time it was 60. 

“Even though Omicron is a milder case, because we’ve got four times higher the daily average of cases, that means the same number are going to end up hospitalized,” said Dr. Cabaltica. 

It’s critical though that businesses and schools remain open, which prompted the CDC to change quarantine and isolation guidelines.

Anyone who tests positive and is not high risk can leave isolation after five days – if you’re asymptomatic – but keep a mask on.

If you’ve been exposed, you don’t have to quarantine if you’re boosted or tested positive within the past 90 days through a PCR or antigen test, but should still mask up.

Under any other circumstances – like if you’re unvaccinated or haven’t yet gotten a booster – it’s a five day quarantine and get tested if symptoms start.

Here’s the potential light at the end of the tunnel, though, health officials believe Omicron’s peak will come faster than Delta’s – and may have already happened.

“If you can stay healthy a few more weeks, I think your risks will significantly improve,” said Loren B. Hamel, MD, President at Spectrum Health Lakeland.

Remember, those new quarantine guidelines don’t apply to K-12 schools or congregate care. 

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