Health experts warn pandemic is still not over

SOUTH BEND, IND., --- The CDC predicted 100 million new COVID cases nationwide this fall and winter, now but will there be a summertime surge here in Michiana too?

The numbers are on the rise and coronavirus transmission in St. Joseph County is high, with most mask mandates and other pandemic precautions being lifted.

Local health experts still warned again the threat is not over.

“People who have already burnt their masks or thrown them away, I think the most important message is to be respectful of others who chose to continue wear a mask because we don’t know what they’re dealing with,” said Dr. Mark Fox, Deputy Health Officer, St. Joseph County Health Department.

COVID concerns are still lingering as experts link a sub variant of Omicron to the latest rise in COVID cases again across the U.S.

More than more than 40 states have seen an increase in infections and hospitalizations.

The latest numbers out of Michigan showed an average increase of 700 more cases per day over a seven-day period from the week prior.

Across the state line in Indiana a similar story with cases statewide up by 135 including a slight increase in St. Joseph County.

“Over the next week or so whether our cases continue to rise, or we just hover here right around 100,” explained Dr. Fox. “It’s a change from what we’re pretty low numbers six weeks ago to certainly a real change, certainly more cases right now but nothing like we saw in January of this year and hopefully we can avoid that with more people with immunity.”

The increase in cases comes as the demand for vaccines decrease with more than 60% of eligible residents fully vaccinated in Michigan and 57% of eligible Hoosiers across Indiana.

Those numbers much lower among residents receiving boosters.

“When cases are very low, maybe that’s not such a problem but as cases go up, that’s a time I would encourage people especially with underlying risks to really to really consider getting the booster if they’re eligible,” said Fox.

With mask mandates eased nationwide including now in airports Dr. Mark Fox still urging caution especially ahead of the warmer months.

“I would still encourage people to carry a mask. I will encourage to wear them on public transportation,” he added. You know graduation and wedding season are coming upon us now. So, people will be gathering in significant numbers, and some will be indoors some will be outdoors. But that’s where people ought to exercise cation because someone in a large crowd is very likely to be infected.”

Dr. Fox said he doesn’t anticipate a huge Summer Surge, but he encouraged folks who plan on gathering in large groups to do so outside, if possible, to help decrease the spread of the virus.

Although the latest increase is still much lower than what we saw at the height of the Omicron surge in January Dr. Fox is still urging folks not to let their guard down just yet.

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