Greater Lansing escapes holiday spike in COVID-19 cases

Health officer remains hopeful as hospitals track fewer patients

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Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said Greater Lansing — and much of Michigan — has largely escaped any anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases tied to gatherings over the recent holiday season as the number of patients hospitalized with the virus continues to “taper down.”

“We had a slight uptick in cases, but we didn’t see any huge surge,” Vail told reporters Tuesday. “Twelve days have passed and, at this point, I do think that we’re safely outside the window of where we’d expect Christmas gatherings to cause a big surge in cases.”

Local hospitals are also reporting a reduction in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Greater Lansing compared to last month. This week, only 109 people were in the hospital in Ingham County — down from an average of about 140 people though late December.

“Those are starting to taper down just gradually,” Vail added.

Eleven of the 109 hospitalized COVID-19 patients were in the intensive care unit this week.

Health officials in Greater Lansing — including Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties — tracked about 900 new coronavirus cases and 44 deaths over the last seven days. Those increases are relatively consistent with statewide figures, which show more than 525,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 13,500 virus-related deaths detected in Michigan since the pandemic hit in March.

“I’d like to think we had some impact. There were safe gatherings and there were lots of people that simply didn’t spend Christmas with their families rather than have gatherings,” Vail added.

 

In related news …

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that a flood of new coronavirus vaccine doses were headed out to states — including Michigan — over the next few weeks. The distribution plan will depend heavily on the size of each state’s senior citizen population and how efficiently each state government is getting those doses out to the public.

State data shows that Michigan has distributed nearly 830,000 doses of the vaccine to local health departments, hospital systems and pharmacies that are working at long-term care facilities. Those providers have only injected about 233,000 doses as of Sunday afternoon.

The state Department of Health and Human Services released guidance last week that encourages all school districts to offer in-person learning options by March 1 or sooner. Accordingly, vaccinations of teachers and other school staff also started this week.

Republican state lawmakers announced plans for statewide “Dine-In Day” on Saturday, Jan. 16, to coincide with the Jan. 15 expiration of current pandemic orders that prohibit inside dining. Vail said that she and other health officials don’t know whether the prohibition will be extended. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has suggested that those restrictions could be relaxed as case totals decline.

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