KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Doctors in Kalamazoo are raising concerns about a fall surge in COVID-19 cases and are urging the public to continue taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Bronson Medical Group is seeing more than double the number of coronavirus hospitalizations than the worst day this spring.
Dr. Martinson Arnan, vice president and chief clinical officer, says the trend is going in the wrong direction.
“The number of hospitalized patients with COVID this time around that we have is higher than the peak that we saw back in April,” Arnan said.
The hospital has not reached peak surge levels but is finding additional space for patients.
“We created plans that allowed us to expand capacity in different places that perhaps were earmarked for a different kind of care. We already anticipated that this will happen, and so we have been making room available,” Arnan said.
According to Arnan, the health care system had a peak of 36 coronavirus hospitalizations in April. Wednesday afternoon, the number was 78 on Bronson’s online dashboard, which included 52 patients in Kalamazoo.
“In the past three to four weeks, we’ve seen steady evidence that the rise of COVID is also present in our communities,” Arnan said.
In addition to an increase in the number of hospitalizations, Arnan says other concerning indicators are the increase in the state’s test positivity rate and a spike in the number of positive results coming back when a patient is tested before surgery.
“We started to notice that some of them were testing positive even though they were OK physically, which means that in their communities, their numbers were rising around them,” Arnan said.
Even with the news this week that a vaccine, like the one being made in Portage by Pfizer and German company BioNTech, could be getting closer, it will take time to distribute and to manufacture sufficient supply.
“This vaccine has to be stored at temperatures that are much colder than any vaccine ever produced,” Arnan said.
Until a vaccine receives FDA approval, widely available and case number significantly drop, Arnan says now is not the time to let up on preventative measures like social distancing and wearing masks.
“The choices that we make do not just impact us but impact the people around us that we care about,” Arnan said.
Doctors are also reminding people to not put off important medical treatments because of coronavirus concerns, which can lead to additional health complications.
COVID-19 patients are kept in separate hospital sections, and new protocols have been put in place to reduce risk greatly.