Local hospitals see drop in COVID-19 patients


MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — After a surge in COVID-19 cases this fall, local hospitals are reporting a significant dip in hospitalizations for the virus. 

At this time last year, the first case of COVID-19 would soon be detected in Michigan. From there, cases rose quickly. 

“Back in the spring of 2020, we were faced with significant unknowns, not knowing what the year was going to bring. We saw what I would call a mild surge throughout that April period, which then I think through social distancing and the measures we put in place we were able to get under control,” said Dr. Joshua Kooistra, the chief medical officer for Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. 

Kooistra says COVID-19 cases slowed by the summer months but then drastically picked up this fall. 

“We really were in crisis mode at the beginning of December 2020,” Kooistra said. “Just before December 1 to late November, we were around 350 inpatients with COVID-19 in our system. That was about triple what we saw with our spring surge in April to May timeframe.”

The health care workers at Mercy Health of Muskegon say they saw a similar trend, but on a smaller scale.

“We quickly went from 15 to 30 to 60 to 100 and we got to 152 patients as our peak inpatient COVID census late November,” said Gary Allore, the president of Mercy Health of Muskegon.

The health systems say things look a lot different today.

Spectrum Health says they are down to 66 COVID-19 patients in their facilities. Mercy Health of Muskegon says as of Wednesday afternoon, they are down to zero COVID-19 patients.

“It feels really good. It feels like we’re off to a new beginning and a new year,” Allore said.

Both health systems credit the hard work of the community for the drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“I think our communities that are high risk, they’re staying home,” Allore said.

They also say they believe vaccines played a role. 

“I really hope that vaccines are playing a significant role in this. We do know how highly effective they are and we’ve really been targeting the at-risk and vulnerable populations,” Kooistra said.

Both Mercy and Spectrum say they’re hopeful we’re nearing a return to normal but remind people to not to let their guard down with mask wearing and social distancing. 

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