GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Spectrum Health officials are closely following an uptick in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in West Michigan.
“Couple of weeks ago, we were noticing a daily seven-day running average in the low 2%. Over the last couple of days, that number has increased to 4.5% and just yesterday (Tuesday), we had a testing percentage positivity of about 6%, so we’re watching those numbers extremely closely,” said Spectrum Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Josh Kooistra.
He says the hospital system is seeing a slight uptick in hospitalized patients. Currently, there are 80 COVID-19-positive patients in Spectrum Health facilities.
When asked how current cases of COVID-19 compare to last spring, Kooistra says they’ve noticed they’re a little bit less severe and are using more of their general medical beds than intensive care unit beds.
He says ICU beds are still in use, and people are still dying from the virus.
Kooistra says as the season changes and people head inside and in closer proximity to more people,its important people stay vigilant.
“We’re all tired of wearing masks and want to get to the way that things were before the pandemic hit. But we can’t let our guard down now. We know that masks, social distancing and hygiene were all effective measures early on in the course of reducing the spread of COVID-19. That is still true today, and hopefully, the uptick of numbers we’re seeing are not due to the complete relaxation of masks and mask fatigue,”said Kooistra.
Kooistra applauded schools for its efforts in keeping students and staff safe. He said most of the infections are still being spread in community settings. He urges people to keep that in mind when planning gatherings for upcoming holidays.
“Certainly, as people are indoors more, they’re going to be in closer proximity and with the example of family settings without masking, that puts the community up to a higher risk. There is concern about decreased ventilation in buildings as well, which can have the COVID-19 virus linger. I do have concerns about that. It’s important for people to be extra vigilant when out in public settings or larger gatherings indoors be very mindful and try to social distance as much as possible and to utilize masks certainly,” said Kooistra.
He said Spectrum Health will lean on the policies that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic, no matter where the numbers go.
Those practices include visitor screening process, cleaning protocols and shoring up supplies of personal protective equipment.
“We are busy on any given day whether COVID is here or COVID is not here. And it’s a situation that is always in flux. Overall, the number of COVID patients that we have in our hospital system are relatively low as a percentage,” said Kooistra.