Spectrum treating more COVID-19 patients than at virus’ spring peak


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan’s largest hospital system says it’s now caring for more COVID-19 patients than it did when the virus peaked in May.

As of Tuesday, Spectrum Health told News 8 it was treating 103 coronavirus patients.

That’s compared to COVID-19 patient counts in the 70s in May, 30s in June and 40s in early October.

Despite higher patient counts, Spectrum is not at full capacity and says it’s well prepared for the upcoming season.  

“We have planned for this and are ready with testing supplies, PPE and staffing and operational plans,” wrote Tim Hawkins, a communications consultant with Spectrum Health.

But Hawkins urged people to continue taking precautions to stave off COVID-19, while not forgetting about the flu.

“We ask the community to please get your flu shots and continue the COVID-19 prevention practices, including wearing masks, social distancing of at least 6 feet and washing hands often. We know these behaviors work and we need the community to help us by staying the course! It will save lives and keep people out of the hospital,” Hawkins said.

The Kent County Health Department is also seeing an increase in new COVID-19 cases.

“We’re up to about 160 cases that we’re seeing every day over the past seven days,” said Brian Hartl, supervising epidemiologist at KCHD.

“We haven’t seen that type of sustained positive rate of cases for quite some time here. We’re definitely concerned about it. It’s challenging our staff to keep up with our cases, and it’s just really showing that the virus has kind of taken hold in our community. So, we’re definitely concerned about that,” he continued.

Hartl said nearly 6% of those tested in Kent County are coming back as positive now compared to 2% earlier this summer.

He said the county is not testing a significantly higher number of people, nor is it testing a more vulnerable population.  

“Really not a lot has changed in terms of who we’re testing, it’s just, obviously, the virus is becoming more active in our community as we head indoors and come in closer contact with each other. We’re not able to gather as much outside. This is just kind of a natural thing for respiratory infections to see a spike in cases (at this time of year).”

Hartl said people should not let their guard down, but instead continue to be vigilant about masking up, hand washing and social distancing. 

He also noted that while most COVID-19 fatalities happen among people who are medically vulnerable, that’s not always the case. 

“There’s been several cases (in Kent County) that shocked me … There are people who are dying from (COVID-19) who shouldn’t be dying. It’s not just the older populations who are becoming ill and dying from it. It’s not as prevalent obviously. We don’t have the numbers that we do in the older populations of people dying from COVID-19. Still, even one death in that young population that shouldn’t be dying is too many,” Hartl said. 


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