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Health

COVID cases down, but health officials still urging vaccination to prevent another surge

person receives COVID vaccine shot
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Michigan's COVID-19 numbers are significantly lower than they were months ago in March and April, when the state saw its third surge. At the height of the third surge, on April 7, Michigan had a seven-day death average of 75 per day. Over the last week, an average of one person died each day of COVID in Michigan.

There were no confirmed or probable COVID-related deaths recorded for four of the past seven days. That's something that hasn't happened since the beginning of the pandemic.

The seven day average for new confirmed cases of COVID-19 is 75 cases per day. That's compared to April, which saw a seven-day average of over 6,800 new confirmed cases per day.

Many public health officials are attributing this drop in cases to the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 56.6% of Michiganders aged 12 and up have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of July 6. The vaccine rates have reached a plateau, with that percentage unchanged from July 3, and up only 0.2% from June 26. 

In Northern Michigan, vaccination rates are high. Leelanau County has the highest vaccination rate in the state, with 71% of its eligible residents fully vaccinated. Benzie and Grand Traverse County both have more than 60% of their eligible populations vaccinated.

But health officials in the region want people to remember that we're not out of the woods yet, and are determined to vaccinate as many people as they possible can.

Wendy Hirschenberger is the health officer for the Grand Traverse County Health Department. She says: 

"We definitely do expect to get a surge at some point, I think, whether it’s this summer, maybe in the fall, once people start moving more indoors again. And then also watching the Delta variant, so there’s a few factors at play there."

She says if there are Fourth of July or Cherry Festival related outbreaks, they'll begin to see those numbers in two to three weeks. Such outbreaks in Traverse City or Grand Traverse County wouldn't paint the full picture, Hirschenberger says, because of all the tourists.

"So, you know, we may see a little bit of a blip here, but there may actually have people from other states or other counties that see an increase as well. So we might not know the total impact of that," she says.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are 53 confirmed cases of the more contagious Delta variant in the state. 

Dr. Christine Nefcy is the chief medical officer for Munson Healthcare in Northern Michigan.

"We are optimistic about the level of vaccine coverage we have here in Northern Michigan, but it’s not where we need it to be. You know, we still have a significant portion of the population either by age or by choice that is not vaccinated," Dr. Nefcy says.

According to the Grand Traverse County Health Department, 40% of residents aged 12-15 have at least one dose of the vaccine. That's higher than the state, which says 27% of 12-15 year olds have gotten at least one dose.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story said there were no confirmed or probable COVID cases recorded for four of the past seven days. That is incorrect. There were no confirmed or probable deaths for four of the past seven days. The story has been corrected above.

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