Health officials: Ottawa County better equipped as it COVID cases spike in past month

GRAND RAPIDS — Michigan is seeing COVID-19 cases trending upward and many positive cases might not be getting reported to the state with a heavier reliance on at-home tests.

Bridge Michigan reported that the number of new COVID-19 cases rose 32 percent this week, with Michigan reporting 16,084 weekly confirmed cases Wednesday, up from 12,174 the week before.

The case count has risen by more than 30 percent in each of the last four weeks as the percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive is 12.4 percent over the past week, up from 9.3 percent a week ago.

More: At-home COVID test kits available at Holland, Fennville libraries

More: COVID-19 numbers for Michigan, Ottawa and Allegan counties

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The Ottawa County Department of Public Health said the community is better equipped to handle an uptick in cases than during previous phases of the pandemic.

Derel Glashower, a senior epidemiologist, said COVID-19 has not disappeared.

“Over the last few weeks we’ve just been in a really nice place where there’s been a lull in COVID-19 cases,” Glashower said. “Here in Ottawa we’ve seen an uptrend in both case rates, test positivity, and we’re also keeping a pretty close eye on wastewater data, which is a nice compliment to some of the other metrics we follow and all three of those are going up.”

The number of cases can help indicate trends, but Glashower said at this stage in the pandemic fewer are being reported to the state.

“Over the last year or so with more and more people having access to and being comfortable using at-home tests that there’s probably less and less COVID-19 that’s actually detected and reported out,” Glashower said.

Newer variants also appear to be more contagious but medical providers have many ways to respond, like with antivirals.

“We have a suite of both prevention mechanisms, some immunity built up in the population, and treatment that will hopefully provide all of us with the tools that we need to continue to operate as a society and learn to live with COVID-19,” Glashower said.

When the pandemic will officially turn into an endemic — where it is found at a more consistent low level — is unclear.

“Endemicity for COVID-19 is probably being defined and will be probably through the next couple of months others have called this a transition phase,” Glashower said.

Glashower is hopeful the recent spike will not be an indicator of a bigger summer wave with more people spending time outdoors socially distancing in an open-air environment.

He said the number of hospitalizations also remain relatively low and currently there is ample hospital capacity in our region.

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Health officials: Ottawa County better equipped as it COVID cases spike in past month