HURON COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) – After being one of the nation’s hardest hit areas with new COVID-19 cases, Michigan’s Thumb has seen a dramatic drop in new infections as of late.
According to state data, new cases and the test positivity rate has dropped from its recent spike last month.
Dr. Mark Hamed, an emergency room doctor at McKenzie Health System in Sandusky and medical director for the counties in the Thumb, said that he’s seen fewer patients come into the hospital with COVID-19.
“Numbers in hospitals have dropped quite significantly,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot less positive patients with COVID and a lot less severely ill patients with COVID.”
Hamed said that Friday through Sunday, Huron and Tuscola counties reported 28 new COVID-19 cases. This is far from the nearly 50 new cases that were being reported each day in each county back in late March and early April.
The test positivity rate has also dropped significantly in these counties.
“At one time we were up in the 40%, 30%, now we’re down below 20%, which is absolutely amazing,” Hamed said. “So for example, this time last month, we were seeing about 35 to 40 patients a day positive in one of our counties and today five. So, big difference.”
The Thumb-region did gain national attention after being one of the nation’s hardest hit areas with new COVID-19 infections last month. That’s when hospitals were filling up and many of the Thumb’s rural communities were feeling the strain.
Hamed said since then, people who live in the Thumb really took it into their own hands to help slow the spread of the virus.
“They took ownership, you know,” he said. “They saw the community getting slammed so they really started doing what it takes, they distanced and masked up.”
COVID-19 vaccinations also went up. In Huron County alone, the percent of people who have received one dose of the vaccine went from 40% at the start of April to more than 52% last week.
“A lot of those who actually didn’t want the vaccine initially, who passed it up, were 65 and older, when they saw what was going on in the Thumb, they actually signed up to get the vaccine just a couple weeks ago,” Hamed said. “So, we’re seeing a lot more of those that resist the vaccine now signing up for it.”
Hamed said he is optimistic that conditions will continue to improve in Michigan’s Thumb. With warmer weather on the way, he said that people still need to take the virus seriously and make sure they are doing what they can to slow the spread of the virus.
One thing Hamed said he is concerned about is the P.1 COVID-19 variant from Brazil. That variant was first identified in Michigan back in March in Bay County. Hamed said that everyone needs to be on defense so that this variant doesn’t spread into the Thumb.
Hamed recommends that people should sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible and urges anyone who is unsure about the vaccine to talk with their health care provider.
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