COVID-19 surge pushes Berrien County to the brink

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:56 PM EST
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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - The COVID-19 numbers have been crunched in Berrien County.

And in many respects, the situation there is so bad, that it has never been worse.

“The Emergency Department is full. Wait times have never been longer,” said Spectrum Health Lakeland’s Loren Hammel during a Facebook live COVID update today.

Hammel added that 100 percent of the patients in the Intensive Care Unit have not been vaccinated, and 86 percent of all admitted patients are unvaccinated. “We’re running out of a lot of supplies. We don’t have nearly as much of the monoclonal antibody as we hoped, around the country. And so, we’ve had to change the criteria, tighten the criteria for monoclonal antibodies you know. If you have been sick less than five days, there’s more benefit and if you’ve been sick more than five days and so that cut off line is now in place.”

Berrien County has seen 1,735 new COVID cases in the past seven days alone.

The hardest hit age groups have been those in their 20′s and those in their 60′s. “On average, over the past seven days, we’ve seen 240 cases per day, on average,” said Berrien County’s Medical Director, Rex Cabaltica, M.D. “To give you some perspective, last year, last year’s surge around this time, we were only seeing 60 cases per day, so this four times higher than what we’ve ever seen before.”

Officials today said the omicron variant is actually milder than its predecessors, and less likely to cause serious health problems, but since it has infected many more people, the impact on hospitals has been about the same.

Dr. Hammel says new COVID treating medications from Merck and Pfizer are not widely available, and that testing equipment is in short supply.

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