COVID-19 numbers are still improving in the region, healthcare officials say
Tue, 02/16/2021 - 2:23pm caleb
Munson Healthcare and District Health Department #10 continue to administer vaccinations as they face supply shortages
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Local health officials are reporting progress with area COVID-19 numbers, but northern Michigan hospitals and health departments are still dealing with supply shortages as they continue the vaccination effort.
During an online press conference on Tuesday, February 9, Dr. Christine Nefcy, Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer, said COVID-19 numbers for positive cases and hospitalizations continue to improve in northern Michigan.
“Good news on the numbers front. Our total cases are just over 24,000 for our region. The best news that we are seeing is that really over the past week or so we have seen a steady decline in our percent positive in our community. For the last two days we’ve been below five percent and we have not been there since October,” Dr. Nefcy said.
Dr. Nefcy said Munson Healthcare had administered 24,979 vaccines as of Tuesday, February 9, with 64.3 percent of “Munson Healthcare workers” vaccinated.
“We are currently in a situation where all of our vaccine supply has been allocated to those that are currently scheduled for appointments. We are not scheduling additional first dose clinics right now and that is completely related to how much vaccine we receive from the federal and state government; however, if you have already received your first dose from Munson Healthcare we will be providing you your second dose when you were scheduled,” Dr. Nefcy said.
Dr. Nefcy said vaccine allocations were higher for hospitals in the beginning of the vaccination effort because many of the first people slated to receive their doses were healthcare professionals.
“That first tier was long term care residents, staff, and healthcare workers, so it totally made sense for hospitals to be the ones to administer that vaccine as efficiently and as close to work as possible through the hospital. As we do expand out to the general community I think the state as well as others are looking to depend much more so on the health departments as well as some commercial pharmacies and clinics to get the vaccine out to patients just like we would do a normal flu vaccine or anything like that,” Dr. Nefcy said.
Munson Healthcare officials said their hospitals are prepared to vaccinate more people if the allocation effort offers them more supply.
“We will adapt to however much we get,” Dr. Nefcy said. “I think if we received a ton of vaccine all of a sudden we would stand up and do everything that we could along with our health departments and other retail pharmacies and anybody who has the ability to give vaccine to do that.”
“Right now from a long term perspective with how much vaccine we’re getting we really feel the health departments doing their vaccine clinics as they are and then our clinics distributing vaccine to their patients is the right approach, but we are adaptable and flexible and we’ll adjust as we receive vaccine,” Dr. Nefcy said.
On Tuesday, February 9, District Health Department #10, which serves 10 northern Michigan counties (including Crawford), reported that it had administered close to 8,500 doses of the vaccine the previous week. According to District Health Department #10, it administered 515 second doses of the vaccine and one first dose during the week of February 1-6 for Crawford County. The department’s total number of doses for Crawford County was 1,309 as of Tuesday, February 9, according to DHD#10.
District Health Department #10 officials said they are also dealing with low supply numbers.
“We are very pleased with the progress made in getting our communities vaccinated with the allotted vaccine supplies we’ve been given,” said Kevin Hughes, Health Officer for DHD#10. “Looking ahead, we are hoping vaccine supplies increase to allow for larger mass vaccination site clinics. In anticipation of this, we have begun initial planning for larger clinics and will share more information as the process moves forward.”
“We just continue to adjust based on the amount of vaccine that we do receive,” said Dr. Jennifer Morse, District Health Department #10 Medical Director.
District Health Department #10 officials said the vaccinations are being conducted by appointment only.
“If people do not show up for their scheduled appointments, DHD#10 has a stand-by list made up of people on our waiting lists to call in so that no vaccine goes to waste. If you are unable to make your scheduled appointment, please email us at email@example.com to let us know. You will be placed back on the waiting list and will be contacted as soon as we can get you rescheduled,” District Health Department #10 officials said. “We ask that you refrain from calling the health department to ask about scheduling the vaccine. Please go to our website at www.dhd10.org/coronavirus for more information.”
District Health Department #10 has an online waiting list sign-up link on its website.
“Please do not call our office to see where you fall on the waiting list. You will be contacted via email or phone call when we are ready to schedule you,” according to District Health Department #10.
Dr. Nefcy said the improving case numbers in northern Michigan can be attributed to people wearing masks, adhering to physical distancing guidelines, and following other recommendations to control COVID-19. She said the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 are also helping to prevent outbreaks of influenza.
“I think the mitigation efforts that our local and state health departments put into place have 100 percent been effective,” Dr. Nefcy said. “One-hundred percent I think those mitigation efforts are the key. I think we’re seeing the same thing with influenza. We’ve had virtually no cases of influenza yet. I think the same mitigation efforts are impacting that as well. It has made a huge difference.”
She said people should continue to wear masks and avoid gatherings and practice physical distancing because it will be a while before those mitigation efforts are no longer necessary.
“It’s especially important that we continue to stay the course as far as masking, which remember protects you and others, social distancing, avoiding those indoor gatherings with people who are out of your immediate bubble, and if you have any symptoms at all please get tested, and if you have the opportunity, if it is your turn, please get vaccinated,” Dr. Nefcy said. “I think that ultimately the natural immunity for those that are infected and the vaccine together will hopefully get us to where we need to be, but we are way under the percentage needed for that to have an impact yet.”
“It’ll be interesting to see, I was having a conversation yesterday with somebody about whether we would culturally adopt some of the things we’ve seen in Asian countries for a long time where if you’re sick you wear a mask,” Dr. Nefcy said. “We’ve seen such a huge impact on this on our influenza prevalence I’ll be curious to see if there’s any kind of long term change culturally.”