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West Michigan sees declining COVID-19 metrics, as surges seen coast to coast

Dr. Richard Amankwah, a Prevea Health hospitalist at HSHS St. Vincent and St. Mary’s Hospitals, receives a second dose of coronavirus vaccine Jan. 6, 2021.
Dr. Richard Amankwah, a Prevea Health hospitalist at HSHS St. Vincent and St. Mary’s Hospitals in Wisconsin, receives a second dose of coronavirus vaccine Jan. 6, 2021. (SBG/Courtesy HSHS/Prevea)

New cases of COVID-19 appeared to be leveling off in Michigan while deaths remained high, but the state's COVID-19 metrics were beginning to plateau again.

One week ago, the state's numbers were going up, but some parts of West Michigan were beginning to see some numbers slowly start to decline and more hospital beds open up.

“While there has been a slight positive in our cases per million, our positivity rate has plateaued, and more hospital beds are becoming available," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The hospital occupancy for Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph remained at 100% capacity, while other hospitals throughout West Michigan were seeing a decline in hospitalizations.

Nearly maxed out one week before, Bronson Methodist Hospital went from 98% to 90%.

In Kalamazoo County 457 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and Calhoun County confirmed hospitalizations were at 363.

"We did start to see it going down pretty drastically there late November, early December. We are watching the tail end there, beginning of January starting to see just a slight uptick," Calhoun County Health Department Health Officer Eric Pessell said.

A comparison of Calhoun County numbers showed a significant decrease in metrics after the state issued epidemic orders to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

"It looks like we had a little cause and effect, and our numbers are trending in the right direction," said Pessell.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's top health official, said the vaccine was the only way to end the pandemic.

"Almost six times as many people were vaccinated last week as the first week of vaccine rollout," said Khaldun.

The Trump Administration was releasing all available vaccines, instead of holding the second dose back.

Pessell said so far Calhoun County hadn't seen an increase in shipments.

“We have scheduled up all of our vaccine. It’s going to be in arms. By next week we will be out," said Pessell.

He said he had placed an order for more vaccine for the county to try to start vaccinating people in Phase 1B of the state's COVID-19 distribution plan, which started Monday.

Follow Callie Rainey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Email tips to crainey@sbgtv.com.