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Local health districts warn of potential spring surge of COVID-19

Brett Dahlberg

The leaders of local health districts in central and northern Michigan warned Tuesday that, if current trends hold, they expect another surge of COVID-19 cases this spring.

“I think we’re headed for another spike, probably mid-April, if we’re not cautious,” said Dr. Jennifer Morse, the medical director for three health districts across 19 counties.

Morse said the state’s relaxation of restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus last week is increasing the chances of transmission at places like restaurants that can now seat more people.

“Just because something might be allowed doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe,” she said.

Cases of COVID-19 are up across much of Michigan in the last week of data released by the Department of Health and Human Services, compared to weeks prior.

Morse and Dr. Christine Nefcy, the chief medical officer for Munson Healthcare, said they were concerned about upcoming school breaks spreading variants of the virus that are more contagious than the original strain.

“It’s kind of a perfect storm to lead to that surge,” Nefcy said.

But the escalation is not inevitable, the health leaders said. Vaccines could blunt the impact, and individual people can take mitigation measures that have been shown to work.

“There’s always an element of control in our actions,” said Nefcy. “If we continue to mask and social distance and stay safe, we absolutely have the ability to flatten that curve and mitigate those consequences.”

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