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Some signs of hope for COVID-19 plateau, health officials say

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Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

The surge of COVID-19 cases in Northern Michigan could be leveling off, according to officials at local health departments.

Lisa Peacock, the health officer for the Benzie-Leelanau and Northwest Michigan health departments, said Thursday that numbers of new cases and hospitalizations look to be tapering off.

“For the past few weeks, we have experienced a steady and sometimes sharp climb,” she said. “This week, though, there are early signs of leveling off, and perhaps even a decrease.”

Michigan’s statewide data show a similar trend.

Still, Peacock said, the short-term trend doesn’t change the immediate reality.

“We’re still seeing full hospitals and, you know, there’s certainly lots of cause to be concerned,” she said.

As cases decrease, so too, is the demand for vaccines, said Peacock.

“We will be changing up our strategies as the needs of the community change. As demand decreases, the model of large-scale clinics in stationary locations does become less effective,” she said.

The federal pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine continues to hamper efforts at reaching people whose housing is temporary, like people in jails or shelters, said Dr. Josh Meyerson, the medical director for Benzie-Leelanau, Northwest Michigan and District Health Department 4 in Northern Michigan.

That vaccine only requires one dose, which makes it ideal for reaching transient populations, he said.

Meyerson said if people get a two-dose vaccine but move on before getting their second shot, the health department can help them find another clinic. And, even if a person only gets one dose of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, he said, it’s better than not getting a shot at all. 

Brett joined WCMU in February, 2021, as a general assignment reporter. He was previously the health reporter at WXXI Public Broadcasting in Rochester, N.Y., and has filed stories for National Public Radio, IEEE Spectrum, The Village Voice and other outlets.
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