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Southwest Michigan health officials overwhelmed by increasing COVID-19 cases


Southwest Michigan’s increase in COVID-19 cases has some health officials concerned and overwhelmed.

Branch County’s seven-day positivity rate is 17.4%, Hillsdale County’s is 18.3%, and St. Joseph County’s is at 14%, according to the local health department.

Rebecca Burns, the health officer for the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Health Agency, said staff are overwhelmed by the number of cases.

"We’re right at that tipping point right now where the positive cases that are coming are going to overwhelm our investigations staff and make it difficult to contact every positive person," she said.

Burns also said that people need to get vaccinated or wear a mask.

“We just see so many folks resistant to both of those ideas, that … I’m really not sure how to move us past continued infection.”

Burns said it’s too early to tell if schools are contributing to the increased spread of COVID, and the agency has no plans to institute a mask mandate.