County stats show numbers continue to decline
TRI-CITY AREA — On Sunday, for the first time in weeks, both Lapeer and St. Clair counties had zero confirmed cases or deaths from COVID-19 to report that day.
It’s a hopeful sign that the virus’s impact on the region is starting to wane.
In one week’s time, the Lapeer County Health Department recorded seven additional cases and three deaths. The St. Clair County Health Department says that since Tuesday, April 28, there’s been 31 new confirmed cases and two deaths. Compared to the prior week, (April 21-27), both counties have seen their new case counts decrease by more than half.
“Social distancing is working. Please continue to ‘stay the course,’” said Lapeer County Health Department Director Kathy Haskins.
As of Monday, Lapeer County’s case count stands at 171 with 27 deaths. The majority of those 27 deaths were among nursing home residents. To date, 17 long-term care facility residents have died from the virus—15 from the Villages of Lapeer and two from the Lapeer County Medical Care Facility/Suncrest.
One death from the past week—a resident from the Villages—is being considered a “probable case,” said Haskins.
“Up to this point, a confirmed case has been someone with an approved laboratory test that was reported to have a ‘positive’ result. There were other people who were exposed to the disease, had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, but were not able to be counted as a confirmed case because they did not have the laboratory test needed to define them as such,” Haskins said.
“As we learn more about this novel (new) coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded the case definition to include a second category—probable cases.”
She notes that an individual may be listed as “probable” while awaiting a test result for the virus and, if positive, their case would be moved from the probable to confirmed list.
Lapeer County data shows that as of Sunday there were nine probable cases ranging in age from 10-91 years of age. The age range of confirmed cases in Lapeer County is 14 to 100 years old. The age range of the county’s 27 deaths is 52 to 86 for an average age of 71.9 years.
According to new data released by the St. Clair County Health Department, only 54 of the 385 confirmed cases are considered “active.”
St. Clair County has not released information regarding the ages of those who’ve died but they continue to report the percent of cases per age range. The highest percent by far—38 percent—has been among those 50-69 years-old.
Both Lapeer and St. Clair counties report that women comprised 57 percent of positive cases and men comprise 43 percent.
The St. Clair County Health Department reports that their public health nurses remain busy with contact tracing duties. This involves contacting every resident with a confirmed COVID-19 result, interviewing them, assessing their symptoms, documenting where they’ve gone and identifying close contacts.
“This work is time consuming, demanding and has been a seven day a week process since St. Clair County’s first case in early March. Since March, over 3,100 hours of St. Clair County Health Department staff’s time has been spent on contact tracing for COVID-19, utilizing 80% of our nursing team,” said Dr. Annette Mercatante, Medical Health Officer.
“This is four times greater than the normal amount of hours spent on routine communicable disease investigations.”
Mercatante said it’s critical that residents with confirmed cases answer their phones and return voicemails left by health department staff.
Considering that many residents are cautious about answering calls from unfamiliar numbers to avoid scammers, Mercatante stresses that health department staff conducting contact tracing will only ask questions regarding an individual’s health. Residents should not communicate with anyone posing as a health officer who requests personal financial or health insurance information or offers medication for treatment or prevention of COVID-19.