SCC Health Dept. gets first vaccine  shipment; immunizations start this week

TRI-CITY AREA — The rate of new COVID-19 infections has continued to trend down over the past week but both Lapeer and St. Clair counties continue to see virus deaths in the double digits. Since December 14, 10 Lapeer County residents and 14 from St. Clair County have died from COVID. To date, 86 Lapeer County residents and 128 from St. Clair County have died.

Lapeer County recorded 316 new cases between Dec. 15-21, a decrease from the 362 new confirmed cases the week prior. St. Clair County’s case total grew by 445 from the 15th to the 22nd, down from the 629 new cases the week prior. Similarly, St. Clair’s total number of active cases dropped from 241 in mid-December to 150 in the past week.

On Monday, the St. Clair County Health Department announced they had received an initial allotment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. They had plans to begin vaccinating individuals in the first priority groups this week.

“The vaccine is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and bringing an end to this pandemic,” said Dr. Annette Mercatante, Medical Health Officer.

“This is great news, however more long weeks and months lie ahead. We are very hopeful and optimistic for the future. We ask for patience as we follow the guidance and recommendations.”

The first phase of vaccine is intended for persons in healthcare settings and residents of long-term care facilities.
As like in past weeks, Lapeer County’s statistics for things like test positive rate and infection rate continue to exceed the state average.
Kathy Haskins, Lapeer County Health Dept. Director, said that as of Monday morning, there were 28 confirmed cases hospitalized locally. Four were in the intensive care unit but none were on a ventilator.

Some orders lifted

Last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the lifting of some pandemic restrictions, allowing some businesses like bowling alleys and movie theaters to reopen. Additionally, state officials said in-person instruction for grades 9-12 can resume next month.

Senators Kevin Daley and Dan Lauwers issued statements following that news to voice their criticism of the decision to limit restaurants to carry out service only until January 15.

“Restaurants have been crushed by the heavy-handed, blanket orders that have come down from the administration. Now, as we find ourselves in the peak of the holiday season, she is again asking restaurants to make concessions as they barely hold their heads above water,” said Daley who represents Lapeer County in the 31st District.

“People are being forced to close the door on their life’s work without so much as a chance to show they have made the investments to meet safety protocols.”

Lauwers, who represents St. Clair County in the 25th District, said virus statistics don’t justify keeping restaurants under such limits.

“Indoor dining at restaurants has been banned for more than 100 days throughout this year and counting. This has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in sales and the laying off of most of the state’s restaurant workforce,” he said.

“Today, I call on the governor or Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon to provide Michiganders with objective standards and/or COVID-19 case rates for restaurant owners to be able to take action and make plans in order to reopen.”