Officials stress getting vaccinated is
one of the best defenses against B.1.1.7
LAPEER COUNTY — Virus numbers are on the rise again and, for the first time, county officials confirmed the presence of a variant among residents.
Lapeer County recorded 237 new cases of COVID-19 between March 16-22, a jump from the 163 reported the week prior. Since the 16th, another four residents have died from the virus, bringing Lapeer County’s total to 125.
On Monday, Health Department Director Kathy Haskins said there were at least five residents who have the B.1.1.7 variant thought to have emerged in the United Kingdom.
“This variant is concerning because it is associated with increased transmissibility. Compared to the wild-type virus, the B.1.1.7 variant is approximately 50 percent more transmissible, leading to faster spread of the virus and potentially increasing numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Therefore, close monitoring and quarantine are required once the variant has been identified,” Haskins said.
As of Monday morning, there were 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases hospitalized locally, with five in the intensive care unit.
“Now more than ever we need to keep up our guard and continue to take precautions when out and about, and get vaccinated as soon as you are able,” she added.
Vaccine good news
Fortunately, it appears the ability to get a COVID-19 vaccine is becoming easier. The health department’s registration link at www.lapeercountyweb.org is now available daily, not just on Monday mornings, and Haskins said that most eligible individuals should be able to get an appointment within 5-10 days of registering.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Dashboard, Lapeer County has initiated vaccinations for 14,723 residents and completed the process for 7,308 residents. That’s equal to 20.4 percent and 10.1 percent of the population 16 years and older, respectively.
The health department is asking that anyone who needs to cancel an appointment to either reply to the email received, or leave a message at a new cancellation number: 810-245-5741.
Those eligible to register for vaccine at this time include healthcare workers, individuals age 50 and above, caregivers of children with special health care needs, and those 16-49 with disabilities/pre-existing conditions.
Greater supply and distribution to other providers is helping to ease the backlog of immunizations, Haskins said.
“We’re receiving more vaccine now, but also there are more options, which is a good thing. The CDC and the State are beginning to provide more vaccine to pharmacies, but we are also providing some vaccine to local providers in an effort to help get more folks vaccinated in a shorter period of time. Again, this is possible primarily due to the increased shipments of vaccine to us by the State, and the ability to now “share” some of that vaccine with local providers who are registered and approved through the State’s COVID-19 vaccine approval process,” she said.
Currently, Rite Aid, Meijer, Walmart and the Baldwin Rd. Pharmacy are offering vaccination appointments, mostly through online scheduling.