TRI-CITY AREA — With the holiday season upon us, local health officials are asking residents to take precautions as the current COVID-19 transmission level remains high.

“Test positivity is higher than it has been at any earlier point in the pandemic, and the rate of new cases is on pace to meet or exceed any previous high. At this time, Michigan has one of the highest rates of new cases per population for the past seven days in the nation,” the St. Clair County Health Department (SCCHD) noted in a Nov. 23 press release.

At that point in time, St. Clair County was averaging approximately 176 new cases/day and 21% of all St. Clair County hospital beds were being used for COVID-19.

Between Nov. 20-26, the county realized 976 new cases and 12 deaths. The average positive test rate stood at 21.4 percent.

Annette Mercatante, Medical Health Officer stated, “As people begin to gather indoors for the holiday season, SCCHD expects to see a further increase in cases, with increased deaths to follow. We are urgently pleading for everyone to take this seriously and take precautionary measures as critical services, educational systems and business communities may become deeply impacted.”

Mercatante continued, “It’s about personal responsibility which is key in fighting this pandemic and protecting our community. It will take everyone, working together, to protect those who cannot be vaccinated or who are at greater risk of serious illness or death.”

The personal responsibility Mercatante referred to includes getting vaccinated, wearing a mask indoors even if vaccinated, staying home when sick or not feeling well and getting tested if having symptoms, even minor symptoms, or if exposed to someone with COVID.

Local vaccine and testing resources can be found at

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Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, Lapeer County’s COVID-19 weekly report was released early on Wednesday, Nov. 24 and therefore doesn’t encompass an entire week’s worth of data.

Between Nov. 20-24, the health department reports 332 new virus cases were confirmed, along with 105 probable cases. During those five days, seven additional deaths occurred and the positive test rate stood at 26.5 percent.

“With the surge in cases and the upcoming December holidays we encourage all previously vaccinated to get their booster dose as soon as possible,” Lapeer County Health Department Director Kathy Haskins said in her report last week.

“If you have not yet received a dose, we urge you to begin the doses as soon as possible.”

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According to the state’s vaccine dashboard, 55 percent of Michigan residents are fully vaccinated as compared to 45.7 percent of Lapeer County and 48.5 percent of St. Clair County residents ages 5 and older.