SOUTH BEND, IND., — The CDC has predicted 100 million new COVID cases nationwide this fall and winter, now, but will there be a summer surge here in Michiana as well?
Numbers are rising and coronavirus transmission in St. Joseph County is high, with most mask mandates and other pandemic precautions being lifted.
Local health experts have further warned that the threat is not over.
“People who have already burned their masks or thrown them away, I think the most important message is to be respectful of others who have chosen to continue wearing a mask because we don’t know what they are dealing with” , said Dr. Mark. Fox, deputy health officer, St. Joseph County Health Department.
COVID concerns linger as experts link Omicron subvariant to latest surge in COVID cases again in US
More than 40 states have seen an increase in infections and hospitalizations.
The latest numbers from Michigan showed an average increase of 700 more cases per day over a seven-day period compared to the previous week.
Across the state in Indiana, a similar story with cases up 135 statewide, including a slight increase in St. Joseph County.
“Over the next week or so, whether our cases continue to increase, or whether we’re just hovering here around 100,” Dr Fox explained. “It’s a change from where we were pretty low six weeks ago for sure a real change, definitely more cases right now but nothing like we saw in January of this year and I hope we can avoid this with more people immunized.”
The increase in cases comes as demand for vaccines declines with more than 60% of eligible residents fully vaccinated in Michigan and 57% of eligible Hoosiers in Indiana.
These numbers are much lower among residents receiving boosters.
“When the cases are very low, that may not be such a problem, but as the cases increase, that’s a time when I would encourage people, especially those with underlying risks , to really consider getting the booster if they’re eligible,” Fox said.
With mask mandates eased across the country, now including at airports, Dr. Mark Fox is still urging caution, especially ahead of the warmer months.
“I would always encourage people to wear a mask. I will encourage wearing them on public transport,” he added. You know graduation and wedding season are coming now. So people will gather in large numbers, and some will be inside, some outside. But that’s where people should cation because someone in a large crowd is very likely to get infected.
Dr Fox said he did not expect a huge summer surge, but he encouraged people planning to gather in large groups to do so outdoors, if possible, to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Although the latest increase is still far lower than what we saw at the height of Omicron’s surge in January, Dr. Fox is still urging people not to let their guard down just yet.