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Case counts, positivity rates in Thumb continue alarming rise

Caro Community Schools announced it would return to virtual instruction following spring break amid a spike in new cases
Tuscola County Health Department in Caro, MI.
Tuscola County Health Department in Caro, MI.(Colton Cichoracki WJRT)
Published: Apr. 3, 2021 at 10:17 PM EDT
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CARO, Mich. (WJRT) (4/3/2021)--The rise in coronavirus cases continues to push deeper into territory not seen in months.

The state reported in excess of 8-thousand cases and more than 50 newly reported deaths Saturday. Though experts have said they don’t believe-- based upon the number now vaccinated and the younger age group that makes up the bulk of new cases--we’ll approach the peak of the second wave Michigan saw toward the end of last year, they still caution the situation may worsen without due diligence and continued adherence to the basic precautions.

An exponential increase in Thumb-area case counts prompted Caro Community Schools to announce it would return to an all-virtual format. The district reassured parents in a Saturday press release posted to its Facebook page the move would be temporary.

“Everybody has to do what they feel is the safest way to protect their population.”

McLaren’s Dr. Brad Blaker heads up emergency medicine across the Thumb region and serves as Chief of Staff at McLaren Caro.

“I worked a shift in the emergency department today,” he related. “We’ve seen a ten-fold increase.”

In its home county of Tuscola, positivity rates topped an eye-watering 27-percent. Hospitalizations, too, according to Blaker, were on the increase.

“That’s everybody’s biggest concern: are we heading back to that big spike we had originally?”

In line with the big picture taking shape statewide, hospitals again concerned they may be overwhelmed if something doesn’t change. Michigan tacked more than 8000 cases onto its running total Saturday, its highest daily increase in months, driven by a positivity rate that hovered above 17-percent at the beginning of April.

The numbers, beginning to form a steep upward curve experts refer to as the state’s third wave and pushing Michigan to the number one spot in the nation in terms of new cases.

“Now we’re starting to see a spike and as opposed to everybody getting the same COVID twice, maybe they’re getting a different variant,” Blaker explained.

It comes with an ever-increasing supply of critical vaccine. Getting shots into arms rapidly, Blaker said, has become a race against the clock.

“I think the goal is to get everybody vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can,” he related. “I think we’ve got a very good plan in place to get there.”

Michigan residents 16 and older will now officially qualify for a dose beginning Monday, as the state expands vaccine eligibility.

When it comes to hospitalizations, Blaker said they were now better equipped from a surge perspective to handle those extra patients than in the midst of any prior wave.

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