COVID-19 cases in Hillsdale County have been decreasing since late November and hospitalizations have also been decreasing since a peak in the second week of December.
Hillsdale Hospital’s Director of Marketing and Development Rachel Lott said, “We did see our numbers decrease significantly from November to December. According to the data compiled by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, we had a decrease in new COVID-19 cases in Hillsdale County of 30% month- over- month, from November to December. That means the number of new cases has gone down significantly during that time period.”
According to the tracking website Covid Act Now, the peak of new cases in Hillsdale County was on November 21 and 22, when there was an average of 51.7 new cases, or 113.4 per 100 thousand residents, which steadily declined to 39.2 new cases on December 22, or 86.6 per 100 thousand residents. This number has continued to decline into January; on January 11, there were 27.7 new cases, or 60.8 per 100 thousand residents. These case numbers are fractional due to them being an average of the last 7‑day period.
As cases declined, so did hospitalizations.
“The other thing we saw at the hospital was that since our peak in terms of inpatients who have COVID-19 at the hospital, we’ve decreased 42 percent, and our average number of COVID-19 patients that we have admitted to the hospital everyday from the beginning of December to the beginning of January,” Lott said. “So during that month we saw a nice decrease from our peak.”
According to Lott, the hospital is still taking similar measures to ensure the safety of all staff and visitors.
“Our protocols really haven’t changed much since students left for winter break,” Lott said. We still are limiting our visitation, we still are doing all the things we’ve been doing since the beginning of COVID-19 in terms of screening everyone who comes in, not just at the hospital but at all of our locations and clinics that are owned and operated by Hillsdale Hospital. We’re screening everyone, we’re not allowing visitors except in limited circumstances.”
Lott said that patients admitted to the hospital are likely safer than ever.
“In terms of our protocols and what we’re doing at the hospital we’re still doing all the things that we’ve been doing to keep all of our patients safe from COVID-19 when they come in. It is probably one of the safest times you could ever be at the hospital because we’ve put in so many additional measures in place to keep people safe and we’re continuing to do all of those things.”
Hillsdale Hospital has also found ways to interact with the local community to keep COVID-19 information readily available. The hospital hosts a weekly Facebook Live event called the “What’s Up Wednesday” show to keep the community updated and address concerns.
The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency website also revamped its display of COVID-19 information to make it more accessible to the public. The site includes toolkits, vaccine information, counts, and testing information.
Regarding vaccine availability for students, Lott said it depends on how it is implemented nationally and at a state level.
“As far as the vaccine relates to the students, it remains to be seen when the vaccine will be available to students, whether at Hillsdale College or anywhere,” Lott said. “The younger age group right now, the nation and the state of Michigan specifically is working through those initial tiers, which include the high priority groups like health care workers, people who are critical infrastructure and frontline essential workers, educators, things like that.”
Because supply of the vaccine is limited and prioritized by group, Lott said that it will likely not be available to students until it is available to the general public at large.