Kalamazoo County Health Officials Say Context Matters When Talking About COVID-19 Delta Variant


KALAMAZOO, Michigan – The COVID-19 delta variant has made its way to western Michigan.

Last week, a case was identified in Ottawa County. Then on Monday, another in Kalamazoo County.

Kalamazoo County Medical Director Dr William Nettleton said context is extremely important when discussing the delta variant.

As this variant was expected to reach western Michigan, he said case rates, test positivity rates and vaccination rates play a big role in its impact on the community. .

“This is what viruses do. Viruses are expected to change over time as they develop because there is a greater chance that more people will be infected, that is. that time the viruses change, “said Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department medical director Dr William Nettleton.

The COVID-19 delta variant that was first identified in India has made its way to western Michigan.

So far, only a handful of cases have been identified, but Dr Nettleton said the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention predicted that the delta variant would become the predominant strain.

“These are known as variants of concern, which means they have the potential to be more transmissible or spread more easily, or they can cause more serious disease. So we learn that the Delta variant is more transmissible and possibly has more serious disease. “said Dr Nettleton.

Kalamazoo County is handling it well with a total of just two cases per 100,000 population and a percent positivity rate of 1.6%.

These numbers are what Dr. Nettleton asks people to remember when they hear about the Delta variant.

Although this variant is not high risk, there is still a risk.

“In this case, it was actually an elderly person with several health problems, who was in fact fully immunized. The person did not end up in the intensive care unit and was in fact able to leave the hospital, ”said Dr. Nettleton.

Dr Nettleton said this is what they call a “breakthrough” case, and why he said vaccinations were always extremely important.

“They are very rare, but they are also expected to occur sometimes. The purpose of vaccinations is to prevent hospitalization, to prevent death and also to prevent the spread of disease,” said Dr. Nettleton.

In Kalamazoo County, about 60% of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 56% were fully immunized.

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