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Kent Co. Health Department warns COVID-19 spike could trigger shutdown if behaviors don't change

picture of Kent County Health Department sign

Kent County is experiencing a dramatic acceleration of new COVID-19 cases. Over the past week, there’s been an average daily increase of 383 new cases. One month-ago it was about 40 to 50.

The surge is concerning to health officials who warn the case spike could trigger another shutdown if behaviors don’t change.

In Kent County, less than a month ago, the COVID-19 test positivity rate was under 2%. Today, the positivity rate is 10.9%. The average number of weekly deaths from the virus are also climbing from just a couple to near 10.

“We are at a very difficult point in this crisis.”

Dr. Adam London is Director of the Kent County Health Department.

“As a society we have two choices before us. Either we all consistently embrace a high level of adherence to the precautions that have been proven to limit transmission, or there will inevitably be more restrictions and shutdowns like so much of the rest of the world is experiencing right now.”

Dr. London explains local hospitals are struggling to provide essential medical services with the influx of extremely sick COVID-19 patients.

Also, a high priority, schools. Although they’ve done well sanitizing and students have performed public health safety protocols limiting virus transmission, keeping classrooms open for in-person learning is also in jeopardy.

“And to be clear, the probability that schools will remain physically open, and that extracurricular activities will continue, is slipping away with each day that these numbers increase.”

Dr. London explains “the stakes couldn’t be any higher” and reversing course is up to everyone making better decisions.

It begins with avoiding or limiting social gatherings, wearing masks in public, thorough hand washing and staying home when you’re sick. Following isolation and quarantine instructions are also a must.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.