“These are very sobering numbers,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail at her weekly press conference this Tuesday. Vail announced that Ingham County had recorded over 10,000 cases of Covid-19, and East Lansing’s 48823 zip code includes both the most cases and most deaths due to Covid-19.
As of Wednesday evening (Dec. 9), Ingham County reported 10,281 Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and 133 deaths. The 48823 zip code has had 29 deaths and just under 2,730 cases.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Vail reminded reporters that over 90 of the 133 countywide deaths have occurred since Sept. 1.
Cases began to rise in East Lansing after MSU students began to return to the area. At first, cases were limited to young adults, and 48823 far outpaced other zip codes in new cases. Now, 48823 is still increasing in case counts but at a pace closer the other zip codes, according to Vail.
Those contracting Covid-19 are now not just college students. Did the current cases specifically spread from younger to older here? Vail told reporters on Dec. 1 that contact tracers have not documented specific cases in which an MSU student spread Covid-19 to a community member, but Vail said that the science suggests that once numbers rise quickly, community spread will occur.
Increases in hospitalizations and deaths tend to appear several weeks after increased case counts. East Lansing’s 48823 zip code leads in deaths and is Ingham’s most populous, followed by Lansing’s 48911 and 48910 zip codes, which have recorded 23 and 10 deaths respectively.
Of the 29 deaths in 48823, 11 individuals – 10 residents and 1 employee – were linked to Burcham Hills’ nursing facilities and senior living housing. ELi has not been able to determine if other 48823 deaths are related to other elder care or assisted living facilities.
There are currently 161 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Ingham County of whom around 40-50 percent are Ingham residents. Of those hospitalized, 21 are in intensive care units and 23 are ventilated.
This week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) was extending its epidemic order for an additional 12 days, stating that the Covid-19 situation had not improved enough. This means that, among other things, school sports, in-person education at the high school and college levels, and indoor dining in eateries will continue to be suspended.
While East Lansing Public Schools have been remote since the start of the school year, this new extension affects both athletics and possibly the School Board’s vote on Dec. 14 about whether students will return to in-person learning. The Board will consider the percentage of Covid-19 tests that come back positive – often referred to as “percent positivity” – while making their decision. Currently, Ingham’s percent positivity is 12 percent, which is considered high.
Local restaurants will also continue to rely on patrons using carryout options for the remainder of the epidemic order’s extension.