Promising results from the trials of two coronavirus vaccines are lifting the spirits of health care workers in Southwest Michigan, according to doctors and health officials who took part in an online roundtable today. But they also urged people to mask, socially distance and avoid gathering – including for the holidays – for now.
Kalamazoo County Medical Director Dr. William Nettleton said the county is seeing about 142 new cases of COVID-19 a day, enough that his department cannot trace all of them.
Nettleton said the health department has a good idea of how the virus is spreading. “This is in social gatherings, this is where people are coming together, spending time less than six feet without masks together and getting sick,” he said.
People cannot be complacent because they live in a small town or rural area, Dr. Thomas Rohs of Ascension Borgess said, adding that more than one in five people are testing positive in some relatively sparsely populated Southwest Michigan counties.
“Nowhere is immune. Even if you’re in a small town and you think you’re a little bit immune, this is no longer a disease of urbanicity or being in a city like it was in the springtime,” he said.
But Rohs added that he’s thrilled that two companies, Moderna and Pfizer, have developed vaccines shown in late trials to be more than 90 percent effective against COVID-19.
“Frankly I was hoping for 60 [percent], he said “and I think 60 would have been enough to get us open and moving again, and 90 is just fabulous.”
Rohs said it’s the best news health care workers have heard in a long time.