Spectrum drops to ‘yellow status’ as COVID-19 cases drop

Spectrum drops to ‘yellow status’ as COVID-19 cases drop

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — New state numbers are showing a dramatic drop in the number of COVID-19 cases, allowing conditions inside hospitals to improve.

The winter surge in COVID-19 cases has taken a dramatic turn in the right direction. Spectrum Health says it has lowered its command center level from red to yellow, but doctors caution we’re not out of the woods yet.

“Every number today looks better than the numbers did yesterday,” said Chad Tuttle, the SVP of hospital operations for Spectrum Health. “A few weeks ago upwards of 35% of all of our inpatients were being affected by COVID-19 and today that number is closer to 20%, and so it gives us a little breathing room inside of our hospitals.”

New numbers from the state show the test positivity rate has dropped to just over 10%, from a peak of just over 35% near the end of December. The trend in recent days shows a dramatic decline in the curve for new cases.

The lowered command center status means Spectrum Health can loosen COVID-19 policies.

“It does affect how many surgeries we’ll continue forward with in the coming days. It will affect our visitor policies, which will become a little less restrictive,” Tuttle said.

Dr. Ronald Grifka, the chief medical officer for the University of Michigan Health West, has also seen a significant drop in cases.

“Over the last probably five to seven days we’ve had a gradual drop,” Grifka said. “In the last three of four we’ve had a more significant drop.”

University of Michigan Health West says the declining case numbers is encouraging to the staff.

“We have less staff who are sick, out ill, so that’s helpful, their families are less ill so they actually can come to work,” Grifka said.

Still, hospital systems are cautioning that the pandemic isn’t over yet.

“It is still very much in our community. If folks are not vaccinated, if they have not previously had it, they need to be very mindful of that, check their symptoms, avoid interacting with others if you feel sick,” Tuttle said.

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