BHSJ: Number of COVID-19 cases in county 'rising rapidly'

COLDWATER — The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency (BHSJ) expressed its concern over recent COVID-19 case numbers in St. Joseph County, and is asking the community to do their part to stop the spread of the virus.

Rebecca Burns, Health Officer at BHSJ, said in a statement Monday there is community transmission of COVID-19 in St. Joseph County, and the number of positive cases is “rising rapidly.”

According to Burns, in the time period of June 13 to June 20, there was a 21 percent increase in cases in the county, going from 167 cases to 202, and in the past two weeks, there was a 38 percent increase in cases, some of the largest percentage increases in the county since the pandemic began. As of press time Tuesday, that number has risen again to 216 total cases of COVID-19 in St. Joseph County, with three deaths reported, dating back to the beginning of the pandemic.

“Folks, we are losing to this virus right now,” Burns said. “All communities are at risk.”

Burns says people should be taking measures to help stop the spread of the virus. This includes wearing a mask when out in public and insisting that family members do as well, wearing a mask when inside with other people that aren’t immediately family and consider leaving if others aren’t, not congregating in groups, continuing to practice social distancing, and not bringing people together for meetings or trainings.

Burns added in her statement there has been “misinformation” about testing and the 14-day quarantine period. She said if a person is in close contact with a person with a known case of COVID-19, they must go into quarantine for 14 days with no exceptions.

“Even if you get tested sometime within that 14 day period and the result is negative you must complete the entire 14 day period of quarantine,” Burns said. “The time frame within which you might develop symptoms is 2-14 days. Some believe that if they test negative in the 14-day period that they are clear. This is not correct.”

As for student-athletes who are in conditioning programs for high school sports, Burns said to make sure everyone follows Michigan High School Athletic Association guidelines and make sure no activities are done indoors.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or

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