Berrien County percent of positive COVID-19 tests decline, county parks open but limited

BERRIEN COUNTY— The Berrien County Health Department’s Health Officer Nicki Britten was joined on a Facebook Live by Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Undersheriff Chuck Heit to update the county on current events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic locally.

At the top of the update, Britten gave the day’s COVID-19 numbers of 571 confirmed cases, 194 presumed positive cases, 42 deaths and 368 recovered persons from COVID-19.

Britten noted that the percent of positive tests lately is going down.

“That’s the total number of tests done in a community with the percent of those tests that come back positive,” Britten said. “We are seeing a downward trend over the last 11 or 12 days. We have seen a pretty significant decrease in that percent positive.”
Britten said that the health department believes this is one of the markers that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is using to make decisions on how different regions re-opening.

Both Britten and Heit reminded residents to maintain social distancing over the Memorial Day weekend.

“Fortunately, we have some good weather coming. Outdoors is safer than indoors,” Britten said.

Britten encouraged residents to consider gatherings smaller than 10 people, as it is easier to maintain social distancing with a smaller group.

“The length of time matters, too,” she said. “This is spready by person to person droplets. It takes 10 minutes of close contact to be considered at risk.” She also recommended face masks during gatherings to control the spread of droplets.

Heit had reminders about the county’s parks and the limitations people may experience there.

“Part of the [latest executive order] is to get out and do outdoor activities,” Heit said. “Silver Beach is open, but it’s not the Silver Beach you’re used to. The water level where it is, there is not as much beach as there was. We will have a deputy helping monitor the beach and probably keep the capacity of vehicles at 50-percent.”

He also reminded residents that the public restrooms will be closed, the playgrounds and sand volleyball courts will be closed. Portable restrooms will be available, along with limited concessions. Rocky Gap County Park is also opening, but Heit stressed the importance of social distancing.

“We want people to get out, and it looks like it’s going to be great weather,” Heit said.

With confirmed positives increases, and deaths continuing to increase, Britten acknowledged that some of these have come from long term care facilities.

“This is a really tragic thing when it happens, and [COVID-19] gets into these facilities, it can be really challenging,” Britten said. “When you have people who are very vulnerable to serious illness and even death from a COVID infection that are living in relatively close quarters, it’s easier for transmission to occur and have devastating results. This is something we are continuing to work with.”

She reminded listeners that hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be well controlled and still put people in a higher risk group becoming ill from the virus.

Undersheriff Chuck Heit confirmed that county jails are among some of the congregant living facilities where populations are voluntarily, but systemically tested. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and Health Department hope that this will continue to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Berrien County

Emergency order presents challenges to growers, organizations

Buchanan

Buchanan Community Schools hosts virtual town hall with parents

Cassopolis

On the Mantle opens in downtown Cassopolis selling handmade skincare

Cass County

Dowagiac man sentenced to jail following drug overdose, probation violation

Cass County

MEC annexes back into the village limits

Buchanan

Buchanan selects new city manager

Dowagiac

New Dowagiac pastor aims to ‘recapture the heartbeat’ of the Bible

Edwardsburg

Monday Evening club adds plaque to celebratory marker

Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg residents open Mosquito Joe franchise

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education votes to start year with distance learning

Education

Niles superintendent hosts outdoor, active meeting to discuss back to school concerns

Berrien County

Vikings assemble backpacks for students

Dowagiac

Dowagiac resident named 2021 Cass County Miss Agriculture USA Queen

Berrien County

Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan to host virtual short film festival Aug. 19

News

Niles nonprofit works to keep evictions out of courts

Berrien County

Berrien County Sheriff’s Office launches internal investigation into video incident

News

Whitmer signs executive directive recognizing, addressing racism as a public health crisis

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer approves $28 million in outdoor recreation development and acquisition grants

Berrien County

Arrest, use of force streamed on Facebook Live involved Berrien County deputy

Business

Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce unveils upcoming Same Day Rewards Program

Dowagiac

Renovation work begins on Dowagiac’s China Garden

Berrien County

Berrien, Cass County unofficial election results

Berrien County

Motorcyclist seriously injured in collision with pickup truck

Berrien County

Berrien County services work to connect homeless to housing