BENTON TOWNSHIP — The number of recovered COVID-19 patients hit 300 in Berrien County on Friday.

The Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) reported the figure along with another death, bringing the county’s death toll to 28.

The death reported Friday was that of a woman over the age of 80, according to the BCHD.

The county added 15 COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the cumulative total to 484.

With the deaths and the recoveries, the county has 156 confirmed active cases – two less than Thursday. The county also now has three less presumed positive cases from Thursday, 182.

Nicki Britten, health officer for the BCHD, said in a news release Friday that in order to continue the progress made in slowing the spread of the virus, the best things residents can do are wear a face covering when in enclosed public spaces, keep up with frequent hand washing, and limit close contact with members outside of your household.

“COVID-19 spreads person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could still be a carrier of the virus,” she said.

Britten said officials understand many people are eager to go places and gather with friends and family members.

“But we must stay focused on disease prevention methods to minimize the risk of further infection and ensure the health system capacity is not overburdened,” she said.

Spectrum Health Lakeland, as of Friday morning, had six COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit and 15 in the hospital not in the ICU.

Loren Hamel, president of Spectrum Health Lakeland, has said that’s still well below the hospital’s capacity.

He said in the news release Friday that hospital officials are encouraging people to not delay necessary medical care.

“We understand the reluctance some people might have to visit a hospital or clinic during this time,” Hamel said. “I can assure you we are taking this very seriously and the safety of our friends and neighbors remains our No. 1 priority.”

Lakeland, in collaboration with Versiti Blood Centers, continues to treat COVID-19 patients with blood plasma from patients who have recovered from the disease, providing an additional treatment option to the most severely affected COVID-19 patients.

To be considered as a donor, patients must have had a positive COVID-19 test and be symptom free for at least 14 days. For more information on donating convalescent plasma, call 983-8261.

Van Buren/Cass

The Van Buren Cass District Health Department (VBCDHD) released its weekly numbered of recovered patients Friday.

There are now 32 recovered in Van Buren County, a gain of six recoveries from last Friday. Cass County county now has 23 recovered, an addition of five recoveries in a week.

The VBCDHD uses a different definition of recovered than Berrien County does. Recovered for Van Buren and Cass counties is defined as the number of persons with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis who are alive 30 days post-onset or referral date if onset is not available. This 30-day wait period will cause the recovered figure to go up in these counties slower.

Berrien County says someone has recovered once they have been released from isolation after having three days of no fever (without a fever-reducing medication) and improvement in respiratory symptoms, plus it’s been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared.

As of Friday, Van Buren County now has 106 cumulative COVID-19 cases, six more cases than Thursday. Cass County has 50, four more than Thursday.

Van Buren County has five deaths and Cass County has two.

Local numbers and information can be found at www.bchdmi.org, and at www.vbcassdhd.org/covid-19. For state numbers, visit www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman