BENTON TOWNSHIP — Some of the new clusters of COVID-19 cases in Berrien County have been linked to large youth group gatherings and long-term care facilities, the Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) reported Friday.

While no specifics were given about the youth groups, the new nursing home outbreak is at Chalet of Niles – Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, according to the state’s long-term care facility data.

The facility had 12 residents and five staff members with the virus as of Thursday. No deaths have been recorded there.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Berrien County continues to rise, with the county gaining about 80 cases since last Thursday (the day before the holiday weekend). The county hasn’t seen that many cases in a week since May.

During the same time period, the county gained about 50 recoveries.

With still 60 deaths recorded, there are about 74 active cases in the county, about 32 more than last week.

BCHD officials reported that more local youth are getting the virus, and so the average age of people newly diagnosed has decreased.

“From mid-June to now, the average age is 39, whereas earlier in the pandemic it was older,” the health department wrote on its Facebook page.

So far, Spectrum Health Lakeland has been able to handle the number of COVID-19 patients it is seeing. On Friday, the number of patients rose to eight. That’s double how many were hospitalized last Friday, according to the county’s COVID-19 data dashboard.

The BCHD also reported Friday that every three out of four new cases experienced COVID-19 symptoms. The most common symptoms reported in our area are fever, cough and fatigue/weakness.

“COVID-19 can spread very quickly,” the health department warned. “We must continue to take precautions to avoid virus transmission. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance.”

Van Buren/Cass

The Van Buren Cass District Health Department (VBCDHD) also released its own statement Friday about the rising number of cases in those two counties.

The county saw 28 new positive cases in Cass County and 31 new positive cases in Van Buren County since last Thursday.

“This reality is a reminder that we have to remain steadfast in our prevention efforts – wearing masks in public, keeping 6-foot distance, good hand hygiene and limiting the number of people you and your household are exposed to,” the VBCDHD wrote in a news release.

Van Buren County is now up to 236 total COVID-19 cases, with eight deaths. Cass County is at 165 total cases, with six deaths.

The department also reported that it would not be releasing updated recovered numbers this week, but will resume again next week.

As of July 1, 143 people have recovered in Van Buren County and 85 have recovered in Cass.

The long-term care facility data now shows Cass County is recording eight residents and three staff members with COVID-19 at Cass County Medical Care Facility.

Other facilities in Cass and Van Buren counties have only recorded a few cases in staff members.

Contact:, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman