Covid Vaccine 4 - web only

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Roughly another 10,000 Berrien County residents need to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before the county reaches 55 percent vaccinated, local health officials said Tuesday.

Nicki Britten, health officer for the Berrien County Health Department (BCHD), said during a Facebook Live update that she expects it to take a few more months to get there.

“I’d say a lot of that is in the hands of the community,” she said.

That 55 percent figure is the first threshold the state needs to reach, as part of the “MI Vacc to Normal” plan. Once that figure is surpassed, the state will allow in-person work for all sectors of business.

“This is statewide, but everything we do here in Berrien contributes to that,” Britten said.

So far, about 57,694 Berrien County residents have received at least their first dose, which equates to about 46.5 percent of eligible adults (16 and over).

As of Monday, 101,071 doses of vaccine had been administered in Berrien County, with 43,585 of those being second doses, according to state data.

Britten said vaccination rates are slowing and health officials want to see it increase. That’s why they’re working to make vaccine clinics more convenient.

Britten said some people were very vaccine-motivated, others will never get the vaccine, and there is a whole other group in the middle that needs the vaccine brought to them, or a better way to access it.

“If there isn’t a lot of extra effort on their part, I think there are a lot of people currently unvaccinated that would be willing,” she said.

Britten added that the health department is making plans for if and when the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in 12- to 15-year-olds early next week.

Data update

Berrien County’s data dashboard was updated Tuesday with an additional 116 new COVID-19 cases. Most of these are from over the weekend and just now being recorded.

Britten said the average number of cases a day is at about 36. That’s down from the peak a few weeks ago of around 60 new cases a day.

She reported the county’s percent positivity rate of COVID-19 tests coming back positive has leveled off at about 12 percent. She said this is still high, but not surprising with the way rapid testing has evolved over the last year.

With deaths and recoveries, Berrien County is at about 1,359 active COVID-19 cases. Last Tuesday, the tally was about 1,490.

Dr. Loren Hamel, president of Spectrum Health Lakeland, said Tuesday that the hospital is still seeing much younger people being admitted.

“Although the numbers are going down, we appreciate anything you can do to keep everyone safe so we don’t have to meet you in the ER and talk to you about how much oxygen you need or if you need to be intubated,” he said.

Spectrum Health Lakeland reported having 37 COVID-positive patients admitted Tuesday morning. Last Tuesday, the hospital had 39 COVID patients admitted.

On Monday, the state reported just one COVID-19 outbreak at a local school district. Watervliet Middle School had two recent student cases.

Van Buren County recorded one new COVID-19 death on Tuesday, bringing the county’s death toll to 104. In addition, the county recorded 30 new COVID-19 cases.

Cass County recorded 12 new cases and no new deaths on Tuesday.

Contact:, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman