Coronavirus WEB ONLY

Area community leaders joined together Thursday to send a letter to the community asking for its support in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The letter, printed in Thursday’s Herald-Palladium, was supported by Berrien County, including its health department and sheriff’s office, Cornerstone Alliance, I&M (and Cook Nuclear Plant), Kinexus Group, the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber, Spectrum Health Lakeland, United Way of Southwest Michigan and Whirlpool Corp.

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“COVID-19 will not take a break for the season and neither can we. We all have a shared responsibility to wear masks, maintain social distance, and sanitize hands and surfaces,” the letter said.

In encouraged people to shop local and support small businesses.

“Our response is more effective if we are united in our efforts to face this virus together,” the letter said. “Our collective action can control the severity of COVID-19; with immediate action we can help save lives and keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed, allow our schools to remain open, and keep workers employed.”

The letter continued: “As we continue to battle this pandemic, we ask that you join us in making short-term sacrifices for the long-term vision of a stronger, healthier community and economy.”

Latest numbers

Six new COVID-19 deaths were reported in Berrien County on Thursday, according to state data. Berrien County had not updated its COVID dashboard as of 5 p.m.

Some of those deaths could be due to a review of death certificate data by the state and didn’t necessarily happen Wednesday/Thursday this week.

This pushed the county’s death toll past 100, to 102.

In addition, Berrien County recorded 199 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, according to the state data. That’s one of the highest one-day totals for new cases, second to the 205 recorded on Monday.

In the last seven days, the county has been averaging about 158 new cases a day.

Updated recovery totals were not available due to the dashboard not being updated.

Spectrum Health Lakeland had 57 COVID-positive patients admitted Thursday morning. That’s down two from Wednesday, but still up 10 from last Thursday.

Van Buren/Cass

Van Buren County also saw a huge spike in COVID-19 deaths Thursday, recording five.

That brings the county’s death toll to 28, the same as Cass County, which added one additional COVID-19 death Thursday.

Van Buren County added 70 new COVID-19 cases Thursday.

Cass County added 47 new cases.

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