A sign in downtown St. Joseph urges people to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Another death from COVID-19 was reported Monday afternoon in Berrien County as health department officials linked some of the local spread of the coronavirus here to in-person funerals.

According to the health department, some of the positive cases in Berrien County have been traced to funerals. In a news release, the BCHD urges families to conduct live-streamed funerals only, so friends and family can take part remotely.

“This is a solution that allows for the closest immediate family members at the funeral service in person, while keeping that gathering to under 10 people, while other people participate from home,” according to the release.

Many funeral homes in Berrien County have already started to implement these remote viewing alternatives, the Berrien County Health Department reported.

The man who died was over 65 with underlying health conditions, the health department reported in a news release. He had been hospitalized at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph.

The additional death brings the total number of fatalities in the county to two. The first death, a man in his 70s, was reported last Monday.

“This loss of life is tragic and we send our deep condolences to the family,” said BCHD Health Officer Nicki Britten in the release. “We remain committed to slowing the spread of this virus to try to minimize the loss of life in our community during these unprecedented times.”

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Berrien County has risen to 60, over the 58 cases reported Sunday. These numbers include the two deaths.

The department reports that 28 of those cases have fully recovered.

Van Buren County gained two additional positive cases Monday, over Sunday, as well. The county’s total is now 16, with still one death.

The number of cases and deaths in Cass County has not changed from Sunday. It remains at seven positive cases and one death.

Religious services

The BCHD is also warning against gathering during upcoming religious holidays.

“While the way we celebrate traditions may be different this year, know that you are not alone,” Britten said in the release. “This is a challenging time and while we come from many different backgrounds, faiths and walks of life, we are uniquely bonded by this shared experience. One of the most loving things we can do for one another is to stay home.”

Britten said, because COVID-19 can spread even before there are any symptoms of illness, it is so important to avoid any traditions that include family and friends or other people who do not live with you.

The BCHD recommends attending virtual services through your place of worship; celebrating with family via video chat; cooking traditional foods at home; and celebrating with immediate family now, and holding a larger celebration when the pandemic is over.

The state and county health departments update the number of positive COVID-19 cases at 3 p.m. each day. For state numbers, visit www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.

Local numbers and information can be found at www.bchdmi.org, and at www. vbcassdhd.org/covid-19.

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