Muskegon County reaches Zero COVID-19 cases at Mercy Health Muskegon


Bar graph courtesy of Chris Patterson

Jade Treptow, Contributing Writer

As of Friday, Feb. 26, Mercy Health Muskegon reached zero COVID-19 cases, while Grand Rapids reached zero ICU cases in all hospitals located in GR, according to Chris Patterson, Muskegon Community College’s Director of Nursing and Health Programs. This is an extremely positive milestone that Muskegon County has reached, as it has been almost a year since the pandemic first hit.

“The number of positive tests has decreased dramatically, averaging just six new recorded cases per day for the last week of February,” stated Patterson. Muskegon County’s seven-day rate of positive cases is currently resting at 2.6% as of Feb. 21, while Kent County is at 3.9%, Ottawa County at 4.2%, and the State of Michigan at 3.5%.

Currently, the number of total cases stands at 10,365 for this year, in contrast to the 296 resulting deaths in Muskegon County for this year as well. As opposed to the State of Michigan, which stands at “587,581 positive cases with 15,522 deaths,” according to Patterson. Muskegon is a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of positive cases and deaths in Michigan while continuing to move forward in a positive direction.

Muskegon Public Health, healthcare systems, and some pharmacies are allowing residents of Muskegon County to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccination. “In Michigan, more than 2.32 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, with 830,000 people fully vaccinated,” stated Patterson. Muskegon County has fully immunized 13,640 of its residents – of those residents, 11,815 have received their first dose of the vaccine. According to Patterson, a new single-dose vaccine is in progress and will be administered to those living in Muskegon County when it is readily available.

“People are more afraid of the vaccine because they rushed it through,” states Patterson. The vaccine is also not FDA approved, raising concern for those who have received the vaccine and those who plan to. However, the rising number of cases and deaths forced the FDA to issue two Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) on Dec. 11, 2020, and Dec. 18, 2020. The rushed production of the COVID-19 vaccine has also raised some red flags for elderly patients. But, “the risk of NOT getting the vaccine is greater for elderly people,” according to Patterson. As individual ages, their immune system often deteriorates making vaccination essential for immune health. Being vaccinated means the immune system will produce antibodies to fight off the virus, which is why it is critical for elderly patients to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Muskegon County residents are hesitant to receive the vaccine due to unknown symptoms or side-effects, however, residents are safe because they are “monitored on-site for about 30 minutes [post-immunization],” according to Patterson. If a severe reaction were to occur, the reaction would take effect almost immediately, and vaccine clinics are readily prepared for a negative reaction against the vaccine. Symptoms of post-immunization may include:

  • Tiredness
  • A very sore arm
  • Occasional runny nose and/or fatigue

The COVID-19 vaccine is in very high demand, which puts Muskegon County residents on a waitlist.  “I never thought people would be “lined up” to receive any vaccine ever again,” said Patterson. Some pharmacies such as Meijer, as well as hospitals like Mercy Health are offering vaccines. Patterson recommends to sign-up on as many lists as possible. “Take the first chance, no matter where it is.”