Two More St. Joseph County Residents Die from COVID-19

The total number of deaths in St. Joseph County related to the global COVID-19 pandemic rose again this week, according to statistical charts on county and state websites. The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency (BHSJ) updates statistics daily on its website, as does the State of Michigan. The BHSJ total death count jumped from seven to nine on Monday afternoon.

As Watershed Voice previously reported, the state and county’s coronavirus statistics primarily show information about total infection numbers. Johns Hopkins University’s pandemic tracker provides some additional information and statistics. Although some of its specific totals differ from those indicated by BHSJ and the state, it largely corroborates those numbers.

The daily rate of new infections climbed steadily and spiked several times during the second half of July and remained high in the first week of August. The biggest jump occurred between July 22 and 23, when state counts jumped by 29 cases for the county. The daily rate of new infections in the county has been dropping over the last six days. State statistics showed only one unconfirmed, new infection on August 10, and one confirmed and two unconfirmed new cases the previous day.

Once an infection occurs, the COVID-19 virus can take anywhere from one to 14 days to present the types of symptoms that might inspire a person to get tested, and nasopharyngeal tests requiring laboratory results can take one to several days to return results. Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on July 13 attaching fines to mask requirements, just over four weeks ago.

St. Joseph County has had 510 cases to date according to the BHSJ’s last statistical update on August 11. Its population of 60,897 means that about one out of every 119 people in the county have tested positive for COVID-19 so far. In Watershed Voice’s last update on July 31, that rate was about one out of every 127 people. 

Nearly 11,000 tests have been administered to county residents from a variety of sources since the pandemic began. Between roughly three and four percent of diagnostic tests in the county have come back positive since mid-July.

Watershed Voice is not aware of any press releases or other information from BHSJ about the death that affected the updated statistics on Monday but will provide updated coverage should additional information become available.