Bi-Weekly Ottawa County COVID-19 Update - November 19, 2021

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November 19, 2021

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PH updates

Ottawa County Department of Public Health raises level of concern on County's latest surge and healthcare system strain

Michigan is now the state with the highest number of new cases in the nation

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) is today raising the level of concern about the current high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, which is threatening access to health care systems. OCDPH is urging community members to do everything they can, between today and New Year’s Day, to bring transmission down and preserve access to the County’s already strained health systems.

All Ottawa County healthcare responses are being challenged by the most recent surge and with a continued increase in cases, hospital capacity for all care could be exceeded. Schools and public health services are also under increased stress. OCDPH is urgently pleading with the community to assist in bringing the level of community transmission down before critical services are impacted any further, and before the educational and business communities are affected more profoundly.

Current test positivity is higher than it has been at any earlier point in the pandemic, and the rate of new cases is on pace to meet or exceed any previously set high. As of November 17, Michigan has the highest rate of new cases per population for the past seven days in the nation[1]. Ottawa County’s combined test positivity and case rates are among the highest in the state[2].

Current case trends in Ottawa County continue to be on the rise.

  • Weekly case positivity is 24.9%[3]
  • Ottawa County is averaging approximately 330 cases each day[4]
  • Last week, 484 positive pediatric cases were diagnosed, with 29 West Michigan pediatric hospital admissions at one regional health system[5]
  • 85% of hospital beds are occupied; 25% of these are COVID-19 patients[6]

It may seem as though vaccination is unnecessary if vaccinated people are still able to be infected with COVID-19. However, even though the vaccine is not 100% effective at stopping infection, it is effective at greatly reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. READ MORE

To view the rest of the media release from November 18, 2021 click here

[1] CDC COVID Data Tracker, November 17, 2021,

[2] MI Safe Start Map, November 16, 2021,

[3] MI Safe Start Map, November 16, 2021,

[4] Ottawa County COVID-19 Data Hub, November 17, 2021,

[5] Ottawa County COVID-19 Epidemiology Report, November 18, 2021

[6] Ottawa County COVID-19 Epidemiology Report, November 18, 2021

MDDHS will issue face mask advisory for the holiday season due to rise in cases of flu and COVID-19 

Eligible Michiganders 5 and up should get vaccinated as soon as they can 

With the increasing rise in COVID-19 and flu cases, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be issuing a face mask advisory and offering guidance to keep loved ones safe and prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses during the holidays.

MDHHS will issue a Public Health Advisory that recommends everyone over the age of 2 should wear a face mask at indoor gatherings regardless of their vaccination status. In addition, establishments should implement a policy to ensure that all persons entering or seeking services, including employees, wear a mask. This face mask advisory will remain effect until further notice.  

In addition to the MDHHS advisory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued recommendations for safe gatherings including getting vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands. Mask wearing is considered an effective mitigation strategy and is recommended for all in public indoor settings in areas of high transmission and indoors for those who are not vaccinated. Practice social distancing when possible, especially in places where the vaccination status of those around you is unknown. 

MDHHS follows CDC guidance in offering the following special considerations for holiday gatherings:

  • Immunocompromised people should take all precautions of unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask.
  • Choose to wear a mask if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.
  • If you are gathering with groups from multiple households from different areas across the state and country, consider additional precautions like getting tested for COVID-19 to reduce the risk of spreading to loved ones.

Notably, getting vaccinated supports every effort to relieve the burden on Michigan hospitals, where the challenges caused by the continued pandemic response, increases in high acuity, non-COVID patients, overcrowding and understaffing have reached a critical point in areas of the state. Hospitals work to ensure that available supplies and personnel are used efficiently and effectively. Should a facility need to move into crisis standards of care then routine practices are modified, procedures cancelled, resources conserved and items in short supply may be reallocated. The goal of all hospitals is to avoid reaching that level of crisis standards of care. 

To maximize protection from COVID-19 for age-eligible children and adults, get vaccinated as soon as you can. To find a vaccine near you, visit

Read the full press release here.

Region 6 healthcare coalition issues statements on COVID surge and impacts on health care

The health care systems within Region 6 are at a tipping point - our individual and collective resources are being overwhelmed, and we need our communities’ help to get back on track. 

The hospitals and EMS systems in our region are operating at extremely high capacity - and have been for weeks. While other areas of the country have seen the number of patients with COVID-19 decline, our numbers are on the rise. We are also seeing more patients with other serious health issues that cannot be further delayed or ignored.

How does that impact you?

  • Wait times for emergency, urgent or primary care may be much longer than usual
  • Ambulance transfers may be delayed
  • Surgeries or procedures may be deferred to a later date
  • Visitor restrictions remain in effect
  • You may have a prolonged stay in the emergency department waiting for a bed in the hospital

It is important to note that the strain on our system is due to the pandemic, plus the many other demands healthcare teams are facing to care for seriously ill patients. If more people were vaccinated, that would help reduce the number of COVID-19 patients, as most of the COVID-19 patients in the ED and admitted remain unvaccinated. This is impacting our ability to care for those who are seriously injured in a car accident, suffer a heart attack, stroke, or experience another medical emergency or issue. Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) is concerned there will be a surge of influenza along with the current COVID-19 surge adding to the capacity issues. We strongly urge people to get the influenza vaccine as well.

Please utilize your primary care office for minor or non-emergent problems. Urgent care is also available for non-emergent needs. If you have an emergency, please call 911 or go to the emergency department as soon as possible. Please be patient with our staff in the hospital as everyone is doing all they can to care for a large number of patients.

Get vaccinated and celebrate Thanksgiving safely!

Getting the vaccine will provide the best protection against COVID-19 for family and friends who gather at the holidays. There is still time to get some level of protection before Thanksgiving, even if you are not fully vaccinated (2 weeks following your second dose). By following the recipe below, you can have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving! 

Thanksgiving recipe

How vaccines reduce the spread of COVID-19

There is a common misconception that vaccinated people spread the virus as much as unvaccinated. But, vaccinated people do not spread the virus as much as unvaccinated. Here is a look at how vaccines can reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Vaccines prevent infection in the first place

Fully vaccinated individuals (2 weeks following your second dose) do not spread the virus as much as unvaccinated individuals (have received no doses of the vaccine, or only one dose) because the vaccines prevent some infection and lessen the severity of the illness. 

If a vaccinated and unvaccinated person are exposed to the same amount of virus for the same amount of time, the outcome will be different. For example:

1. For the unvaccinated person, once the virus enters their system, it will try to invade that person's cells and start replicating fast. Once the cells are replicated and reach a threshold, the person becomes contagious. An unvaccinated person can become contagious before they experience symptoms.

2.  For the vaccinated person, once the virus enters their system, it will look for cells to invade. Antibodies within the immune system will recognize the virus and quickly destroy it. The virus often gets destroyed before entering the body's cells so the virus can't replicate and become contagious. This phenomenon is called "sterilizing immunity," which prevents infection from happening in the first place. Not everyone gets sterilizing immunity, but COVID-19 vaccines help with approximately 50-75% reduction in the risk of initial infection. 

Boosters reduce transmission even more 

Unsurprisingly, boosters reduce transmission because they increase our neutralizing antibodies. Boosters increase the likelihood of preventing infection in the first place and, presumably, help clear the virus faster among breakthrough cases. 

What about infection-induced (“natural”) immunity? 

Some that are unvaccinated and survive COVID-19 disease do receive a level of protection from their body’s immune response. This means they too have neutralizing antibodies and, because of this, their body acts much like the vaccinated: prevents infection and, thus, prevents transmission.

The problem is that this response is not guaranteed, and because of this, reinfection is much higher among unvaccinated individuals.

In conclusion,  the majority of vaccinated people won’t spread the virus if they are exposed. Among breakthrough cases, vaccines ensure less infectious viral particles for a shorter period of time. LEARN MORE

This article is adapted from Your Local Epidemiologist, who is an excellent resource for data-driven content that is backed-up by scientific evidence and peer-reviewed studies.

Parents send notes of thanks for OCDPH Vaccine Clinics


Thank you to all Ottawa County parents who have sent kind messages to OCDPH! We are grateful parents and kids are taking the opportunity to get vaccinated to protect their children and the community. 

  • Our family was so impressed by the OCDPH vaccine clinic. Our kids have never had such a kid-centric vaccination experience. Everything from the people registering us who asked the kids all the questions about their medical info, to the staff doing the immunizing who described the size of the needle as smaller than a butterfly antenna, to the colorful bandaids (to help them remember to massage the area), to the pop it toys as prizes, to the staff coming to check in with everyone after getting their vaccinations was absolutely amazing. I'm telling all of my friends about getting vaccinated through your program if possible. Thank you so much for making it such a pleasant experience for kids and their families! You guys are doing truly great work!
  • This was a very amazing experience! The health department employees were very nice and you got to pick out a prize at the end! Overall, this was an amazing experience. Thank You health department!

peds fact sheet

To view the fact sheet in other languages click here.

For crying out loud, get your flu shot!

Due to recent outbreaks of the influenza, OCDPH is encouraging flu vaccinations for everyone six months of age or older. Getting the flu shot can reduce the risk of illness and its potentially serious complications. An increase in the number of flu cases was expected this year compared to 2020, due to relaxed COVID-19 prevention strategies. To reduce the number of influenza cases, OCDPH encourages:

  • Get your flu vaccination 
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available
  • Disinfect surfaces

Respiratory illnesses, like the flu, are beginning to be diagnosed in Michigan and cases are expected to rise. Vaccination is the best way to prevent getting sick and spreading it to others. Flu shots are available at your local pharmacies, or physician offices. Visit for more information. 

flu granny

Is it the flu, a cold, or COVID-19?

Symptoms can be similar for the cold, flu, or COVID-19. Check the chart below for common symptoms of colds, the flu and COVID-19. If you are sick, please stay home to prevent spreading illness to others. 


For Español click here

county updates

Ottawa County Data Hub

Ottawa County publishes recent COVID-19 data relating to community transmission, counts, descriptive statistics and test positivity. The data hub is updated every weekday from Monday - Friday by 3:00 pm. View Data Hub

Weekly COVID-19 Data Reports can be found on our COVID page. Click here to view the latest report. 

Ottawa County Case Rates

oc cases updated

As of November 19, 373 new cases of COVID-19 were reported each day on average over the last 7 days, up from the 170 daily reported cases over the previous 7 day period. Case counts and incidence rates are increasing at this time. Because these reports do not include results in people only tested with at-home test kits, the true case counts may be underreported.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Ottawa County

Ottawa coverage updated

Coverage: 62.2% of all Ottawa County residents aged 5 years or older have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as of November 19, 2021. More vaccine data from MDHHS can be found here

state header

Michigan Vaccination Rates

michigan coverage updated

Coverage: 60.3% of all Michigan residents aged 5 years or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of November 19, 2021. More vaccine data from MDHHS can be found here.

Progress is based on the CDC data tracker, which includes Michigan residents vaccinated by providers not currently reporting to the state dashboard below: Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Bureau of Prisons, and most out-of-state providers. Data provided in the Michigan COVID-19 Dashboard slightly undercounts the true number of doses administered to Michigan residents. LEARN MORE

COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States

us vaccinations updated

Questions & Answers

Why are COVID cases so high in Ottawa County right now?

Michigan is is now the state with the highest number of new COVID cases in the nation. Ottawa County is one of the highest counties in Michigan. This ongoing Delta surge paired with increases in the last two weeks is creating a current strain and imminent threat to our community's health. 

70% of Michigan residents age 16 and above have gotten at least one does of the COVID-19 vaccine. So why are we still seeing a high number of COVID cases?

Although 70% of Michiganders age 16 and above have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, when we consider the entire population of the state, and include every age group, the number of people who have received at least one dose of vaccine is closer to just over 60%. That means that nearly four million people are unvaccinated. People of every age can get COVID-19 and spread it. With the relaxed COVID mitigation strategies, the Delta variant is sweeping through Ottawa County, and the rest of the state, as the highest amount of COVID-19 is still seen among those who are unvaccinated. The vaccine is effective and remains the best option for protection against COVID-19 and its variants. However, even though the vaccine cannot prevent 100% of infections, it can prevent serious illness, complications and death. In order to lower this current surge, everyone who is eligible should consider getting a vaccine, wear a mask whenever you are in public and indoors and stay home if you are sick.

Where to Find COVID-19 Vaccines

VWM Logo

The OCDPH is listing all of its COVID-19 vaccination clinics on the website. Click on the calendar to find scheduling and walk-in opportunities in Ottawa County and the surrounding area.

  • The Pfizer two-dose vaccine is available for individuals aged 5 years or older.
  • The Moderna two-dose vaccine is available for individuals aged 18 years or older.
  • The Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine is available for individuals aged 18 years or older.
  • Proof of date of birth is required (driver’s license, state ID or birth certificate). Parental consent is required for minors. Find more details and requirements on each clinic's page.
  • Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens.
vaccinate calendar

The Macatawa Area Express (MAX) and Allegan County Transportation are offering free rides for residents to vaccination appointments. To schedule a trip, call MAX at 616-355-1010. LEARN MORE - Kent County Vaccine Transportation Access Information HERE.

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing

Need Testing? No-Cost Community Sites. Rapid antigen testing for anyone with or without symptoms (parental consent required for minors). Samples are taken by nasal swab. Results within 15-30 min. No appointment needed • No doctor’s order needed • No insurance needed • No Fee • Please bring a form of ID • No pets allowed • Wear a face covering. Find locations, dates and times at

MDHHS Resources

Vaccine Information I MI Vaccine Locations I FAQs

NIH Header

Read the Latest NIH Research.

More COVID-19 Vaccine Information Resources FAQs I Deaf & Hard of Hearing FAQ Videos
CDC COVID-19 FAQs Flyer I CDC FAQ Website

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Click to learn more from the CDC's COVID-19 Webinars and Partner Calls Videos

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) sent this weekly update to those who signed up for vaccine notifications or COVID-19 updates. You may also sign up to receive information about other news topics from Ottawa County Parks, Sheriff’s Office and more. See the end of this email to make any changes to your subscription preferences.