MEDIA RELEASE: Ottawa County Department of Public Health raises level of concern on County’s latest COVID surge and health system strain

Bookmark and Share


MEDIA RELEASE  I  November 18, 2021

Media Contact:

Alison Clark, Communications Specialist | 616-494-5597

Ottawa County Department of Public Health raises level of concern on County’s latest COVID surge
and health system strain

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

(HOLLAND, MI.) – 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]

Although these numbers may not feel concerning considering the daily number of cases and deaths being reported in the United States, many of these statistics are higher than ever in Ottawa County. Without prompt and deliberate action from the community, people can expect decreased capacity at local hospitals for COVID-19 intervention, as well as for emergency and routine care for other health concerns. Furthermore, public health capacity to manage critical services like food safety, water safety and sewage management, and health care services for children will be threatened. Additionally, school and business closures due to widespread illness and staff shortages will be likely.

“We are asking our community to come together and do what we can to care for one another during another difficult time in this pandemic. The impact of this is not just about COVID anymore,” said Lisa Stefanovsky, Administrative Health Officer. “Our current situation impacts everyone, and what is at stake is access to hospital care for anyone who may need it, for any issue.”

Stefanovsky further noted “in the absence of orders, we must rely on everyone to take this seriously and use precautions, none of which are perfect, but are effective when used together. Stay home when you are sick, mask up when you are indoors and around others outside of your household, and please consider getting a vaccine or booster if you haven’t already.”     

While 70% of Michiganders have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, this alone is not enough to stem the transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant which 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. In Ottawa County, an estimated 79.9% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals[7]. As people begin to gather indoors for the holiday season, OCDPH and local health care systems expect to see a further increase in cases, with increased deaths to follow. Getting vaccinated remains the best way to prevent serious COVID-19 related illness and to help reduce the number of hospital admissions.

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.

OCDPH is asking each Ottawa County resident to do their part to help reduce the level of COVID-19 transmission in our community, and ensure timely access to health care for everyone, beginning today through New Year’s Day, by doing the following:

  • Get vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated, speak with your trusted healthcare provider about the benefits of vaccination. The vaccine is free, safe, and effective, and is available from providers throughout the County. Vaccines are now available for children ages five and older. In Michigan, more than 5 million people have been safely and fully vaccinated[8].

  • Wear your mask. With current COVID-19 transmission levels so high, OCDPH is urging all individuals to wear a mask indoors, at work, school and anywhere in public when gathered around other people, even if they are vaccinated. Masks provide an additional layer of protection from spreading and contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 and are primarily intended to reduce the spread of virus-laden droplets in exhaled air. This is especially important for individuals who may be infected without symptoms (asymptomatic), or infected but not yet having symptoms (presymptomatic), and who may be unaware of their infectiousness to others. Transmission from asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals is estimated to account for more than 50% of COVID-19 transmissions.[9]

  • Stay home if you are sick. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even minor symptoms, or if you think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, get tested at one of the many testing locations around the County, and do not spend time with others outside of your household while awaiting test results.

OCDPH would like to thank the community for all it has done so far to help end this pandemic. It is because of the diligence of community members that we have not experienced more illness and deaths. It will take everyone, working together, to protect those who cannot be vaccinated or who are at greater risk of serious illness or death, and to help preserve Ottawa County’s hospital and emergency care capacity.

To find a vaccine clinic or COVID-19 testing site, visit For more information, visit

# # #

[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

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

[8] Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, November 12, 2021

[9] CDC, May 7, 2021