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Clinton County struggling to get handle of COVID-19 surge

ST. JOHNS, Mich. (WILX) – Health experts are worried about the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Clinton County.

The Mid-Michigan District Health Department said new cases of the virus are doubling every week.

“I did not think it would get this bad. This is exceeding my worst case scenario,” said Marcus Cheatham, MMDHD Health Officer.

Cheatham said coronavirus is spreading through the community like wildfire, with 101 new cases reported to the state between October 22 and October 28.

He said if things don’t change soon, Clinton County could reach the point where help won’t come when it’s called.

“Just letting this pandemic spin out of control. It’s going to turn dire very quickly,” said Cheatham.

Cheatham said COVID-19 is spreading too fast for his staff to keep up with the demand.

“Our calls are going unanswered at the end of the work day. What that means is people are calling us for help and we’re not getting to them,” he said.

That means the number of new cases for Clinton County might be less than what is truly accurate because the health department is behind.

Cheatham said they are already seeing more hospitalizations and deaths.

He said he’s already been warned about hospitals potentially running out of room.

“So people who need care, who need oxygen or people who need intensive care for another reason, like a car crash or heart attack, won’t be able to get the care they need,” said Cheatham.

The DeWitt Township Police Department is in quarantine until at least November 11, and DeWitt Public Schools have moved to online learning until November 9, because of COVID exposure there.

Cheatham said other police departments are also affected.

“Public health has been warning us about this crisis and here it is at our doorstep,” said Cheatham.

He said he doesn’t know what will get the public to help stop the spread.

“We’ve had weeks and weeks of messaging on that subject and we haven’t seen the behavior change. I’m really at my wits end as a public health official,” said Cheatham.

Cheatham added another stay-at-home order likely wouldn’t work because people will continue to do what they want instead of following advice from health experts.

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