Lakeland, Health Department Give COVID Update

Testing capacity for COVID-19 is continually going up in Berrien County, but the supply is still too short. So says Spectrum Health Lakeland CEO Loren Hamel, who gave a coronavirus update with Berrien County officials Friday. Hamel said there are now more sites doing testing in the county with the opening of a drive-thru location at the Benton Harbor Walmart Friday. As for antibody testing, he said Lakeland has the equipment, just not the materials. They’re using what they do have to give plasma transfusions to the sick. He put out another call for donations from those who have recovered from the illness.

“If you’ve had the disease and if you’ve had the test, we’re going to have to repeat it and confirm that you don’t have the virus, and we could use your plasma and that could help to save up to four lives,” Hamel said.

Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit said there have been no cases confirmed at the jail. They’re doing testing based on symptoms.

“We have tested ten inmates in the jail,” Heit said. “Those have all come back negative.”

Hamel said many are feeling burnout from isolation, but it’s more important than ever that people continue to stay at home, noting recent hospitalizations have been up in the county. Still, Hamel said Spectrum Health Lakeland has not come close to capacity. As cases continue to slowly grow around west Michigan, he said he supports the governor’s decision to extend the stay home order.