Update on COVID-19 Numbers in Chippewa County and War Memorial Hospital


UPDATE – 2/15/21

Currently our numbers are significantly better than what I reported two weeks ago. We are no longer seeing a surge, and currently we have zero patients with COVID-19 at WMH.

In the last week, we have only had nine positive cases in Chippewa County, so the numbers have dropped drastically (which is great news).

We have vaccinated 555 of our 883 employees for a 63% vaccination rate. We would like to see that number in the 90% area, but at this point we are not requiring our staff to be vaccinated.  

We currently have zero employees off of work because of COVID-19, and have also had 39 of our 47 (83%) Long Term Care residents vaccinated.  Seven of the residents who didn’t get vaccinated did not want to get the vaccine.

Fortunately, up to this point, we have not had one positive COVID-19 case in our LTC Unit, which is really remarkable since this virus has inundated many nursing homes and caused a number of deaths throughout the State of Michigan in nursing homes to date. 

Also, we completed last Friday the vaccination of 935 community members who were 65+ during a mass vaccination clinic at LSSU. We would do more of these clinics, but at this point we can’t get the necessary vaccine in order to accomplish this.

I know that this is an issue throughout the U.P. and we are all hoping that more vaccines can be sent up here as soon as possible.

Original Update – 1/4/21

War Memorial Hospital and Chippewa County have seen a little bit of a surge in the number of COVID-19 positive patients and COVID-19 positive admissions during the last couple weeks. 

For the week ending January 2, the numbers from the State of Michigan showed 458 positive tests in the entire U.P. for that week and 154 of these positive tests were in Chippewa County, which is just over 33% of the number of positive cases in the past week.

The Eastern UP was doing pretty well until the end of October, compared with the Western UP, but the virus has definitely made its way into our community. There have also been a lot of COVID-19 cases at the two local MDOC prisons which house around 4,000 inmates.

About half of our COVID-19 positive admissions to War Memorial Hospital during the last 60 days have been inmates from the local prisons. Currently we have 11 COVID-19 positive patients at WMH, 5 of which are MDOC inmates, with one of them being in ICU.

So far, we have had six COVID-19 deaths at WMH, and in the county I believe we are up to 14 COVID-19 deaths. We are also seeing some spread of the virus through our employees, although the majority of this spread has been in support departments who are not taking direct care of the COVID-19-positive patients, so we are fairly confident that these cases are coming from the community.

The good news is that we have received our Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, and to date we have immunized about 500 of our 900 employees. We have also vaccinated 31 of our 43 Long Term Care Residents.

This week we will start giving the second doses to the employees who received the first dose to complete the process. We are not mandating that our employees get the vaccine, but we are highly recommending it for everyone.

So far, we have seen no major side effects with the vaccine, only minor side effects like sore arms at the vaccination site and some low-grade fevers and fatigue for a very few individuals. 

We continue to work with our local health department to get everyone who is part of the Phase 1a vaccination category within our area vaccinated. We think that this will be accomplished this week, and by next week we should move on to the Phase 1b vaccinations.

This process will take quite a while to complete and it will be dependent on how many vaccines we are able to obtain for our area and how quickly we can get the vaccines distributed to our community.

The State of Michigan’s goal is to have 70% of the people vaccinated by the end of 2021, which means that we are still a long way from the ultimate goal.

Overall, we have seen a slight surge in the last few weeks and we are hopeful that this will go back down soon.

bold fix

David Jahn

David Jahn is the President & CEO of Chippewa County War Memorial Hospital. He has been with the organization for 15 years, and prior to that he was CEO and CFO at Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital in Manistique (his hometown) for 22 years. David has his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Michigan Technological University and an MBA from Lake Superior State University. He is currently a member of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association Board of Directors and the Vice-Chairman of the Michigan Center for Rural Health Board of Directors.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Related Articles