By Jon King /

As health officials report a “dramatic” rise in COVID-19 cases in Livingston County, local hospital officials are confirming that they’ve also seen a steep rise in hospitalizations.

On Friday, the Livingston County Health Department said that the case count of patients with confirmed coronavirus infections had nearly doubled since the beginning of the month, while the county’s positivity rate had also seen a similar rise. Those increases, however, have also led to a surge of hospitalizations.

Dr. Varsha Moudgal is the associate chief medical officer for St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital in Howell and says at one point last week they had 14 patients with COVID-19, compared to 8 at the previous virus peak in April. And while that number has thankfully been reduced to just six as of today, Dr. Moudgal says she is particularly concerned as the age range of those being admitted is on the rise. It is now mostly in the 50-60 age range, which she says increases the likelihood of patients having underlying conditions which can make their bout with COVID even worse.

Dr. Moudgal, who trained as an infectious disease expert, says that it is very disheartening to see that common sense measures have become politicized. She says the science is “irrefutable” and that wearing masks and social distancing are key components to keeping the spread of the virus in check.

The rise in hospitalizations followed an increase in the COVID case count in the county, which the health department last week said had risen 86% from earlier this month. In addition, the positivity rate has jumped to 6.1%, topping the state’s average of 4.9% and nearly double from what it was on October 10th.

You can hear the complete interview with Dr. Moudgal and Karla Zarb, the chief nursing officer at St. Joe’s Livingston, through the link below.