Health department issues Public Health Advisory as COVID-19 cases climb
Wed, 12/02/2020 - 10:29am caleb
DHD#10, which covers Crawford County, says ‘deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in our region have reached the highest they have ever been’
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The current “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – a list of regulations that forces the closure of restaurants to dine-in service, limits gatherings, suspends in-person instruction at high schools and colleges, and pauses the fall and winter high school sports seasons in the state – is set to expire next week just before midnight on December 8, but COVID-19 numbers continue to climb in the state, and area health officials are urging people to continue efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
State officials reported on November 28 that Michigan’s total COVID-19 confirmed case total has surpassed 350,000, and the state’s death toll from the virus has surpassed 9,000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of November 30, the United States has had approximately 13,300,000 COVID-19 cases during the pandemic with more than 266,000 deaths.
Locally, District Health Department #10, which covers 10 counties (including Crawford), recently issued a Public Health Advisory in response to increasing coronavirus numbers.
“Locally, we have experienced a 138% increase in cases over the past month. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are trending upward. The deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in our region have reached the highest they have ever been and the COVID-19 risk level for all our counties is now considered highest risk, signifying widespread community transmission,” according to District Health Department #10.
“District Health Department #10 is issuing this Public Health Advisory to provide heightened guidance for our residents to best protect themselves and others. This Public Health Advisory will remain in effect until lifted and will replace all previously issued Public Health Advisories. The cooperation of all businesses and residents in following best practices and safety precautions is needed to prevent an unmanageable surge on our local healthcare systems, to protect the health and safety of citizens, as well as to prevent additional restrictions and closures. District Health Department #10 continues to urge everyone to wear a facial covering in public places, practice social distancing, and exercise good hand hygiene and to comply with the public health orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services,” according to District Health Department #10.
The advisory asks people to stay home if they’re sick, get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms, quarantine for two weeks if they are a close contact of someone who’s tested positive, and continue with general COVID-19 preventative measures such as wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, and practicing physical distancing. COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include: “fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.”
“All residents and visitors should adhere to the required safety precautions while in business establishments including face coverings, social distancing, and capacity limits posted at business entrances,” according to District Health Department #10. “Parents and guardians are strongly encouraged to prevent children from gathering in groups during evenings, weekends, holidays, or during periods of remote education. The benefit achieved by these periods of separation will be eliminated if people continue to gather outside of the school setting. If you must gather with others, choose a consistent ‘social pod’ and be comfortable with that group knowing that as the number increases so does risk of transmission. Keep your number under 10 and no more than one other household. This will not eliminate your risk of getting COVID-19. It may decrease your risk some and make it easier to track those that have been exposed.”
The advisory also asks residents to “answer all calls, texts, or emails” from state and local health officials.
Munson Healthcare, as of November 28, reported 10,842 cases of COVID-19 in “northern Michigan” with 205 confirmed deaths from the disease. On November 9, “Munson Healthcare elevated (its) COVID-19 pandemic response plan to Orange, which is the second highest stage possible,” according to www.munsonhealthcare.org.
“We are very concerned about the current trajectory of COVID-19 cases in northern Michigan. A surge in COVID-19 patient hospitalizations has resulted in some of our hospitals having to open up more COVID-19 units to meet bed capacity needs – beds that would normally be used for patients with other illnesses. The rise in community spread throughout our region is causing clinical staff, support staff, and providers to quarantine, making staffing challenges more significant than what we experienced earlier in the pandemic,” according to Munson Healthcare.
“I am asking everyone to please do your part to reduce community spread,” said Ed Ness, President and CEO of Munson Healthcare. “The importance of masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, and smaller gatherings could represent the difference between keeping healthcare services open and available in our region, or placing further stress on our limited resources in northern Michigan and across the state.”