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State escalates coronavirus response after first confirmed cases CORTESY PHOTO

State escalates coronavirus response after first confirmed cases

BY Thursday, March 12, 2020 11:27am

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After announcing Michigan’s first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 on March 10, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration released a series of “community mitigation strategies” that span the state’s economy and population to prevent the spread of the virus.

The 11 new recommendations apply to employers, schools, community organizations and “individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and health profiles,” according to the state. Officials have released more than 60 recommendations as of press time involving individuals, assisted living facilities, schools and universities, workplaces, faith-based organizations and mass gatherings.

While Michigan residents have been preparing for the spread of coronavirus for weeks, “Michigan must take further action to avoid a rapid increase in cases in the state,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “Community mitigation strategies are crucial to slowing the transmission of the virus in Michigan, particularly before a vaccine or treatment becomes available.”

The mitigation strategies issued as this report went to press include:

  • Learn about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
  • Stay home when you are sick, and individuals at risk of severe illness should consider staying at home to avoid others who are sick.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones and light switches.
  • Communicate and reinforce best practices for washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Be sure to maintain a supply of medications, food, and other essentials in your house.
  • Cancel or postpone large gatherings, conferences and sporting events, including events with over 100 people.
  • Reduce in-person gatherings and activities, especially for organizations with individuals at risk of severe illness. Consider offering video or audio of events.
  • Consider tele-learning or tele-work opportunities, where feasible.
  • Limit non-essential work travel.
  • Monitor the situation if you care for a loved one living in a care facility, ask about the health of the other residents frequently, and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.
  • Limit visitors at hospitals and other facilities to only those who are absolutely necessary and implement screening of visitors for temperature and respiratory symptoms.

As a result of these recommendations, most colleges and universities across West Michigan have canceled physical classes in favor of online course delivery. As well, a string of local business events, social gatherings and concerts have also been postponed. 

They include: 

  • The Association for Corporate Growth Western Michigan Chapter’s Outstanding Growth Awards, which had been scheduled for March 18, has been postponed. 
  • The NBA G League, which includes the Grand Rapids Drive basketball team, has suspended its season indefinitely. 
  • The Lakeshore Innovator of the Year award reception, presented by Grand Valley State University’s Muskegon Innovation Hub, has been rescheduled from March 14 to May 21.
  • Great Start Collaborative canceled the Manistee County Health Fair scheduled for March 14
  • Senior Services of Southwest Michigan says it will close to the public starting March 16 and will suspend congregate meals and activities.
  • BarFly Ventures has postponed its Irish on Ionia street party, which had been scheduled for March 14. The company expects to hold the event in late summer. 
  • The City of Grant in Newaygo County has postponed a March 19 townhall meeting on the U.S. Census. 
  • The 2020 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Grand Rapids has been canceled.
  • AIGR West Michigan has postponed West Michigan Design Week. 
  • The Wharton Center for Performing Arts at Michigan State University has canceled or postponed shows through March 26.
  • GVSU has canceled the West Michigan Healthcare Ethics Conference and the DeVos Medical Ethics Colloquy scheduled for March 16, Michigan Humanities' Great Michigan Read with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha on March 24, and the Region 12 Science Olympiad Tournament scheduled for March 28. 
  • The WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine has cancelled large events scheduled through April 3. 
  • The Grand Rapids-based Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts will close until March 31. 
  • Portage Senior Center in Portage is closing as of 5 p.m. today until further notice. 
  • Benton Harbor-based Lake Michigan College is closing campus for Friday, March 13, and all in-person classes are canceled for March 16-20. 
  • Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is limiting visitors at its hospitals, ambulatory clinics and outpatient surgical centers in West Michigan. Visitors must be healthy, and patients are allowed only one visitor, except for pediatric and maternity patients, who are allowed two visitors. No children under the age of 12 are permitted unless they're a patient. Anyone who has travelled to a CDC level 2 or 3 country is not permitted. 
  • Grand Rapids Bourbon Fest has been rescheduled for July 11. 
  • The City of Kalamazoo is canceling non-essential public meetings through March 31, although the regular City Commission Business Meeting will still take place on March 16.
  • Mercy Health is restricting visitors at its West Michigan hospitals to one per patient at the same time. All visitors must be at least 14 years old and not have symptoms of a cold, the flu or COVID-19. 
  • The Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph has canceled its Community Art Show opening reception on March 14, although other events and classes will continue as scheduled. 
  • Davenport University canceled in-person classes on March 13 and 16, and will replace them with “online and alternative learning options” on March 17 through the end of the semester. 
  • Minor League Baseball, which includes the West Michigan Whitecaps, has delayed the start of the 2020 season.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This list will be updated throughout the day.)

Read 5393 times Last modified on Friday, 20 March 2020 17:42