Washtenaw County: COVID-19 cases double, community spread ‘now likely’

CDC confirms fourth Florida coronavirus case

ANN ARBOR – The number of COVID-19 cases doubled in Washtenaw County on Thursday, bringing the total case count to 14, according to the Washtenaw County Health Department.

The Health Department said that there is evidence of local community spread, which happens when patients have had no record of recent travel or no known contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Five of the new cases are presumed to be a result of community spread. Two of the new cases recently traveled domestically, and all cases are in adults.

“Evidence of community spread means we will change how we respond to local cases, especially as the number of tests increases every day,” Jimena Loveluck, MSW, Washtenaw County Health Officer, said in a statement.

“But, we must remember this is exactly why we have community mitigation strategies and unprecedented restrictions in place. Our collective goal remains to slow the spread of cases as much as possible. Together, we can do this. Take every possible opportunity to practice prevention and social distancing.”

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Due to evidence of community spread, all exposure locations are no longer considered low-risk. Therefore, residents can assume that when they are in public places in the community there is a chance that the virus could be present.

The Health Department is not trying to cause panic with the announcement of community spread, but to call residents to action to take all recommended prevention measures.

Read: Washtenaw County declares state of emergency over coronavirus

"Assume the possibility for infection exists, as it does with many common illnesses. Most people will recover at home without medical care,” Juan Luis Marquez MD, MPH, Medical Director with Washtenaw County Health Department, said in a statement. “Isolating at home if you’re sick and contacting your health care provider by phone for guidance will help prevent additional spread and make the best possible use of critical health care resources.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has prohibited gatherings of 50 people and the White House and CDC have recommended to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

Below are more precautions members of the public should take, according to the Health Department:

  • Everyone should practice social distancing. Social distancing means keeping six feet between people as much as possible.
  • Individuals at risk of severe illness, such as older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions, should stay at home as much as possible and keep away from others who are sick.
  • Clean your hands often. Scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if you cannot wash.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Call ahead before going to your healthcare provider. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Immediately wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces.

The Health Department is now updating the number of cases, hospitalizations, and recovered persons on their website. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is providing statewide information at 2 p.m. each day, including some demographics.

For more information, visit the Health Department’s website.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.