Health officials: Ingham County COVID-19 cases may be tied to recent travel

Officials request recent travelers to self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amid case spikes

Travelers wear mask as they wait at the American Airlines ticket counter in Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in Chicago. Beginning June 16 at American Airlines and June 18 at United Airlines, all passengers and crew members will be required to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (Nam Y. Huh, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LANSING, Mich. – Ingham County health officials are asking people who have recently traveled to states with a “high-risk” for coronavirus (COVID-19) spread to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The recommendation comes as COVID-19 cases spike throughout Ingham County -- which officials say may be largely attributed to recent travel.

“Approximately one-third of positive cases in Ingham County have recent travel in their history,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “Travel can be a very risky activity right now. Many people are used to being able to getaway in the summer, but this is not a typical summer. We urge caution and the avoidance of non-essential travel, especially to high-risk areas.”

A number of outbreaks have been tied to locations in Ingham County, including Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in East Lansing, the Riverfront Animal Hospital in Lansing and the CATA bus service in Lansing.

COVID-19 cases have also been rising at dramatic rates throughout the U.S., and the group Covid Act Now is identifying which states are at the highest and lowest risks for virus outbreaks and spread. Ingham County health officials are urging people to use this data to influence their travel plans, avoiding regions that are high risk for COVID-19 spread.

MORE: Michigan now at ‘high risk’ for coronavirus outbreak, research shows

Officials are recommending individuals to self-quarantine if they’ve recently visited one of the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.

Recent travelers should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms, which can develop up to 14 days after exposure. If COVID-19 symptoms develop, individuals should contact their primary physician or visit a no-cost site in Michigan to get tested. Individuals should self-isolate while awaiting test results.

Health officials are also encouraging employers to exclude recent travelers from the workplace and offer telework instead, if possible.

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about COVID-19 here.


About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.