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Michigan coronavirus: More cases expected; Governor urges ‘community mitigation strategies'

Residents urged to avoid large gatherings

DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference on the coronavirus outbreak in the state following the first confirmation of cases.

Whitmer announced the first cases during a press conference late Tuesday night in Lansing. The two cases are in Oakland and Wayne counties. (More here)

Whitmer urged “community mitigation strategies” in light of the confirmed cases, urging residents and businesses to avoid large gatherings.

“This is to keep the most people we can, safe,” Whitmer said.

LATEST: Tracking Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19): Cases being monitored, test results pending

Community mitigation

Community mitigation strategies are designed to be implemented at the individual, organizational, and community levels. They apply to businesses, workplaces, schools, community organizations, health care institutions, and individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and health profiles; everyone has an important role to play. These strategies provide essential protections to individuals at risk of severe illness and to health care and other critical infrastructure workforces.

Related: University of Michigan cancels in-person classes, events amid coronavirus outbreak

“I urge all Michiganders to take these recommendations seriously and to share them with their friends, families, and coworkers,” said Governor Whitmer. “It’s on all of us to be safe and be smart for ourselves, our loved ones, our coworkers, and the public at large. We are encouraging schools, universities, businesses, and other organizations to use their best judgment about what steps are most appropriate to keep people safe and slow the spread of the disease.”

More cases expected

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, said she expects more cases in Michigan, and for community spread to occur.

No new information was offered about the two people with coronavirus in Wayne and Oakland counties.

Whitmer has declared a state of emergency in response to the first cases. Both cases need to be confirmed by the CDC.

“Michiganders have been preparing for COVID-19 for weeks, including by taking basic measures such as washing their hands often, covering their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when they are sick,” said Dr. Khaldun. “However, Michigan must take further action to avoid a rapid increase of cases in the state. Community mitigation strategies are crucial to slowing the transmission of the virus in Michigan, particularly before a vaccine or treatment becomes available.”

Related: Michigan coronavirus patient being treated at U-M Hospital in Ann Arbor

As of March 10, 493 cases were referred for monitoring to date, with 87 under active monitoring for the virus -- 57 tests had returned negative.

As of March 11, 520 cases were referred for monitoring to date, with 150 under active monitoring for the virus -- 91 tests have returned negative.

To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, following are some of the mitigation strategies are being recommended by the state:

  • 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 (e.g. 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.
  • If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, 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.

Michigan is able to conduct testing for coronavirus at a state lab. Michigan is preparing for the possibility of the coronavirus making its way to the state. An Emergency Operations Center in Lansing went into action in February at the request of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Michigan is able to offer same-day testing turnaround.

CDC testing criteria expanded to include any persons, including healthcare workers, who have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset, or a history of travel to one of the affected geographic areas within 14 days of symptom onset. Affected areas include China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

The virus has infected more than 800 people in the U.S. and killed at least 29, with one state after another recording its first infections in quick succession. New Jersey reported ts first coronavirus death Tuesday. Worldwide, nearly 120,000 have been infected and over 4,200 have died.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Most people recover in a matter of weeks, as has happened with three-quarters of those infected in mainland China.

Learn much more about coronavirus from Dr. Frank McGeorge in the video below.

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?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

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.

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

Current risk assessment from CDC:

  • For most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. This virus is not currently widespread in the United States, the CDC says.
  • People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.

Questions about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge

Do you have questions about the coronavirus?

Have you seen or heard things about the illness that you’re not sure are true? Do you need a claim about the coronavirus fact-checked? Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge, M.D., is here to help.

Use the form here to share your question, or the claim you’d like investigated. Here are some questions he’s already addressed (click the links to read his answers):

For the latest Coronavirus news, go to our Coronavirus page here.


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