Officials respond as COVID-19 virus spreads into state

By: 
JACKIE KOCH

Tecumseh City Council followed recommendations for social distancing at Monday’s meeting by sitting three to six feet apart to help reduce the odds of contracting the coronavirus.

With news changing by the hour, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which had its start in Wuhan, China, has changed life drastically for citizens of Tecumseh, of Lenawee County, of Michigan, of the United States, of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic on March 11, and every day since the first U.S. citizen was diagnosed on January 24 the outlook has become more serious and the measures taken more far-ranging.

On March 10 Michigan announced its first presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency to slow the spread of the virus. The next day the state recommended community mitigation strategies, which included learning about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19; staying home when sick; avoiding others who are sick; washing hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; maintaining a home supply of medications, food, and other essentials; reducing in-person gatherings and activities; considering tele-learning or tele-working opportunities; and limiting non-essential work travel, among other actions.

On March 12 Whitmer ordered all statewide K-12 school buildings to be closed from Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5, and local colleges halted classes with plans to continue educating students online. Ten more cases of COVID-19 were announced on that day. The Whitmer administration expanded telemedicine to allow patients to connect with healthcare providers without in-person visits.

Four more cases of the virus were reported in the state on March 13. The majority of the cases centered around the Detroit area, and at first most were linked to international or domestic travel, but as more were diagnosed it was suspected that the illness was being spread by community contact in the state.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted the Michigan Department of Education’s (MDE) request to waive the regulatory requirement that children eat meals together and at schools, allowing schools to provide breakfast and lunch for all students. Tecumseh Public Schools began providing meals for parents and students to pick up at Compass Learning Center and South Early Learning Center.

Also on March 13, the governor ordered a temporary halt to events and assemblages of over 250 people, to continue until April 5. Nine more cases of COVID-19 were announced on that day, eight more were added on March 14, and 20 more on March 15. A more recent statement by President Donald Trump advised citizens to avoid groups of more than 10. Some communities have gone so far as to order their residents to shelter in place in order to halt transmission of the virus.

Whitmer signed an executive order on March 16 temporarily closing restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, bars, taverns, brewpubs, distilleries, clubs, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, spas, and casinos, allowing only take-out or delivery of food and beverages. She also signed an executive order to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits.

On March 17 the governor signed another executive order enhancing operational capacity and efficiency in hospitals. The Michigan Department of Education announced it would request a series of federal waivers of requirements in child nutrition, emergency food assistance, and commodity food programs, in accordance with federal guidance.

Locally, ProMedica, which runs Herrick Hospital in Tecumseh and Bixby Hospital in Adrian, released a statement that said, “With the potential for COVID-19 this season, we have implemented extra measures to help ensure our teams are organized and prepared to manage any potential risk to our communities. ProMedica is screening all patients who present themselves with new coronavirus-like symptoms, and we are prepared to treat patients in accordance with CDC recommendations in specially designated areas if needed.

“ProMedica has been planning for the potential arrival of COVID-19 for the past couple of months,” the release stated. “We have stocked up on personal protective equipment to help safeguard direct care staff and prevent the transmission of COVID-19. We believe we are as prepared as any health system in the nation. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 updates closely and adjust our operational plans and procedures accordingly to help ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and employees should COVID-19 reach our area.”

Visitors at hospitals and other facilities will be limited to only those who are absolutely necessary, and screening of visitors for temperature and respiratory symptoms will be implemented. Friends and family members are encouraged to connect with their loved ones who are in ProMedica facilities using phone calls, email, texting, video chat or other electronic communications.

ProMedica physicians will be temporarily postponing non-essential, non-urgent office visits, tests and procedures, using their discretion to determine which appointments they will postpone. Any affected patients will be notified.

This is an evolving situation. Residents are advised to stay informed by visiting Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/coronavirus. Local information is at lenawee.mi.us/187/Health-Department. Information on prevention and other data is available at who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public.
 

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Tecumseh Herald

 

110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286
517-423-2174
800-832-6443

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