8 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Michigan; Whitmer orders salons to close

Coronavirus

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — Spectrum Health announced Saturday the first death linked to COVID-19 in West Michigan.

The patient was a 71-year-old man with underlying health issues, according to the Kent County Health Department. He died at the hospital on Saturday, Spectrum Health said.

“On behalf of Spectrum Health and the clinical team dedicated to caring for this patient, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this individual,” said Joshua Kooistra, DO, chief medical officer, Spectrum Health in a news release. “We were saddened by his death and realize it is difficult news for our community as we face the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak. All of our team members, from clinicians to support staff, are committed to caring for our COVID-19 patients. We are united with our communities in fighting this virus together.”

This week, Spectrum Health began processing COVID-19 tests at its lab in Grand Rapids and has completed almost 600 tests so far. The hospital has also sent specimens to state and commercial labs for testing.

Three other deaths were also reported on Saturday.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel announced Saturday night that a 52-year-old man with underlying health conditions died at a hospital in Clinton Township. Hackel said this is the county’s first coronavirus-related death, and 121 cases have been identified in the county.

Officials also said that a 1-month-old and a 100-year-old are among the most recent positive tests in Macomb County.

Also on Saturday, two elderly Detroit-area women died from complications due to the coronavirus, bringing the number of fatalities in Michigan to seven.

City health department spokeswoman Vickie Winn confirmed the death of a Detroit woman in her 90s on Saturday. A 90-year-old Oakland County woman with underlying health issues also died Saturday at a hospital in West Bloomfield Township, according to Henry Ford Health System.

The Detroit death is the city’s third due to the disease. Oakland County has two deaths.

An additional 238 cases statewide were reported Saturday by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services. That brings Michigan’s total to 787.

WHITMER SHUTS DOWN NAIL, HAIR SALONS

The news comes after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered facilities like hair, nail, tanning, massage, spa, tattoo, body art and piercing salons to close starting at 9 a.m. Sunday.

A sign on the front door of Jude’s Barbershop in Jenison announces it is closed to help slow the spread of coronavirus. (March 22, 2020)

The executive order says non-essential personal care services need to close until April 13. This order does not apply to services necessary for medical treatment.

“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented challenge to our way of life as Michiganders,” Whitmer said in a press release. “That’s why we are making decisions based on science and facts to protect public health and keep people safe. I know these changes will be hard, but they are temporary, and they are necessary to slow the spread of the virus and help save lives.”

FIRST CASE IN ALLEGAN COUNTY

In addition, Allegan County had its first presumptive positive COVID-19 case, according to the Allegan County Health Department. This case was not included in the numbers released by the state on Saturday. State officials have noted the number of cases changes rapidly.

The Allegan County patient is 85 years old, in the hospital and was tested Friday. Officials are contacting people who were close to the patient and putting them on home quarantine. The Allegan County Health Department says it’s not naming public low-risk exposure locations.

The health department says it’s still investigating the patient and it’s unclear at this point if the patient had traveled or been in contact with someone with a history of travel.

Allegan County Health Officer Angelique Joynes said there have been 30 tests in the county. She says 13 of those were negative, 14 are pending, two were not completed and one is presumptive positive.

Joynes says everyone should behave as though COVID-19 is present at all places.

“It takes the community to effectively slow the spread. We all have to do our part. We do not want to burden our health care system,” Joynes said.

County law enforcement asked for people who call 911 to let dispatchers know if they are experiencing symptoms or under quarantine.

Authorities are also asking for people to handle non-emergency calls over the phone. When they do respond to a call, the officer will likely be wearing a mask, police say.

MORE CASES IN KENT COUNTY, FIRST IN BERRIEN, CALHOUN COUNTIES

Saturday, Calhoun County confirmed its first case of COVID-19 involving a county resident, as the number of Kent County cases rose to 21.

The Calhoun County Public Health Department says an adult from the county tested positive for coronavirus through state testing.

“I think we knew at some point Calhoun County would have a coronavirus case,” said Calhoun County Controller Kelli Scott. “I think change becomes easier sometimes when it’s real.”

Calhoun County officials say the resident has only traveled inside southwest Michigan. The patient’s condition is stable, health officials say. The resident remains in self-isolation and health officials say they’re reaching out to everyone who was in close contact with the individual.

Calhoun County officials say 49 residents have been tested within the county; 20 of those tests have come back negative and they are awaiting the results of the remaining tests.

“And we can’t stress this enough: It’s OK, we’re going to get through this. But do what we’ve asked and what the public health experts have said, and that is wash your hands for 20 seconds, practice social distancing, try to stay six feet away,” said Calhoun County Health Officer Eric Pessell.

“Little things like that make a big difference,” he added.

Pessell also encouraged residents to support local businesses and check in on their neighbors. “If we do all that, we come together as a community, we’ll get through this,” he added.

The Kent County Health Department confirmed nine more cases of COVID-19 on its website Saturday.

Grand Rapids Community College says one of its students tested positive for COVID-19. The student reported showing symptoms of the virus on Tuesday and was tested on Thursday. The college learned about the results on Friday, according to a news release.

The health department has determined the risk to the college is low, the release stated.

The student is in isolation. Health officials determined he had very few close contacts. Those individuals have been contacted and being monitored, according to the college.

Like many institutions, GRCC has canceled in-person classes and moved to online learning.

Berrien County also reported its first two cases. Health officials say both patients are women under the age of 60 who had close personal contact with singer Sandi Patty during her March 8 performance at Andrews University. Patty announced she tested positive for COVID-19 on March 17.

The Berrien County Health Department says both women are self-isolating at home and are in good condition. Those who had close contact with them have been asked to self-quarantine and monitor their health, as well as anyone who had close personal contact with Patty.

>>Online: Case breakdown from state

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