UNDATED (WOOD) — Beaumont Health on Michigan’s southeast side said Wednesday that it had seen its first death of a patient with coronavirus as the state’s chief medical officer said the total number of confirmed cases had reached 110.
The patient, a man in his 50s, died early Wednesday at a hospital in Wayne County, the hospital said. In addition to COVID-19, he had underlying medical conditions.
“Our medical team went to extraordinary efforts to care for this patient and we are deeply saddened by his passing and empathize with his family,” Beaumont Health Chief Nursing Officer Susan Grant said in a statement. “Our physicians, nurses and medical staff are all working together to care for COVID-19 patients. During a time like this, we are united to battle this virus. Further, we must continue to serve and care for the non-COVID-19 needs of all patients whether they are giving birth, needing essential surgery or requiring lifesaving emergency procedures.”
At an afternoon press conference at the state’s Emergency Operations Center near Lansing, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the death with “great sadness” and offered condolences to the man’s loved ones. She reminded everyone to take “appropriate and responsible” social distancing measures.
“Our administration and our partners in state government are working around the clock. We’re working to slow the spread of coronavirus,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday that will help out health care workers and first responders who need child care services.
The order lifts certain regulatory restrictions, allowing hospitals to operate emergency child care centers and school facilities to do the same.
These disaster relief child care centers have to perform health evaluations on everyone who enters, every time they go in. The people who run the facility have the right to keep someone from coming in if they show symptoms.
As of Tuesday night, the state of Michigan had recorded 15 new confirmed cases, all in southeast Michigan. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said officials had identified 30 more cases as of midday Wednesday, making the total number of confirmed cases statewide 110.
Two of those 30 new patients are residents of Kent County, the Kent County Health Department said. That brings Kent County’s total confirmed number to seven. One of the seven is a Spectrum Health employee who is not directly involved in patient care.
Montcalm and Ottawa counties have each recorded one case; the Montcalm patient was quarantining and the Ottawa patient has been released from the hospital.
Khaldun said the number of cases is expected to rise and that more deaths are likely.
COVID-19 presents with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. For most who contract it, symptoms are mild. The people most at risk to develop severe complications are the elderly and those with preexisting health problems.
If you think you’ve been exposed to coronavirus, call your health care provider. Unless you are in need of emergency help, do not go to the emergency room so as to limit the spread of the illness. Get advice from a doctor over the phone or a televisit before going in.
Holland Hospital is opening a drive-thru collection site for COVID-19 by appointment only. You must call the free hotline at 616.394.2080 (open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. seven days a week) to be screened. That call will determine whether you should get tested and, if you should, set up an appointment for you. Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and North Ottawa Community Hospital in Grand Haven have set up similar sites — also by appointment only.
Berrien County health officials on Wednesday announced that singer Sandi Patty, who held a concert at Andrews University on March 8, had tested positive for the virus. She spoke to several people in person after the concert. The health department said it was working with the university to identify those people and test any who were showing symptoms. Anyone who had personal contact with Patty is being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, keep an eye out for symptoms and call them at 800.815.5485 if they see any.
Widespread social distancing initiatives are in effect, including a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people and the closure of bars, restaurant dining rooms and gyms. When in public, you’re advised to avoid shaking hands or standing too close to others. The goal is to keep the number of severe cases small enough that hospitals can handle them.
Whitmer signed another executive order Wednesday moving the deadline for people to pay property taxes to avoid foreclosure from March 31 to May 29. She noted people may have trouble making ends meet amid the shutdowns.
“There are people right now who are out of a paycheck. They’re terrified of losing their home in the coming weeks. I will not sit back and let them live in fear,” she said. “Starting today, no one will lose their home due to tax foreclosure until this epidemic has abated.”
The governor noted that the measures she has ordered have been difficult decision, but said they were made with public health in mind. She reminded people that it’s unclear how long the restrictions in effect but assured them decisions would be made with careful consideration.
“We all have a role to play to mitigate spreading the virus and to mitigate the impact on our economy,” she said. “Please, encourage your families, your neighbors and your co-workers to make smart choices. Even if you are healthy and asymptomatic, you can be carrying COVID-19 and spreading it, so you need to play your part as well. Assume that you are and take this seriously.”
Also Wednesday, Congress passed legislation to free up money and services across the country. Whitmer noted that will help Michigan’s mitigation efforts.
There are also common-sense practices you can follow, primarily washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, coughing into your arm or a tissue rather than your hands and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands. Health officials also stressed you should stay home when you’re sick.