Local health department creates campus COVID-19 response plans


HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — As many college students return to campus, West Michigan health departments are preparing to deal with coronavirus cases.  

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health says it has a plan in place and is ready to adjust if needed. 

Kristina Wieghmink, the public information officer for the department, says the focus is on taking preventative measures along with testing and contact tracing to reduce the spread of the virus.        

“It’s inevitable that cases are going to be on college campuses,” Wieghmink said. 

Many county health departments in Michigan with college campuses acknowledge there will be challenges if numbers grow too quickly.  

“It is a concern that systems will get overwhelmed because more people are gathering now while being in class, but we are definitely ready to take on any changes or modifications that we need to do to accommodate that,” Wieghmink said. 

Ottawa County is working to expand resources and improve the capacity of automated systems that can help keep track of cases and check in to see how people are doing. 

“We are actively still hiring for more contact tracers and we have many people who have been trained and we have also state resources we can look into, too, but we do have automated systems set up,” Wieghmink said. 

The department says communication is also crucial during the pandemic. 

“We have established those different protocols and a flow chart of what happens if there’s a case in a school and then we’ve also coordinated liaisons for the different school buildings or campuses on who they can talk to directly from the health department,” Wieghmink said. 

The department is calling on the community to work with them as partners on prevention and response. 

“If we aren’t taking that personal responsibility, then it’s not going to be as effective,” Wieghmink said. 

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