GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County health officials held a virtual town hall meeting Friday to answers residents’ COVID-19 questions.
Director Dr. Adam London, Medical Director Nirali Bora and Supervising Epidemiologist Brian Hartl took questions in the event streaming live on the Kent County Health Department’s Facebook page.
They said Kent County has been seeing about four new cases per day for the last week; it’s submitting 200 to 250 samples each day for testing. Because of the limited number of supplies and test kits, health care workers, pregnant women in their third trimester, those with compromised immune systems, and those who live in communal settings are getting tested first.
“People in long-term care facilities, people in detention or at the jail or nursing homes, adult foster care or even the homeless shelters, those settings where people could interact with a lot of staff, a lot of other people and could infect those. So if we can test those folks we can get them isolated so we reduce our risk of transmission,” Dr. Bora explained.
Two thirds of the patients here are below the age of 60, bucking the worldwide trend. That may be explained in part by travelers bringing it back from elsewhere.
They urged people to abide by the governor’s stay-at-home order, which is meant to slow the spread of the illness so that hospitals can keep up with the number of severe cases. In hard-hit areas like Italy and Spain, this has become nearly impossible. The situation is also worsening in New York City.
“Businesses should be asking themselves: Is this service essential to sustaining life for the next few weeks? And if the answer is yes, and if it’s truly yes, that business should be happening, that gathering should be allowed to continue,” London said. “But if the answer is no, if you can’t legitimately that this activity is essential for sustaining human life over the next few weeks, then people just need to stay home. They’re putting themselves in great jeopardy both of becoming ill and exposing their employees or those that are gathering at their home or at their business of becoming ill, but also they’re putting themselves in some legal jeopardy as well because there will be enforcement that comes from the state on down in order to make sure we’re protecting everyone from unnecessary exposure.”
The experts also answered questions about whether it’s safe to walk outside, whether it’s safe to take ibuprofen, why people aren’t being encouraged to wear masks and whether the disease can be transmitted by mosquitoes (no), among other things.
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.
Across Michigan, more than 3,600 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed and 92 patients have died. Forty-five of those cases and one death have been in Kent County.