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Posted on: March 6, 2020

Information on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Washtenaw County Health Department

Washtenaw County Health Department

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from the Washtenaw County Health Department:

The Washtenaw County Health Department is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus called COVID-19. The outbreak continues to expand in many countries, and cases without clear travel-related exposures have been reported in the United States. Governor Whitmer has declared a state of emergency to maximize efforts to slow the spread of disease. Testing continues daily.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced community mitigation strategies on March 11. These strategies include canceling or postponing events of over 100 people and staying home when sick. Recommendations for individuals, facilities, schools, workplaces, community organizations, and other mass events can be found here and any updates will be available at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.

The criteria for testing have expanded, and testing can now be completed at the state level. Possible cases are being reviewed for testing. Testing is currently only available at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) lab. Testing requires a health care provider’s approval and state and local health department approval. Health care providers should contact the Health Department for additional instructions. Although commercial labs are expected to begin offering testing in the next few days, Michigan is not currently one of the areas prioritized for regional testing.

Response Actions
Washtenaw County Health Department is in close contact with health care providers to evaluate or test individuals as needed. The Health Department is also coordinating with federal state, and local officials, as well as institutions, schools, and community organizations to be ready for additional actions and communications should we have local cases.

Individuals with concerns or flu-like symptoms should call their health care provider first with questions. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. The Health Department has expanded its phone lines. Callers may dial (734) 544-6700 to hear a recorded update and to have the option to speak to a staff member or leave a message. Updates are also available at www.washtenaw.org/health and www.washtenaw.org/COVID19.

Good handwashing, staying away from others if sick, and covering your cough are always recommended to reduce the spread of illness.

Prevention
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. [English Chinese Spanish]

  • Clean your hands often
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care. Call ahead before going to your healthcare provider. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Immediately wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
    • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. 
    • A list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease) is available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This list includes many commonly used products.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
    • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. View additional prevention steps from CDC for people at higher risk. Consult with your health care provider for more steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommends additional community mitigation strategies. Recommendations for individuals, facilities, schools, workplaces, community organizations, and other mass events can be found here and any updates will be available at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.
Washtenaw County Health Department's Website


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