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Community Update 12/11

UPDATES FROM THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Vaccine

Today, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shared a website about the COVID vaccine and released frequently asked questions about the COVID vaccine. Michigan is expecting to receive vaccine by mid-December and distribute the vaccine according to a phased approach endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The COVID vaccine went through multiple safety processes and is now in the final stages to becoming Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC approved.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how diseases without vaccines can devastate economic and public health. Vaccines have reduced, and in some cases, eliminated many diseases. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is working with the CDC, Michigan stakeholders, and local health departments to prepare and plan for when the vaccine is available. The initial draft of the Michigan COVID-19 Vaccination Plan is now available and will be updated often in the coming months. While the vaccine offers hope for the pandemic to be over in the future, planning for vaccine distribution continues each day. The Health Department is adding staff, establishing cold storage and transport plans, and evaluating community sites to vaccinate groups safely. More information will be provided regarding local plans in the coming weeks.

Off-site Testing Offered

The Grand Traverse County Health Department is now offering free, off-site COVID-19 testing by appointment. The pop-up site located at the Cherryland Mall (1700 South Garfield Rd. Traverse City, MI 49686) provides COVID-19 testing by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. To schedule an appointment, log on to:
https://gtcovidtesting.simplybook.it/v2/.

GTCHD Utilizes Electronic Contact Tracing Survey

The Grand Traverse County Health Department has partnered with Michigan software developer CoherentRX to implement a tool called Patient Education Genius (PEG) for collecting information from individuals who test positive for COVID-19 through a digital survey sent via text message or e-mail. While we began using this tool on a limited basis this week, the tool will be utilized on a larger scale in response to the recent increase in cases and to increase response rates for case investigations with those who prefer to use technology.

Daily Numbers

The Grand Traverse County Health Department is reporting 34 new cases of COVID-19 for Friday, December 11, 2020 and 308 cases and three deaths since Friday, December 4, 2020, bringing the cumulative total to 2,290 cases. With approximately 1247 active cases currently and 12 deaths in the last 30 days in Grand Traverse County, that leaves 989 who have recovered.

Grand Traverse County and the Traverse City Region as a whole is at a risk level E on the MI Safe Start Map. The current 7 day average of 14.7% positivity reflects a 2 week increase in rate and Grand Traverse County incidence is currently at 327 cases per million which reflects an increase from last week’s report. Additional statistics are available on the Health Department’s dashboard and Facebook page, which updates new case information daily at 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Regionally, Munson Healthcare is reporting COVID-19 testing results on its website for each of its hospitals. Numbers listed are by hospital, not county of residence.

Michigan has reported 454,720 positive cases and 10,900 deaths of COVID-19 as of Friday, December 11, 2020. As of December 4, 2020, 197,750 have recovered in Michigan.

New Quarantine Guidance

On December 2, 2020, the CDC updated its procedure for quarantine. Based on new research and to help lessen the burden on our communities, quarantine periods MAY be shortened from 14 days to 10 days when there are NO SYMPTOMS of COVID-19. This will help in compliance to public health orders and hopefully alleviate some stress communities are feeling while being off work or school for that lengthy period of time. PLEASE NOTE – the best way to reduce risk is to continue with a 14-day quarantine.

For best practice, the Grand Traverse County Health Department recommends keeping a journal of symptoms while monitoring yourself during quarantine. Remember even something mild like the sniffles can be the beginning of actual symptoms. Being aware of this may help reduce the overall time of quarantine.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

*Positive cases still require a 10-day period of isolation AND improvement of symptoms AND fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication in order to be released from isolation.

Prioritization of COVID-19 Case Investigations

Due to the surge in positive cases during the month of November, the Grand Traverse County Health Department announced that positive COVID-19 case investigations will now be prioritized. Priority cases and situations include: acute and outpatient healthcare workers, people under age 22 years; anyone linked to a school (includes child care facilities, K-12 schools, and colleges); people over age 65 years; anyone linked to an acute care, skilled nursing or long-term care facility; and any time a death has occurred. The health department will also take the recency of the case into account. These priority groups are consistent with state recommendations that are being used at local health departments throughout the state.

We continue to urge anyone that receives a positive COVID-19 test to please self-isolate. Additionally, notify any of your close contacts that they will need to quarantine for 10 days from their last contact with you. If you have school-age children, they should stay home from school and all school-related activities as part of their quarantine.

COVID-19 Testing

Grand Traverse County testing sites include:
Munson Healthcare Foster Family Community Health Center (priority 1 & 2 only)
Northwest Michigan Health Services (testing all by appointment)
Rite Aid at Chums Corner (testing all by appointment)
Walgreens at Chums Corner (testing all by appointment)
See Michigan’s COVID-19 test finder for more options

Testing sites have capacity and tests are available. Individuals seeking tests can call:

  • Their healthcare provider
  • The Munson Healthcare Covid-19 hotline: 231-935-0951
  • The Michigan COVID-19 hotline: 888-535-6136

If you seek testing, please remember that once you get tested you should not be going out and visiting local shops and restaurants or other public spaces while waiting for test results. Anyone who gets tested for COVID-19 must remember to stay home and away from others as much as possible until they have received a negative test result, or once they have passed their isolation period as advised by the health department if they test positive. The public should also assume the potential risk for COVID-19 exposure when going into any business and should always be wearing masks, social distancing and follow other safety guidelines to reduce the spread in Grand Traverse County.

Mental Health

Anyone having difficulties navigating life during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are not alone. MDHHS has a mental health hotline you can access for free and confidential access to counselors 24/7. Language translation is available for non-English-speaking residents who call the counseling line.

MDHHS COVID-19 Help Hotline: 1-888-535-6136, choose prompt 8.

To access other mental health resources for coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, visit Michigan.gov/StayWell.

Homelessness

The day shelter at Safe Harbor that is operated by Goodwill is open from 8:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Safe Harbor’s overnight shelter opened on Saturday, October 31 and is currently looking to add more volunteers. If you or someone you know may be interested, reach out to volunteer coordinator, Brad Gerlach by emailing: volunteers@gtsafeharbor.org or fill out the application online.

Senior Center

The Senior Center Network and the Commission on Aging each have disposable masks available for seniors in Grand Traverse County. Parties may call either office to arrange for curbside pick-up or could be mailed upon request.

Senior Center Network: 231-922-4911
Commission on Aging: 231-922-4688

Stay Safe to Stay Open

Residents, businesses, and visitors are encouraged to Stay Safe to Stay Open. This includes the following measures while in public:

  • Staying 6 feet apart from others
  • Wearing masks while indoors our even outside when you are unable to maintain social distancing
  • Limiting large social gatherings – not hosting or attending large gatherings
  • Continuing basic prevention measures like frequent hand washing
  • Following workplace safety protocols
  • Daily monitoring of yourself for symptoms including your temperature (even if you feel fine)
  • Staying home if symptomatic – even if it is just very mild symptoms
  • If others in your household have tested positive or are symptomatic, stay away and take extra precautions to not become infected.

Businesses and individuals can download Stay Safe to Stay Open resources and get additional information at the gtcountycovid19.com website and communication templates and graphics on the Traverse Connect website.

About the JOC

Grand Traverse County’s Joint Operations Center has been meeting to coordinate efforts and communication on the COVID-19 pandemic since Friday, March 13. Members include key community partners from health, government, first responders, education, social service, and business sectors.