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Community Update 3/05


As of Thursday, March 4, 2021, Grand Traverse County opened up eligibility and is encouraging additional frontline essential workers in Phase 1B, Group C (as defined below) to register and schedule to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Frontline essential workers include:

  • Food and agriculture workers (further defined here)
  • Utilities or Critical manufacturing workers
  • City, County, or other local units of government
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers and other delivery drivers
  • Workers with unique skill sets not covered above, such as non-hospital laboratories, veterinarians

Additionally, and in alignment with the State of Michigan starting Monday (March 8), any Michigan resident age 50 and up with pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities will be eligible to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. Caregiver family members and guardians who care for children with special health care needs will also be eligible to receive the
vaccine. Appointments will be made available as vaccine allows.

On March 22, all Michiganders age 50 and up will become eligible.

Special health care needs include: any physical, developmental, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive, or emotional impairment or limiting condition that requires medical management, health care intervention, and/or use of specialized services or programs. The condition may be congenital, developmental, or acquired through disease, trauma, or
environmental cause and may impose limitations in performing daily self-maintenance activities or substantial limitations in major life activities.

Anyone that belongs to the Phase 1A and Phase 1B groups or is 65+ years of age are still encouraged to schedule an appointment if they have not done so yet.

All vaccine clinics are currently held at Northwestern Michigan College’s Hagerty Center and are based on vaccine availability. Vaccine clinics are by appointment only. There are no walk-ins or add-ons at the clinics.

The health department will continue to work with senior organizations locally to vaccinate this high-risk population in addition to the newly prioritized groups. GTCHD continues to partner with United Way, Area Agency on Aging, and the Commission on Aging to assure those vulnerable seniors and those without internet access are able to get vaccinated. Call 231-715-5557 if you need technical assistance.

An updated prioritization guide can be found here.


Officials are reporting the following vaccination coverage rates for GT County residents based off the MDHHS COVID 19 Vaccination Coverage Dashboard:

  • 70% of the 65-74-year-olds have received a first dose of vaccine with 35 % receiving 2 doses to date
  • 80% of the 75+-year-olds have received a first dose of vaccine with 56% receiving 2 doses to date

Grand Traverse County Health Department Vaccinations:

  • This week GTCHD administered 1956 first doses and 565 2nd doses
  • The cumulative number of vaccine doses administered during GTCHD vaccine clinics through March 5th are:
    • 13,166 1st doses
    • 8429 2nd doses
    • 21,595 Total Doses

To find the latest statistics regarding COVID-19 vaccinations across the state, you can visit the MDHHS vaccine dashboard.


The Grand Traverse County Health Department is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 for Friday, March 5, 2021, and 195 cases and one death since the last report on February 2021, bringing the cumulative total to 4185 cases.

Grand Traverse County and the Traverse City Region as a whole is at a risk level D on the MI Safe Start Map. The current 7 day average of 3.7% positivity rate which reflects a three-week decrease. The Grand Traverse County incidence is currently at 83 cases per million. 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 654,380 positive cases and 16,601 deaths of COVID-19 as of Friday, February 26, 2021. As of February 19, 2021, 541 258 have recovered in Michigan.


The Grand Traverse County Health Department is partnering with Honu Labs to assist with the operation of the free, drive-thru COVID-19 testing site that was established last December. 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 Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Testing is available to anyone regardless of symptoms. A doctor’s order is not needed and there is no charge to be tested. Testing is done by appointment only by following this link.


Earlier this week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated two of its epidemic orders, allowing for increased capacity limits at various venues, larger residential and nonresidential gatherings and expanded visitation opportunities at residential care facilities.

Specific capacity expansions for indoor and outdoor activities at restaurants, bars, stadiums and venues can be found here. Amongst the expansions and effective Friday, March 5, restaurants and bars can operate at 50% capacity and remain open until 11:00 p.m. Click here for a list of frequently asked questions regarding the latest Gatherings and Face Mask order.

Additionally, all residential care facilities will now be allowed to offer visitations to residents regardless of risk location on the MI Safe Start map. Strict testing, social distancing and testing is required and exceptions apply. To see all requirements, click here. A fact sheet can be viewed here.

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

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Authority (Locally)

  • 24/7 Crisis Line 1-833-295-0616 – for anyone in the community in a mental health crisis, including if a person is experiencing out-of-control behaviors, expressing thoughts of suicide, experiencing severe stress, or just do not know what else to do. When in doubt, call!
  • NLCMHA Warm Help Line 1-800-492-5742 – for anyone in the community who is experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression due to the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to talk to someone. Available during business hours.
  • myStrength Health and Wellness App – free access using the code NLCMHCommunity for anyone in the community (including GT County employees) who would like self-care resources for a wide variety of health and wellness issues, including COVID-19 specifically.

MDHHS (Statewide)

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


The day shelter at Safe Harbor that is operated by Goodwill is open from 8:15 – noon, seven days a week.

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: 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 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, 2020. Members include key community partners from health, government, first responders, education, social service, and business sectors.