Attention Readers: Find Us in Your Mailbox Soon
With the coronavirus stats going in the right direction, all of us at C&G Newspapers look forward to resuming publication of the St. Clair Shores Sentinel and Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle on May 27th. All other C&G newspapers will begin publishing on June 10th (Advertiser-Times on June 24th). In the meantime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

St. Clair Shores takes precautions in wake of COVID-19 reports

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 12, 2020

File photo

Although the risk of the coronavirus to the general public is reportedly considered low, state, county and local governments have stepped up preparedness efforts after two Michigan residents tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, announced late March 10. 

St. Clair Shores announced March 12 that it was canceling all city-sponsored programming and activities at the St. Clair Shores Library and Senior Activity Center through March 31. 

According to a press release from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, “One of the cases is an adult female from Oakland County with recent international travel and the other is an adult male from Wayne County with recent domestic travel. Clinical specimens were collected and sent to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Laboratories, where both tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. Specimens will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmatory testing.”

St. Clair Shores Mayor Kip Walby said that the city is following the recommendations of Whitmer to stop the spread of the virus.

“Events such as the (Memorial Day parade fundraising) dinner, the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl, and the Reflections on Ice Show will also be postponed or canceled,” he said in a press release March 12. “City Hall, the library, and the Civic Arena will remain open for general business only. We encourage our residents to utilize our online services as much as possible while this situation unfolds.

“Our No. 1 priority in this strategy is to protect the most vulnerable population within our city, the elderly.”

Walby said that St. Clair Shores is trying to make arrangements for the home delivery of meals that are served at the Senior Center for seniors who have signed up for the service. The SMART bus will continue to run for essential trips.

According to Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans, the patient in Wayne County is currently in isolation. The Wayne County Public Health Division is working to identify individuals who may have come into close contact with the patient to take appropriate steps and monitor them closely. 

“Oakland County and our Health Division will investigate the circumstances around this case so we understand if there are any potential close contacts," Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said in a release. 

A release from the Oakland County Health Division states that “based on the Oakland County Health Division’s investigation, there was low to no exposure in the general public from this person.” 

“Patients with COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness,” the OCHD release states. “Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If anyone believes they have symptoms and have recently traveled to China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong or other destinations with risk of community spread, or have been in contact with someone who has had the virus, they should promptly call their health care provider or hospital prior to arriving so that the appropriate preventive measures can be put in place. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection.” 

Lakeview Public Schools Superintendent Karl Paulson has been keeping parents updated on the district’s response to the virus via email. 

“Lakeview remains committed to the health and welfare of our students, staff, and community,” he said in an email message to the district March 11. “To that end, our leadership team continues to collaborate with colleagues, the Macomb County Health Department, and follow CDC guidelines in our decisions for our schools. We share your concerns as parents about maintaining a healthy school environment.”

Because there were currently no known cases of COVID-19 in Macomb County at the time, Paulson said that the district is in the “planning and preparedness phase” with respect to any actions for schools.

There has been a new Macomb County School Guidance Task Force with members including superintendents throughout the county, leadership of the Macomb County Health Department and the Macomb Intermediate School District. Lakeview is also in “close contact” with the Macomb County Emergency Operations Center and the County Executive’s Office for future planning, guidance and support, Paulson said.

He said the district was continuing to hold parent/teacher conferences at the elementary schools March 12 and was monitoring the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s communications regarding upcoming state tournament sporting events. 

A tweet from Lake Shore Public Schools stated that all after-school activities, including all athletic practices and contests, at Kennedy Middle School and Lake Shore High School were postponed until further notice.

Lake Shore Public Schools Superintendent Joe DiPonio said the district has “temporarily suspended a variety of extracurricular activities in accordance with the governor’s guidelines to minimize interaction.”

The district has also postponed all field trips, including upcoming student trips to Germany, New York City and Chicago.

He said they were “taking it day by day” to determine if the trips and activities will be rescheduled at a future date or canceled. 

“We have a role in assisting the community in the mitigation of the virus,” he said. “We’ll continue to message to our kids and our families (to) wash your hands, cover your coughs.”

The Archdiocese of Detroit canceled school at all Catholic schools in the Archdiocese March 13 and 16 to allow school staff to prepare distance learning plans in the event of an extended school closure and to deep clean all school facilities.

As of press time March 12, South Lake Schools had not made any decision to close school or cancel any activities because of the coronavirus.

According to the Oakland County Health Division, the immediate health risk of COVID-19 to the general public is considered low. Some people that may be at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness include adults over age 60 and those with serious, chronic medical conditions, including heart and/or lung disease, or diabetes. 

“The coronavirus outbreak is a rapidly evolving public health situation, and we'll continue to provide updated information as it becomes available,” said William Ridella, director/health officer for the Macomb County Health Department in a press release. “We encourage residents, schools, businesses, municipalities and other organizations to take a proactive approach for the possibility of the virus spreading. Residents can practice everyday prevention measures like frequent hand washing, staying home when sick and covering coughs and sneezes to safeguard ourselves, our families and our communities.”

 

Prevention tips

The Macomb County Health Department offers these prevention tips:

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough/sneeze in your upper sleeve. Immediately throw away used tissues in the trash, then wash your hands.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Stay home when sick except to get medical care.

• Avoid close contact, sharing cups or sharing eating utensils.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

• Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

 

Preparedness tips

The Macomb County Health Department also advises people to be prepared with supplies. 

• Maintain a two-week supply of food and water at home and routinely check your regular prescription drugs to ensure that you won’t run out.

• Keep nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand.

• Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records.

• Talk with family members about how they would be cared for if they got sick and what would be needed to care for them in your home. 

The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19, visit health.macombgov.org/Health-Programs-DC-Coronavirus or call the Health Department at (586) 469-5235. Additional information can also be accessed at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.