Here’s what you can do to stop the spread of coronavirus

CDC photo by Amanda Mills

Gov. Whitmer on Tuesday night declared a state of emergency in response to two confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan. As a result, several Michigan universities are shifting to online-only classes, as are schools in other states. A growing number of public events have been rescheduled, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended the season.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are almost 125,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 4,600 deaths reported globally, as of Thursday morning. There are now more than 1,300 confirmed cases and 38 deaths in the United States.

In order to mitigate risk of spreading COVID-19, everyone is encouraged to take action to reduce the spread:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid handshakes
  • Avoid contact with sick people who are sick

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also is recommending that individuals and families at home take the following steps:  

  • Learn about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
  • If you have respiratory symptoms, STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK. Call your health care provider’s office in advance of your visit.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones and light switches.
  • Communicate and reinforce best practices for washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Be prepared if there is COVID-19 in your household or a disruption of daily activities in your community. For example, maintain a supply of medications, food and other essentials in your house. Consider alternative shopping options such as curbside pickups or online deliveries.
  • Access services as much as possible online or by phone.

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And individuals at risk of severe illness should:

  • Stay at home and keep away from others who are sick, except in exceptional circumstances. Wash your hands often, particularly after contact with high-touch surfaces. Avoid crowds and closed-in settings with little air ventilation as much as possible. Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones and light switches.
  • In households with individuals at risk of severe illness, provide a protected space for those individuals and have healthy people conduct themselves as if they were a significant risk to those individuals. For example, healthy people should wash their hands before feeding or caring for an at-risk individual.
  • Have a plan for if you get sick, and stay in touch with others by phone or email.
  • Watch for symptoms and emergency warning signs that require immediate medical attention.
  • Family members and caregivers can support older adults by knowing what medications they are taking and ensuring there is an extra supply on hand.
  • Family members and caregivers can support older adults by monitoring food and other necessary medical supplies (e.g., oxygen, incontinence, dialysis and wound care supplies) and by creating a back-up plan for securing those essentials if they run out.

More recommendations can be found on the DHHS website or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website.

Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.