Ottawa County's COVID-19 Response Updates - Monday, April 20, 2020


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Ottawa County I Monday, April 20

Latest Video Updates
Media Contact: Kristina Wieghmink, OCDPH public information officer I mobile/text 616-510-8523

We regretfully report two additional deaths in Ottawa County

One female in her 90s and one male in his mid-80s, both had underlying health conditions. Our thoughts go out to their families and friends. Click here for a message from Heritage Senior Communities and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health about working together to contain the spread of COVID-19 among this vulnerable population of seniors. 

“We understand this pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption and angst for every one of us, whether in our senior communities or our homes,” said Lauren Gowman, Director of Operations at Heritage Property Management. “We want to assure you that we will continue to be transparent and communicative as we adapt our processes. The health and well-being of our residents and staff is our highest priority.”

“We are grateful for the close partnership we’ve had with the Heritage Senior Communities as we work through this difficult time,” said Dr. Paul Heidel, Medical Director with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. 

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Click on the dashboard to expand. Data Source: Michigan Disease Surveillance System. All data are for laboratory-confirmed cases only, at this time.

Testing limitations and disease investigation

Challenges with limited testing

Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, the sparse availability of testing made it difficult to identify infection of the new coronavirus. Given this, it has made disease investigation challenging. By not having needed information about who is positive for COVID-19, disease investigation becomes limited to identify and isolate individuals to prevent further spread of the virus. This is why community mitigation strategies, such as the Stay Home - Stay Safe Executive Order were put into place. This intervention helps to lessen the chance of more infected people within Ottawa County. The mitigation also provides public health and medical professionals some time to acquire the needed resources to break the chain of infection--increased testing capacity to identify cases, personal protection equipment and eventually disease treatment and vaccines. 

To provide the public with information about the number of tests conducted, our epidemiologists and communicable disease team need to ensure the following:

  1. Quality Assurance–To verify the Michigan Disease Surveillance System data against the data collected in Ottawa County.

  2. Reporting Cycle–These numbers are updated mid-week which makes further breakdown into calendar weeks lagged.

  3. Data Quality–Placing data into weekly positivity and selecting the most appropriate data to bin them (collect date, referral date, result date and other). There are different date options in different data sets, and we are working to select the best dates.

  4. Comprehensive Data Collection–While facilities must report positive COVID-19 case counts, we may not have a complete picture of the total number of tests administered. Many commercial and hospital labs are now testing, therefore collecting the number of tests conducted is voluntary information from these institutions.

We are working at continued progress to update the data dashboard to keep the public informed. 

What testing tells us

As local health department response teams conduct COVID-19 disease investigations, each positive case can yield dozens of contacts who may have been infected. These contacts are interviewed to determine if they have developed symptoms and maybe a probable case. Most contacts of confirmed and probable cases will be asked to quarantine at home and report whether they have developed symptoms of COVID-19. Critical infrastructure personnel, such as healthcare workers or first responders, who do not have symptoms but are close contacts to confirmed or probable cases, may undergo enhanced self or employer monitoring.

It’s critically important people should continue to follow social distancing guidelines, wear a cloth face covering when in public and only leave their home for essential reasons. This will allow public health and medical professionals to minimize the number of people who get sick.

Increased testing capacity

Fortunately now, testing capacity and criteria have increased across Michigan. Armed with the tools needed to collect more data, epidemiologists and communicable disease response teams can better identify people who have the virus, trace their contacts and work to prevent further spread of infection.

Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced the expansion of testing to all Michiganders experiencing symptoms, whereas before testing was only conducted on people who had severe symptoms, were hospitalized or those at the greatest risk of exposure. Starting April 21, MDHHS will expand the testing eligibility criteria again to include all essential workers still reporting to work in person with potential COVID-19 exposure, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic. This will help identify asymptomatic cases who may still be spreading the virus as they report to work.

“This means that anyone with symptoms can get a test as well as any individual regularly interacting with others outside their household, as long as the testing location has the supplies,” Khaldun said. “MDHHS is also working with local health departments to expand testing in group living facilities with potential exposure.”

Where to find testing

If you are concerned about being tested, please call one of these screening numbers:

Holland Hospital
(616) 394-2080

North Ottawa Community Health System
(616) 935-7810

Spectrum Health
(616) 391-2380

or visit MDHHS's COVID-19 Test Finder

cdc chemical

MMWR: Cleaning and Disinfectant Chemical Exposures and Temporal Associations with COVID-19 — National Poison Data System. Read more about cleaning and disinfecting.

oc Updates

Nonprofit and government leaders in Ottawa County are asking people who don’t need their COVID-19 relief check from the U.S. government to give some or all of the money to support community organizations and aid efforts. LEARN MORE


Click to watch the video.

Urgent need for blood donations

Ottawa County is still in need of blood donations.

LEARN MORE - Blood Drive Dates and Sites

Homemade cloth face coverings

Health care facilities and nonprofits are accepting homemade masks, gowns and other medical supplies for frontline workers, clients and patients. While handmade masks are not a replacement for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the CDC has begun to recommend that the individuals wear such mask when out in public.

If you are interested in sewing handmade masks, please sign up to be a volunteer on the Find the Helpers website and visit the Facebook Group West Michigan COVID-19 Open Source Medical Supplies to join a community of local sewers. Once you are connected through these groups, you will be given further directions on requests for masks and where to supply them.



Local business responds by making and donating masks

As soon as it became clear the world was changing so quickly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a number of MW Watermark employees contact me, asking if we could make masks for local hospitals and our local community. Our “why” has always revolved around “making a difference”, so taking on a project like this was a natural fit. We were already set up to manufacture filter press cloths with two large lasers for cutting and a skilled team of industrial sewers to finish them. Amazingly, we were producing masks using the Holland Hospital’s pattern provided on their website within one day! We have remained open as an essential business with a reduced workforce and will continue to make masks as long as there is a demand for them.

Together We Can Make A Difference!

- Michael Gethin with M.W. WATERMARK

Click for the state and local COVID-19 resource list.

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Click for other local resources and services list.

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Please call first - services and programs may be limited, at this time.


How are you staying occupied during Stay Home - Stay Safe? Why do you stay home? Use the hashtag OttawStaysHome to share and visit to view some of the community posts Ottawa County has shared.

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Tuesday, April 21, 11:00 to 11:30 am Superintendent of The Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, Pete Haines, touches on the Governor's current Executive Order and how our local schools are responding. There will be time for Q&A following the discussion. REGISTER HERE   


Wednesday, April 22, 9:00 to 9:30 am Join us for an exclusive virtual opportunity to hear updates from Congressman Fred Upton around federal support in response to COVID-19. There will be time for Q&A with our Congressman following the update. REGISTER HERE   


Thursday, April 23, 9:00 to 9:30 am We are committed to keeping you connected to the most important updates from our state government. Join us for an exclusive virtual opportunity to hear updates from U.S. Senator Gary Peters in response to COVID-19. There will be time for Q&A with Senator Peters as well.  REGISTER HERE   


Thursday, April 23, 11:00 to 11:30 am Certified Business Consultant Liz Hoffswell, will discuss ways to manage your cash flow, how the Federal & State relief programs may apply to you, serving your clients remotely, and strategies to take care of yourself and keep your head in the game.  There will be time for Q & A at the end of the session. REGISTER HERE


Today's Governor Whitmer Update on State’s Response to COVID-19

View at I Presentation Slides


Stay Home - Stay Safe Executive Order


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Michigan’s Pandemic EBT program

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News & Information from the State

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Governor Whitmer I Attorney General

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services