Ottawa County's COVID-19 Response Updates - January 1, 2021


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Ottawa County Updates I January 1, 2021

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

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Sources: Michigan Disease Surveillance System, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Census Bureau, 2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates


Are we seeing an increase in cases because of the Christmas holiday?

Epidemiologists are closely monitoring the case rate trends to see whether symptoms could still be developing in people and whether more people will get tested. The complete effect of the Christmas holiday may not be seen in the data just yet. However, we thank those in the community who practiced safe holiday celebrations to protect one another from COVID-19 and kept cases from spiking. We ask for continued diligence as we start the New Year.


Data through 12/27/20. Click the graph to go to the MI Safe Start Map.

Continued improvement in daily reported cases. 


Data through 12/27/20. Click the graph to go to the MI Safe Start Map.

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When can I get my COVID-19 vaccine?

Sign up for COVID-19 Vaccine Notifications. Please provide your contact information and which phase best describes you. Local public health will notify you via email when your phase is open and where you can go to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This sign-up is for notification purposes only. Receiving notification is not a determination that you are eligible in that phase or guaranteed the vaccine. Vaccine eligibility and availability will be determined by the place administering vaccines.


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The phased rollout began mid-December, 2020. Various jurisdictions/counties may receive either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine based on their storage capacity. Each jurisdiction may be at different paces within the phases depending on its population size and types of industries in their area (medical, high-risk, critical workers, etc.). Vaccination in one phase may not be completed before vaccination in another phase begins. The federal government recognizes it is not necessary to fully complete vaccination in one phase before moving on to the next phase. There may be vaccination of individuals in different phases that occurs simultaneously. The timing of the start of vaccination in a phase is dependent on the supply of vaccine from the manufacturer, how the vaccine is allocated from the federal level to Michigan and the capacity to administer the vaccine to populations.

In Ottawa County, non hospital healthcare personnel will start late next week. Information on how to schedule an appointment for vaccination will go out to every office or individual in Phase 1A Priority 3 early next week.  

READ MORE  I  Updated FAQs  I  Updated Guidance  I  COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard

vaccinate west mi

Stay informed on the latest, local vaccine information at 


Vaccines are starting to roll out in Ottawa County

Sign up for COVID-19 Vaccine Notifications.


OCDPH Immunization Nurse Robin Schurman gives EMT Jeff Potter the first COVID-19 vaccine administered by the health department on December 18, 2020. Image courtesy of GVSU Communications. Click the image for more details.


Grand Haven Department of Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke receives his vaccination shot on December 21, 2020. Image courtesy of the Grand Haven Tribune. Hawke said he suffered no ill effects from the shot. Click the image to read the news story.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information to Share

Updated COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

  • What differences and similarities are there between the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines? 

    • Efficacy: Both vaccines have shown similar efficacy levels based on evidence from clinical trials (Pfizer-BioNTech at 95% and Moderna at 94.1%). Even after the vaccines received FDA emergency use authorization, they continue to be studied to determine how well they work under real-world conditions.

    • Structure: Both vaccines use the same technology but contain slightly different messenger RNA (mRNA) and different ingredients used to protect the mRNA, maintain the pH and stabilize the solution. The mRNA vaccines are new but not unknown. Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. They teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. They cannot give someone COVID-19, as the mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus.

    • Ingredients: The vaccines do not contain eggs, preservatives or latex. Read the full list of ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

    • Storage: Because the two vaccines use different molecules, they are stored at different temperatures. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at about minus-75 degrees Celsius (minus-103 degrees Fahrenheit) and can be put in the refrigerator for only up to five days before it expires. The Moderna vaccine can be stored at about minus-20 degrees Celsius (minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit) and can be kept in a refrigerator for 30 days before it expires. Depending on vaccine availability, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be used more by larger institutions like hospitals that have ultra-cold freezers and the Moderna vaccine may be more common at smaller facilities and pharmacies. 

    • Doses: Both require two doses and you must get both doses by the same manufacturer. You cannot do one of each. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given 21 days apart (each dose is 30 micrograms) and the Moderna vaccine is given 28 days apart (each dose is 100 micrograms).

    • Age: The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for people 16 years of age and older and the Moderna vaccine for people 18 years of age and older based on data gathered during the clinical trials. The vaccines have not yet been widely tested in children and adolescents younger than 16.


  • Why have there been severe allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine? 

    Severe allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare. The risks with COVID-19 infection are far more common than a severe reaction to the vaccine. The CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions—also known as anaphylaxis—after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. As an example, an allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen© or if they must go to the hospital.

    If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, CDC recommends you should not get that specific vaccine. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.

    The most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. More people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, so it is important for vaccination providers and recipients to expect that there may be some side effects after either dose, but even more so after the second dose.

  • What do we know about the new COVID-19 variants?

    Information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging. Scientists are working to learn more about how easily they might spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them. Currently, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death.

    Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and start infecting people. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.

    In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. This variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England. It has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and Canada.

    In South Africa, another variant has emerged independently of the variant detected in the UK. This variant, originally detected in early October, shares some mutations with the variant detected in the UK. There have been cases caused by this variant outside of South Africa. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. In Nigeria, another distinct variant also has been detected.



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Resource for Parents

English  I  Spanish

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Community pop-up sites offer no-cost COVID-19 diagnostic testing: Available for anyone with or without symptoms. Parental/ guardian consent is required for minors. No screening and no appointments are needed. Please bring a form of ID (e.g., state or country issued ID or paperwork with your name and address [bill, mail or paystub]). Please wear a face covering/mask. No-cost flu vaccine for uninsured adults (19 years of age and older) are also offered at these events.

Next Event Tuesday, January 12 at 3:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Ottawa County Road Commission
14110 Lakeshore Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417

More Upcoming Testing Events: English  I  Spanish (See page 4)

cdc flu

Getting Your Flu Shot is More Important Than Ever!

LEARN MORE  I  Find Flu Vaccines Near You




24/7/365 to connect you with help of all kinds, like housing support to financial assistance. Call 2-1-1 or go to


After the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was recently signed by Congress, a second round of stimulus payments became available.

  • Eligibility to receive a Stimulus Payment is different for everyone.
  • Payments will start arriving after Monday, January 4, 2021 and will continue for several weeks.
  • Be on the lookout for tax frauds and scams.

Find the latest updates on coronavirus tax relief and check your payment status.


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Some individuals who receive food assistance may now use their Bridge card to purchase prepared food from participating restaurants. This new initiative will assist those experiencing food insecurity with purchasing a hot meal through the winter months. Those able to use their benefits at restaurants may not be able to prepare meals due to age, disability or lack of access to a kitchen. Restaurants must be registered as a member of the Restaurant Meal Program. For more information about program eligibility or to enroll your restaurant, click here


Limited Operations, Procedures and Closures

The Ottawa County offices are open by appointment ONLY. Click for details and instructions by office. To deliver documents or payments, a drop box is available outside the Fillmore Administration Building at 12220 Fillmore Street in West Olive. The box is located on the lower level of the building near the entrance of the Treasurer’s office. Visit the online service center to determine if your service can be fulfilled remotely. We are waiving convenience fees for online services at this time. For more information about the county's limited services, please visit


MI COVID Alert now available in two additional languages

Spanish, Arabic options make anonymous exposure app available to more Michiganders

December 30, 2020 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) announced the launch of Spanish and Arabic language options for its anonymous exposure notification mobile app, MI COVID Alert.


Decisions about identifying workers who protect critical infrastructure are complex and will take time to determine as we wait for more doses of the vaccine to be produced. We know that work performed in some industries is imperative to the health, safety and well-being of Michiganders.

Some jobs will be prioritized for vaccination during Phase 1B of distribution, like jobs that make and distribute food, keep the lights on for businesses and homes, protect and educate our children, and develop medicines, such as COVID-19 vaccines. Some essential workers whose work must be performed on-site, who were not covered in previous phases, will likely be vaccinated during Phase 1C.

These essential and critical industries are defined by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). (See Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce for a list of CISA-defined critical industries.) Employees who work critical jobs in these industries will
be considered for early vaccination dependent on factors like risk to worker safety.


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Click the photo to read the signing letter.

Governor Whitmer Signs $106 Million Bipartisan Relief Bill, Bills Extending Unemployment Benefits to 26 Weeks  

Governor Calls on the Republican Legislature to Make Unemployment Extension Permanent 

December 29, 2020 - Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the bipartisan relief bill that the Michigan legislature passed after she urged them to provide support for Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses. The relief bill includes $55 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to small businesses across the state that need support this winter. The relief bill also includes $3.5 million for grants of up to $40,000 each for live music and entertainment venues, and includes $45 million in direct payments to workers who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the virus. 

On December 27, the President signed a COVID relief bill that provides some support for Michigan’s unemployed workers. This bill extends benefits to self-employed and gig workers and provides all unemployment recipients with an additional $300 per week. This extension will bring relief to nearly 700,000 Michigan workers who are currently receiving benefits under the federal UI programs. The continuation of these benefits coupled with the additional $300 per week for all claimants will provide our workers with the emergency financial assistance to buy essential items like groceries and prescription drugs.  


COVID-19 vaccinations began in Michigan skilled nursing home facilities

Staff and residents begin receiving safe and effective vaccine

December 28, 2020 - Skilled nursing home residents and staff began receiving the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna today through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program. The pharmacy partnership is a national initiative to provide COVID-19 vaccine to the Phase 1A priority groups of long-term care facility residents and staff. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is partnering with CVS and Walgreens through the program to manage and facilitate safe vaccination of this patient population, while reducing burden on long-term care facilities and local health departments.

There are about 91,000 people including residents and staff at nursing facilities, and it is expected to take about three weeks to complete vaccinations. Additional eligible facilities will soon begin receiving vaccinations including assisted living, personal care homes, residential care, adult family home, adult foster home, HUD supportive housing for the elderly and veterans’ homes. The list of sites enrolled in the program is available at


mdhhs vaccine

Updated MDHHS COVID-19 Vaccination Prioritization Guidance

December 23, 2020 - Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) officials updated prioritization guidance for COVID-19 vaccination administration for essential workers and those at high risk of severe infection.

Updated phases are as follows:

  • Phase 1: Paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home as well as residents in long term care facilities.
  • Phase 1B: Persons 75 years of age or older and frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure.
  • Phase 1C: Individuals 16 years of age or older at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection and some other essential workers whose position impacts life, safety and protection during the COVID-19 response.
  • Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older.

These prioritizations may change as more information on vaccine effectiveness and additional vaccination products become available. MDHHS has provided additional prioritization guidance within these categories. It is important to note that vaccination in one phase may not be complete before vaccination in another phase begins. There may be vaccination of individuals in different phases that occur simultaneously. The timing of the start of vaccination in a phase is dependent on the supply of vaccine from the manufacturer, how vaccine is allocated from the federal level to Michigan and the capacity to administer the vaccine to populations. Decisions on moving to the next phase will be made at the state level.   

READ MORE  I  Updated FAQs  I  Updated Guidance  I  COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard

Governor Whitmer, MDHHS announce partnership with Michigan
restaurants to provide hot meals to food assistance recipients

Eligible restaurants can now enroll in program

December 22, 2020 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is launching a new program that will give eligible food assistance recipients the opportunity to use their benefits to purchase restaurant meals. Older adults over 60, people with a disability including those who receive Social Security Income (SSI) or other disability program benefits, and people experiencing homelessness are among those who are eligible. 

Restaurants interested in partnering with MDHHS in this program are asked to visit the MDHHS website, where they can learn more about program requirements and how to enroll. Participating restaurants must offer meals at concessional prices. Eligible participants can buy meals at participating restaurants with their Bridge Card in a manner similar to purchasing groceries. As restaurants enroll in the program and are approved to provide this service, more information about food assistance recipient eligibility will be forthcoming. If a food assistance recipient feels they meet the criteria of being disabled or homeless, MDHHS encourages them to contact their local MDHHS office.   


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State Resources to Share:

MDHHS Begins Cautious Re-Opening of High Schools and Indoor Entertainment, Modifying Successful “Pause”

Gatherings remain limited, but high schools, casinos, bowling alleys, theaters can reopen

December 18, 2020 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its epidemic order to allow indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked, as this has been scientifically shown to slow the virus. This includes in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues. Casinos, bowling centers and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with total capacity capped at 100; food and drink concessions closed; and social distancing requirements in place. The new order is effective Monday, Dec. 21 and will last until Friday, Jan. 15.

Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department. Families are encouraged to stay home this holiday season to maintain the positive momentum that has developed and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using new guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery. Colleges and universities will be able to have students return to campus for the winter semester, with a voluntary commitment to wait until Jan. 18 to restart in-person courses.

Gyms remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Outdoor group fitness and outdoor non-contact sports will again be allowed, including running, downhill and cross-country skiing.  

Under this new order, reopened indoor entertainment venues will not be required to collect names and contact information. With the amount of community spread that currently exists across the state and the heavy burden on contact tracing teams to keep up with these cases, it has become too challenging to meaningfully use this data for timely follow up. As case counts fall and contact tracing becomes able to keep up with the volume again, MDHHS expects to reinstate this information-gathering requirement.

As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.


MDHHS launches COVID-19 vaccine dashboard

December 16, 2020 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard to help Michiganders track information about the vaccine across the state. The COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard includes data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry on the number of providers enrolled to provide the vaccine, the amount of vaccine received and doses administered. 


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New Variant of Virus that Causes COVID-19 Detected

Since November 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) has reported a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in London and southeast England. This rapid increase in cases has been linked to a different version—or variant—of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). Public health professionals in the UK are evaluating the characteristics of this new variant.

What we know

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and start infecting people. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, a large family of viruses. Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surfaces. Scientists monitor changes in the virus, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus. These studies, including genetic analyses of the virus, are helping us understand how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and what happens to people who are infected with it.

Recent reports indicate that about 6 in 10 cases reported in London are caused by the new variant. Genetic analysis of the new variant shows changes to the spikes on the virus and to other parts of the virus. Initial studies suggest that the new variant may spread more easily from person to person. So far, scientists in the UK see no evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease.

What we do not know

It is still very early in the identification of this variant, so we have a great deal to learn. More studies on the new variant are needed to understand

  • How widely the new variant has spread in the UK and potentially around the world
  • How the new variant differs from earlier variants
  • How the disease caused by this variant differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating

What it means

Public health officials are quickly studying the new variant to learn more so that they can control its spread. They want to understand whether the new variant

  • Spreads more easily from person to person
  • Causes milder or more severe disease in people
  • Is detected by currently available viral tests
  • Responds to medicines currently being used to treat people for COVID-19
  • Affects the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. There is no evidence that this is occurring, and most experts believe this is unlikely to occur because of the nature of the virus.

Scientific Brief: Implications of the Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variant 202012/01

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Research 

January 1, 2021


  • December 30, 2020 - Peer-reviewed report on Moderna COVID-19 vaccine publishes. Data from Phase 3 clinical trial confirm vaccine is effective.

  • December 30, 2020 - NIH study uncovers blood vessel damage and inflammation in COVID-19 patients’ brains but no infection. Results from a study of 19 deceased patients suggests brain damage is a byproduct of a patient’s illness.

  • December 28, 2020 - Phase 3 trial of Novavax investigational COVID-19 vaccine opens. NIH- and BARDA-funded trial will enroll up to 30,000 volunteers.

  • December 22, 2020 - Results of NIH-sponsored ACTIV-3 trial published. Experimental monoclonal antibody not efficacious in Phase 3 trial.