WATERFORD TOWNSHIP — News of the second coronavirus related death came Thursday morning, as a woman, more than 50-years of age and with underlying conditions, reportedly passed away at McLaren Hospital in Pontiac. The county later confirmed with The Arab American News that the woman was in fact a Wayne County resident.
This means that as of the writing of this article, there are no reported COVID-19 related deaths of Oakland County residents, though the county has confirmed that at least four residents are in the ICU after being infected with the virus.
County Executive David Coulter, serving his first term, told The Arab American News that though the pandemic has caused an extraordinary public health situation, there are systems in place in the county’s health system that have prepared it for such outbreaks.
“There is no manual that comes with a pandemic, for me,” Coulter said over the phone from the county’s offices. “For our staff, there actually is.
“This virus is new, but the way that we respond to health emergencies in Oakland County is not new. Our public health department has stepped up, like they always do, like they did a year ago when there was a measles outbreak for instance, and they have put in all of the procedures and protocols to help us mitigate the effects of this.”
As of Thursday evening, the state of Michigan’s website has once again posted its tally for total confirmed cases. The state has been updating the counter at 2 p.m. each day, though on Thursday it experienced some delay in reporting the numbers. A dramatic surge in numbers due to increased testing resulted in a spike of 256 new cases since Wednesday’s update, bringing the total up to 336.
Oakland County exceeds any other county in the number of cases, with 105 confirmed cases as of Thursday evening.
“The numbers are going up,” Coulter said. “We have four residents in ICU currently.
“What this tells us is not that the pandemic has changed, but that the virus is in all of our communities, everywhere, and as more people get tested these numbers will continue to climb for a while.”
This virus is new, but the way that we respond to health emergencies in Oakland County is not new. Our public health department has stepped up, like they always do, like they did a year ago when there was a measles outbreak for instance, and they have put in all of the procedures and protocols to help us mitigate the effects of this. — Oakland County Executive David Coulter
Coulter said residents should not be alarmed by seeing the numbers go up, though they should take the pandemic very seriously. Oakland County is home to several sample collection sites, as private health systems have ramped up curbed-side testing and have increased testing of samples within their facilities, which may also contribute to the apparent spike in cases.
“Everyone needs to perform the precautions around hygiene and social distancing we’ve been told about from health experts,” Coulter said. “These are still the best ways for people to avoid getting the virus.”
Coulter is requesting people follow crowding guidelines. As more people show up to hospitals, there will be an increase in demand for blood, so healthy individuals should think about donating as well. It is also important not to rush to get tested if symptoms show up or exposure occurs.
“If you’re worried that you may have symptoms or have been exposed, call your healthcare provider and discuss your situation with them on the phone,” Coulter said. “If you don’t have a doctor, you can call us at Oakland County. We have a ‘nurse on-call’ program and have a hotline for anyone with questions about the virus.”
That number is 248-858-1000. Callers can get access to the nurse and get answers concerning child care, food assistance, housing issues and more.
Oakland County also has a new texting service that will provide all the latest information and guidelines. Text the word oakgov to 28748.