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Health officer warns- health systems overrun with COVID-19 cases
Mary Drier posted by Tom Greene
Sat, 21 Nov 2020 15:42:03 EST
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The COVID-19 situation has become so dire in the state and the Thumb health systems are overrun.
"It's been another tough week across the Thumbs two counties. The local hospitals are now having to accept COVID19 cases who are very ill," said Ann Hepfer, who is the health officer for both the Huron County Health Department, and the Tuscola County Health Department. "EMS systems have been overrun with having to respond across county lines to assist other counties with emergency runs."
As of Friday, Huron County had 476 new COVID-19 cases after 22 more were confirmed over a 24 hour period. The virus has caused 12 deaths in the county.
And, as of Friday in Tuscola County, there were 53 more cases identified over a 24 hour period for a total of 1,274 cases. The virus has caused 44 deaths.
The outbreaks are putting more law enforcement officers, health care workers, and first responders at greater risk of infections.
"We have seen way too many of these heroes now being infected," she said.
There is one police officer who works in Tuscola County and who is an EMT in Huron County hospitalized, and some other first responders who are being monitored for the virus.
"The community is responsible for every death, and for every illness," Hepfer stated.
This latest wave of virus cases is worse than in the Spring.
"Our biggest fear was realized as we are seeing an increasing number of long-term care outbreaks and now in adult foster care homes, and homes for the aged. We did not see adult foster care homes and homes for the aged in our counties being impacted in the Spring," she said. "Having outbreaks in these vulnerable populations, is heartbreaking. The deaths will rise again in these settings. Many more families will be celebrating the holidays without their parents, grandparents or loved ones, because they will die from an illness that could have been prevented."
And, for those who insist on celebrating Thanksgiving together: consider doing so virtually, host the meal outdoors- if inside open windows, have guests bring their own food and drink; and if sharing food, have one person serve food with plastic utensils.
The health officer went on to note she is gravely concerned about the virus spreading because some businesses do not require masks of employees or customers, and especially gatherings during the coming holidays.
"We still have businesses refusing to wear masks, refusing to put the 'we require mask signs' up in the businesses. If I were a local business that is shut down again I would be very frustrated, and even angry," she said, noting some those business were doing everything right. "They socially distanced, their seating capacity was reduced, they required masks, and did disinfecting."
Some businesses spent a lot of money putting protection protocols in place for the safety of staff and customers, but some others continue to operate without such measures. That contributes to the community spread of the virus.
"They are open and pretending like they are not responsible. These are not community responsible businesses they do not care about us. They believe they are above the law," said Hepfer. "Those businesses refuse to step up to help the community fight this virus."
She explained to help stop the spread of the virus, wear a mask, social distance at least 6 feet apart, wash hands, and avoid gatherings.
And, she also asked residents to call their county representatives that they fear for their lives, and worry about the elderly and those who have preexisting health conditions.
Hepfer said to call her and she will provide the commissioner's phone number and/or email address.