For the past two years, Northern Michigan as well as the rest of the world have been living with COVID-19 in their lives.
Last Sunday, March 13, marked the two-year anniversary of the date the first COVID-19 case was reported in a resident of the Northwest Michigan Ministry of Health jurisdiction in the counties of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego.
On March 12, 2020, the Department of Health issued a public health warning as the first positive cases of the new virus had been reported in Michigan and several colleges and universities switched to online education.
In addition, many large gatherings and events were canceled.
“The aim of the containment effort is to ‘flutter’ the top of the outbreak – in other words, to spread the time period that people become infected, so that we do not overwhelm our health system, to protect the most fragile, and to minimize the social impact from having many people are sick at the same time, “reads a statement from the Ministry of Health on March 12, 2020.
“It’s normal to feel worried and it’s important to be prepared, but it’s also important not to panic.”
Soon followed was a decree issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordering all residents of Michigan to suspend activities not necessary to sustain or protect lives while many businesses and industries switched to remote operations. Others closed temporarily and “essentials” became part of everyday language.
Now, more than two years later, there are a relatively low number of cases in Michigan and in the region, and the opportunity to reunite with family and friends is again allowed.
In the early stages of the virus spread, personal protective equipment was scarce, a vaccine was non-existent, and little was known about this new coronavirus.
This week, Northwest Michigan Department of Health officials noted that its staff, as well as officials with hospitals and emergency management systems, governments, schools, businesses, and several community partners, have all fought – and continue to fight – against the virus.
“From day one, the staff of the Northwest Michigan Department of Health has shifted their responsibilities quickly and without question to meet the needs of the community, whether it be helping with case studies, tests, or vaccinations,” said Amanda Thompson, director of family health services. The primary responsibility was to help keep society safe, and they went to great lengths to do so. “
On December 17, 2020, the COVID-19 vaccine arrived, and health department staff “administered our first dose of scheduled clinics in all four counties as early as the next day,” Thompson said.
“The staff was prepared and ready and did a unique job of implementing our local vaccination plans,” Thompson added. “Members of the local community had tears in their eyes as they entered our clinics and felt a sense of hope to protect themselves and their family. The words of appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to be vaccinated as well as the operation of the local vaccination clinics kept staff going as they administered nearly 63,000 vaccines since the first shot. “
On the same day, December 17, 2020, the first doses of vaccine were also given to frontline workers in McLaren Northern Michigan, many of whom were exhausted after battling the pandemic for nearly 10 months.
“Since I was born and raised here, I’ve seen a lot of it (COVID-19), and it’s nice to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, or at least a glimmer of hope,” said Jeff Radle, a paramedic at McLaren Northern Michigan who received his vaccination that day. “I’m very excited to have this opportunity as a member of the community.”
The Department of Health in Northwest Michigan, Medical Director, Dr. Josh Meyerson, said over the past two years that much has been learned about the transmission of what was a new virus.
“Since then, we have lost nearly a million lives in the United States, but over time we have progressed from initially having limited resources and tools to prevent and treat COVID-19 disease to the availability of life-saving vaccines and treatments that will in the future significantly reduce the impact of the pandemic on public health, “Meyerson said.
Lisa Peacock, a health worker at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, thanked the staff and the community for their continued efforts.
“I can not express the gratitude I feel for our dedicated staff, community partners and our community as a whole,” Peacock said. “It requires all of us to ensure that the public health system works effectively, and Northern Michigan is a shining example of partnership and cooperation.”
Data collected by the Health Department shows since March 13, 2020 in the jurisdictions of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego in four counties:
- More than 21,000 cases have been reported and 300 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported per year. March 8, 2022
- Nearly 135,000 vaccines have been administered by the health department, health providers and pharmacies. Of the total number, nearly half of the doses have been administered by the Department of Health in northwestern Michigan at more than 400 clinics throughout the region.
- More than 70% of residents aged 16 and older have received at least one dose.
Now the state of Michigan and the region are in the recovery phase, as defined by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
However, it is still advisable to take precautions based on your individual health conditions and feelings of risk to you and your family, the state Department of Health said.
Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, medical director at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said that as the state moves through the phases of the COVID-19 response, public health and well-being for all communities will continue to be a priority.
“We continue to strongly urge all residents aged 5 years and older to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and to be boosted when qualified, as the vaccine remains our best defense against the virus,” he said. Bagdasarian.