CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich. – Over the last week, COVID-19 cases have dramatically increased in Chippewa County, a trend that is mirrored both statewide and nationally. The increase in cases is likely due to community transmission, group gatherings among adults, and relaxing of social distancing and masking. Chippewa County continues to be in the highest risk level (“E”), as seen on the MI Safe Start Dashboard.
The increased case count is associated with team sports, gatherings and parties. There is now an increase in cases among individuals aged 18-45 years, but it is important to remember that older individuals are at an increased risk for severe health complications associated with COVID-19 and are more likely to transmit the virus to others. The increase has the potential to greatly impact both in-person schooling and hospital capacity.
Typically, each year sees an increase in hospitalizations due to flu, which stretches hospitals and healthcare systems to their limits. If we have a severe flu season and continue to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, it will be devastating for our healthcare system and put many lives at risk. One way to protect yourself now is to get the flu vaccine, which can reduce the severity of the flu season and decrease the burden on our hospitals and clinics.
Reducing the impact of COVID-19 and the flu on our community is possible. As we approach the colder months, the Chippewa County Health Department (CCHD) wants to bring attention to the risk involved with indoor activities and events. Gatherings, especially those with non-household members, pose a greater risk because of increased exposure to others.
If you choose to attend or host a gathering, please consider the following factors:
- Higher levels of COVID-19 cases in an area could indicate increased community spread.
- Indoor spaces tend to have poor air circulation in the winter because it is difficult to open windows and bring in fresh air.
- The duration of the gathering. Longer exposure time increases risk.
- The number of people at the gathering. Socializing with people from outside your household increases risk.
- The locations that attendees are traveling from.
- Events that revolve around sharing meals or dining space and consuming alcohol can increase risky behaviors, such as not following social distancing and forgetting to wear a mask.
Gatherings with more preventive measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are implemented.
CCHD is asking residents to work together to reduce the risk of getting or spreading both COVID-19 and flu this season:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and immediately wash or sanitize your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
For more information and local updates, please visit www.chippewahd.com or www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.