Along with cooler temps, COVID-19 cases are unfortunately surging again — both nationwide and in Michigan. Our state’s hospitals are seeing an increasing number of COVID-19 patients, exceeding the peak this past spring.
Infectious disease experts across Michigan say this means we must continue to be careful to help prevent the ongoing spread of the virus in our communities.
Tips to Reduce COVID-19 Risk
Here are the top 10 ways to reduce your COVID-19 risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and infectious disease experts in Michigan:
- Mask up. Wear a face mask in public and in groups — always.
- Wash and sanitize. Wash your hands as frequently as possible — use soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Don’t touch your face. Try not to touch your face, and if you need to make sure you thoroughly wash your hands before doing so.
- Avoid crowds. Stay at least 6 feet from anyone not in your household.
- Avoid contact. Not just with others, but also with frequently touched surfaces and objects.
- Restrict gatherings. Limit groups to less than 10 people, and of no more than two households. (This may seem extreme, but as we spend more time indoors, it’s even more important. Here are some creative ideas to safely celebrate the holidays.)
- Skip the potlucks. Bring your own food and drinks to a gathering — and have just one person serve all shareable food. This is good tip to remember as you head into holiday party season.
- Stay home if you’re sick. Avoid contact with anyone who is sick—and stay home if you feel sick.
- Eat at home or order to-go. As of Wednesday, November 18, bars and restaurants will close for indoor dining service. Order take-out instead.
- Skip the carpool. Ride separately. And if you do ride in a vehicle with someone outside of your household, wear a mask.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have risen over 80% in Michigan, as cases have trended upwards in all regions of the state, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 test positivity rates are at an all time high for our state.
Leaders from 110 of Michigan’s 137 hospitals issued a joint statement Thursday, Oct. 22, encouraging Michigan residents to follow safety precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Help keep COVID-19 under control by doing what you can to prevent more illness and hospitalization,” the health leaders urge. “Support our dedicated and courageous health care staff as they continue the fight against COVID-19 for those patients who have the misfortune of becoming ill during the pandemic.”
On November 15, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new epidemic order limiting indoor gatherings, closing restaurants and bars for dine-in service, moving high schools and colleges/universities to 100% remote learning and more. The order goes into effect November 18 at 12:01 a.m. and is set to last for three weeks.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 vary, but over the course of the disease, most people with COVID-19 experience one or more of the following:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
According to the CDC, these symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
Treatment and Testing Options
Remember that virtual care is an option for minor symptoms. Virtual care allows you to see a doctor without having to leave home, and is an alternative to urgent care or the ER. Both urgent care and ER locations can become crowded during peak illness periods and are generally more expensive per visit, depending on your health plan. Virtual care is also a good way to help prevent the spread of infections like COVID-19 and influenza. Check with your doctor’s office or health insurance provider to see if they offer virtual care.
Check with your insurance company about coverage for COVID-19 testing. Many plans require it to be ordered by a doctor or other health care provider, and deemed medically necessary for it to be fully covered (any copays and deductibles waived) by the state and insurance companies like Priority Health. If you’re a Priority Health member, see a list of FAQs here about what your plan will cover for COVID-19 testing and treatment, if needed.
There are also locations throughout Michigan offering testing without a doctor’s order or an appointment, including drive-thru options. Find a testing site near you here.