CADILLAC — A Missaukee County resident has died of COVID-19.
It is the first COVID-19 death in the four counties of the Cadillac News coverage area.
The patient was a male in his late 70s who had been hospitalized on March 24 for shortness of breath, according to District Health Department No. 10. His COVID-19 test came back positive on Thursday, March 26. He died the next day, Friday, March 27, 2020 at Cadillac Hospital.
“This is a heartbreaking day for this family and our community,‘ said Tonya Smith, president and CEO of Cadillac Hospital, in a news release. “The reality of this illness has now reached into northern Michigan and taken a patient at our hospital. Our thoughts and prayers are with this patient’s loved ones and friends.‘
Munson said the patient received supportive care during his stay, including the use of a ventilator.
There is no treatment or cure for COVID-19. The health care system says the hospital followed CDC and World Health Organization safety precautions in caring for the patient.
“We wish to express our heartfelt sympathies to the family who lost their loved one,‘ said Kevin Hughes, DHD No. 10 Health Officer. “COVID-19 continues to pose a serious threat to our community members and we must all continue to follow all executive orders to help bring this deadly virus to a halt.‘
Another county in the Cadillac News coverage area reported its first COVID-19 case Friday afternoon.
Osceola County was the newest addition. Wexford County also has a case; Lake County did not as of Friday afternoon.
The Central Michigan District Health Department (CMDHD), which has jurisdiction in Osceola County, said the department had just learned of the test result and was beginning their investigation. The patient's travel history is unknown.
It's also unknown which facility conducted the testing for the Osceola County COVID-19 patient or whether they are hospitalized.
"Spectrum will not be confirming or denying if they have any positive cases of COVID-19," the health system told the Cadillac News. The Cadillac News asked Spectrum because the health system operates a hospital in Osceola County.
District Health Department No. 10 (DHD No. 10) has jurisdiction over the other three counties in the Cadillac News coverage area.
In Cadillac, which is one of the Munson Healthcare's designated COVID-19 treatment centers, 92 people had been tested at Munson Cadillac Hospital, with 77 tests coming back negative and 13 still waiting for results as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
On Friday, Michigan's COVID-19 cases climbed to 3,657 with 92 deaths.
Not everybody who thinks they may have COVID-19 will get tested, as there aren't enough tests to go around and the CDC has issued guidelines as to who will receive testing first.
When a person is confirmed to have COVID-19, the local health department opens an investigation.
As part of that investigation, the health department contacts the patient and asks about people who have been in close contact with them. Health department nurses then reach out to those people and begins monitoring them through daily reports.
People with symptoms are asked to put themselves in isolation until they can get tested; the health department then reaches out to close contacts of the close contacts, according to an email from DHD No. 10 Clinical Supervisor, Robin Walicki.
People without symptoms are supposed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
It's unknown how many people are being monitored because of their close contact with a COVID-19 patient.
"The number is constantly fluctuating, so it's not possible to give data for this that is useful at this time," Walicki said. "We have a mix of travelers referred to us by airport screening points, as well as contacts to positives, all monitored by calls or e-mails from our Public Health Nurses. Data on any signs/symptoms of illness, including temperature, is recorded in the Outbreak Management System (OMS) section of the Michigan Disease Surveillance System (MDSS)."
Most close contacts of COVID-19 patients don't have any positive symptoms.
Dr. Jennifer Morse, medical director for both DHD No. 10 and CMDHD, said in a recent newsletter that close contacts are not people you may have momentarily walked past in a store.
Taking care of a sick person without wearing personal protective equipment is considered high risk; sharing a household or being within 6 feet for 10-15 minutes or sharing a small room for an hour or more are also considered close-contact, as are intimate partners. In that vein, so are people who have come into direct contact with a sick person's bodily fluids (think getting coughed or sneezed on, or handling a dirty tissue without gloves).
"Being in contact with someone who themselves was in contact with someone sick with COVID-19, but are not themselves sick, is also not considered to be a risk," Dr. Morse wrote.
The health department says we should assume COVID-19 is present in every community. To mitigate its spread, residents should:
"Stay at home. Do not leave home except for essential tasks such as getting groceries or seeking medical care.
If you must go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid any gatherings.
Wash your hands often and well, especially after being away from home, coughing, or sneezing.
Do not touch your face or mouth, especially when away from home.
Check on others. Call your loved ones and neighbors who are most at risk and see how they are doing. If they require something essential, see how you can help."