CADILLAC — While sparse traffic on main Cadillac thoroughfares made it seem more like the weekend than a Tuesday, on the day Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order to stay at home to lessen the spread of COVID-19 went into effect, people were still finding ways to stay busy.
Along the walking paths and in the city park areas, residents took advantage of one of the exceptions written into the order permitting people to leave their homes — for outdoor recreation and exercise.
McBain youngsters Icesis and Amelia Scholton were at the Cadillac Soundgarden with their grandmother, or "nana," Carol Dukes.
"We all get out everyday if we can," Dukes said. "Even in the winter. You got to have fresh air."
Dukes works at Samaritas Senior Living, in Cadillac, and even with the robust safety and sanitation measures in place at the facility, she worries about the effect the virus could have on the community.
"It's scary," said Dukes, who takes her granddaughters to the Soundgarden every year in the summer. Dukes said she remembers the place being "packed" on past trips to the Soundgarden but on Tuesday, they had the whole area to themselves.
Icesis said she was worried about the virus, as well, along with shots at the doctor's office, monsters and "staying in my own room." She marveled at the bravery exhibited by her younger sister, Amelia, who has maintained a stoic peace amid the turmoil.
Others were similarly unfazed by the order, opting to seize the opportunity presented by decently warm temperatures to get some exercise — not only for themselves but also for a canine companion.
"I'm glad the governor said we could go outside to walk our dogs," said Leanne Bush, who works at the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center and Michigan Works!, either from home or in the office on an alternating basis.
"You still gotta live life," said Rob Best, who also is employed at Michigan Works! and was walking with Bush and U.S. Postal Service employee Art Szewczyk on the Keith McKellop Walkway Tuesday afternoon.
Szewczyk, Best and Bush said they were taking the situation in stride, realizing that with all the things that currently are unknown about the coronavirus, it's best to do what they can to limit their exposure to other people and practice effective social distancing.
The governor's order prohibits businesses from requiring employees to leave their homes unless they are necessary to sustain or protect life, or to conduct minimum basic operations. It also bars all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household.
While pursuing outdoor recreational opportunities is listed as one valid reason for leaving home, the order also stipulates that maintaining appropriate social distance is a must in all circumstances.
According to District Health Department No. 10 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staying at least six feet from people at all times is recommended (although the World Health Organizations says three feet is adequate).
According to the WHO, when someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease. The CDC reports that people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
One of the most important preventative measures people can take to avoid infection is to regularly and thoroughly clean their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
The WHO also suggests people avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick. The CDC concurs it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
According to the CDC, states in which community spread of COVID-19 is occurring are in the acceleration phase. The duration and severity of each pandemic phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response.