Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issused a "stay at home" order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Kalamazoo County officials say people should take it seriously.
Jim Rutherford is the county's health officer.
"Kalamazoo County residents need to stay home as much as you can. You'll still be able to get food supplies, gas, pharmaceuticals, and other essential items. Keep yourself away from others; remember the six-foot rule. Wash your hands. Practice good personal hygiene. Keep your hands away from your face. It's imperative that we follow the governor's orders." Rutherford says that goes for businesses too.
"Businesses: please adhere to the executive order. You need to close if you're not providing essential services or essential supplies that directly impact public health and safety. Residents: don't hoard food and other supplies that have been in demand. Our supply system is stable."
The governor's order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24. Rutherford and other county officials spoke during a video news conference.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says law enforcement agencies will enforce the stay-at-home order. He says violators risk fines or jail time. But Fuller says he'd rather talk with business owners and residents who aren't following the rules first to get them to comply. He says the rules for residents are clear.
"That means one trip to the store for one person per family a week. That's the best we can do to do our social distancing. Don't continue to gather in parties or groups at homes. We need to take this very seriously."
Kalamazoo County Has Three COVID-19 Cases
Kalamazoo County got its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, Marach 23. County Medical Director William Nettleton said, "All residents are medically stable and one is currently hospitalized. All presented with known COVID-19 symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fever, or cough."
Nettleton says the county has reached everyone who was in close contact with the three patients.
"We have conducted an investigation to identify those who were in close contact or spent prolonged time with these individuals, and we have made public health recommendations to avoid the spread to others." Nettleton says those who were in close contact with the three patients have agreed to isolate themselves. He says the community must help slow the spread of the virus.
"The decisions you make right now as an individual impact the health of our entire community. We need to work together to protect the most vulnerable in our community and also to protect our health care systems and workforce."
Nettleton says one way to do that is be careful about heading to clinics and hospitals unnecessarily.
"Only call 911 or go to the emergency department if there is an emergency such as trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, if your loved one is newly confused, or any other medical symptom that your doctor or health care professional indicates requires immediate medical attention."
Check WMUK's COVID-19 update page for the latest news and links to federal, state, and local agencies responding to the pandemic.