covid

Capt. Nicholas Buck, a medical operations officer and medical section leader with the Michigan Army National Guard's 51st Civil Support Team, performs a COVID-19 detection test at the Michigan Bureau of Laboratories, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the Guard's COVID-19 pandemic response effort in Lansing on April 17.

Ottawa County has 842 confirmed cases, as of Friday, with 7.5 percent still hospitalized and 318 considered recovered. That's six more cases than what was reported Thursday.

The county health department reported two more deaths Friday, bringing the county's COVID-19 death toll to 38.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said there were 34 more deaths Friday and 607 additional confirmed cases of the virus. That brings the state's death toll to 5,406 and cumulative case count to 56,621.

Muskegon County added 12 cases to its count, the state health department said Friday, bringing its total to 631. The county's death toll stands at 36.

New York City eyes June 8 for first phase of reopening

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York City is on track to begin reopening June 8 as the state gradually loosens restrictions put in place during the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

Cuomo said the city was meeting goals set for hospital rates and testing, will "stockpile" personal protective equipment and will focus on infection rates in hot spots by ZIP code.

"We believe all of these things can be done next week," the Democratic governor said at his daily briefing. The state saw 67 new deaths, a number he called the "lowest ever."

Also Friday, Cuomo cleared a large swath of upstate New York to reopen hair salons, retail shops and offices under strict guidelines.

Cuomo said virology experts had reviewed infection and hospitalization data and cleared the North Country, Finger Lakes, central New York, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier to enter the second phase of reopening.

Barbers and hair stylists will need to get tested every two weeks and retail stores must close shared amenities including self-serve sampling stations and bars, under Friday's guidance. Store owners can prohibit customers without masks.

The announcements followed a day of confusion that had businesses in several regions making plans to welcome customers Friday — only to be told late Thursday they could not.

County leaders learned on a 7 p.m. call with state officials that public health experts hired by the state would have to sign off on the next phase of reopening, but it was unclear when that would happen, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said.

While some businesses delayed their reopening plans, others opened as planned, Picente said by phone Friday, adding he told them he would not move to stop them.

"These are businesses that have spent a great deal of money in preparing for a reopening, and then to tell them at the 11th hour ... that different criteria was being looked at or that some other experts were going to look at data — we didn't know any of that," the Republican county executive said.

Annette Knapp, owner of Salon Bellezza in Syracuse, had lined up eight clients for Friday, the first at 9:15 a.m., but cancelled them while awaiting clarification, afraid of putting her operators' license at risk.

"It's like you're having a baby. You get to the due date, you want to have that baby," she said. "Any day after is frustrating."

As New York tries to get its economy going again, Cuomo has divided the state into 10 regions that can start to reopen businesses in phases.

All of the state except for New York City is now at a phase that allows manufacturers to bring employees back to work and lets retailers operate with only curbside pickup.

The governor's executive orders leave it up to his administration to decide when a region has met the state's standards for lifting restrictions. The rules guiding exactly when counties can move from one reopening phase to another have been less clear, though the state set the minimum amount of time between phases at two weeks, saying that gap was needed to let officials monitor infection rates.

Last week, Cuomo announced the hiring of two experts to analyze the data and consult on reopening decisions.

Other coronavirus developments on Friday:

— New York City appears to be on track to begin loosening restrictions in June, but residents who don't yet feel comfortable commuting by subway may have to improvise, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. De Blasio said the city is on target to enter the first phase of the reopening process sometime in the next two weeks, which would bring an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people back to work.

— U.S. consumer spending plunged by a record-shattering 13.6 percent in April as the pandemic shuttered businesses, forced millions of layoffs and sent the economy into deep recession.

— Europe's extensive social welfare net is showing signs of fraying under economic strain from the coronavirus. The Spanish government will provide more money for the country's most impoverished families so they can reach a minimum monthly income.

— India reported another record increase in cases and Pakistan a record number of deaths.

— In Latin America, the virus initially affecting wealthy citizens is now increasingly concentrated in poorer neighborhoods.

— Protecting people from extreme heat in America's Southwest desert cities is more complicated this year because of COVID-19.

— South Africa says it has a backlog of nearly 100,000 unprocessed tests for the coronavirus, an example of the painful shortage of testing kits across Africa as cases steadily rise.

— Worshippers in Turkey have held their first communal Friday prayers in 74 days after the government reopened some mosques as part of its plans to relax measures in place to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

— In Brazil, couples have begun turning to drive-thru marriage to avoid the coronavirus. At a notary on the western outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, 15 couples were married on Thursday alone.

— The virus is affecting training for Marine Corps recruits at Parris Island and across the military. Defense leaders say some adjustments are beneficial and could become permanent.

— Alabama's sparsely populated Lowndes County has the sad distinction of having both the state's highest rate of COVID-19 cases and its worst unemployment rate.

— New Zealand has all but eradicated the coronavirus from its shores with just one person in the nation of 5 million still infected.

MI Symptoms Web Application helps Michiganders track symptoms, informs reopening strategy

LANSING — In an effort to help safely reengage the economy and allow Michiganders to track potential COVID-19 symptoms, the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) have collaborated with the University of Michigan School of Public Health and College of Engineering to create the MI Symptoms Web Application.

Designed primarily for employers and employees, the online tool is also available to all Michigan residents. Users enter information daily to help identify symptoms that might be caused by the virus and to make decisions about when to seek appropriate medical care. Local and state public health will also use the collective data to help identify the potential for new outbreaks of the disease.

“MI Symptoms will help Michiganders identify symptoms of the virus early, allowing them to take the appropriate actions for their health and the health of those around them,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “This will also help state and local public health workers connect these individuals to important resources like testing locations and support services. I encourage people to sign up on the app to stop the spread of the virus.”

Some employers may ask or require employees to use MI Symptoms as they return to work to help identify potential cases of COVID-19 before it can spread. It will be especially useful for frontline staff who are more at risk of exposure. And employees will have an objective tool to inform their employer that they should not be coming to work without having to share symptom-specific information. Identifying potential outbreaks and reducing spread will keep all employees safer, especially essential frontline workers.

“As businesses reopen and bring their employees back into the workplace, it’s important that we all do so safely,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “MI Symptoms is a free tool that employers can use to help track workplace health and keep our economy operating. By using the app and following workplace safety guidelines to limit COVID-19 exposure, businesses can do their part to keep their workers and customers healthy.”

MI Symptoms users enter basic physiological data into the web application daily, such as the presence of fever or other COVID-19 symptoms, providing MDHHS and local public health officials with early identification of COVID-like illness regionally to reduce concentrated outbreaks. U-M and MDHHS are using robust security, along with continuous monitoring services, to protect individual’s private symptom data and other personal information. MI Symptoms does not track users through their phone using Bluetooth or GPS.

In addition, collective or aggregate data from MI Symptoms will add a measure to the MI Safe Start Map dashboard. The recently launched dashboard serves as a central information resource regarding risk phases of the labor shed regions in the state. These regions were identified by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council. Key indicators in the dashboard signify readiness for reopening, as well as provide information regarding the current pandemic situation and trends in a specific geographic area.

“We all know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again. But opening too soon, could put our economy, health and medical system at risk,” said Sharon Kardia, Ph.D, Associate Dean at U-M School of Public Health, who led a team of public health faculty members, and faculty and students from U-M’s College of Engineering in developing this tool. “This collaboration is building online tools to provide up-to-date COVID-19 related information that will help state and local officials make informed decisions regarding community economic re-engagement. MI Symptoms and the MI Safe Start Map integrates real-time data collection and analysis to aid rapid decision-making.”

MI Symptoms and MI Safe Start Map support the state’s “Contain COVID” efforts by linking symptomatic individuals to resources and providing data to plan and evaluate the impact of target, testing and protection efforts as necessary to begin to safely reengage the economy.

Additional benefits of MI Symptoms include:

— Promotes individual health and safety by identifying potential symptoms of the virus and linking symptomatic individuals with resources for further action.

— Helps residents return to work safely.

— Improves the state’s economic health as the MI Safe Start Plan is implemented.

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