The Rapidian

COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Wednesday, April 22 updates

Kent County Health Department explains uptick in Kent County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services implements strategy to help slow pandemic’s spread in long-term care facilities, and more statements issued April 20-22, 2020.
Dr. Adam London, Kent County Health Department Director, explaining the recent uptick in Kent County's confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Adam London, Kent County Health Department Director, explaining the recent uptick in Kent County's confirmed COVID-19 cases. /Kent County Health Department

As of today, April 22, Kent County has 757 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 related deaths; a daily increase of 131 cases, with no new deaths. This marks the highest daily increase of confirmed cases in Kent County.

Statewide, there are 33,966 confirmed cases and 2,813 deaths; a daily increase of 999 cases and 113 deaths. All Kent County and state numbers were reported by the State of Michigan.

With local and state COVID-19 responses continuing, shared in this Wednesday, April 22, update are statements relevant to local life from the Kent County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and the City of Grand Rapids.

 

Kent County Health Department explains uptick in Kent County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases

Kent County’s new daily record of 131 new COVID-19 cases follows the previous record set from yesterday, April 21, of 76 new cases. Responding to this recent uptick in confirmed cases, Kent County Health Department (KCDH) Director Dr. Adam London explained today that the reason for this is the expanded availability of tests.

I think it's important for everyone to realize that the availability of tests has expanded dramatically in the past few weeks,” London said in the KCHD’s daily COVID-19 video update. “Our hospital partners, including Cherry Health and Rite Aid in Kentwood, are now offering testing, so this really significant increase in the number of tests being conducted every day is one of the primary reasons why we're seeing an increase in cases identified.”

London also acknowledged the disease’s continuing spread: “Also, of course, we believe that the actual prevalence of the virus in the community continues to increase in a slow upward trend.”

With the expanded availability of tests, London said the KCHD and its partners are focusing their testing in a very targeted way. The KCHD, for instance, is looking at the most vulnerable high-risk congregate living environments, such as shelters for the homeless.

Over the past couple of days, the KCHD has done 251 tests in the most vulnerable settings where many residents live together. “Of those 251 tests, 69 of them, 27%, came back positive,” said London.

The targeted testing by the KCHD and its partners gives them the information they need to move residents in vulnerable settings who test positive for COVID-19, even if they’re asymptomatic, into environments separate from those not testing positive.

The KCHD’s daily COVID-19 video updates are available on its website, Facebook page, and YouTube page. Spanish-language versions of these updates are also available on its YouTube page. For a breakdown of the COVID-19 data the KCHD shares with the public, its COVID-19 Data Dashboard is available on its website.

 

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services implements strategy to help slow pandemic’s spread in long-term care facilities, protect residents and employees

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has implemented a comprehensive strategy to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities and ensure residents and employees are protected, it announced Monday, April 20.

Supporting the goals of Gov. Whitmer’s April 15 executive order to establish procedures protecting residents and employees in Michigan’s long-term care facilities, the strategy, effective yesterday, April 21, includes the following actions:

  • Mandating enhanced reporting requirements for all long-term care settings.

  • Activating a COVID-19 Infection Prevention Resource and Assessment Team (iPRAT).

  • Establishing MDHHS-designated COVID-19 Regional Hubs.

The first action mandates all long-term care facilities submit daily reports to the MDHHS. These facilities are nursing homes, homes for the aged, adult foster care facilities and assisted living facilities. Facilities will be required to submit up-to-date information regarding current capacity/bed availability, personal protective equipment inventory, and the current number of COVID-19 cases and deaths within their facility.

“We know older Michiganders and those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for more severe complications from COVID-19,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS’ Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy for Health. “Enhanced and timely reporting of cases in long term care facilities, as well as proactive training and technical assistance will help protect these vulnerable individuals.”

The iPRAT, whose activation is the MDHHS’ second action, is comprised of staff members from across the MDHHS’ Division of Communicable Diseases (DCD). Through the iPRAT, local health departments and long-term care facilities in their jurisdiction will have access to training on the latest MDHHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guidance.

The third action establishes COVID-19 Regional Hubs dedicated to treating COVID-19-affected individuals from congregate care settings who do not require hospital-level care. COVID-19 Regional Hubs will be designated by the MDHHS and announced as they are established.

More details about the MDHHS’ strategy to mitigate COVID-19’s impact in long-term care facilities is available on its website.

 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extends executive order easing restrictions on pharmacists, increasing access to prescriptions

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order (EO 20-56) today, April 22, extending her previous March 25 order which eases restrictions on pharmacists and increases access to prescriptions. The extension comes in response to continued physical distancing measures across the state.

The new order continues to allow pharmacists to dispense emergency refills of prescriptions for up to 60 days’ worth of supply for patients and require insurers to cover early refills for up to 90 days’ worth of supply. The order will also allow pharmacists to dispense COVID-19 treatments according to government-approved protocols.

“Allowing Michiganders to have access to the prescriptions they need is essential during this crisis,” Whitmer said. “By authorizing pharmacists to refill up to 60 days of medication for their patients, people can reduce their time traveling and stay home and stay safe to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The new and previous orders only apply to non-controlled substances. Pharmacists will also have the discretion to substitute therapeutically equivalent medications without prescriber approval if there are critical shortages.

More details about the executive orders are available on the Executive Orders page on Whitmer’s Office's website.

 

City of Grand Rapids organizes from-home “Celebrate Our Essential Workers” event happening April 24

The City of Grand Rapids and its Office of Special Events have organized a from-home “Celebrate Our Essential Workers” event happening this Friday, April 24, from 7-8pm, the City of Grand Rapids announced. The event aims to celebrate those workers still reporting to work in-person during the pandemic, such as medical workers, police, firefighters, grocery workers, and more.

Let's celebrate our essential workers this Friday at 7pm,” the City of Grand Rapids said in a post on its Facebook page today, April 22. “Go outside in your yard, on your porch or balcony, or poke your head out your window to raise a glass and raise the roof to recognize our essential workers.”

In the Facebook Event page created for the from-home event, the City of Grand Rapids shared an image for residents to print and use in their yards or windows to thank Grand Rapids’ essential workers. Included is the message, “THANK YOU, ESSENTIAL WORKERS!” Also included are symbols associated with the various types of workers still reporting to work in-person and the hashtag #GRstrong.

Residents are encouraged to tag the City of Grand Rapids and its Office of Special events in their photos and videos of the event with the #GRstrong hashtag.

 

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