By Jon King/

With confirmation of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan, local hospitals are taking precautions with both Michigan Medicine and the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System implementing screening protocols for visitors to their facilities, asking people who are sick to wait until they are healthy to visit patients.

Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, M.D., chief clinical officer at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System., said that to help minimize community spread of the virus, they are also screening all presenting patients regarding fever, respiratory symptoms, travel risk factors, and exposures and, if indicated, immediately place a mask on and isolate them. Dr. Juan Luiz Marquez, medical director at Washtenaw County Health Department and soon also Livingston County, advised that unless people are experiencing emergency symptoms, they recommend they don’t go to an emergency room where they can infect others. “Most COVID-19 symptoms can be managed at home with advice from a physician.” The man that Marquez will be replacing, Dr. Don Lawrenchuk, medical director of the Livingston County Health Department, added that, “Remote tools such as virtual-visits also can be a good option for people. Those without primary care physicians can also call the health department for advice or a place to start.” Lawrenchuk will be retiring in the next several weeks.

Health department and hospital officials stress that good hand hygiene is the best defense against the spread of diseases like COVID-19 or the flu. They encourage all to practice proper cough practices – cough into your arm, elbow, or tissue – and clean frequently touched surfaces with disinfectant. Further details and guidelines are available on the health department’s website, a link for which is below.