By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

The medical director for the Livingston and Washtenaw County health departments is sharing updates and insights on everything COVID-19.

Dr. Juan Marquez says both counties cases are flat or down trending, with lower hospitalizations and fatality rates. While the instances are still higher than they’d like to see, he says it’s still good news. The disease was most prevalent early in travelers, and then among the older generations, but since summer more and more young people are becoming infected. Dr. Marquez said that 14-19-year-olds were largely impacted from gatherings and graduation parties in the late spring and early summer, and now with college back in session, the ages of those becoming infected are skewing a little higher.

He said the perception for, and among, many younger people is that catching COVID-19 isn’t as serious for them, as they tend to not suffer serious consequences or hospitalizations. Dr. Marquez cautions, however, that while many youth might experience mild symptoms, for some the disease can be devastating, and we still don’t know what long-term consequences may come from it.

With schools back in session and some reporting students contracting the virus, Dr. Marquez also cleared up some potential points of confusion for families. When a student tests positive, the health department spends time with them and the school to determine who they have been in close contact with back to 48 hours before they showed symptoms. The CDC defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of another form more than 15 minutes, but Dr. Marquez says that is not an absolute rule. The 15 minutes could be cumulative over different encounters and affected by the location, whether masks were being worn, and other factors. He gave an example of contact tracing questions they would ask to determine the risk for students who spent lunchtime with an infected friend. Dr. Marquez told WHMI, “We ask ‘How big was the table?’ ‘Were you inside or outside?’ ‘Did you wear a mask?’ ‘Did you share any food?’ ‘When you left the table, did you walk with them?’ It’s a pretty thorough investigation.” Students who were determined to be in close contact should be asked to quarantine.

If they are not showing symptoms, Dr. Marquez says it is okay for their siblings to attend school. However, siblings and other family members in a household with a positive case should all quarantine. Dr. Marquez says the student with COVID-19 should be fine to return in 10 days if they are not showing any symptoms.” All close contacts should be able to return to school in 14 days if they are not showing any symptoms. He asked that they, or anyone who tests positive, not-retest for several months, because the test will likely still detect the dead virus.

Dr. Marquez reminds residents to practice good hygiene, social distance, wear a mask, and answer unknown phone numbers that could be contact tracing specialists.

To hear more from him, be sure to tune in to WHMI’s Viewpoint program, this Sunday morning at 8:30. You can hear a portion of the interview by Clicking Here