Community Health and Wellness Local News

Making the absence of a COVID-19 surge work well

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Written by Tanya Terry

Rick Sadler, PhD, MPH and associate professor for Michigan State University Division of Public Health, shared the number of COVID-19 cases in Flint had been on a three-week consistent decline as of June 17. Cases in Genesee County have also been declining for weeks, according to Sadler’s information given during the 118th week of the Flint Community Webinar on Coronavirus.

“We’re about where we were August or September of last year,” Sadler pointed out. “So, the numbers are not as low as they were, say, in the summer of 2020 or when we had decreased quite a bit a few months ago.”

Sadler stated this information and added he hoped now Flint and Genesee County will not hopefully continue the upward trend in cases seen last month. Despite Flint being larger than Grand Blanc, he noted Grand Blanc had the largest cluster of cases.

Dr. Debra Furr-Holden said she found it interesting that people wait until communities, or the country is at a peak to start to change their behaviors. She said this is not the way it should be.

“When you see things go up, it would be the behavior shifts that avoid us from getting at peak,” she added.

Furr-Holden worked previously as a researcher and practitioner in the field of substance abuse.

“There’s this fictional place they call rock bottom,” she explained. “Rock bottom is fictional-because just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, the bottom will fall out. You’ll go lower than that.”

Furr-Holden hopes a lesson can be learned from that.

“The goal is not to wait until things are off the charts to implement strategies. We know what works. We know what effective prevention of COVID infection looks like-and so it’s about doing those things.”

Furr-Holden repeated what Dr. Lawrence Reynolds had said: ‘The vaccine is the foundation for the prevention of spread of this infection.’

According to Furr Holden, encouraging everyone who can get vaccinated for COVID-19 to do so is the best thing that can be done.

Doctor Lawrence Reynolds answered his own question on the webinar about what can be done between COVID-19 surges.

“Number one you take advantage of this opportunity to get vaccinated, to get your booster,” he said. “Number two, you still use good judgement. So, if you’re in a crowded situation, especially indoors, and you don’t know who’s around you, put on a mask, keep social distancing, wash your hands. If you get invited to the family picnic or the graduation… if you are sick, number one-get tested. Get home tests.”

Home COVID-19 tests can be ordered at CDC.gov and are typically delivered within a few days.

Reynolds suggests learning how to test yourself, and if you don’t know how, asking someone. He also noted there are videos available online.

“But, if you are sick, don’t go to a social gathering, because you don’t know right away that you have COVID, or you don’t have COVID,” Reynolds said.

As a primary care doctor, he pointed out there are many other conditions people are dealing with.

“We still have diabetes, hypertension, obesity, need to be screened for cancer, lung disease. If you have a chronic condition like sickle cell, you still need to be in contact with your physician. So, all these things are out there, and they don’t care that they’re competing with COVID. Sometimes, if you don’t address these things, if you don’t refill your medications and take them on a regular, as prescribed basis, you make yourself more vulnerable…”

Despite the absence of a surge in cases, about 6% of the occupied ICU beds in the county are COVID-19 cases, according to Ashley Herbig, MAS, emergency preparedness coordinator for the Genesee County Health Department.

“In the past couple of months, we were seeing a greater proportion of those that were fully vaccinated being admitted, but we are seeing a very gradual shift to unvaccinated taking the lead,” she stated.

Because of the summer months of holidays, get togethers, graduation and prom season, the local health department will increase attention to hospital movement and numbers 15-17 days from the extended Juneteenth holiday weekend.

The Flint Community Webinar on Coronavirus (Week 118) was made possible by the Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center, Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions, the and the Michigan Prevention Research Center.

 

 

 

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