What Michigan counties are doing on coronavirus response

MAC is collecting reports from our 83 members about their initial and going responses to the coronavirus crisis:

Menominee County: Organizing a community supply drive

Menominee County announced a community campaign on March 25 to collect personal protective equipment to be redistributed to emergency responders and healthcare personnel in our community.

“Our first responders and health care personnel are on the front lines of this battle — they can’t help the rest of us if they get sick. As a community we can help by donating any extra personal protective equipment we may have in our homes or businesses to help keep our first responders and healthcare personnel safe and healthy as they work relentlessly to do the same for us,” said Jason Carviou, Menominee County administrator.

The drive is focusing on medical/surgical masks, N-95 respirators, gloves, gowns, aprons and hand sanitizer. “If you have any extra of these items in your home or business, please consider donating them to help our community fight the COVID-19 outbreak,” Carviou said.


Oakland County: ‘Town hall’ calls draw 12,000 participants

Oakland County Executive David Coulter has taken bold and aggressive steps to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in the county while keeping residents informed and safe.

Through Coulter’s leadership, the county’s Department of Health and Human Services issued three public health orders on March 21 to reduce transmission of the disease:

  • All shopping malls were closed.
  • Indoor and outdoor playground equipment was closed. Playground equipment in childcare centers and areas without playground equipment such as walking trails and grassy areas are exempt from the order.
  • All childcare centers were required to develop and implement a daily screening protocol for children, staff, parents and visitors to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.
  • Required essential businesses to develop and implement daily screening protocol for all employees to reduce the transmission of the disease and institute social distancing to protect employees and customers.
  • Created a map searchable down to the Zip code level on case data in the county.

“The steps we take today – as individuals, businesses and government – will save lives,” Coulter said. “We have to protect our hospital systems so they stay equipped to help the very sickest. We can get through this together, but we have to act together.”

The orders are effective until April 17.

Coulter, assisted by Kathy Forzley, health and human services director, conducted a series of telephone town hall meetings with Oakland County residents, answering questions about any concerns they may have about the disease and how it might affect the individually.

Among the questions:

  • My husband and I are both 70. Should I go to a birthday party for one of my grandchildren? (No.)
  • I have a routine appointment with my doctor scheduled. Should I keep it? (Call your doctor.)
  • I have the flu, with a temperature of 101.9. Should I be tested? (Call your doctor.)

During the three sessions, more than 12,000 county residents took part in the town hall calls.

Coulter dedicated and staffed two telephone lines to answer questions from residents: Nurse on Call for health-related questions and the Oakland County Hotline for questions not related to health. Nurse on Call staff took more than 1,000 calls in a three-day period.

Coulter offered residents the option of receiving text messages from the county with the latest updates on the outbreak. More than 18,000 residents texted oakgov to 28748 to receive daily updates.

Finally, the county is collaborating with area restaurants and caterers to supply meals for some shelters, food pantries and a community food program. We are also working with local caterer to provide meals for the inevitable frontline first responders and hospital workers that will need to be quarantined, likely in hotels, and fed.


Grand Traverse County: Daily calls with community stakeholders

On March 13, Grand Traverse County stood up our own Joint Operations Center (or community task force if you would prefer) to address issues surrounding COVID-19. We have approximately 100 community stakeholders in the group. We hold daily meetings at 10 a.m. with this group that is geared towards receiving updates, addressing issues and pushing out unified information. To that end, Grand Traverse County engaged a web provider and stood up our own COVID-19 response website that you can see HERE and our own Facebook page that you can see HERE.


Allegan County: Collaboration with neighboring counties

Like many counties, we have set up web resources off our home page (allegancounty.org) for both organizational information and COVID-19. We always appreciate regional efforts. We have been in contact with our surrounding neighbors. We have been sharing ideas with Ottawa and Kent regularly. We thank them both and our other neighbors for their collaboration.


Livingston County: The 1/3 principle

About 1/3 of the workforce were mandated to stay home and about 1/3 are working remotely or rotating so there is at least one person in the office. The other 1/3 are our first responders, and they are working business as usual. We are doing our best to keep people at home and getting our most essential work done. Our Health Officer and Emergency Manager are providing daily updates to the Board Chair and county administrator.


Branch County: Virtual tools keep county engaged

Branch County in south-central Michigan has taken the following actions:

  • Implemented Physical Distancing and Enhanced Sanitation measures effective beginning of March 2020.
  • Canceled and-or instituted virtual meetings effective March 12, 2020.
  • Closed to public effective March 17, 2020.
  • Stood up virtual EOC effective March 18, 2020.
  • Reinstated Working and Board Meeting using Zoom on March 19, 2020.
  • Transitioned to “Essential Services” on March 23, 2020.


Osceola County: County buildings closed to public through April 21

Osceola County has information and a link on our website. We have activated our Emergency Management Department and have updates issued through Nixle. The Board of Commissioners closed the county buildings to the public March 18-April 21. Offices are holding limited work hours for staff in order to maintain functions but limit person-to-person contact. Information is being processed through emails, phone conversations and over online services.


Macomb County: Coordinating with businesses on economic issues

Macomb County began formulating a community response to Coronavirus during the second week of March by activating its Emergency Operations Center. When the first COVID-19 case in Michigan was announced, the Joint Information Center was as prepared as possible to begin communicating with the public and our employees. One of the first activities to keep our community safe and informed was to activate a special Health Department helpline which is answered seven days a week by public health professionals. Other activities to date have included:

  • Created a COVID-19 resource page which is easily found from the county’s website featuring information for individuals, businesses and communities.
  • Activated a warning banner on the county website to advise residents about COVID-19 testing and to reduce the number of people visiting the Health Department to request a test.
  • Created and shared daily videos featuring the County Executive via social and traditional media. The videos provide updates on the situation in Macomb County along with helpful information to keep the public safe.
  • Developed and sent several emails to all employees to keep them informed.
  • Hosted twice-weekly virtual department leaders meeting to share pertinent information about COVID-19 and ask that each review and update their Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to ensure that the county continues to provide vital services as needed.
  • Created a dedicated email address for employees with questions or comments about COVID-19 and their role as an employee. Each is reviewed by a team comprised of Health, Emergency Management, Human Resources and IT employees to ensure that an appropriate and accurate answer was provided as quickly as possible.
  • Created a dedicated page on the employee Intranet to convey information about the county’s response to COVID-19. The page is updated regularly and features a FAQ section where commonly asked questions are sent to the dedicated email address to share the most commonly asked questions received through the dedicated email address.
  • While many departments have modified their hours and reduced access to services by asking residents to call first and make an appointment, idled staff are being redeployed to assist in providing critical services.
  • The County’s economic development team continues to share relevant information to businesses via email and social media. We are currently collecting information from Macomb County manufacturers that are stepping up to produce desperately needed medical supplies for our health care providers and first responders.

Kent County: Daily videos, surveys of needs to nonprofits

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kent County has worked with our community and has:

  • Produced and distributed daily videos via social media channels about COVID-19 from the Kent County Health Department offices
  • Coordinated communitywide COVID-19 testing protocols with the three major hospital systems via the Kent County Population Health Consortium
  • Coordinated countywide law enforcement guidance regarding social distancing practices
  • Established a process whereby local manufacturers begin making necessary health supplies like face shields, gowns, swabs, and ventilators
  • Conducted surveys of nonprofit organizations seeking feedback on necessary supplies and finances
  • Identified grocery bags to deliver food throughout the Essential Needs Task Force food pantry network
  • Distributed 2,000 food boxes to senior residents and at-risk families through the Kent County Community Action program
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