KENT COUNTY, Mich — As we head into the Labor day weekend, the Kent County Health Department has a friendly reminder to still take precautions against COVID-19.
The holiday weekend comes right on the heels of Governor Whitmer’s announcement Thursday to allow gyms and pools to re-open and high school sports to pick back up on September 9th, so health experts want everyone to remain vigilant.
Brian Hartl, an epidemiologist with the Kent County Health Department said, “We did see with the fourth of July, after that we had quite a spike in our cases of COVID-19, so we are kind of concerned that this Labor Day holiday we will potentially see something similar.”
Hartl said that holidays are a time to enjoy, but we have to remember that they won’t look the way the have in years past.
“We enjoy summer in Michigan and we want to get out there and enjoy the last bits that we have of it, but we just want to make sure people are doing it the right way to protect themselves and others from COVID-19,” he said.
He added that the same rules we’ve been following for the past six months, still apply.
“Maintaining distance as much as possible and limit that close contact, because if someone turns out to be positive in your group, we are going to be asking questions. Did you have close contact for 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of space? Did you have a mask on? Those types of things.”
As always, don’t forget your mask and to wash your hands. Hartl said when it comes to food and drinks, it’s best to skip the free-for-all.
He said, “The best practice is to have someone dedicated to serving the food, so if you have a potluck, maybe have someone who kind of stands behind it and serves people. I know it’s different but that’s the best practice for it.”
If your plans include some sort of gathering, check how you’re feeling before heading out.
Hartl said, “COVID-19 has a large range of symptoms, and sometimes we see people in the early stages of the infection have only mild symptoms like allergies or just a mild headache or something like that, so always keep an eye on your own health and your kids. If anyone is feeling a little bit off, maybe choose not to go see your family members or go see Grandma and Grandpa.”
As pools and gyms prepare to re-open and high school sports resume, Hartl is reminding everyone that now is not the time to get lazy.
He said, “I think every time you loosen restrictions, people kind of think that we are back to normal. I think that’s the challenge with this is that we want people to active, we want people to partake in these activities, but we don’t want people to forget about the precautions that we have in place to protect ourselves and others against transmission.”
Hartl reports that Kent County is averaging about 40 new cases of COVID-19 per day and hospitalization rates remain low. He hopes that number continue to drop in the coming weeks.