Kent transport

Kent County enters COVID-19 recovery phase

Adam London. Courtesy of Kent County Health Department

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) details its response activities following an announcement from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services regarding the slowing of the spread of COVID-19.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said last week that the state was officially considered in a post-surge recovery phase as the pace of COVID-19 cases is declining. Following the announcement, the state also lifted the indoor mask advisory for most public places such as schools, but not for high-risk congregate care facilities.

The KCHD then issued its own statement on Thursday, February 17 in response to the improved conditions and the MDHHS announcement.

“As we approach the post-pandemic future, we must recognize that COVID-19 is a disease that is likely to be with us indefinitely,” said Dr Adam London, Administrative Health Officer, KCHD. “The Kent County Health Department, along with other medical and public health experts, will continue to share helpful information and resources to prevent disease and protect health. We will do this in much the same way that we protect public health against other threats.

The public health order given on January 11 expired at the end of the school day on February 18, London said. There are currently no other COVID-related public health orders in effect from the Department of Health.

“We recognize that the damage caused by COVID-19 is real, substantial, and that each individual’s decisions affect the safety of others,” London said. “We also recognize that mitigating COVID-19 has costs and must be balanced against other concerns and priorities. In this phase of post-surge recovery, individuals, educational institutions, and others should carefully weigh these considerations and make decisions that best suit their own circumstances. In the spirit of this recognition, public health recommendations are properly understood as advice and not as guidelines.

KCHD will continue to monitor community-wide epidemiology and intervene as necessary when outbreaks and imminent dangers are identified.

London said KCHD had also received numerous inquiries about vaccination warrants and the office would not issue vaccination warrants to the public. Eligible people are encouraged to get vaccinated, as available vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in reducing transmission and reducing the likelihood of severe COVID illness and death.

It doesn’t add to or diminish the ability of individual employers or organizations to adopt vaccination policies they deem protective of their workplaces, London said. KCHD does not participate in the decision-making of state or federal decision makers regarding the issuance of vaccine requirements.

The Health Department has confirmed that nothing in its bulletin has any effect on any requirements or authorities currently in place by the State of Michigan or federal public health agencies, including:

  • When school officials, local health department personnel, or staff reasonably suspect that a student has a communicable disease (except HIV or AIDS), they may suspend the student for a sufficient period of time to obtain a decision from a physician or health care worker as to the presence of the condition. Individuals with incomplete vaccinations may be excluded from school or child care if a vaccine-preventable disease is confirmed or suspected in the program. A student may return to school when it is determined that they no longer pose a communicable disease risk to other students.
  • Schools are still required to report cases of COVID, as well as cases of other infectious diseases, to the local health department under the Michigan Public Health Code and existing administrative rules for the management of communicable diseases.
  • On January 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order requiring face masks to be worn by all people on public transportation (which included all passengers and all personnel operating transportation) traveling to, from inside or outside the United States and US Territories. The CDC order includes public and private school buses.

KCHD’s full statement can be viewed here.