03-19-2020 COVID 19 Pandemic; Karl’s Kolumn; Social Distancing: Why it’s important to combat c

MONDAY MORNING… Coloma Public Schools, including the transportation department and food service employees were loaded up and ready to deliver food twice a week to Coloma students. Pictured is Kelly Gatchel food service employee. (TCR photo by Amy Loshbough)

COVID 19 Pandemic; President declares national emergency; Governor closes schools and businesses; local schools delivering breakfast and lunch by bus to kids in need

By Jon Bisnett

The COVID-19 coronavirus is wreaking havoc across the nation. In the light of sensory overload from news sources and social media, the Tri-City Record pledges to do its very best to provide correct and vetted information that affects our local subscribership. Recognizing the rapid evolving of the situation, all information that follows was deemed to be correct at press time.


The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control have indeed labeled COVID-19 a pandemic, simply defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”. The important distinction from “pandemonium” is much in how the affected choose to react.


Friday, March 13 President Trump declared a National Emergency, freeing up some $50 billion in emergency funds to address the coronavirus situation. Bipartisan legislation of the COVID-19 Relief Bill is moving quickly with intent to provide: Expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act, Suspension of Interest on Student Loans, Free COVID-19 Testing, Paid Sick Leave and Expansion of Medicare Payments. Latest recommendations include working at home for 15 days if at all possible and limiting exposure in groups of less than 10 people.


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer changed our world Thursday night March 12, 2020 when she issued the order to shut down all public schools beginning Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5. (Most colleges and universities had already closed their doors in the prior days, also including all NCAA basketball tournament play and the NBA season.) Additional bans of events attracting groups of more than 250 people were also enacted.

Monday, March 16 the Governor expanded closures to include bars and restaurants, which may remain open for delivery and carry-out orders only.

Tri-City schools

Local administrators and Food Service personnel sprang into action following the Governor’s announcement and thanks to leveraging state and federal food subsidies, created a plan to provide meals to “food insecure” students during the coming weeks. The following information outlines the local availability.


Hartford Public Schools began Monday with two drive-up distribution points, Redwood Elementary and Hartford Middle School. A total of 1,034 meals were sent out on Monday. Additional pickup sites were then added as follows:

HARTFORD SCHOOLS FOOD SERVICE… really rings the bell! Dinner bell that is. Hartford Food Service Director Angela Glover re-ported 1,143 breakfasts and lunches distributed to students on Monday, just the first day of the mandatory shut down of Michigan schools. Operating with just two drive-up sites on Monday, Hartford has now expanded to 12 sites located strategically around the school dis-trict, with expectations for the meal numbers to significantly increase. Superintendent Andy Hubbard applauded the efforts of not only Food Service, but other building staff and secretaries who jumped in to help get the meals out the door. “It demonstrates not only a large need within our community to provide for these kids, but it makes me incredibly proud to see how quickly and efficiently our staff reacted and implemented systems to get these meals into the hands of those who need it most,” said Hubbard. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)

From noon until 1 p.m. – Redwood Elementary and Hartford Middle/High School

From 11:30 a.m. until noon – Van Auken Lake Store, Keeler Fire Department, Tom Smith Tractor, City Hall Parking Lot, and Maple Hill Trailer Park Main Entrance

From 12:15 until 12:45 p.m. – Applewood Trailer Park Main Entrance, Van Buren Fair Grounds 681 Entrance, Corner of Lyttleton Avenue and 66th Street, Hartford Community Center Parking Lot and Corner of Pleasant and Vanderlyn

Eligibility: Any person 18 years and under (26 and under for students with disabilities) will be allowed to take meals from these sites; no ID is required and no questions asked. Only one household member is needed to pick up meals for all the students residing in the household. Up to three breakfasts and three lunches per student may be taken for the weekend on Fridays.

Those unable to visit one of the sites may contact Central Office for assistance at (269) 621-7000.


Watervliet Public Schools reported 140 breakfasts and 358 lunches served on Monday, with a jump to 340 breakfasts alone as of Tuesday morning.

Meals will be distributed twice daily at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the following drive-up sites: Marathon Station Parking Lot – 8151 E. Napier Ave., Benton Harbor; Bainbridge Township Hall – 7315 Territorial Rd.; two sites at Pleasant View Estates, 7604 Red Arrow Hwy., Watervliet – one in the front and one in the back of the neighborhood; Watervliet Fire Station – West Pleasant Street; Watervliet Free Methodist Church – 7734 Paw Paw Ave.; Paw Paw Lake Trailer Park – 5259 N. Watervliet Rd.; Ma & Pa’s Country Kettle – 5355 M-140, Watervliet; River of Life Church – 8712 Red Arrow Hwy., Watervliet; Tom Smith Tractor Sales – 69760 Red Arrow Hwy., Watervliet.

28 MEALS WERE PASSED… out Monday morning by 9:15 at the Watervliet Fire Department just one of the several stops set up by Watervliet Public School to serve their students. Pictured is WPS Bus Driver Betsy Briggs and helper Carol Pelton (not pictured) serving a local parent. (TCR photo by Amy Loshbough

Additional sites may become available in future dates.

Watervliet school buses and vans will be used to distribute meals. All vehicles with food will be clearly marked. WPS personnel will be working the distribution to assure the safety and security of their students.

Breakfasts will be available from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. and lunches will be available from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m.

Any person 18 years and under (26 and under for students with disabilities) will be allowed to take meals from these sites; no ID is required and no questions asked. Only one household member is needed to pick up meals for all the students residing in the household.

Those with special circumstances or need assistance taking advantage of this program, please contact Nutrition Services at 269-463-0799 or Central Office at 269-463-0300.


Coloma Public Schools Food Service is working with their Transportation Department to deliver meals, both breakfast and lunch for each day of the closure. Monday, they distributed 440 meals. Bus drivers will be delivering food to students who normally ride the bus at their normal bus stops on Mondays where they will deliver three days worth of meals and on Thursdays where they will deliver four days worth of meals.

Buses will run their normal routes and the delivery times will be the same as if it were a Delayed Start so kids do not have to be out in the dark. Students need to be at their bus stop to get their meals. If the student walks to school, drives, or is a car rider/parent drop off, they may pick up meals in the Coloma Intermediate parking lot from 10:00 – 10:30 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Call (269) 325-3912 with any questions or special circumstances.

Cancellations & closures

Numerous cancellations occurred over the weekend following the Governor’s order regarding groups of 250.

The Blossomtime Mr. and Miss Pageants, Coloma St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and Hartford Foundation Charity Auction were among a lengthy area list.

Most if not all local churches suspended regular services with many taking the opportunity to live-stream services to their online congregation. The list is far too numerous to present. Please contact your personal house of worship to find further information as to how they will proceed in the coming weeks.

Local public libraries in the Tri-Cities have also closed until at least the end of the month.

Spectrum Lakeland Health System has implemented a no visitors protocol to limit patient exposure. Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph has received NO patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday evening.

Four Winds Casino closed all four sites as of 3:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, to remain closed until minimally March 31 per their press release.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has joined its collegiate counterparts by declaring all practices and competition cancelled until further notice.

Celebration Cinema and Moore Theaters have also closed their doors for at least the remainder of the month.

Corporate responsibility

Many corporations have stepped up to address the COVID-19 pandemic declaration.

Indiana Michigan Power is temporarily suspending all disconnections for non-payment.

Comcast/Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free, including non- subscribers, while lifting data caps and suspending non-payment disconnects.

Dollar General is strongly encouraging that the first hour of operations each day be dedicated solely for the shopping needs of senior customers, who are one of the groups most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

WESCO is providing kids a free popcorn and donut. Check for hours of availability at your local station.

The Herald-Palladium has moved all local stories related to COVID-19 in front of their website paywall. No subscription is required. Visit www.TheHP.com for updates.

Harding’s Market and B&B Grocery and local pharmacies are open and committed to providing the staples needed for daily life. Quantities may be limited, while these retailers are making every effort to restock frequently during this time.

Undoubtedly many more companies will follow suit. The TCR will update the list in the coming weeks. When in doubt check company websites and social media pages for the latest information.

Late breaking

Spectrum Health Lakeland has set up a drive-up test sample collection site at the Hollywood Road campus for the Center for Outpatient Services, 3900 Hollywood Road, St. Joseph. Dr. Loren Hamel, chief strategy officer of Spectrum Health System and president of Spectrum Health Lakeland, reports hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and may be adjusted. A doctor’s order is required. Call (800) 968-0115.

There were zero confirmed COVID-19 cases in Berrien County as of Monday a.m.


Most local government offices have gone into a limited-contact office policy. They are open, but accepting visitors by appointment only at this time. Some are suspending utility shut-offs and/ or utilizing remote payment systems.

Call for specific details in your area:

Bainbridge Twp: (269) 468-8040

Coloma City: (269) 468-6606

Coloma Twp: (269) 468-7212

Hartford City: (269) 621-2477

Hartford Twp: (269) 621-4658

Keeler Twp: (269) 621-6481

Watervliet City: (269) 463-6769

Watervliet Twp: (269) 463-5113

Bars & restaurants

Perhaps the most devastated sector of local business is the bars and restaurants due to the statewide mandate to close for dine-in service. While fast-food drive-thru is better equipped to weather the storm, local eateries such as the Panel Room, Gala T Inn, Sidetrack Café II, Millcreek Charlie’s, Soulard’s, Eddies Drive-In and several more are ramping up their ability to provide take-out/ curbside service to their loyal patrons. These businesses are our friends and neighbors. They are in economic crisis and need your support now more than ever! The TCR has always supported “Buy Local”, but this goes way beyond that message.

Please grab some take-out or buy a gift card to use at a later date. Help these businesses survive this critical situation of which they had no control.

So, what now?

It may sound redundant, but we would be remiss if we didn’t reinforce the best practices recommended by virtually every agency addressing the COVID-19 virus: Avoid crowds, wash hands frequently, stay home if you’re sick, don’t touch your face, clean and sanitize any hard surface that is touched frequently.

While we’re sure “Aunt Marge” may mean well by posting social media of something she heard from her cousin in Florida, this is not the time to flood social media with unsubstantiated claims and stories of the coronavirus.

Above all, use common sense and remain calm. We’re all navigating uncharted waters and will get through this by working together as a caring community. Take your cues from bona-fide news sources – the Governor’s office, local Health Department, Public Safety and Municipal offices.

The Record will make every effort to update our readers with accurate and timely developments as they occur.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CORONAVIRUS-19? Since last Thursday and this, a historic event quietly occurred and quickly mushroomed into a national concern of pandemic proportions. On December 8 in a meat market in a town in China, a worker there was diagnosed with what was soon called Coronavirus 19. In February and early March, passengers aboard cruise ships headed for the U.S. became ill with the same symptoms as over 80,000 confirmed cases resulting in more than 3,000 deaths in China according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last week, people by the hundreds here in the States (mostly in the Northwest) came down with (now called) COVID-19. Presumably those people had caught the virus from travelers recently returned from China and from people who had the virus but not the symptoms yet.

By the end of last week, events such as the Coloma St. Pat’s celebration and Blossomtime King and Queen pageants were canceled. Schools from Kindergarten to college closed. Churches began to stream their Sunday services online.

Monday of this week, our governor, Gretchen Whitmer, issued a proclamation closing all entertainment facilities, bars, restaurants, movie theaters, et al. Schools began distributing breakfasts and lunches to students needing them.

Even though our government was reasonably quick to respond to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus by reducing the size of “social gatherings”, the public, sensing impending disaster, stampeded to the stores and cleared the shelves of essentials. Inexplicably toilet paper and hand sanitizer disappeared from megastores to corner markets.

I put out a message on Facebook seeking to get some feeling on what people were thinking. What follows are the message and then the responses:

Please reply to this message with your opinions on the COVID-19 Pandemic… from local closing of schools, businesses, community events, sports to basically any place the public congregates to prevent the spread of this viral disease. I will make your opinion part of my next Karl’s Kolumn in the Tri-City Record. Please share.

WITNESSED COVID-19 FIRSTHAND IN ASIA… My grandniece Brook Bartos recently returned from the Far East, her comments comparing what she experienced there and here are enlightening.

Brook Bartos… “Having been in Singapore and Thailand less than two weeks ago, I can tell you firsthand that this can be contained and mitigated, but that it comes down to testing and to isolating those who have been exposed. I was shocked at how easily we returned, with no questions or checks of any kind. In Singapore, your temperature was taken every public place you went — hotels, restaurants, museums. It was headline news when one single restaurant in LA did that here. The panic buying is out of control as a result of the lack of information and delayed response here. I witnessed a three-year-old sobbing in Costco that “everyone is gonna die from the ‘corono’ virus.” It’s up to us as adults to educate ourselves on the steps we can take to limit exposure and stay healthy, while also remaining calm and supporting our children who may not understand why they are not in school or classes and not turn them into a generation traumatized by fear that everyone around them is going to die.”


David Haase… “Are we overreacting? Maybe. I would rather error on the side of caution than lose one loved one from carelessness. I am not purchasing a lot of toilet paper, and food supplies. I am getting what I need. There is not a vaccine that can be used. Hospitals, clinics, etc. are turning away people who are suspected with the virus. Do you want to be someone who is infected and no place to go! I don’t. Peace and blessings.”

Arlene Sulko Stewart… “Since pneumonia is a complication of the disease, I would be sure everyone has had a pneumonia shot.”

Josh Fairbanks… “South Korea is seeing an incredibly positive outlook because of how proactive they were with testing and social distancing. I applaud all of the schools and organizations who have taken large steps to help the situation. I wish our federal government had been more proactive a week ago when every international and domestic scientist was urging them to do so. Unfortunately, because of their lack of action and responsibility things will only get much worse before they get better.”

Sherrie Teed… “I agree, are we overreacting? I just get upset with the media. I watch Fox and Friends, mornings. Why do they have to interview 5 different doctors, ask each one the same questions and get different answers. This makes people get into the panic mode. However, it is not just Fox and Friends. My other concern is why our President is getting blamed for this. He did not go into a lab and make this virus. I am praying and trusting in God. If you are a Minister, Priest, Rabbi, etc., tell the people to pray and pray hard. Get into that WAR ROOM mood. Stop blaming, where is your faith? I totally believe God is allowing this. Do not let Satan win here people.”

Diana Parrigin… “Agree not me, they are overreacting.”

Michele Ameling-Knapp… “The best thing to do is educate yourself. Get your information from trustworthy sources. Make your decisions based on facts not opinions.”

Tammy Allen Gilson… “I think that they are being proactive and trying to prevent the spread of the virus. I am not worried about getting it for myself. I worry that if I get it, I could possibly spread it to the elderly, people with low immune system or babies. The thing I worry about the most is how some people are overreacting to this. It is still going to spread because people are still eating out, going to the movies, going shopping and going other places for fun. We still will spread the virus until people start staying at home.”

Joseph Rodriguez… “Current administration cut funding 2/3s for the CDC in 2018 and put those funds for that useless wall that doesn’t work.”

Karen Baker… “I think President Trump and Vice President Pence are doing a great job handling the situation. They have put together a great team and are implementing services and tools and travel bans to help control the spread of the virus. I have faith that the impact will remain lower than in other countries and we will make it through. But I also think the careless reporting and conflicting reports by the media is causing more/worse fear and panic.”

Davonne Trosper… “Please don’t blame outright President. He only took precautions in closing the borders to the U.S. The rest is hysteria.”

Mike Cade… “Get your facts straight please… stop listening to False News and the Trump haters. And start researching the truth before posting”

Gale Noble Perna… “No one is blaming Trump for the existence of the virus and for the infection arriving in the U.S. Where he does deserve blame, however, is in his lack of leadership when it is most needed. This is the first time he has been asked to lead during a crisis not of his own making.

His incompetence is evidenced by his delayed response when compared to what other countries have done to meet this threat. Just a few weeks ago, Trump denied the threat, even though he was notified of it nearly 3 months ago. He downplayed the alarming increase in the number of cases. He turned down the WHO when it offered to send test kits to help with better diagnoses and to track the projectory of new infections. He gagged information that people needed to protect themselves. He gathered a group of bankers to address the tanking stock market, showing his immediate concern with his money and his campaign, rather than gathering medical experts the citizens needed. He also dismantled the Pandemic Response Team initiated by Obama, which made us even less prepared.

People are more at risk, and some will die as a direct result of this incompetence. It’s not an issue of differing political opinion: it’s a matter of fact, the extent of which will not be completely known for weeks, months and even years.”

Dick Nybro… “Free, Fast, Drive through testing”

Susie McClanahan Burkhardt… “Best thing they could have done. We can’t chance spreading especially to the ones with compromised immune systems. And the young & healthy can be carriers and never have 1 symptom but pass it to the ill & elderly.

I applaud the school’s communication at Watervliet has been great & also the schools that are still supplying meals to those in need & the police & fire locally that are offering to check on kids at home alone.

Gail Perna, you nailed it, extremely unfit for office. “We are going to have test kits, beautiful test kits” I heard his very first press release. That’s from our Leader”

Robin Moore… “It’s only a matter of a short time before we will have all been exposed, children don’t seemed to be affected by it, so I have no idea why we’re paying our teachers for doing nothing, if they’re not sick they should be teaching not vacationing in the public’s dime. And if business shuts down, they’ll go broke.”

Edith Bujack-Munchow… “I’m one of those elderly with lots of health issues. I will not panic. I believe in God and people who know all the facts are making the proper decisions so I’ll just hang in there and pray for the sick, elderly and those who will not be working and need paychecks. My daughter insists on doing my shopping, so I’ll give along with that but I’m really not afraid of getting out. Don’t shake hands or hug. Cover your mouth, wash hand thoroughly and often. Other than that, there is not much we can do but pray and have positive thoughts.”

Pat Snow… “I think we should pay attention to it, but I’m not scared”


Jim Wright… “I think that the media’s overhyping and fear mongering does a disservice to those under 50, while us “old folks” should have the mental capacity to use common sense and not go where it is unsafe. I think the blanket closing of activities does many groups a disservice as many have made large investments and contracts for their activities. Sadly, many of those groups will be bankrupted.”

Christine Case Samagalsky… “My biggest frustration with this situation is the lack of reassurance that our businesses (stores, distribution centers, manufacturing plants, and truckers) are still working and the shelves will be refilled. The unknown had made hoarders out of people”

Darlene Hajduk… “the hoarders are fools and should be shunned”

Eric Holloway… “I have yet to talk to anyone that doesn’t say that the media is causing the major concerns and panic in some cases.”

Joseph Wasserman… “A real worldwide public health concern. Better to error on the side of caution”

Bob Becker… “Now that there is an assembled group of experts the president needs to let them work. Meanwhile I am hoarding cases of Corona Light.”


“I’m so this is stupid”. “Ridiculous”. “Overreacting”.

Justin Bayer… “It’s what we need to do to give our health care systems, workers and fellow citizens a fighting chance. In Italy, the healthcare system buckled and now they’re forced to make life and death decisions. And all of the “other” non-coronavirus health emergencies and issues will not pause and/or go away. Stay home, limit contact and help our healthcare workers and our most at-risk citizens by not being a carrier.” (Justin Bayer is my son)

Rosemary Bayer… “Guys, we are facing a true crisis here. People are getting very sick and dying. Those who do get sick will spend 2 weeks in intensive care and on a ventilator. If we cannot slow down the rate of transmission, we will not have the hospital beds or ventilators we need to keep people alive. (Have you seen what is happening in Italy?) We were slow to act here in the U.S. so it is critical that we do everything we can now to slow it down. The best thing EVERYONE can do is to stay home, wash often and well, reduce your own risk and that of your family members.” (State Senator Bayer is my niece.)

Ed Baker… “I think it is shining a light on true American values (me first; retail arbitrage at public expense) and how many Americans only see first order effects versus those who think about second and third order effects. People are viscerally arguing about toilet paper and baby wipes. Few seem concerned that closing schools (justifiably) leads to parents staying away from work and employees and customers staying home will have a devastating effect on small businesses that may not have the finances to come back after it passes. I plan to order more locally-owned carry-out than I ever would without the crisis.” (Ed Baker is my nephew.)

David Baker… “I’m one of the folks at elevated risk — low white blood cell count, need to see a hemo to monitor that as well as the status of my anti-coagulants so I don’t form blood clots. Can’t drive, so have to rely on Uber to get around. I don’t know who was in that car before me, or who the driver has been around. Only takes one carrier to infect many. So yes, I’m concerned, but my options are limited. To all, don’t just wash your hands and avoid touching your face, STAY HOME if you’re feeling sick. Thank you!” (David Baker is my nephew.)

Jen Bayer… “Here’s something from my friend who is a local doctor: Y’all, you won’t like this, but you gotta shut it down. I’m worried about my patients, my family and yours. Please rethink your parties, play dates, trips, collective in-person worship, seminars, events, and routine meetings and visits that can be postponed or done by phone. Wash your hands and clean your phones. Stop hugging people who don’t live at home with you. Stop the elbow bump, that’s too close right now. Stay home as much as you can. Exercise in the fresh air. Support businesses especially those that close temporarily with online business or buy gift cards. Restaurants, please consider delivery or to-go only for now. The loss of business and social connection up front is hard but will pay off.

In Italy, there are not enough ventilators in the ICUs and doctors are having to decide who gets one and who dies for certain. It’s a terrible situation. Closer to home, Evergreen hospital in Kirkland, WA is in a similar situation. We must do what we can right now to prevent that happening here.

By the time this no longer seems like extreme advice or silly, we will wish we had done these things a long time ago.” (Jen Bayer is my niece.)

Social Distancing: Why it’s important to combat coronavirus

By Nancy Albright

The term “social distancing” has worked its way into the universal vernacular with lightening speed as COVID-19 balloons in the U.S. and across the globe.

And the number of coronavirus cases is growing exponentially. On Monday, March 16, the CDC reported 3,485 cases in the U.S.; on Tuesday there were 4,226 cases spanning all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As of March 15, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed 153,517 cases of COVID-19 and 5,735 deaths worldwide.

As of Tuesday, March 17, there are 53 reported cases in Michigan including cases diagnosed in Ottawa County (Holland) and Kent County (Grand Rapids). One child is known to have contracted COVID-19. Twenty additional cases were diagnosed in a span of 24 hours over the weekend as testing became available. Not all cases are travel related. As testing ramps up, more cases will come to light.

Social distancing is critical now, not only to slow the pace of the virus and limit infection, but to allow the American healthcare system to catch up so those who need treatment can receive it. There are not enough tests, medical supplies, and medical staff in the U.S. to treat the virus, and healthcare facilities are already overwhelmed as COVID-19 cases continue to increase exponentially. There is no vaccine, and cases among healthcare workers are increasing.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer urges Michigan residents to “assume they have coronavirus” to help prevent the spread of the disease. “Even if you feel healthy and you don’t have any symptoms right now, you can unknowingly be carrying this virus. Assume that you are [carrying the virus] and take this seriously. It’s not just about protecting yourself—it’s about protecting everyone.”

Just to give you an idea of how critical social distancing is, more than 6.7 million people in five northern California counties, including San Francisco, have been ordered to “shelter-in-place” until at least April 7. The New York Post and New York Daily News reported on March 17 that New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is considering a shelter-in-place edict as well, where people can only go out for food, medicine, and exercise for the next three weeks.

According to the Washington Post, practicing social distancing can help slow the progression of coronavirus and flatten the curve of fatal cases. The Post has published an article on March (free online to all, you don’t need a subscription to read it) called “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to ‘flatten the curve.’

The article contains computer simulations that clearly demonstrate how social distancing can help contain the virus, leave the population less vulnerable, and increase the rate of recovery. The author uses a hypothetic scenario to demonstrate how this practice can slow the progression of COVID-19 and flatten the curve of lethal cases. Read it here: washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/.

What you can do to slow the pace of COVID-19

The coronavirus organism radiates spikes that attach to the lungs and puncture the lining causing respiratory illnesses and in some cases failure.

COVID-19 spreads the same way the common cold or flu spreads—through respiratory droplets that are produced when someone coughs or sneezes. People who are most at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 are those who have been in close contact (within about six feet) with someone who has the disease.

It’s important to remember that the virus can manifest itself anywhere from two to fourteen days. You may have it and not know it, so it’s critical to take precautionary and preventative measures.

It is also important to note that those who smoke or vape are especially at risk. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape. People with opioid use disorder (OUD) and methamphetamine use disorder may also be vulnerable due to those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health.”

In addition to social distancing, CDC guidelines are to wash your hands frequently for twenty seconds, cover your mouth when you cough, don’t touch your face, and stand six feet away from others. Use household cleaners to wipe down surfaces and objects, especially things you touch often like cell phones, keys, keyboards and other electronic equipment, door handles, toilet handles, sink handles, TV remotes, steering wheels, gas pumps. Stay inside unless you need to go out. If you do go out, limit your movement around your area.

If you don’t have hand sanitizer, use soap. It’s important to wash your hands front back, between your fingers, and under your nails.

COVID-19 symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, do not go to a hospital, health clinic, or doctor’s office. Call ahead.

According to Penn Medicine, the Medical Center of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, getting a regular flu shot if you haven’t already will not prevent you from contracting COVID-19, but it “reduces risk of influenza and avoids confusion with COVID-19 if you become sick with fever and cough.”


World Health Organization: who.int; WHO Q&A: who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019; WHO Coronavirus Disease Situation Reports: who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov; National Institute of Health: nih.gov; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: niaid.nih.gov; National Institute of Drug Abuse: drugabuse.gov; State of Michigan: michigan.gov; Michigan Department of Health & Human Services: michigan.gov/mdhhs; Berrien County Health Department: berriencounty.org.


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