First two coronavirus deaths reported in Muskegon County

Two men have died from COVID-19 in Muskegon County, public health officials reported Friday afternoon. 

The individuals who died are an 83-year-old man and a 78-year-old man, according to Public Health – Muskegon County. No more information about the men has been given.

“Our hearts go out to their families during their time of grief,” Muskegon County Health Officer Kathy Moore said in a press release. “It is critical for us to protect each another and take all possible measures of prevention. Please stay home to help slow the spread of this illness.”

The two men are the first coronavirus-related deaths reported in Muskegon County, health officials said. The county has reported six confirmed coronavirus cases.

“Our thoughts go out to the families and to our community as we begin to grieve for those lost by COVID-19,” Mercy Health Muskegon President Gary Allore said in the same press release. “These first deaths remind us to all do what we can to stay home, stay healthy, and protect ourselves and those around us so that we can stop the spread of this virus.”

COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause, among other symptoms, a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath; it is 10 times more fatal than the flu, according to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  In the worst COVID-19 cases, patients’ lungs will fill with so much fluid that no amount of breathing support can help, and the patient dies.

The  virus is believed to spread primarily between people who are in close contact with one another and is passed through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Health officials have also noted the virus may remain on surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel, for days.

Because COVID-19 is a new disease and is highly contagious, it presents a slew of issues for a world fighting to contain the global pandemic: humans have not built up an immunity to it, there is no vaccine for it yet, and its symptoms often don’t present themselves until two to 14 days after being exposed to the virus—which potentially allows a carrier of the disease to expose it to others without realizing they are doing so. All of these factors allow for the exponential growth of the number of COVID-19 cases. Such an explosion of cases then overwhelms health care systems, which we’ve seen occur in places like Italy, New York City and Detroit.

Public Health – Muskegon County officials are urging residents to take the following precautions against the coronavirus:

  •  Stay at home. Do not go out except for essential tasks such as seeking medical care or getting groceries.
  •  If you must go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid gatherings.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after going out, coughing or sneezing.
  •  Do not touch your face or mouth.
  • Check on others. Call your loved ones and friends who are most at risk and see how they are doing.

If you think you have been exposed to the coronavirus or have such symptoms as a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, contact your medical provider for further guidance. Click here for more information regarding symptoms and treatment. Both Mercy Health and Spectrum Health are performing virtual coronavirus screenings; click here to access information from Mercy and here for information from Spectrum.

If you have questions about the coronavirus, contact the following:

  • Public Health – Muskegon County: 1-231-724-6246
  • Michigan COVID-19 Hotline:1-888-535-6136
  • Mercy Health COVID-19 Hotline: 1-833-247-1258
  • Spectrum Health COVID-19 Hotline: 1-833-559-0659

For updates from local health officials, visit muskegonhealth.net. Information can also be found at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Story by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of Muskegon Times. You can connect with her by emailing muskegontimes@gmail.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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