The faces that fill the screen are from Muskegon schools, sports teams and restaurants. Nonprofits, religious groups, and arts organizations. They are veterans and health leaders, mayors and business owners. And, in unison, they say: “Stay home. Stay safe. And save lives.”
More than 100 organizations, businesses, nonprofits, schools, and local governments are banding together to fight the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in Muskegon County, and this week they launched a local version of the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” campaign. For one of its first matters of business, the group published a video [which you can watch above] filled with cameos of a diverse group of local leaders—all of whom urged Muskegon residents to help them battle Covid-19 by remaining at home as much as possible.
“Muskegon County residents, the coronavirus, or Covid-19 pandemic, is here, and it’s taking its toll on residents, businesses, hospitals, critical infrastructure workers, and on our spirits,” Muskegon County Public Health Office Kathy Moore, Muskegon Big Reds Football Coach Shane Fairfield, City of Muskegon Mayor Stephen Gawron, and Norton Shores Mayor Gary Nelund say in the video.
“The truth is, not everyone is getting tested, and many of us are walking around with the virus now and don’t even know it because we’re not showing the symptoms,” the video continues. “The number of confirmed cases doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the real story of Covid-19 in Muskegon County.”
Currently, there are 75 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Muskegon County, and there have been five Covid-19 related deaths, according to Public Health – Muskegon County. The actual number of Covid-19 cases, public health officials have stressed, is likely far greater than the number of confirmed cases—which is why, they note, it’s important to continue to stay at home as much as possible.
“Staying away from others now is the only hope for reclaiming the economy and reuniting families quickly across Muskegon County,” community leader Marvin Nash says in the newly published video from Muskegon County leaders.
Covid-19, a global pandemic that has left about half the world on lockdown, 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. The World Health Organization has said the virus is not airborne, though one study found the virus can travel 13 feet. Health officials have also noted the virus may remain on surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel, for days.
A respiratory disease that can cause, among other symptoms, a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath, Covid-19 is 10 times more fatal than the flu, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In the worst cases, patients’ lungs will fill with so much fluid that no amount of breathing support can help, and the patient dies.
Because Covid-19 is a new disease and is highly contagious, it presents a slew of issues for a world fighting to contain the 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. As of now, health experts explain the most effective way to curb the number of Covid-19 cases is through physical distancing—without it, there would be an even greater exponential explosion of cases than the world has already experienced. Health care systems around the country and globe have become overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, including in New York City, Detroit, Chicago, and Italy.
In Muskegon, the newly formed group representing a wide range of people and interests is presenting a unified message about the importance of keeping yourself physically away from others during the outbreak.
“It’s going to take a true community effort to educate residents on the importance of following proper guidelines to stop the spread of Covid-19 in our communities,” City of Muskegon Heights Mayor Walter Watt said in a press release from HealthWest announcing the launch of the Muskegon County campaign. “We need everyone’s support to keep our communities healthy.”
The Muskegon campaign, which officially launched on Monday, April 13, will include public health messaging on social media, television, radio, video, and other grassroots efforts. It also includes information about what residents can do to help both themselves and their neighbors at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet, including donating to the United Way of the Lakeshore’s Muskegon COVID-19 Response Fund.
“Covid-19 is in Muskegon County and is hurting our friends, neighbors, and those we love,” Moore, of Public Health – Muskegon County, said in the same press release. “By working together, sharing a consistent message, and following some very basic safety precautions, we can save lives.”
Additionally, those involved in the campaign emphasized that, by banding together, Muskegon County residents can not only save lives but support the local businesses and residents who are facing deep economic struggles in the wake of the outbreak.
“While our organizations have different goals and priorities, we all share a common love for Muskegon County and those who live here,” HealthWest Executive Director Julia Rupp said in the press statement. “If there’s one thing this community does well, we work together, put our differences aside, and fight for our whole community.”
The campaign offers a number of things Muskegon County residents can do during the Covid-19 outbreak, including:
- Stay at home unless it is necessary to go out, such as for groceries or medication.
- Wear a cloth face covering when you leave the house.
- Keep a minimum of six feet from others.
- Wash your hands often.
- Make face coverings for others if you’re able.
- Become an in-person or virtual volunteer to assist those most in need [click here to see volunteer opportunities].
- Help others to understand the severity of the illness.
- Donate to the Muskegon Covid-19 Response Fund to help those who are struggling in Muskegon County.
So far, the organizations that have joined the group include:
Abeshi Ghanaian Cuisine
AgeWell Services of West Michigan
Arts Council of White Lake – Nuveen Center
Beachwood-Bluffton Neighborhood Association BBNA
BOOM Youth Leadership Team
Boys & Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore
Capstone Insurance Services
Cedar Creek Township
Child Abuse Council of Muskegon County
City of Montague
City of Muskegon
City of Muskegon Heights
City of North Muskegon
City of Norton Shores
Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County
Coalition for Community Development
Community Access Line of the Lakeshore (CALL 2-1-1)
Community Coordinating Council
Community Foundation for Muskegon County
Community Gathering Initiative
Disability Network of West Michigan
Fatty Lumpkins Sandwich Shack
Fruitport Community Schools
Goodwill Industries of West Michigan
Great Lakes Dental Excellence
Hackley Community Care
Holton Public Schools
Lakeshore Learning Center
Love INC of Muskegon County
Mediation & Restorative Services
Mercy Health Arena
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Muskegon County Office
Mona Shores Public Schools
Montague Area Public Schools
Mount Zion Church of God in Christ
Muskegon Area Career Tech Center
Muskegon Area District Library
Muskegon Area Intermediate School District
Muskegon Big Reds Football
Muskegon Community College
Muskegon Community Health Innovation Region
Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office
Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office
Muskegon Downtown Development Authority
Muskegon Family Court
Muskegon Heights HerCo 1191 Laborers
Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System
Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce
Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change
Muskegon Oceana Community Action Partnership, Inc.
Muskegon Public Schools
Muskegon’s Rebel Road
MYalliance System of Care
NAACP Lake Newaygo County
NAACP Muskegon Branch #3147
New Jerusalem Baptist Church
New Life Christian Center
Nims Neighborhood Association
North Muskegon Public Schools
Oakridge Public Schools
Orchard View Schools
Overcoming Barriers, Inc.
Parties in the Park
Pigeon Hill Brewing Company
Public Health – Muskegon County
Ravenna Public Schools
Senior Resources of West Michigan
Servicios de Esperanza, LLC
Social Justice Commission
Suicide Prevention Coalition of Muskegon County
The Salvation Army
This is the Situation Radio Podcast Show
Three Oaks Public School Academy
Transition at Craig Campus
United Way of the Lakeshore
VFW Post 3195
Volunteer For Dental
West Michigan Plumbers and Fitters
West Michigan Works!
Westshore Christian Academy
White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
White Lake Community Library
Whitehall District Schools
WUVS 103.7 The Beat
Story by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of the Muskegon Times. Reach her by emailing MuskegonTimes@gmail.com.