From schools and restaurants to sports teams and nonprofits, more than 100 Muskegon groups come together to fight coronavirus

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. 

A Mercy Health nurse at the healthcare facility’s drive-through Covid-19 testing facility. Photo courtesy of Mercy Health

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.

A screenshot from a video of Muskegon County leaders urging residents to stay at home as much as possible.

“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

Arbor Circle

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 enCompass

Community Foundation for Muskegon County

Community Gathering Initiative

Cumulus Media

Dalton Township

Disability Network of West Michigan

Fatty Lumpkins Sandwich Shack

Fruitport Community Schools

Goodwill Industries of West Michigan

Great Lakes Dental Excellence

Hackley Community Care

Health Project

HealthWest

Holton Public Schools

Holton Township

Kuntry Cookin’

Lakeshore Learning Center

Love INC of Muskegon County

Mediation & Restorative Services

Mercy Health

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 Channel

Muskegon Community College

Muskegon Community Health Innovation Region

Muskegon County

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 Township

Muskegon YMCA

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

Pathfinders

Pigeon Hill Brewing Company

Public Health – Muskegon County

Ravenna Public Schools

Read Muskegon

Reeths-Puffer Schools

Revel

Senior Resources of West Michigan

Servicios de Esperanza, LLC

Social Justice Commission

Suicide Prevention Coalition of Muskegon County

The Salvation Army

The Tish

This is the Situation Radio Podcast Show

Three Oaks Public School Academy

Transition at Craig Campus

United Way of the Lakeshore

VFW Post 3195

Visit Muskegon

Volunteer For Dental

Wesley School

West Michigan Plumbers and Fitters

West Michigan Works!

Westshore Christian Academy

White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce

White Lake Community Library

Whitehall District Schools

Wonderland Distilling

WUVS 103.7 The Beat

Story by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of the Muskegon Times. Reach her by emailing MuskegonTimes@gmail.com.

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