There is evidence of community spread locally. The majority of the latest seven cases announced March 19 had no known contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 or recent travel. Washtenaw County Health Department has been working with the individuals to identify close contacts so they can be notified, quarantined, and alert to the possibility of symptoms. All reported cases are in adults.
“Evidence of community spread means we will change how we respond to local cases, especially as the number of tests increases every day,” says Jimena Loveluck, MSW, Washtenaw County Health Officer. “But, we must remember this is exactly why we have community mitigation strategies and unprecedented restrictions in place. Our collective goal remains to slow the spread of cases as much as possible. Together, we can do this. Take every possible opportunity to practice prevention and social distancing.”
Because there is evidence of community spread, the Washtenaw County Health Department is no longer naming public low-risk exposure locations. Residents can assume there is a possibility the virus may be present when they are in public places in the community. The Health Department is not announcing evidence of community spread to cause panic, but to reinforce that people should be taking all recommended prevention measures.
“Assume the possibility for infection exists, as it does with many common illnesses. Most people will recover at home without medical care,” says Juan Luis Marquez MD, MPH, Medical Director with Washtenaw County Health Department. “Isolating at home if you’re sick and contacting your health care provider by phone for guidance will help prevent additional spread and make the best possible use of critical health care resources.”
Health experts are still learning about how this new coronavirus spreads. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact (within about six feet) of an ill person, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Again, the named locations and times are likely lower-risk exposures.