DETROIT – Henry Ford Health System infectious disease and family medicine specialists are offering guidance to Michigan residents after Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a ‘stay-at-home’ order today to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Aggressive efforts like this can have a huge impact on slowing the spread of the virus and easing the burden on hospitals and health systems, and we are urging all Michiganders to comply,” said Wright Lassiter, III, President & CEO, Henry Ford Health System, in sharing the health system’s “full support” of Gov. Whitmer’s order. “Also, our team members are demonstrating extraordinary resiliency and we are so grateful to them for everything they are continuing to do for our patients during this unprecedented time.”
Henry Ford Health System COO Bob Riney said the order will help protect residents and ensure healthcare workers remain healthy and able to help.
“I think that we all need to realize that does not mean that COVID-19 is out of control or spreading in any different way than what has been reported,” Mr. Riney said. “It simply means that they want all citizens to really understand that all of us that are in essential fields, all of us that need to get to work to support our patients and those that are COVID 19 positive need the ability to do that without being encumbered in any way.
“And in order to flatten the curve we need people to really understand: stay home, unless you have to go out to the pharmacy or the grocery store,” Mr. Riney added. “Because if we create the social distancing that we’re doing pretty well at now, we’re going to flatten the curve, we’re going to get back to normalcy quicker, we’re going to get the economy moving quicker, and it will be the best thing for everybody.”
Gov. Whitmer said essential businesses will remain open to provide food and necessities to Michiganders. They are listed at Michigan.gov/coronavirus, and include grocery stores, pharmacies and food delivery services.
“Do not panic; do not hoard,” Gov. Whitmer said while announcing today’s order that residents leave their homes only on an as-needed basis. “Our aggressive action today will mitigate how many people get sick and how long our economy will suffer. We are up to it. We will get through this. But be smart. Take every precaution.”
In instances where you must go out, Odaliz Abreu Lanfranco, M.D., an infectious disease expert with Henry Ford Health System recommends the following precautions:
- Keep space between you and others (at least 6 feet away is the recommended minimum)
- Avoid those who are coughing or exhibiting signs of illness
- Wipe down surfaces in your home and vehicle regularly with disinfectant wipes
- Practice good handwashing and/or hand sanitizing, especially before and after entering public spaces and while handling food or eating
If you fall under the high-risk category (older adults or people with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems) or if you are sick or experiencing a fever, cold or flu-like symptoms, you should avoid these activities, Dr. Lanfranco said. Try to find assistance from a family member, friend or neighbor.
“Social distancing reduces the spread of a contagious infections and diseases from person-to-person by reducing how many people we each come in contact with,” Dr. Abreu-Lanfranco said. Some people may be carrying the disease but showing minimal symptoms or may think they have a common cold or allergies, he added.
Henry Ford Family Medicine Dr. Rena Daiza on Monday said keeping to a routine, weekly meal planning and virtually checking on others can help Michigan residents cope with the stay-at-home order.
“The change of routine can be really anxiety-provoking for some; I’ve seen that on virtual visits,” said Dr. Daiza, who is seeing patients nearly exclusively through remote access. “If you can’t have your same old routine and you’re not working right now, find a new routine.”
Starting the day at a similar time and making sure you get enough sunshine should be key to the routine, she added. Both help stabilize levels of the hormones melatonin and serotonin, or the ‘happy hormones,’ and avoid depression, she said. Going for walks outside while maintaining the six-foot distance can help get that much-needed sunshine.
Menu planning can also help limit the number of visits to the grocery store and exposure to others. Shoot for once-a-week shopping; two weeks is a little more difficult, Dr. Daiza said. Ask a neighbor if they need anything while you’re out. And take advantage of online grocery ordering, parking lot pick-up and grocery delivery services, if available.
Key to the stay-at-home order’s effectiveness is absolutely no one who is sick should be out in the public, she said. Those who have symptoms can take the Henry Ford Healthy System COVID-19 online risk assessment tool for insight and further guidance.
In addition to the online assessment tool, Henry Ford offers:
“I have households where one or two people are sick; in those households I don’t want anyone going out, if possible,” Dr. Daiza said. “We’re telling people two weeks, but it’s variable. Some people I’m keeping them in more than two weeks. And we’re just assuming that if one person is sick in a house, everyone is sick.”
And make sure to check with others using phone, computer or other means of social media or teleconferencing, said Dr. Daiza.
“Check on your grandma, or check on your loved one or neighbor,” she said. “I typically have Sunday dinner with my grandma every week. I haven’t seen her, and I miss her. But I’m FaceTiming her regularly. I don’t think we’ll ever take these things for granted again.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Tammy Battaglia / (248) 881-0809 / Tammy.Battaglia@hfhs.org