Health Department gives local update on coronavirus

No confirmed cases, Additional recommendations given to prevent illness

COLDWATER — There are no cases of COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, in Branch County, Hillsdale County, or St. Joseph counties as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency (BHSJ) announced Tuesday.

Although there have been no confirmed cases in the tri-county area, BHSJ said in a statement there have been 20 individuals in the area approved for testing using state guidelines, with seven testing negative for the disease, and the remaining 13 still out for testing. In addition, BHSJ said no travelers are being monitored within the three counties, but the “situation locally may change quickly.”

In their statement, BHSJ said they support the “strong, preventative measures” taken by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, including the recent executive orders to close dine-in services in restaurants and bars and prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more, and encouraged residents of the tri-county area to take them seriously.

“I encourage everyone to stay calm and I want to reassure everyone that BHSJCHA, your Local Health Department, is ready to respond immediately,” BHSJ Health Officer Rebecca Burns said. “We can all take measures to protect our family and friends by staying home, rescheduling mass gatherings, and practicing good personal hygiene.”

BHSJ said in their statement they have an option, if people call their main offices, to speak to someone about COVID-19. The system is manned seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

BHSJ reminded people to take precautionary measures when it comes to the disease. These include staying home if you’re mildly sick instead of going to the doctor, call ahead to your doctor if you think you might have COVID-19, and only go to the emergency department if you feel very sick. In addition, BHSJ recommends people avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching their face, cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw it in the trash, clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces, and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or

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