Just hours before President Donald Trump declared a national emergency today due to the spread of coronavirus, officials in Macomb and Oakland counties had announced similar emergency actions that might have an effect on the spread of the deadly virus.
The president’s nationally televised announcement in the White House rose garden offered limited hope that coronavirus testing at the local level in Michigan will become commonplace any time soon.
In Oakland County, where three cases of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, have been confirmed, County Executive David Coulter said his declared State of Emergency was necessary to open a path for federal funds, should they become available.
“We will take all necessary steps to slow the spread of this virus,” Coulter said. “The effects of this public health emergency are still unfolding, and we want to ensure that people with immediate needs get help as quickly as possible.”
In Macomb County, the first case of “presumptive” COVID-19 was reported this evening. County Executive Mark Hackel said he announced a State of Emergency to prevent further spread of the virus.
“Macomb County is taking every step possible to protect our residents,” Hackel said. “I want to remind everyone to continue to take preventative measures, like frequently washing their hands or staying home when they are sick.”
The bottom line is that the Macomb and Oakland health departments cannot offer any help because they have no testing kits for the virus. Nor do local doctor’s offices. An uptick in testing at local hospitals is promised by Trump but his announcement today offered only a minimal $50 billion boost in federal assistance.
The president explained that his administration has partnered with medical manufacturing companies to quickly produce up to 5 million new test kits, “though I don’t think there is any way we will need that many.” Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Target have agreed to provide drive-through testing (nose or mouth swabs) of VOVID-19 to the public.
But it’s unclear how quickly this process can be launched.
Meanwhile, Oakland and Macomb counties have established limitations to visitors to their government buildings, urging the public to seek non-health-related assistance by remote connections online.
For example, in Macomb County, the county Clerk’s Office – the busiest agency in county government, handling marriage licenses, birth and death certificates, concealed weapons licenses and business registrations – Clerk Fred Miller is urging residents to avoid showing up at his office in downtown Mount Clemens.
At the same time, the Macomb County Circuit Court has decided to postpone most jury trials except those that are of an urgent manner. Those restrictions also apply to the county Probate Court and the 42nd District Court. By reducing the large jury pools that report almost daily, and by limiting traffic within the court buildings, officials hope to limit coronavirus concerns for attorneys, litigants, court staff and the the public.
For more information in Macomb, call 586-469-5235.
In Oakland, call 800-848-5533.