How Kalamazoo County is handling COVID-19

How Kalamazoo County is handling COVID-19

Nick Meyle, Staff Writer

The medical, societal, and of course the economic effects of the Coronavirus Crisis are still being felt throughout the United States. With nearly 50,000 cases in Michigan alone, our state has had one of the worst death rates in the entire country and thus has seen some of these effects to a worse extent. Kalamazoo County is no exception. An economic hub for southwest Michigan, the Kalamazoo metropolitan area continues to see a painful run with the virus.

Despite not finding its first confirmed case for a stretch of time after the crisis began, since then the county has experienced a large uptick in those numbers. As of May 7, there were 573 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kalamazoo County. That is the eighth highest number in the state, placing the county as a hotspot. In addition to this, around 100 people with the virus have been hospitalized and 25 people have died as a result of the virus. 

Bronson Methodist and Ascension Borgess, the two primary medical centers in Kalamazoo, have both been at the frontlines dealing with Coronavirus in this region of Michigan. Certain spaces of the hospitals have been dedicated to dealing with virus patients, as doctors and nurses are dealing with the challenges daily. Both have created informational websites for those experiencing symptoms or those already diagnosed to use for questions. While elective surgeries were put on hold, emergency situations are still actively being handled. The Kalamazoo County Health Department has been handling and tracking testing for the virus, which usually takes place at pop up sites across the county. Those with symptoms then drive up through the testing area, get tested, and then are able to drive off without ever getting out of their vehicle. 

We know that we’re doing the testing that we should have been doing all along,” Health Officer Jim Rutherford told MLive News. “We’re starting to garner some of those results.”

As with the rest of the country, essential services have implemented measures to try to keep workers and patrons safe. Social distancing, face masks, and curbsides are just a few of the ways this is being done. These changes are likely to remain in effect even after the stay at home order is released, as Coronavirus won’t magically disappear. With most businesses closed to the public, revenue has fallen rapidly for many small and locally owned places. To combat this, both Kalamazoo and Battle Creek have introduced loan programs with the aim of softening the blow. Whether these will work or not is unknown. 

As this crisis is so fluid, dealing with it is extremely tough. But as seen by the nurses, doctors, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, teachers, construction workers and so many more, we are tougher.