“The only way to beat it is to face it.”
That’s the slogan Oakland County is using in its public messaging campaign urging people to stick with COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic drags on.
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said the multimedia campaign will feature a “unified, positive message that everyone can rally around,” while emphasizing that people should continue to take basic pandemic prevention measures like social distancing, masking, hand-washing, and avoiding social gatherings.
Coulter said there’s light at the end of the tunnel with COVID vaccines on the way, and the county is also prepared to switch up its messaging to encourage people to get vaccinated. But for now, the messaging will emphasize that the pandemic is still raging, and needs to be tackled as a community with a sense of action and urgency.
“Even before they [vaccines] get here, we’ve got to continue to exercise caution and safety,” Coulter said. “This winter’s going to be tough, and we have to be tougher.”
Kelly Miller is a clinical nurse specialist at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac. She said that hospitals are managing for now, but things are strained. Back in the spring, Michigan hospitals could relieve some pressure by bringing in hospital staff from other parts of the country, but that’s not an option now.
Miller said there are a lot of misconceptions about COVID-19, such as that relatively young, healthy people have nothing to worry about. She said the virus is “wildly unpredictable” in terms of how it affects individuals.
“You can have one person who has mild symptoms, and the other one, who’s in the same age group, can have severe symptoms,” Miller said.
“We’re not over this yet, and I fear that because of the season coming up, we’re going to have a surge on top of a surge, and it’s going to be devastating.”
Coulter said Oakland County is ready to accept and administer vaccines when they do arrive, possibly as soon as this week or the next. The county has purchased ten sub-zero freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine, and is preparing to turn its current drive-thru testing sites into vaccine administration centers. But he warned that will be a gradual process, with the first vaccine doses prioritized for health care workers and other high-risk groups as dictated by state and U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
“We’re going to get a limited supply,” Coulter said. “We’re not going to get enough right away to vaccine everyone in the county who wants the vaccine.”