Oakland County plans make-shift hospitals, orders businesses to screen workers | Michigan Radio
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Oakland County plans make-shift hospitals, orders businesses to screen workers

Mar 24, 2020

Hospitals are severely short of necessary personal protective equipment, including masks, face shields, disposable gowns and gloves, as well as ventilators for patients
Credit Henry Ford Allegience Health

Oakland County Executive David Coulter says many hospitals in his county are nearing full capacity already.

At last count, there were five deaths from COVID-19 in Oakland County, and 100 patients with COVID-19 in county hospitals, according to Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford.

Coulter says the county will have to dramatically expand its capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.

He says, at this point, Beaumont is converting surgical units to COVID-19 units to increase the number of patients it can handle, but it won't be enough for the surge that is coming. So, the county is lining up places where make-shift hospitals could be set up.

"Whether they be conference center spaces, hotels, motels, we're actually working with the National Guard and the potential to do a mobile hospital," Coulter said during a press conference. "We're going to prepare for a worst case scenario. Because that could happen sooner rather than later. So, we're preparing for all of those scenarios. Not just for acute patients, but there may be people that are subacute that don't need to be hospitalized, but need to be quarantined and isolated. So we're preparing for places for all of those folks."

Meanwhile, Oakland County is trying to "flatten the curve," beyond the new state order which closed non-essential businesses, to slow the spread of the disease so it doesn't overwhelm hospitals.

A new county order requires businesses to take the temperatures of employees daily - if those businesses have a no-touch thermometer available.

In addition, businesses must screen employees for symptoms of COVID-19, and send them home for self-quarantine if they have a fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea, or shortness of breath. The county says workers should stay home for seven days from the first symptom, and have three consecutive days of no fever without using fever-reducing drugs.

The screening also should ask employees if they have traveled in the past 14 days or have come into close contact with a person with a diagnosis of COVID-19. For those employees, the self-quarantine should be 14 days.

Businesses are also supposed to make sure customers stay six feet from one another, by using tape on the floor of customer service lines, for example, or limiting the number of customers who can come inside at one time.

The order is effective through April 13.

Meanwhile, Ingham County says it's recommending, but not ordering, that businesses screen employees; county employees entering the Human Services Building are being screened.

Kent County says at this time, it does not plan on instituting an order similar to Oakland County.

Genesee County says it has been screening its own employees for a week now, but is not requiring it for businesses.

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