By Barb Pert Templeton
The May 12 monthly Facebook Live session from the St. Clair County Health Department had Medical Health Officer Annette Mercatante share that COVID-19 rates are going up along with the rest of the state. There were 379 new cases reported in the county over the last week.
She said testing, in general, is down across the county partly because self-testing is going on and those don’t always get reported. Despite the rise in reported cases the current risk level remains low.
“We have been enjoying a relatively calm late winter early spring,” Mercatante said.
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In a slide show reflecting the current numbers, she said communities to St. Clair County’s immediate south are logging medium risk ratings, and ‘I am quite sure we will be joining them shortly in that risk category,” Mercatante said.
Although, she said there’s no indication that the state is getting ready to move from a recovery phase to a pre-surge phase just yet.
Hospitals continue to report low admission numbers for COVID and were at just two or three percent of late.
Wrapping up the COVID-19 update, Mercatante touched on the fact that they are also watching and following the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus that is circulating throughout the country. The virus is also referred to as the bird flu.
It’s been detected in Michigan and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has decided to stop the 2022 poultry and foul exhibits in the state including things that occur related to 4H Fairs.
“They are going to stop that only until the time they can get through 30 days without new detections of this virus in our domestic poultry population,” Mercatante said.
The bird flu virus is found among certain species of birds and it can be transferred to chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and Guineafowl. And it can also be transferred to other animals and has been found in foxes in the community.
“The good news is this virus does not affect humans, it’s not a risk to human health but it’s significant risk to our poultry population,” Mercatante said.
The areas affected by the ruling include trade shows, exhibits, swap meets, petting zoos at fairs and displays of game birds and waterfowl at fairs. It does not affect egg hatching exhibits, pigeon races or the zoo.
“We remind everyone that if you find a sick or dead bird, we want you to call the 1-800-292-3939 number,” Mercatante said. “Or if you notice an unexplained death among the fox population, they are also asked to call the DNR.”
Mercatante also said that the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment has been completed and will be available online to the public on the St. Clair County Health Department website on Monday, May 15.
“It is filled with good reliable information, we not only developed primary information from surveys and phone interviews but we collect a lot of useful secondary information,” Mercatante said. “That report will be used over the next year, actually the next five years, to review and redo our community health improvement plan.”
For more information visit the St. Clair County Health Department website at stclaircounty.org.