Wayne County is increasing its response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic under a four-point strategy as case numbers continue to rise, county health officials said Tuesday in a meeting before the Wayne County Commission’s Committee on Health & Human Services.
November case numbers in the county have risen to levels exceeding the early days of the pandemic, health officials said, though that rise has not been accompanied by a rise in COVID-19 fatalities.
“There is still so much we need to learn about this virus,” said Committee Chairman Tim Killeen (D-1st District).
At present, health officials said, county hospitals are running above 75 percent capacity. An increase to 80 percent or greater could force restrictions in hospital services, they added.
Health officials said they have already been working with community partners, including non-profits, on distribution plans for an anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, but noted the sharp recent rise in cases, both locally and nationally, demands that other measures also be taken. While county health officials have requested the maximum allowable doses of any vaccine, it isn’t certain at this point how many doses the county will receive.
In the meantime, county COVID-19 health strategist Dr. Mouhanad Hammami said the county is stepping up plans for testing, contact tracing, prevention and preparation.
Among actions either taken or soon to be taken:
˖ The county is enacting a $4.9 million effort to increase COVID-19 testing to a level near 8,000 tests per day at sites in Dearborn Heights, Lincoln Park and Wayne as well as other areas. Test results are expected to be available within 48 hours or less, Hammami said.
˖ The county is also enacting a $3 million investigation and contact tracing plan, with 33 investigators and 24 contact tracers on duty 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
˖ The county will distribute three million face masks, especially among communities hard hit by the pandemic, Wayne County Public Health Officer Carol Austerberry said.
˖ The county is also embarking on a $1.4 million media campaign, in several languages, alerting the public to the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 and the risks posed by large family gatherings over the holidays.
Health officials also encouraged the public to avoid “COVID fatigue” and continue to practice mask wearing and social distancing.
Video of the meeting is available on Wayne County Commission YouTube channel and on the Health & Human Services section of the Wayne County Commission webpage, www.waynecounty.com.