LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Saturday there are 325 people in the state who are being monitored for novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19.
These individuals are classified as "medium risk" at this point, which means that are all residents who have been to mainland China in the past two weeks or they were passengers on a cruise ship with a confirmed COVID-19 case.
"These traveler referrals meet either the 'medium' or 'low' risk criteria for COVID-19 monitoring," said Lynn Sutfin with MDHHS.
Suftin said none of the individuals have been placed in a quarantine facility because the screening process found none of them were high risk. However, they are being asked to practice home quarantine as much as possible.
"The clock starts the day they leave mainland China," said Brian Hartl with the Kent County Health Department. "That's day one. And for 14 days from that point we ask that they don't go to work, don't go to school and don't take any public transportation."
Local public health officials are also contacting the people daily for two weeks to check for any symptoms. They are monitoring the individuals health by checking: if they have a temperature, a cough or difficulty breathing.
Hartl said they are checking on people daily and recording their information in a statewide database.
Once MDHHS receives a referral for someone who may have been exposed to coronavirus, they are they under the jurisdiction of a local health department.
"Local health departments were asked to monitor individuals coming back to their jurisdictions from mainland China," said Hartl. "We want to prevent the transmission of infection in our communities."
The Michigan health department has already tested five people who met the CDC's criteria for coronavirus testing. All five results came back negative.
The virus, which emerged in China in late-2019, has infected more than 77,000 and killed more than 2,000 in China. In the United States, the CDC has reported 13 cases of infection first identified on U.S. soil and 21 cases of infection among U.S. evacuated from abroad to America.
Even with the monitoring and precaution MDHHS is taking in monitoring these individuals, health officials emphasize the risk of being infected with the virus is low.
"People get scared but the reality is right now in the United States the risk is very low," said Hartl.
The CDC says it is reporting the virus in two categories to accurately portray how it is spreading.
"We're not seeing community spread here in the United States yet, but it's very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "Our goal continues to be slowing the introduction of the virus into the U.S. This buys us more time to prepare communities for more cases and possible sustained spread."
Messonnier said the CDC was working with state and local health services to respond to cases in the U.S and prepare for the "possibility that this outbreak could become a pandemic." She called the virus a "tremendous public health threat."
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