Farmington Hills elementary staffer has COVID-19, district says

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Farmington Public Schools staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus, district officials announced Thursday.

The staffer works at Kenbrook Elementary and is in self-quarantine, district Superintendent Bob Herrera said in a letter.  

The building has been closed since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered a three-week shutdown of Michigan schools to combat COVID-19.

An undated electron microscope image shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S.

"Upon finding out the news, we immediately contacted the Oakland County Health Department and have been working with them on next steps," Herrera wrote. "They have stated that the exposure risk to the general staff and student population is low.

"Health officials are interviewing/reaching out/providing assistance directly to individuals with an elevated risk of exposure who may have been in recent close contact with the staff member.  All families directly impacted by this news will be contacted."

Elsewhere in Oakland County, Bloomfield Township on Thursday said it is under a declared state of emergency due to virus concerns.

"The Planning, Building and Ordinance Department is closed to the public until further notice," officials wrote on Twitter. "There will be minimum staffing during this time."

Police and fire services were slated to continue to operate in a normal capacity, but "we remind our citizens to avoid unnecessary foot traffic in our lobby," the township tweeted. "Please dial 911 for an emergency. COVID-19 related questions should be directed to the Bloomfield Township Helpline (248) 723-3455."

County residents seeking updates on the coronavirus from the Oakland health division can receive them by texting OAKGOV to 28748, Executive David Coulter announced Thursday. 

"We want our residents to stay current with important information as it becomes available," he said in a statement. "This gives them another tool to help keep them and their family safe during this public health emergency.” 

The developments came the same day as Michigan health officials started to incorporate private and hospital lab data into its confirmed coronavirus case count, increasing the statewide total from 110 cases Wednesday to 334 by Thursday afternoon.

A woman in her 50s at McLaren Oakland hospital in Pontiac and an 81-year-old woman cared for at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit became the second and third patients in Michigan to die from the coronavirus, officials reported Thursday.

Both had underlying health issues that put them at higher risk of death, sharing a similarity with the first casualty in the state, a Southgate man in his 50s, which was announced Wednesday.

Michigan's three fatalities tied to COVID-19 likely indicate that there are thousands of people infected with the virus in state, according to experts who study the spread of diseases.

Since the first confirmed cases were announced March 10, Whitmer has issued executive orders limiting public gatherings, closing restaurants and bars, expanding unemployment benefits and cracking down on price gouging.

On Wednesday, she formally requested authority for the U.S. government to expand the use of the National Guard in Michigan to aid in the humanitarian response to the crisis with federal funds.