By Tom Travis and Jan Worth-Nelson
In a Facebook live chat from City Hall this morning, Mayor Neeley and Dr.Bobby Mukkamala presented updates and reminders about how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sitting a safe distance apart with a deaf interpreter in the background, the two reviewed chief symptoms of the disease and seemed to be informed in live time that there now are four cases of coronavirus in Genesee County confirmed by the Genesee County Health Department.
Mukkamala, an otolaryngologist and active community leader known simply in town as “Dr. Bobby,” reminded viewers the significant symptoms that distinguish COVID-19 from a common cold are: cough, shortness of breath and fever. It is different from the common cold, he said, which isn’t usually accompanied by shortness of breath and fever.
He advised anyone having the symptoms to self-isolate and seek medical attention — by calling your physician or calling a hotline the State of Michigan has established for those without a doctor: 888.535.6136. He said to prevent spreading the virus, some potential patients are being met in hospital parking lots by medical staff in protective gear.
Neeley said since a fever is one of the key symptoms of the virus, all police and fire department workers have their temperature taken when they arrive for work. If they have a temperature of 100 degrees or more, they are sent home. He held up a thermometer, saying many had been purchased for city employees.
He also displayed a bottle of hand-sanitizer and used it during the podcast.
Mukkamala stressed the need to protect those working in the medical community. “We want to preserve the health of first responders so that we have the work force to maintain being able to respond,” he said.
Reflecting on Flint’s own experience with other health crises, Mukkamala said, “Crisis isn’t anything new to Flint…it isn’t even our first health crisis,” referring to the city’s economic turmoils and in particular, the water crisis.
Neeley said the city will “govern with the heart,” during the crisis, noting that there have been no water shutoffs in the city in four months and that all occupied residences which had had their water shut off are being reconnected.
Without getting specific, Neeley warned against potential exploitation, people who might want to “monetize our suffering.”
Mukkamala said the demographic of the vulnerable members of the population has changed over the last few days. He said initially the most vulnerable seemed to be those older than 65 or those who have unhealthy lungs or compromised immune systems.
But he said it now appears one third of the population, those aged 20 to 65, are getting the virus. Mukkamala said it is troubling to see so many young people on the beaches in Florida celebrating Spring Break.
Full video here:
EVM Staff Writer Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at email@example.com.