Battle Creek's mayor asks residents to wear masks and to stay home when possible after testing positive for COVID-19.

The surge of COVID-19 cases continues throughout West Michigan and even Battle Creek Mayor Mark Behnke is not immune. Spectrum Health is the largest hospital network in the region, consisting of 14 hospitals in West and Southwest Michigan and those hospitals are nearing capacity for COVID-19 patients. A spokesperson noted in a media briefing on Wednesday, November 11 that they expect to reach patient capacity in a matter of days. 

News of Mayor Behnke's diagnosis became public following Tuesday night's virtual City Commission meeting when Vice-Mayor Sherry Sofia announced his diagnosis. Not surprisingly, Mayor Behnke is still staying on top of things even while recuperating at home while also remaining reachable to city residents. He says that he began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on Election Day after coming in contact with someone who had tested positive the week before. He also has some advice for residents of Battle Creek;

Follow the recommendations of the CDC. This is a serious illness. My entire body ached for close to three days. Getting the test took three days too. The Medical Centers are very busy. We will get through this situation together. Please stay home if you can. Wear your mask. Clearly, we have witnessed a very large number of cases during the last few weeks. ~Battle Creek Mayor Mark A. Behnke

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention makes the following recommendations

  • Know how it spreads:
    COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, mainly by the following routes:
    Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
    Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings, or talks.
  • Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
    People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others.

Wash your hands often:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • It’s especially important to wash: Before eating or preparing food, Before touching your face, After using the restroom, After leaving a public place, After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, After handling your mask, After changing a diaper, After caring for someone sick, After touching animals or pets, If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact:

  • When inside your home avoid close contact with people who are sick. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
  • Outside your home put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people. Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others:

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. The mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Do NOT use a mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The mask is not a substitute for social distancing.

Cover coughs and sneezes:

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect:

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

Monitor Your Health Daily:

  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. Especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet. Take your temperature if symptoms develop. Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen. Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
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