MUSKEGON COUNTY – On Monday, March 23 the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported in Muskegon County.
Public Health Muskegon County confirmed the case that morning via a press conference. At the time of the conference speakers did not reveal the name, or the location of the person with the virus.
What was revealed was that the person was an adult female.
Hours later Lakeshore Orthodontics posted a video on Facebook with Dr. Jason L. Charnley stating that the woman was an employee at the business. Lakeshore Orthodontics has offices in the Grand Haven, Whitehall and Ludington areas, and she works at the Grand Haven location.
“Unfortunately, one of our team members is one of the newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus. She had worked one day prior to showing any symptoms during that three day period they want to you to be careful with," said Charnley.
“She had been out previously helping her husband recover from a medical procedure, and had come back to work on Thursday, March 12.”
Charnley said this employee is normally off on Fridays, and had not been working on Friday, March 13.
“She started experiencing symptoms of what she thought were flu-like symptoms on Saturday, March 14. If you remember at that time, there were only three confirmed cases in the entire state of Michigan, all of those being in metro Detroit,” said Charnley.
“[...] So her initial thought was that it was the flu.”
Charnley said the woman contacted him over the weekend, and that he instructed her to stay home and to get tested.
“Contrary to what you hear on the television, that process is a little more difficult then what they lead you to believe. She had to go through a number of phone consultations and phone calls, and finally was able to get tested on Friday the 20th,” said Charnley.
Charnley said she wasn’t informed until Sunday, March 22, that her test was positive. He said after be contacted by her, Charnley got in touch with an epidemiologist in Muskegon to go over the recommendations.
Everyone working in the office on Thursday, March 12, was advised to self-quarantine, and self-monitor for any symptoms of the virus. This includes a dry cough, shortness of breadth, and a fever.
“The problem with this virus is some people don’t show any symptoms, which is why I think it is a lot more prevalent in our society than we even know. My team member that has tested positive did not have any travel history, she did not leave the area, and she is still one of the first confirmed cases in the state of Michigan. At least in our area,” said Charnley.
Charnley said this employee did not come in direct patient contact, and that his office uses the standard universal precautions for an orthodontics setting. He encourages anyone who might be experiencing symptoms to reach out to their health care provider.
“We need to take this very seriously. This virus spreads very quickly as you can tell from all the news reports. It is unfortunate that it is something that has already affected our daily lives in a significant way,” said Charnley.
“Please keep my team member in your thoughts and prayers, this is a very difficult time, and a very stressful time for her.”
At the end of the video Charnley encourages people to take care of their teeth, and tells them his staff will be out of the office for the foreseeable future.
In a follow up interview with Charnley over the phone, he said the woman worked out of his Grand Haven office, and that she was a resident of Fruitport. He said none of his staff in Whitehall have worked since Thursday, March 12.
In that same follow up phone call he said it is likely the woman contracted the virus while at the hospital with her husband.