Health Department

Joel Strasz - Public Health Officer
Andre Reed - Deputy Health Officer
Emily Nelson - Public Health Nursing Services Manager
Melissa Opheim - Public Health Services Manager/EPC
Amy Revette - WIC Manager
Mark Pickell - Business Services Manager
Joel Kwiatkowski - Environmental Health Manager
Dr. Thomas Bender - Medical Director
Dr. William Morrone - Medical Examiner
Bay County Health Department
1200 Washington Avenue
Bay City, Michigan 48708
Voice: (989) 895-4009
Fax: (989) 895-4014

Coronavirus Rumor Control

The uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak has led to misinformation and unsubstantiated rumors regarding the virus in Bay County.False or misleading posts on social media regarding Coronavirus may cause fear and anxiety in your family, friends and coworkers.

Bay County is asking residents to report any misinformation, unsubstantiated rumors, or question of authenticity to Bay County will do its best to address, dispel or confirm any question for our residents in order for them to be properly informed of this pandemic by addressing it on this page.

It is vital that residents rely on trusted and reliable health sources of information regarding novel coronavirus. Misinformation and rumors have spread quickly on social media; thus it may not be the most reliable source of information. Residents concerned about novel coronavirus can check and share this page for updates and visit the following websites:


An individual may come to work or go to at a healthcare provider because they have symptoms associated with COVID-19. They may receive some level of care or testing and then they may be asked to self-quarantine for some time.

This is NOT a positive test for the virus and should not be represented as such. 

The April 15th extension of the Bay County Local State of Emergency Declaration by the Board of Commissioners also extends the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Executive Order (EO: 2020-42) to May 12, 2020. – FALSE

On April 15, 2020 the Bay County Board of Commissioners voted to extend the Local State of Emergency to May 12, 2020. The Bay County Local State of Emergency Declaration is separate from the Governor’s Executive Order. The Emergency Declaration allows the County to use the Emergency Operations Plan and access to emergency funds as the pandemic progresses. This does not affect businesses or citizens in any way.

The Bay County Health Department Tests for COVID-19 - FALSE

The Bay County Health Department is not currently testing for COVID-19.

McLaren Bay Region's Emergency Department is Testing Anyone for Coronavirus - FALSE

McLaren Bay Region’s emergency department is only testing individuals who meet the criteria as defined by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Click here for MDHHS Criteria. Please call the hospital before you go.

Anyone Can Request Testing for COVID-19 - FALSE

Currently only persons meeting the CDC's criteria for testing are being tested for COVID-19. Priorities for testing include:

  •  Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 in order to inform decisions related to infection control.
  • Other symptomatic individuals such as, older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease).
  • Any persons including healthcare personnel, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact with a suspect or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of their symptom onset.
Mildly ill patients should be encouraged to stay home and contact their healthcare provider by phone for guidance about clinical management. Patients who have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek care immediately. Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness

I can get a COVID-19 Test sent to me in the mail. - FALSE

While many Americans are sheltering at home to help “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of coronavirus disease (also called COVID-19), they might be tempted to buy or use questionable products that claim to help diagnose, treat, cure, and even prevent COVID-19.  Currently, the only way to be tested for COVID-19 is to talk to your health care provider. The FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for COVID-19. Click here to read the full article.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been around for the past year and is no different than the flu or common cold. It only affects older people with prior health problems. - FALSE

Coronavirusis new. Other types of respiratory illnesses (flu, colds, etc) aren't taking a vacation during the outbreak. These viruses affect young and healthy people and can cause health effects such as pneumonia, infections and death. Persons may acquire the virus and have no symptoms and easily spread the virus to others without knowing. it is imperative that everyone, the young and healthy, do their part to fight the virus. Avoid crowds and public areas. Maintain social distancing of six feet. Practice good hygiene by frequent hand washing and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces. And above all, staying home when you or a house mate are ill.

WIC Benefits Will No Longer be Issued After March 29th - FALSE

The Bay County WIC agency is open and taking all phone calls to assist families. We are issuing food benefits to currently enrolled families and will continue to provide the benefits as long as families are actively enrolled. All food benefits are being loaded on current WIC EBT cards.

Department of Homeland Security is Planning an National Lockdown - FALSE

Per acting Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, these rumors have no merit. Disinformation and rumors regarding "planned future actions" by federal or state authorities can be dangerous and detrimental to combatting the spread of COVID-19. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has set up a website to help combate rumor control, which can be found by clicking here.

The flu vaccine can protect me against coronavirus - FALSE

The flu shot (vaccine) won't protect against COVID-19. We are still in an active flu season. Residents are encouraged to get a flu vaccine and take every day preventative steps to avoid spreading respiratory illnesses. This includes covering your cough, washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, and staying home if you are sick.

Gargling mouthwash can protect you from infection against coronavirus - FALSE

There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with COVID-19. Some brands of mouthwash eliminate certain microbes fro a few minutes in the saliva in your mouth. However, this does not mean they protect you from COVID-19.

I should wear a mask in public - TRUE

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. How to wear a cloth face covering.