Health Department

Joel Strasz - Public Health Director
Kathy Janer - Public Health Nursing Manager
Melissa Maillette - Emergency Preparedness & Health Education Manager
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
Health Information Line: (989) 895-4192

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Bay County Health Department is working closely with healthcare providers, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and manage the presence of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the county. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. 

Information regarding this outbreak is changing rapidly. Check back frequently for updates. 

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

How does COVID-19 Spread?

Current Understanding about how the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreads is largely based on what is know about similar coronaviruses. 

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to serve illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure*:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
* This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses.

Who are our most vulnerable?

Everyone can get COVID-19, no matter what your age. However, individuals who are elderly, over the age of 60 or have underlying health issues are at greater risk for complications. Underlying health issues include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, COPD, and emphysema. If you are in a high-risk group, you should take extra precautions with social distancing. Grandparents should remain apart from their grandchildren at this time.


How do I reduce my risk of exposure to COVID-19?

If you can, stay home. Only conduct essential activities at this time. Wash your hands, clean and disinfect surfaces, and practice social distancing. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises that we stay at least 6 feet apart from other people and only gather in groups of less than 10.

How do I get a COVID-19 test?

If you have symptoms contact your doctor and they will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19 and advise you how to proceed. Unfortunately, there are not enough tests nationally or in Michigan for every person to be tested. But we're working with officials to address that shortage so that people who are exhibiting symptoms can be tested.



Can I get  GOVID-19 from my pet?

At this time, there is no evidence that pets or other animals can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) announced on April 22, 2020, the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, but there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected.

Until we know more, CDC recommends the following:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

Why are such drastic steps being taken?

COVID-19 spreads rapidly from person to person and if we don't act we will quickly the number of people who require medical treatment will quickly overwhelm our hospital system. We need to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the number of sick people so hospitals can treat the most ill.


How long will COVID-19 remain on surfaces?

Current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces.


Should we be wearing facemasks when we go outside?

Pursuant to Governor Whitmer's Executive Order 2020-59, any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over his or her nose and mouth—such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief—when in any enclosed public space. Surgical masks and N-95 respirators must still be preserved for health care workers.

The CDC also changed its guidance on facemasks on April 3, 2020. The CDC now recommends that citizens wear cloth facemasks when they must go out and continue to practice 6 feet social distancing and frequent handwashing. The change accounts for the possibility that individuals without symptoms could spread the virus and a cloth facemask could prevent the release of respiratory droplets from their nose and mouth.

Cloth facemasks could include bandanas, scarves and other homemade face coverings.

Guidance for Facemasks

Is it safe to go grocery shopping?

It is best not to make unnecessary trips, but if you need to go to a grocery store, you should take precautions. Make sure to stay six feet away from other shoppers and wipe down your cart before you use it. Also, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering and cleaning your hands often while shopping and as soon as you get home.


Can I buy fruits and vegetables? 

Prior research from a different coronavirus suggested that virus could survive for multiple days on the surface of foods like lettuce and strawberries. So, make sure to rinse your fruits and veggies thoroughly with fresh water. You can also buy frozen fruit or vegetables as an alternative.


Is it safe to order take-out?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have not been any cases of COVID-19 known to be caused from eating food or handling food packaging. Here are some steps you can follow to help protect yourself when ordering groceries or carryout:

  • Before ordering take-out, check to see if you can pay online or over the phone.
  • Ask the delivery person to leave your packages at the door or on the porch.
  • Because carryout bags and containers have been touched recently by others, it is important to wash your hands after handling these items.
  • Dispose of all packaging and wash your hands again before eating.

Where can I go for resources such as food, housing assistance, etc?

Please call 2-1-1.