Bay Health Officials See Pandemic Spread Slow, Advise Holiday Vigilance

With the holidays quickly approaching, and the number of COVID
19 cases in Bay County beginning to drop, the Bay County Health Officer and the
President/CEO of McLaren Bay Region (MBR) are urging Bay County residents to come
together and continue to take all the actions necessary to blunt the further spread of COVID-19.
According to the Bay County Health Department (BCHD), the number of confirmed cases of
COVID-19 among Bay County residents has dropped in nearly half since peaking in November.
The percentage of COVID-19 tests performed among Bay County residents that have yielded
positive results – known as the test positivity rate – has dropped in half as well. Less than
fourteen days ago the Test Positivity rate in Bay County was nearly 19%, today it is
approximately 10%.
With this recent surge, healthcare systems across the state, including MBR, have been
challenged by a sharp increase in both the number of patients hospitalized for the treatment of
COVID-19 and providing routine patient care through this crisis.
“We have made great progress but we still have work to do,” stated McLaren Bay Region
president and CEO Clarence Sevillian. “We need everyone to do their part and remain vigilant
throughout the holiday season. McLaren Bay Region and Bay County are working as diligently
as possible to get the vaccine out to our frontline healthcare workers, first responders and
providers in the community.”
“Our goal is simple but ambitious,” stated Bay County Health Officer Joel Strasz. “We need to
vaccinate 70% of Bay County residents by the 4th of July, but it will take a short time to get the
vaccine out. We need Bay County residents to be cognizant of the risk—both to themselves and the risk they pose to others—especially if they celebrate the holidays with persons outside of their households.”
MBR will continue safety protocols, including symptom screening of all persons upon entry to
MBR facilities and universal mask wearing by all patients and staff, as well as visitor restrictions,
which were implemented in October.
While the current surge has significantly slowed, it has the potential to re-emerge and stress the
healthcare system as it did in November and early December. It is vital that everyone
throughout our community take all the actions necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19.
1. Enjoy the holidays with persons in your own households, but be aware of the risks of
spreading and/or getting the virus from others outside of your household. This is
especially true for seniors and persons who are at risk to complications of COVID-19 due
to underlying conditions.
2. Wear a mask: anytime you might end up being in close proximity to persons from outside
your household.
3. Watch your distance: maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other persons whenever

4. Wash your hands: using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or else using alcohol-
based hand sanitizer.

5. Avoid poorly ventilated spaces: meet outdoors whenever possible if you will be gathering
with other persons from outside your household.
6. Avoid crowds: limit the duration of time you spend in public venues and limit your number
of close contacts among persons from outside your household.
7. Quarantine when exposed: if you were identified as a close contact to a person deemed
infectious, remain at home until 10-14 days (depending on circumstances) have elapsed
since the most recent exposure to any infectious person.
8. Get tested: if you develop COVID-like symptoms, seek testing promptly and self-isolate
while awaiting results.
9. Self-isolate when infected: if you test positive for COVID-19, remain at home until 10
days have elapsed since the onset of your symptoms (or since testing was performed if
you remain symptom free).
Please do your part and help minimize the spread of COVID-19. For the latest and most
accurate information regarding the COVID-19 please go to the Bay County Health Department
website at