First coronavirus death confirmed in West Michigan; 7 total statewide


Spectrum Health

The first reported death related to COVID-19 in west Michigan occurred at a Spectrum Health facility in Kent County on March 21, 2020. (File photo by Michael Kransz | MLive.com)

UPDATE: 8 people now dead from coronavirus in Michigan; infant tests positive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The first coronavirus death on the state’s west side was reported Saturday night.

A male patient in his 70s, who tested positive for COVID-19, died March 21 at a Spectrum Health hospital in Kent County, according to a news release issued around 8 p.m.

The man had a history of underlying health conditions, according to the Kent County Health Department.

Tim Hawkins, a spokesperson with Spectrum Health, said he could not confirm which Spectrum Health facility the patient was in or where the patient was from.

“On behalf of Spectrum Health and the clinical team dedicated to caring for this patient, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this individual,” Dr. Joshua Kooistra, chief medical officer at Spectrum Health stated in the release.

“We were saddened by his death and realize it is difficult news for our community as we face the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak. All of our team members, from clinicians to support staff, are committed to caring for our COVID-19 patients. We are united with our communities in fighting this virus together.”

The Kent County Health Department issued the following video Saturday night.

The death is the seventh in Michigan from the COVID-19 outbreak, and the third announced today.

“It’s a tough day and unfortunately I think we may have some tough days to come, but we’ve all got to stick together through these tough times,” said Adam London, director of the Kent County Health Department.

There have been 20 confirmed cases in Kent County and the average age of those infected is 42, he said.

“This is not an illness that is just for the old or those with underlying health conditions,” London said. “Anyone can be seriously affected by this and we should all be taking this seriously.”

The number of reported coronavirus cases in Michigan jumped to 787 on Saturday — an increase of 238 cases since Friday, according to data released by the state Health and Human Services Department.

London pointed out that while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has banned gatherings of more than 50 people and exempted churches from the ban, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends gatherings of no more than 10.

“Let’s shoot for that, in fact let’s do better that” he said. “Tomorrow is Sunday. Many of you would like to go to church, would like to participate in another social gathering.

“But as much as reasonably possible, let’s avoid unnecessary travel, let’s avoid unnecessary gatherings, let’s focus on the things that are essential. Let’s focus on protecting our families and protecting the families of those who are serving us.”

Those who live in Michigan, exhibit symptoms and are concerned they may be infected with COVID-19 can take advantage of free virtual screenings for COVID-19 provided by Spectrum Health.

Callers to the hotline, 616-391-2380, will be asked a series of questions about their condition by a Spectrum Health provider who will advise whether they need to seek additional care.

The hotline has received more than 20,575 calls since it opened March 6, including approximately 2,000 calls yesterday, according to the network.

Read all of MLive’s up-to-date coverage on the coronavirus at mlive.com/coronavirus. Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Also on MLive:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closes hair and nail salons, tattoo shops due to coronavirus

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asks Trump to help auto industry ‘weather’ coronavirus storm

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