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Archive | February, 2021

USDA and FDA: No transmission of COVID-19 through food or packaging

The following is attributed to Acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea and Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2021 — After more than a year since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak was declared a global health emergency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to underscore that there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19.

Our confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply remains steadfast. Consumers should be reassured that we continue to believe, based on our understanding of currently available reliable scientific information, and supported by overwhelming international scientific consensus, that the foods they eat and food packaging they touch are highly unlikely to spread SARS-CoV-2.

It’s particularly important to note that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is spread from person to person, unlike foodborne or gastrointestinal viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food. While there are relatively few reports of the virus being detected on food and packaging, most studies focus primarily on the detection of the virus’ genetic fingerprint rather than evidence of transmission of virus resulting in human infection. Given that the number of virus particles that could be theoretically picked up by touching a surface would be very small and the amount needed for infection via oral inhalation would be very high, the chances of infection by touching the surface of food packaging or eating food is considered to be extremely low.

The USDA and the FDA are sharing this update based upon the best available information from scientific bodies across the globe, including a continued international consensus that the risk is exceedingly low for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans via food and food packaging. For example, a recent opinion from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) (PDF, 352 KB), stated: “Despite the billions of meals and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19.” https://www.icmsf.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ICMSF2020-Letterhead-COVID-19-opinion-final-03-Sept-2020.BF_.pdf

Additional literature reviews and analyses from other countries agree. See https://nzfssrc.org.nz/covid19 and https://www.food.gov.uk/research/research-projects/qualitative-risk-assessment-on-the-risk-of-food-or-food-contact-materials-as-a-transmission-route-for-sars-cov-2.

In addition, considering the more than 100 million cases of COVID-19, we have not seen epidemiological evidence of food or food packaging as the source of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to humans. Furthermore, transmission has not been attributed to food products or packaging through national and international surveillance systems. Food business operations continue to produce a steady supply of safe food following current Good Manufacturing Practices and preventive controls, focusing on good hygiene practices, and keeping workers safe.

Based on the scientific information that continues to be made available over the course of the pandemic, the USDA and FDA continue to be confident in the safety of the food available to American consumers and exported to international customers.

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Wrestlers start hot

James Joldersma hoists the Tri Springs Cup as the team celebrates two hard fought victories.

The Cedar Springs Red Hawk Varsity wrestling team is led by senior all-stater Trevor Marsman and loaded with fresh faces this season. 

“This is a young hungry team that refuses to quit and whose best days are still ahead,” said 9th year Head Coach Nicholas Emery. 

The wrestlers are off to a hot start this season winning 6 of their first 7 duels. On Saturday, the team knocked off state ranked Pine River and defended the cup against Tri-County to take the tournament championship. 

Action continues this week at Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg, where the Hawks will take on the Kenowa Hills Knights in the Conference Semi Finals. Saturday the team will host duels featuring Big Rapids, Spring Lake and Grant.

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Bowlers have a winning week

A Red Hawk bowler gets ready to try to pick up a spare. Courtesy photo.

It was a double win for the Red Hawks against Forest Hills Eastern, on Wednesday, February 17. Pushing Cedar over the top for the girls were Kayla Walters (174), Nicole Baker (181), and Chloe Fisk (196). John Mitchell posted a score of 215 to help the boys win.

On Friday, February 19, Cedar faced Ottawa Hills for a makeup match. Unfortunately, Ottawa was not able to pull enough girls for the match, so Cedar won by default. The Cedar guys brought their A game to the match and soundly defeated Ottawa with the help from all the guys on the team.

Cedar visited Thornapple Kellogg on Monday, February 22. The girls lost a close match by only a few pins, while still posting great scores. The guys fought hard for the win. They were helped with high scores posted by Alex Steil (225), Cody Marshall (202 and 222) and Ethan Plummer (235 and 245).

Way to battle Red Hawks!

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Varsity cheer takes first at West Catholic

JV cheer also chalks up wins in competition

Varsity cheer is off to a good start in the OK Gold. Courtesy photo.

The Cedar Springs High School Competitive Cheer program sprung into action last week andanticipate a strong showing in the first year of belonging to the OK Gold conference.

Veteran coach Anne Olszewski is back for her seventh season coaching at CSHS. Seniors Sarah Adkison, Shelby Beeman, Sophia Dault, Isabella Mosqueda, Hannah Pienton and Kathryn Roth bring their experience and strength to this young but talented team. Rounding out the roster are juniors Paige Castor, Meghan Noga, Ariana Rojas, Abbey Salisbury, Lauren Sherburn, Josilyn Slagter, Kira Vander Kooi and Jasmine Zimmer; sophomore Holly Frey, and freshmen Taylor Frey, Layne Kennedy, Kirsten McDonald, Taylor Shadley and Hannah Wright.

The Varsity team earned 4th place at the Cedar Springs Invitational on February 13 and secured first place in Division Two competition at the West Catholic Invitational on February 20.

JV cheer is also showing their talent. Courtesy photo.

Katy Hradsky is also back for her seventh season and very excited for her small but mighty group of dedicated athletes. “Cedar Springs JV Cheer has had an awesome start to the season! These girls have really just wanted to compete and would do so in any capacity. In just one week, we have added more than half of a solid Round 3 and in just two practices, they have cleaned skills and improved enough to earn a 20-point increase from Wednesday (2/17) to Saturday (2/20)! They never cease to amaze me!” The squad consists of sophomores Hannah Britten, Payton Calati, Ellen Nordlund, Clara Soto Suarez and Alexis Taylor, and freshmen Taylor Diemond, Makenna Nichols, Marisol Ramos, Hannah Shears, Trinity Vernon and Lorraine Zain. These hard-working ladies have already earned two first place finishes and one fourth place finish.

The Lady Red Hawks will have only nine guaranteed meets this year, which is quite a contrast from their typical schedule, but they are thankful for the opportunity to compete. They competed in their first OK Gold Conference meet on Monday, February 22 at Forest Hills Eastern and will finish the week at a competition in Mona Shores on Saturday, February 27. Go Red Hawks!

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Spring sports practice starts March 22

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Feb. 22 – The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association approved an adjustment to the Spring 2021 schedule delaying the start of practices in those sports one week to March 22 and competition to March 26 to accommodate a later end to Winter sports this season. The calendar change should alleviate pressures on indoor facility usage and athletes changing seasons with Winter sports concluding up to two weeks later this school year after a delayed start due to COVID-19.

The Council based its decision in part on feedback from a survey of MHSAA member high schools, which saw 74 percent favoring a delay in Spring sports activity of at least one week. State coaches associations for Spring sports also were consulted. Generally, the great majority of Michigan schools are unable to begin consistent Spring sports outdoor activity and competition until early April.

All Spring sports tournament dates remain as originally scheduled, with MHSAA Finals in baseball, softball and girls soccer concluding the 2020-21 postseason June 19.

The entire Spring sports season was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. However, the Council approved an allowance for Spring teams to meet for voluntary practices over 16 contact days this past September and October. General conditioning with an unlimited number of students is currently allowed, with other out-of-season training (four-player workouts, open gyms/facilities) allowed to continue through March 21, with Council having eliminated the preseason downtime restriction for Spring sports this year.

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Keep pets and animals safe during cold weather

“The cold never bothered me anyway.”—Elsa

“Dude, its freezing out there!”—Your dog

As much as dogs and other animals may enjoy the snow, it’s important that we do our part to protect pets and livestock from harm when temperatures plummet. Photo courtesy State of Michigan.

The cold may not have bothered Elsa, but pets and livestock are very much at risk in cold weather. It is critical that owners provide appropriate protection for them during these frigid winter months. That is the key message in one of the latest Fresh from the Field podcasts https://anchor.fm/mdard/episodes/Pet–Animal-Safety-During-Cold-Weather-epk3er from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

“The biggest concerns are frostbite and hypothermia; and just like us, they are subject to the cold,” said Michele Schalow, DVM, a program manager in MDARDs Animal Industry Division. “Just because they have fur, that doesn’t mean they can’t get too cold.”

During the podcast, Dr. Schalow offers several important tips for protecting pets and animals when temperatures drop.

“For pets in particular, try to limit their time outside just enough to go to the bathroom and get a little exercise,” she said. “For animals with short coats, you may want to consider putting clothing on them, if they will tolerate it—something that fits them well and doesn’t have anything loose that could get caught. With horses, you’ll want to blanket them, but check under the blanket to make sure their bodies are in good condition. They can lose weight in the wintertime.”

Dr. Schalow also discusses emergency preparation, proper care of pets’ feet, appropriate bedding, winter nutrition, and many other potential hazards and safeguards.

To listen to the Pet & Animal Safety During Cold Weather edition of the podcast series, go to  https://anchor.fm/mdard/episodes/Pet–Animal-Safety-During-Cold-Weather-epk3er.

Overall, MDARD’s Fresh from the Field podcast series offers insights into some of the state’s hottest topics in food and agriculture, as well as other issues of interest to Michigans consumers and industry stakeholders. The series can be found on Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcast, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.

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Mowing snow for wildlife at Flat River State Game Area

Mowed over area at Flat River State Game Area. Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR.
The Karner blue butterfly. Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR.

After snow covered the Flat River State Game Area, DNR staff mowed over the snow to benefit the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. 

These pale blue, dime-sized butterflies can only be found in small pockets of savanna habitat where wild lupine grows in the open sunlight. Karner blues depend on lupine for survival, as females lay their eggs on the plant and emerging caterpillars feed on the leaves.

For Karner blue butterfly populations to thrive, the area must be periodically burned with fire or mowed to remove any large, woody species that may cast shade on the lupine. To protect the lupine and over-wintering egg clutches, mowing can only occur when at least 4 inches of snow has accumulated. 

This winter habitat management activity will produce flourishing habitat this spring and summer, which will host native wildflowers and fluttering insects and benefit game species like deer, woodcock and rabbits.

The Flat River State Game Area is located in Montcalm and Ionia Counties.

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Tree huggers

By Ranger Steve Mueller


When I was a national park naturalist leading walks through a ponderosa pine forest at Bryce Canyon National Park, I worked to help people discover by exploration. One strategy was to lead them over a large fallen dead tree. They needed to sit on the tree and swing their legs to the other side. 

In the process, some noticed the large meandering cavities where bark once hid them from view. Now with the bark fallen off, we could see tunnels where Cerambycid long-horned or Buprestid flat-headed woodboring beetle larva fed. Both of the beetles’ eggs are laid on dying or recently dead trees. The larvae fed on nutritious cambium tissue that lies between outer bark and inner xylem wood. 

By creating an opportunity to discover the tunnels on their own, visitors asked questions that were more interesting to them than if I pointed out the tunnels. They also found straight line tunnels on some trees with small tunnels leading at right angles from a larger central tunnel. An adult Ips pine bark beetle laid eggs in the center line tunnel as it chewed its way along. Newly hatched young fed in rows next to each other as they ate outward from the center line. As they fed and grew, their tunnels became larger and finally stopped where they pupated. After emerging from their pupae, they exited the tree to find a mate and lay eggs. 

At another location I asked people to hug a ponderosa pine. The trees are beautiful, tall, and have mottled yellow, orange, and black bark with deep crevasses. Many were willing but I recall one man who strongly protested. He said he was not a tree hugger. Of course, I did not try to force him. When others complied, comments erupted that the trees smell like vanilla or butterscotch. People had discovered the unique odor without me telling them and they found different people had different smell descriptions. That was my goal. After a rain, the forest is permeated with odor; but when is it dry, one must get close to sense the smell.

The protesting gentleman walked to a tree, leaned toward it to smell, but refrained from touching or hugging the tree. It was the other field trip participants that got him to greet the tree and get to know it better. 

Ponderosa pine trees grow at about 8000 feet elevation at Bryce Canyon National Park. At lower elevations pinyon pines Utah and Rocky Mountain junipers grow and in some areas Gambel’s oak creates a pygmy forest at the 6500-foot elevation. Douglas fir, white and Engelman spruces dominate at 9000 feet. There are nature niche details to discover in each forest type. Perhaps it will be tree odor, types of insects, growth patterns, or essential distance needed between trees for water, light, and nutrient gathering. 

Another “tree hugging” activity to get people closer to trees is to have them put their backs against a big tree shoulder to shoulder. I count how many people it takes to surround the tree. Because they are in circle, I keep walking in a circle counting to a higher number until someone stops me and says, “You already counted me.” Then I count again but stop when I have walked around the tree once. It keeps it fun and involves participants. 

It helps to be a tree hugger to get close and intimate to discover the secrets of those of the forest. Spend time helping others engage life that abounds in nearby trees. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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God never changes

Pastor Darryl Miller

Sand Lake/South Ensley United Methodist Churches

616-636-5659

Sand Lake United Methodist Church 65 W Maple St, Sand Lake | (616) 636-5673
South Ensley United Methodist Church
13600 Cypress Ave., Sand Lake | (616) 636-5659

Revelation 3:8: “I know your works. Look! I have set in front of you an open door that no one can shut. You have so little power, and yet you have kept my word and haven’t denied my name” (Common English Bible).

It was about a year ago that we first received news of a growing pandemic in our world. Many of us were uncertain what to do in the situation. We churches scrambled to find ways to continue to bring God’s word to our communities and to continue to serve them. Some of our “pivots” were fairly straightforward while others looked like the path of a pinball. The term “distanced” was unfamiliar to us, especially in the context of churches. But changes were made and new forms of outreach and ministry sprung up all around. We learned that things can sometimes change overnight. But we also learned that one thing does not change—God. Over the past year the word has been preached, the hungry have been fed, those struggling have been helped and God has opened paths that we had never thought of before. Many of these paths will remain long after the pandemic has gone. 

I have many pastor friends and our churches are now widely different; some meet in person with masks and social distancing, some only virtually, ours have a drive-in service and the message is posted online—at least when it isn’t too cold for the camera to work! And all around us God is at work through His people. 

We have certainly learned not to depend on what we think of as “normal.” But hopefully we have also learned that the promises of God are faithful. When He opened the door for our ministries, nothing, not even a pandemic, can close it. Only our unwillingness to serve His people can put stumbling blocks in front of it. Trust in God’s promises. He is always with us; even if it sometimes feels like He may not be. 

Check in on a friend or neighbor. A phone call can go a long way when someone is lonely. Wave to someone today; you may be surprised how much it may mean. Share a smile. Yes, you can tell, even under a mask. And when a crazy idea to help or reach out to someone comes along, don’t ignore it. It may be God keeping His promise through you!

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Phyllis “Kirk” Louise Mooney


Phyllis “Kirk” Louise Mooney of Cedar Springs, Michigan, age 85, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Sunday, February 21, 2021. She was born to Elmer and Florence (Bettin) Wilde on September 10, 1935, in Hart, MI. Kirk worked with the Kent County Courthouse for 37 before “retiring” and then working another 11 years at Oasis Hot Tub Gardens. She enjoyed laying in the sun, working in her yard, and spending time with friends and family. Kirk is survived by her children, Debby (Bob) Withawhy, Bradley (Kristi) Holmgren and Linda (DJ) Vinton; grandchildren, Erik (Angela) Wisner, Stevan Wisner, Brandon Holmgren, Aaron Wisner, Isaiah Ford, Arieana Wisner, Brady Wisner, Abigail Wisner, Amanda (Jim) Vinton, Dale (Ragina) Vinton III, Donna Vinton, and Wayne (Abigail) Vinton; 10 adored great-grandchildren; and sister, Dorothy Wilde. Kirk was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Jack Mooney; son, Danial Mooney; and both parents, Elmer and Florence. There will be a time of memorial visitation on Saturday, February 27, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. until the service at 2:30 p.m. at Cedar Springs Baptist Church, 233 S Main, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to offer expressions of sympathy may make memorial contributions to Cedar Springs Baptist Church.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford

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