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Tag Archive | "Kent County Health Department"

Corona virus in Michigan: where we stand as of Wednesday, March 18


These empty shelves at the Cedar Springs Meijer are typical of what grocery stores are experiencing across the state due to shoppers stocking up in case of a total shutdown.

Things changed fast and furiously in Michigan from Friday, March 13 to Monday, March 16. And they continued to change quickly this week.

Michigan went from 12 cases of confirmed COVID-19 on Friday to 53 on Monday. As of Wednesday, there were 80, with five of those cases in Kent County and one in Montcalm.

On Friday, Governor Whitmer announced the closing of all Michigan schools for three weeks, from March 16 to April 5. Some districts then have spring break, bringing it to a total of four weeks. The Post asked Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Scott Smith if the teachers were sending home work for students.

“While we have pushed pause on formal instruction, we are providing families with resources they can use to continue to engage in the learning process,” he explained. “We recognize that parents and caregivers are not teachers. It would not be reasonable to expect that formal instruction can continue during this statewide suspension.”

The school (along with many in Kent County) is also offering free meal pickup and in some cases delivery for students. See page 2 for more info.

Meanwhile, people began raiding the grocery stores for food and supplies to hold them over in case of a total shutdown or quarantine. Things like milk, meat, hand sanitizer and toilet paper have been in short supply due to people buying extreme quantities.

The Kent County Health Department issued an emergency order on Sunday, March 15, 2020, reducing occupancy loads – or limits – for all licensed food service establishments, entertainment venues and physical fitness centers in Kent County by 50 percent, which went into effect Monday at 10 a.m.

But that quickly changed when on Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an order to take effect at 3 p.m. temporarily shutting down restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, bars, taverns, brewpubs, distilleries, clubs, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, spas, and casinos. This order does not restrict a place of business from offering food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. Restaurants may allow five people inside at a time to pick-up orders, so long as they stay six feet apart from each other. This order remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. on March 30, 2020.

Many restaurants are offering take out or delivery. Contact them or visit their Facebook page to see what options they are offering and help them stay afloat.

The state of Michigan also came out this week with some options on relief for those out of work due to the COVID-19 virus (see page 7) and some resources to support small businesses during this time (see our business pages on pages 14-15)

Also, the CDC issued new guidelines Sunday night advising against gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. “We support the CDC in this recommendation, and we encourage individuals to minimize the size of public gatherings,” said Dr. Adam London, Chief Health Officer with the Kent County Health Department.

The Governor then signed an executive order this week limiting gatherings to 50 people or less.

Many businesses and municipalities are closing to the general public or restricting their available hours. The City of Cedar Springs is closed to the general public as of Tuesday, but can still be reached by phone and email. Face to face meetings will be by appointment only. 

The Post is also closed to the general public, but can be reached by phone and email. We also have a mailbox outside our front door for submissions.

We suggest you contact any business before visiting to see whether they have open business hours.

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Hospitals work together to prepare for COVID-19


All three implement healthy visitor restrictions


Each organization stresses that staying home when you are sick and washing your hands often are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the flu and other communicable diseases. They also encourage everyone to cover their cough, clean frequently touched surfaces often with a sanitizing wipe or cleanser and avoid close contact with people who are sick. People should also avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth and should stay home from work, school or social gatherings when they are sick.

Grand Rapids and Wyoming, Mich., Date – Officials from the Kent County Health Department, Mercy Health, Metro Health–University of Michigan and Spectrum Health are in contact with each other, as well as state and federal agencies, to coordinate preparedness efforts for COVID-19 in West Michigan.

All three area health systems, as well as the health department, are also encouraging community members and employees to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene at all times.

The three health systems have implemented healthy visitor restrictions, which encourage community members to stay home when they are sick and wait until they are healthy to visit.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may be mild or severe and include:

• Fever

• Cough

• Shortness of breath

If you are experiencing symptoms, officials recommend that you call your health care provider and advise them if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

Officials, including the CDC, also recommend using remote tools for an initial medical consultation because you can use them without leaving your home and potentially exposing other community members. Metro Health–University of Michigan Hospital offers e-visits through its MyChart patient portal. Spectrum Health offers telehealth services statewide through its Spectrum Health Now app, which is available for free in the Apple app store or Google Play Store.

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Kent County approves new sheriff campus in Cedar Springs



The new North County Campus housing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Kent County Health Department will be built on land west of Taco Bell. Photo by L. Allen.

By Judy Reed

The Kent County Board of Commissioners gave the green light last week to the development of a new $12.5 million North County campus in Cedar Springs that will house both the Kent County Sheriff’s Office  and the Kent County Health Department. 

The new North County Campus will be built on 14 acres of county-owned property on 17 Mile Road NE, west of Taco Bell. The site’s conceptual master site plan includes a full-service sub-station for the Sheriff’s Office, a clinic for the Health Department, and additional space for other County services as needed. The County said this new shared facility will improve response times by the Sheriff’s Office and increase access to services in northern Kent County.

“By consolidating and upgrading our facilities and operations, we are focusing on the County’s quality of life and addressing long-awaited projects to better serve our residents now and into the future,” said Kent County Administrator Wayman Britt.

According to Sgt. Todd Probst, who supervises the Cedar Springs Sheriff’s Unit, the deputies who currently work out of Cedar Springs City Hall will move into the new building, along with officers and detectives who work out of the current north substation in Kent City. He sees it as a great advantage for the deputies and residents.

“Besides still being in the city of Cedar Springs, it will allow the dedicated city officers to collaborate directly with the north road patrol deputies, community policing officers, and detectives,” explained Sgt. Probst.  “Having the North Sub within the city will also bring additional officers coming and going from the city, which will give Cedar additional coverage for police related incidents.”  

The new North County Campus was one of three strategic capital improvement projects approved by Kent County, with all three totaling $18.7 million. The projects, meant to address the growing needs of Kent County residents, include: 

• $12.5 million for the development of a North County Campus,

• $2.68 million for a Parks Department office near Millenium Park, and

• $3.5 million for a 16,100 square-foot fleet facility on the county’s Fuller campus to repair and maintain the county’s more than 290 vehicles. When the original facility was built, they only serviced 35.

The funding for these projects was allocated from the County’s Capital Improvement Program Fund. The fund was established in 2015 to reserve funding for future capital needs and to reduce the size of debt associated with large capital projects.

“I am very proud we were able to address the needs of the community and offer better, more efficient services without the need to issue bonds,” said Kent County Board of Commissioners Chair Mandy Bolter. “Our fiscal team has been very responsible with taxpayer dollars over the years so we could make that possible. These projects wisely invest taxpayer dollars in areas that will not only improve access to County services but prepare our infrastructure for the future.”

The Kent County Building Authority will assume project management responsibility for these initiatives. All projects are scheduled to immediately commence with architectural and engineering services and the projected timeline for the North County Campus is twenty-four months; fifteen months for the Parks Department office; and eighteen months for the fleet facility. Design renderings are currently unavailable for these projects.

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June School News


2018 – 2019 School Year – Last Day of School – June 10, 2019

New Beginning High School Graduating Class of 2019

Benjamin Batchelder, Gloria Bliss-Ramos, Jaden Droge, Maizy Gleason, Kaleb Gordon, Ebonye Hunter, Kaelen Kangas, Austin Keenan, Madisen Lewis, Ricardo Marques III, James Myers, Marcus Rivas, Bailey Rocafort, Abigail Scott, Jacob Scott, Makennah Smith, Corey Terrell

Class of 2019 Red Hawk Parade

Introducing our New Director of Academic Services

Matt Blood, Director of Human and Community Services

After an extensive interview process, we are delighted to welcome Jennifer Haberling as our new Director of Academic Services.  Prior to school administration, she served students as a classroom teacher at the middle
school, high school, and college levels. Jen officially begins on July 1, 2019 but she plans to schedule a few days to visit the district to talk with people and begin the planning process as she prepares to hit the ground running.   

Lastly, It is important to recognize and thank all for the staff support during this important search process.  It was, indeed, a process that was driven by the position profile developed through valuable feedback provided by PLC leaders, administrators, district office staff, and others that will be working directly with the director. In its entirety, over 45 people were involved throughout this process!  All of their time and hard work are much appreciated!  

Welcome Ms. Jennifer Haberling to Cedar Springs Public Schools!

Educator Appreciation

Teacher Appreciation Day is recognized annually on Tuesday of the first full week of May.   This day is intended to celebrate the positive impact on society made by teachers around the globe.  Some communities, not able to squeeze their expressions of gratitude into a single day, have opted to applaud the efforts of their teachers for an entire week.  Still, other districts have raised the celebratory bar even higher by choosing to honor the efforts of teachers and support staff for a whole month and now refer to May as Educator Appreciation Month.  

Cedar Springs Public Schools would like to take our expression of appreciation for the community of educators impacting the lives of our students to a whole new level.  We aim to recognize the amazing talents of our dedicated team of teachers and support staff throughout the entire school year! Each day gives us another opportunity to celebrate our success.  Similarly, each new day gives rise to the opportunity to be better than we were the day before.

Additionally, we want to lift up the work of the members of our community who teach our students valuable lessons when they are not in school.  The African proverb it takes a village to raise a child is at the core of the work of the community of Cedar Springs when it comes to educating our children.  To be most successful, the community as a whole must invest in its children to ensure that they develop in a safe and healthy environment.  

Cedar Springs Public Schools salutes the dedication and efforts of its teachers, its support staff, and its community of educators who step up daily to teach our students the essential lessons that will serve them well as adults.  Thank you for investing in the lives of the children who call Cedar Springs home.

With respect and appreciation,
Scott B. Smith, Superintendent

Calendar Update

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has now provided clarity around the forgiveness of weather-related cancellations of school between January 29 and February 1. Governor Whitmer signed the snow day forgiveness legislation into law last Friday. The MDE needed time to develop a process for districts to follow to document the fact that school had been cancelled on days the Governor had declared a State of Emergency days due to the extreme weather conditions during that time.  

Barring any unforeseen school cancellations between now and the end of the year, our last day of school for students will now be MONDAY, June 10.  

Please note Cedar Springs Public Schools will be in session on: 

June 6, 7, and 10.

Additional days will be identified beyond June 10 if we have further cancellations this year.  Let us hope that we have seen the last of the snow this season.  Thank you for your patience during this time of uncertainty.

With respect and appreciation,
Scott B. Smith, Superintendent

Preschool Open Enrollment OPEN NOW

Classes will be forming for students who are 3 or 4 years old by September 1, 2019.  Information is available for families that are interested in tuition assistance for preschool.  

Contact Cedar Trails Elementary main office 616.696.9884. 

2019—2020 Kindergarten Class Enrollment OPEN NOW

Your child must be 5 years old by September 1, 2019 to register for Kindergarten.   Visit www.csredhawks.org and select K-12 Enrollment.  

Contact the Registrar at 616.696.7317 with any questions.

Hearing and Vision Screening

Kindergarten entrants will need documentation of Hearing and Vision Screening through the Kent County Health Department (KCHD).   The KCHD will be at Cedar Trails Elementary on the following date: 

June 4, 2019 & August 27, 2019

Please call Cedar Trails Elementary at 616.696.9884 to schedule an appointment.  Additional appointment times can be scheduled by calling the KCHD at 616.632.7047.

Calendar

2019-2020 School Year Calendar available at www.csredhawks.org – 

First day of school September 3, 2019

District Office Summer Hours

204 East Muskegon Street, Cedar Springs, MI  49319
Hilltop Community Building

Monday – Friday 7:30 am to 4:00 pm • Closed July 4


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West Nile Virus claims life of second Kent County resident


The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) reported Wednesday that a Kent County resident who was hospitalized with West Nile Virus has died due to complications of the illness.

They said that there are currently 13 suspected or confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Kent County, and that the threat of contracting West Nile Virus through a mosquito bite is still a concern here.

This threat will remain until consistently cold weather kills the insects.

“It can take two or three good frosts to get rid of all of the mosquitoes,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We want to ensure that people don’t put their guard down and continue to follow precautions until then.”

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile. The best treatment is prevention. KCHD recommends the following:

  • Applying insect repellant that contains the active ingredient DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
  • Draining standing water in the yard. Empty water from flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, and cans. Anywhere water can collect, mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
  • Wear light colored long- sleeved shirts and long pants.

Only about 20 percent of the people infected will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus completely recover. West Nile can develop into a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances the disease can lead to death. More information can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

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West Nile virus claims life of Kent County resident


The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) has learned that a Kent County resident who was hospitalized with West Nile Virus has died due to complications of the illness.

As the Labor Day weekend holiday approaches, KCHD wants people to know that it is vital to continue to protect themselves from the bite of a mosquito. Through surveillance, KCHD has noted a 400 percent increase in the number of Culex Mosquitoes trapped by the agency so far this summer. The Culex mosquito is the species that transmits West Nile Virus to humans. KCHD believes these increased numbers may signal higher numbers of human West Nile Virus cases for the 2018 season.

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile. The best treatment is prevention. KCHD recommends the following:

  • Applying insect repellant that contains the active ingredient DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
  • Draining standing water in the yard. Empty water from flower pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, and cans. Anywhere water can collect, mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
  • Wear light colored long- sleeved shirts and long pants.

Only about 20% of the people infected will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus completely recover. West Nile can develop into a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances the disease can lead to death. 

More info can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

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High number of mosquitoes found with West Nile virus 


 

Surveillance results concern health officials

The Kent County Health Department held an urgent news conference Wednesday to help get the word out that an unusually high number of trapped mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile virus this year. While there are no human cases reported in Kent County yet this year, these tests lead health experts at KCHD to believe that a rise in human cases is possible in 2018.

“Given the test results we are seeing, it may be more important now than ever to take steps to protect yourself and those who count on you from being bit,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We are urging people to take simple precautions to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes and the risk of West Nile virus.”

They reported that in the first 11 weeks of sampling this year, they collected 16,314 Culex mosquitoes, which are the ones that usually carry the virus. That’s about six times as many as last year. Of the eight pools of 50 tested, 26 percent had the virus.

London reportedly said he has never had West Nile surveillance data of more concern than this year’s.

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile. The best treatment is prevention. KCHD recommends the following:

  • Applying insect repellant that contains the active DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
  • Draining standing water in the yard. Empty water form flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, and cans. Anywhere water can collect, mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
  • Wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

West Nile virus is spread primarily by infected Culex mosquitoes. Only about 20 percent of the people infected will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus completely recover, but fatigue may last for weeks. West Nile can develop into a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances the disease can lead to death.

More information about prevention can be found here. https://www.accesskent.com/Health/CommDisease/pdfs/westnile_qa.pdf

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Now is the time to consider adopting a cat


The Kent County Animal Shelter (KCAS) is seeing an increase in its populations of cats and kittens. If you have considered adding a feline friend to your home, now may be the perfect time with the large selection that is currently available.

To qualify potential adopters simply need to come to KCAS and fill out an adoption form. Shelter personnel will verify that the pet is a good match for its new owner and that landlords of those adopters who rent, accept pets. Adoption fees for kittens 2-4 months of age is $40 and it’s only $5.00 to adopt a cat that is 4 months of age or older.

All of the cats available for adoption have been spayed or neutered. All have been tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Every cat is up to date on all vaccinations, has been microchipped, and has received a flea treatment.

“While there is a seasonal fluctuation to the community cat population and a summer increase is certainly normal, it’s a reminder of the importance of spaying and neutering pet cats and the cats in our community,” says Carly Luttmann, Program Supervisor at KCAS. 

The Kent County Health Department reminds potential adopters that there are health benefits that come with owning any pet. According to a University of Minnesota study that focused on cats, found cat owners were 30-40 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than non-cat owners. The study also found benefits from lower stress, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke.

The Kent County Animal Shelter is located at 740 Fuller N.E. in Grand Rapids. The shelter is open Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-6:30 p.m.

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North Kent Connect hosts third annual Farm to Pantry program


2017 North Kent Connect’s Farm to Pantry participants visit Plainsong Farm to pick up their CSA share.

One local nonprofit organization takes healthy food initiatives to a deeper level. North Kent Connect, a Rockford based nonprofit committed to improving the lives of all people in northern Kent County, offers its clients a hands-on opportunity to learn about eating and shopping for healthy foods through its Farm to Pantry Program.

“Through our Farm to Pantry Program, clients learn various skills including how to pick fresh fruits and vegetables, properly store and cook them, and so much more,” said Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director of North Kent Connect. “Clients also visit Plainsong Farm where they receive Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to take home and apply their learnings to fresh produce of their own.”

“Since attending Farm to Pantry, I now know how to can my own vegetables as well as use unique spices that I wasn’t aware of before,” said Amy, frequent Farm to Pantry attendee. “I look forward to receiving fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach from Plainsong Farm. The farm also introduced me to lemon thyme and oregano which I now cook with and use to add flavor to meals.”

North Kent Connect is using certified health experts to teach health-related topics focused on canning, container gardening, cooking with unfamiliar spices, preparing meals using the CSA shares, food justice, agriculture, and local food systems.

“Farm to Pantry has transformed my life,” said Addie, NKC client and program participant. “I have gained so much knowledge about healthy eating over the years of attending, and the confidence to experiment with different foods in the kitchen to share with my family. It’s

neat going to Plainsong Farm, meeting the farmers, and having access to locally-sourced produce.”

Partners of Farm to Pantry include Plainsong Farm, Access of West Michigan, Kent County Health Department and Heart of West Michigan United Way.

 

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Norovirus in both Kent and Ottawa Counties


The Post was notified Wednesday by both Kent and Ottawa County Health Departments that they are seeing the spread of a norovirus-like illness.

Norovirus-like illness (stomach bug) spreads very easily and quickly person to person and by touching surfaces contaminated with vomit or stool. Common norovirus outbreak settings are in enclosed places like nursing homes, daycare centers, schools and cruise ships. It is also a major cause of outbreaks in restaurants and catered-meal settings if contaminated food is served or people handling food are ill. Anyone can get norovirus and can have it more than once. 

“We are receiving an increase in stomach virus reporting. Primary outbreaks are within school and childcare settings. To reduce the risk of illness in our community, people need to take preventive measures to stay healthy,” said Marcia Mansaray, epidemiologist, with the Ottawa County Health Department.

In Kent County, The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is working with Davenport University to investigate a large outbreak of Norovirus-like illness at the W.A. Lettinga Campus located at 6191 Kraft Ave. SE, in Grand Rapids. 

University officials became aware of widespread illness among students and staff Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. Since then more than 100 students, faculty and staff have complained of being ill. Because of the rapid rise in the number of cases the Kent County Health Department sent staff members to the campus on Tuesday Jan.16. KCHD employees worked to collect stool samples to confirm Norovirus. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will test the samples. Results should be available by the end of the week.

Because Norovirus spreads very quickly and very easily person to person and by touching surfaces that are contaminated with vomit or stool, KCHD has made the following recommendations to Davenport University to slow the progress of the infection: 

  • Isolate all ill individuals in their rooms from onset of symptoms until 48 hours after symptoms cease.
  • Provide in room food service for these individuals and provide appropriate cleaning agents andinstructions for cleaning shared areas (such as dorm bathrooms).
  •  Have appropriate cleaning supplies available for all students as a preventive measure.
  • Shut down or limit food service (i.e. provide box lunches) to allow for a thorough cleaning of the foodservice area (kitchen and seating areas).

The most common symptoms of Norovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. A person may also have a fever, headache or body aches. Symptoms usually develop 12-48 hours after being exposed and most people will get better within 1- 3 days. 

A person infected may feel extremely ill. They may vomit or have diarrhea several times a day. This may lead to dehydration especially in young children, older adults and people with other illnesses. 

It is important to take in additional fluids if you notice a decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat or feel dizzy when standing up. 

Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a person will get norovirus about five times during their lifetime. Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year, but more than eighty percent of reported outbreaks occur from November to April.

Protect Yourself and Others from Norovirus

  • Wash hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers – and always before eating or preparing food. Hand sanitizers are generally not effective for norovirus.
  • Handle and prepare food safely. People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for at least two days after they recover from their illness.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces (such as toilets, counters and doorknobs). Always clean up the entire area immediately after someone with norovirus vomits or has diarrhea. Put on disposable gloves and disinfect contaminated surfaces using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label or with a solution of five tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of water.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully – try not to shake them – to avoid spreading the virus. If available, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. 
  • Stay home if sick for at least 24 hours after symptoms end to avoid spreading the illness to others. 

How You Get Norovirus

Having direct physical contact with a person who is infected, such as caring for or shaking hands with a sick person and then touching your hands to your mouth.

Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus.

Touching surfaces or objects with norovirus on them and then putting your hands in your mouth.

People with norovirus illness are most contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill and for the first few days after they recover. Some people may be contagious for even longer.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/norovirus.

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