County officials caution the public to avoid complacency.
Oakland County has released an online map of all local confirmed COVID-19 cases allowing residents to search by ZIP code.
As of March 30, the county has reported 1,403 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has seen its death toll from the illness double in a single 24-hour span between Sunday and Monday, reporting a total of 60 deaths.
“There is a balance between being transparent and getting as much information out to the public as we can, and protecting people’s privacy and not alarming the public,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter told the Jewish News. “We have had a lot of internal discussions about what information is most helpful to the public, and doing the map by ZIP code proved to be the balance that we struck.”
The map allows residents to click on any ZIP code and view the population number of each city, the total number of cases and the percentage of individuals that test positive for the virus. Executives ask that people use caution when interpreting the data.
“The caution is that if you are in a ZIP code that has a high number, you may feel more reason to be scared, but if you’re in a ZIP code with a low number, you may let your guard down,” Coulter said. “Neither one of those is the case. It simply means that the person who tested positive resides in that ZIP code, and that does not mean that is where they got the virus.”
Oakland County Health Department Director Kathy Forzley, emphasizes that the map reflects where the testing is occurring, and over time, it will evolve as COVID-19 tests and test results become more readily available.
“This map will be very useful for the public, but also useful for public health officials,” Forzley said. “We will utilize this every day and we want to make sure that we understand what is happening in our local communities so we can work with our local officials, groups, and faith-based organizations.”
Forzley hopes this map helps people realize that COVID-19 is spreading widely through community transmission.
“Without people really embracing the idea that we do have community-wide transmission, people begin to feel complacent,” Forzley said. “Your community might not have a lot of confirmed cases on the map simply because there isn’t testing in your area. This does not mean that your community is safer than others in Oakland County.”
Coulter and Forzley hope this map will enable community leaders seeing higher numbers to ask themselves, “What do we think is going on here?” and “Are we doing everything we can to keep ourselves and the other members of the community safe?”
“This map can serve as a good, visual reminder for social distancing and other public health messages that we have been giving so people in the community can double down and begin to ask themselves those questions in a more serious way,” Coulter said.
To help slow the spread, Forzley and Coulter are urging Oakland County residents to abide by social distancing requirements, limit trips to grocery stores and utilize delivery services whenever possible.
“People also need to not invite family members over to their home for celebrations because although we all need our families, we need to find another way to visit them by utilizing all the technology at our hands,” Forzley added.
If residents of Oakland County have any questions or concerns, the county’s website has every piece of data collected on the spread of the virus, plus additional resources and guidelines.
“We’re at the point in the pandemic where we are still at an upward trajectory and everyone needs to take this very seriously,” Coulter said. “We might not have any new recommendations for you besides stay at home and practice good hygiene, but it is more important than ever and it is still the best way to stop this pandemic.”