About COVID-19


What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a novel, or new, coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 — discovered in late 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses responsible for a wide range of diseases, from the common cold and influenza to MERS and SARS.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and those who are immunocompromised are more likely to develop serious illness.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Most common are:

  • Dry cough 
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fever

Other common symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Please consult your medical provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

When do symptoms appear? 

Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

When should I call a doctor?

If you have any of these emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your primary care provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

  • Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19? Do I need to be tested?

If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms (fever, cough or difficulty breathing), you may be eligible for testing. Please consult with your primary care provider to determine if you should seek further care, including possible testing for COVID-19.

If you do not have a primary care physician, you may be eligible for testing by calling Mercy Health Saint Mary’s at 616-685-COVD (2683) or Spectrum Health at 833-559-0659. 

If your symptoms become severe, you should seek medical care, but call ahead to the provider or hospital so they can make arrangements to limit exposure to others during your arrival or inform the 911 dispatcher in an emergency situation.

Business Owner FAQs

As a business owner, am I required to send home all of my employees if one employee tests positive for COVID-19?

The primary responsibility in this instance is to take appropriate actions to protect other workers who might have come in contact with the COVID-19 positive employee; therefore, it is important for employers to develop comprehensive workplace policies and procedures to minimize the disease from spreading.

Am I required to notify the Kent County Health Department if an employee tests positive for COVID- 19?

Under Michigan Executive Order 2020-91, when an employee is identified with a confirmed case of COVID-19, employers must notify the local public health department within 24 hours.

Once the Kent County Health Department is notified of a positive case of COVID-19, the Kent County Health Department will contact the patient to identify individuals with whom the patient has been in contact during the time they were symptomatic (including the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms) to determine who is a high-risk contact. After an individual is identified as a high-risk contact, the Health Department will call them to notify them of their contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19 and provide instructions for the recommended 14-day quarantine period. A quarantine release letter/e-mail will be sent to the high-risk contact once they have completed the 14-day period and are free of symptoms.

COVID-19 Guidelines for Staff Exposures and Symptoms

Am I legally required to notify my entire workforce if an employee tests positive for COVID-19?

Each business should consult with their legal counsel or human resources on whether to disclose to other employees that a co-worker (or a visitor to the office) has tested positive for COVID-19, without disclosing the identity of the affected employee.

COVID-19 & Surfaces

How long the novel coronavirus lasts on surfaces


2-8 Hours

Examples: soda cans, tin foil


24 Hours

Examples: shipping boxes


5 Days

Examples: dishes, pottery, mugs


5 Days

Examples: glasses, measuring cups, mirrors, windows


4 Hours

Examples: pennies, teakettles, cookware


5 Days

Examples: doorknobs, jewelry, tools


5 Days

Examples: magazines, mail, money


2-3 Days

Examples: bottles, buttons

Stainless Steel

2-3 Days

Examples: refrigerators, pots, pans, sinks


Coronavirus doesn’t seem to spread through exposure to food. Still, it’s a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables under running water before you eat them. Scrub them with a brush or your hands to remove any germs that might be on their surface. Wash your hands after you visit the supermarket. If you have a weakened immune system, you may consider buying frozen or canned produce.


Coronavirus hasn’t been found in drinking water. If it does get into the water supply, your local water treatment plant filters and disinfects the water, which should kill any germs.

To reduce your chance of catching or spreading coronavirus, clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects in your home and office every day.

See Cleaning & Disinfecting Guidelines

Questions? Call the Kent County Health Department at (616) 326-0606 or email