MMDHD nearly overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases
by Jean Martin

At a recent meeting of the Board of Health Marcus Cheatham and Dr. Dr. Jennifer Morse, Medical Director since 2015, reported on conditions in Clinton, Gratiot and Montcalm Counties.

According to Health Officer Cheatham the Mid Michigan District Health Department’s work load has increased by 1000%. Of course other Michigan districts are in the same boat, he says.

Because prospects of being able to do real contract tracing are dismal, the agency has developed an online form for people who test positive to self-report. It takes only a few minutes to complete, and is confidential:

Local health departments throughout the state cannot accurately report incidences, and hospital beds that are reported as empty don’t tell the whole story, he continued. A hospital may report that it has a10% vacancy; but those beds will have to remain empty where nurses are not available.

Cheatham says that he is feeling something more profound than frustration. For instance statewide systems designed for reporting are not adequate to handle the volume, and the State health department is having to make decisions without adequate information.

MMDHD is learning to work in new areas. For instance they never had to deal with adult foster care homes before, but now they are stepping in to help where they can.

According to Dr. Morse, the agency is now pivoting to get ready for the new vaccines. They expect that the first shipments will probably go to health care workers and nursing homes.

MMDHD already has storage for the Moderna vaccine, and any of the three vaccines coming on the market now will require two doses which need to be administered approximately one month apart. They are planning on centering operations out of Sparrow Carson since it is most centrally located for the three-county area.

Hospital and department nurses likely will not be giving the vaccine because they are too involved in treatment. Most of the public will be expected to get the vaccine through their primary care providers. These will be registered and get training through the health department.

The next battle will be to gain acceptance of the vaccine, says Dr. Morse.

When speaking of the State’s directives within the community, both Cheatham and Morse say that enforcement is an involved process. There are two methods. One involves using the Public Health Code and the other relies on MIOSHA protections for business employees. Both involve courts and due process. Cheatham says that he will not be hopping in the car and putting padlocks on doors.

Environmental Health Director Liz Braddock says that letters issuing cease and desist within 24 hours went out to two businesses in the tri-county area on Tuesday.

Dr. Morse wants to remind the community that “Just because it’s allowed doesn’t mean it’s safe.”

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SJPS extends remote learning through December 18

The number and percent positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise across Clinton county prompting the St. Johns Public Schools to say that they will not be able to maintain consistent in-person learning within their buildings as we go through the next month. Keeping these factors in mind, SJPS will remain on remote learning through Friday, December 18, 2020.

Remote learning will follow the schedule below:
– November 30, December 11 and 18 will be asynchronous learning days. This means students will have
assignments and lessons to complete, but sessions will not be live. There may be times when a teacher sets up a
live one-on-one session, or group session on these days.
– All other days will be synchronous learning in which the teacher will be live through zoom at designated times
throughout the day. Students should follow their daily schedule at the middle and high school; elementary
students join in through zoom at times established by their teacher.
– December 21 through January 1 – No School. Winter Break.

Fowler Holiday Craft Bazaar is November 28

Join The Fowler Village Market on “Small Business Saturday” to support our local artisans while doing some holiday shopping.

This is an indoor event. You can sip and shop from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday November 28. Masks will be required.

Any shoppers unable to attend the in-person event are welcome to join the online VIP group. This online event will feature all of the same vendors as the in-person event plus a few others!

Drive For The Holidays coming up

The Youth Action Committee and Young Chevrolet of St. Johns are hosting a “Drive For The Holidays” service project.

They would like to get the community involved by donating a new unwrapped toy for children ages 2-13.

The event will take place at St. Johns High School athletic entrance from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on December 1,3 and 3. Volunteers will be waiting at the cars provided by Young Chevrolet to place your new toys.

Giving Tuesday is December 1

Like many local non-profit organizations, the Clinton County Arts Council, CCAC, has been hit hard by the challenges of a world living with COVID-19. 70% of their funding comes from State Grants and Charitable Gaming Events.

This year their State Grant was reduced by 25%, and they were only able to have two out of the four scheduled Charitable Gaming Events. This year they are short by 50% of meeting obligations with the potential of a similar outcome for next year.

The CCAC remains committed to bringing cultural experiences to Clinton County in spite of these troubling times, however their outreach is limited by the resources that they have. CCAC believes that the arts are an integral part of the human experience, and they are committed to contributing to Clinton County a quality arts experience.

You can help them continue that tradition by donating to the CCAC as part of Giving Tuesday.

#GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement, unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and their world. #GivingTuesday will kick off the generosity season this year by inspiring people to give back on December 1, 2020, and throughout the year.

Donate online at

Register now for Decorated House Contest

Why should you register for the St. Johns 2020 Decorated House Contest? Well, it is more important now than ever.

While everything is canceled and shutdown, what better activity than to load the family in the car and drive around gazing at the Christmas lights? If you join the interactive map this year, you can ensure that everyone knows to drive by your house. Not to mention you may be voted best in town.

Please join in the fun. Visit the website to enter.

All contestants must be registered by December 18. Once registered your home address will added to the interactive map. Voting will begin Dec 19 and go through December 26. So please keep your lights on.

Voting ballots will be created with a list and a map of registered houses. Voting will be submitted via drop box at New Look Computer and Data or at Custom Embroidery Plus. The top 3 winners will receive amazing gift baskets put together from local business donors. There will also be a contest for best decorated business. The best decorated business will also receive an award and gift basket.