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Marquette County has apparent COVID-19 deaths; Dickinson has 2nd positive case

Dickinson County confirms second positive case

Marquette County had its first death due to COVID-19 late Friday, with a second one reported Sunday.

Gary Johnson of Republic died Sunday at UP Health System-Marquette, his wife, Kathy, told WLUC-TV.

He had done interviews with WLUC-TV after testing positive March 26. In the beginning, Johnson said he felt fine but battled a dry, hacking cough off and on with a periodic fever. His symptoms got more severe, and he was taken to the hospital April 1 and put on a ventilator, according to WLUC-TV.

He would be the fourth reported COVID-19 death in the Upper Peninsula.

Late Friday, a resident of Norlite Nursing Center, where an employee earlier had tested positive for COVID-19, became the first death in Marquette County related to the virus.

The man was in his 70s and had other health issues, Norlite Administrator Wayne Johnson told the Mining Journal in Marquette on Saturday.

Two other residents, both female, are in stable condition after testing positive. They all were exposed to the employee while she was asymptomatic, Johnson said.

The employee was tested after she was found to have a fever during a routine screening before her shift at the facility March 26, the Mining Journal in Marquette stated in an article in late March.

“I will say they are doing well when they have a negative test (result) in the next couple of weeks,” Johnson said. “We have done a good job of isolating those patients and we are continuing to stay in very close communication with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking all the appropriate steps and following CDC guidelines.”

He said the facility has sent out eight COVID-19 tests, which include the three positive cases, four negative and one pending.

Johnson noted that the residents who tested positive for the virus were long-term patients, not individuals who received short-term or rehabilitation-to-home services.

In other COVID-19 news in the region, the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department has been notified by a commercial lab of the second presumptive positive COVID-19 case in Dickinson County. The test was conducted through a provider clinic, officials said this morning.

The person is identified as an adult female who had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, said Daren Deyaert, department health officer. The department is contacting those who have been identified as a close contact and will not be disclosing additional information about the individual, he said.

Dickinson County’s first case was a death reported Thursday night.

Health officials this weekend also confirmed the first and second cases in Florence County in Wisconsin.

Both individuals are in isolation and no further information is being released to protect their privacy, said Annette Seibold, Florence County Health Department’s health officer and director. The new case confirmed Sunday is considered unrelated to one announced Saturday.

Officials are investigating how they may have become infected, and will be contacting individuals who may have had close contact with these individuals, Seibold said.

“We are working with our local, state and federal partners to deal quickly and effectively when people have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around people who have been infected with the coronavirus to make sure our community remains safe and healthy,” she said.

Seibold asked community members to continue to follow Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer At Home order.

“Staying at home and physical distancing during essential services are currently our strongest tools against flattening the curve and protecting our communities,” she said.

People should continue to follow steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including:

— Practice social and physical distancing;

— Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water;

— Cover coughs and sneezes;

— Avoid touching your face;

— Stay home when sick.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday afternoon reported 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with three deaths, in the Upper Peninsula.

The MDHHS listed what appeared to be Ontonagon County’s first case Sunday, but in a Facebook post, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department said it is looking to verify the claim. The WUPHD said the information is incorrect and it is believed the patient was tested by a facility in southeast Michigan. The WUPHD is working with the state lab on the person’s correct address record.

In the Upper Peninsula, Luce and Chippewa counties each have a single case in a resident so far; Mackinac and Houghton counties have two cases; Gogebic County has three cases and one death of an elderly man March 26; Delta County has seven cases; and Marquette County has 14 cases and the death of the Norlite Nursing Center resident late Friday.

The MDHHS also separately lists prison inmates as positive in Luce and Chippewa counties.

Iron, Menominee, Keweenaw, Baraga, Alger and Schoolcraft counties have had no positive cases so far.

The MDHHS reported 1,493 new COVID-19 cases in the state Sunday, with a total of 15,718 to date. The state had 77 new deaths for a total of 617 to date.

Dickinson County Healthcare System had no new cases to report Sunday. So far, it has one county resident test positive — that man died late Thursday — along with three people from other counties. DCHS has tested 61 people for COVID-19, with four positive, 48 negative and nine results still pending.

In other border counties in Wisconsin, Marinette County Public Health officials Tuesday announced a second confirmed case of COVID-19 but gave no other details. Wisconsin’s Iron County reported a death from coronavirus complications March 26. Forest County has yet to have a positive case with 16 tests done so far.

For the latest information, go to the CDC’s website, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website or the Florence County Health Department’s Facebook or website at http://www.florencecountywi.com/.

Lisa Bowers of The Mining Journal in Marquette contributed to this article.

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