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Houghton County sees spike in COVID-19 positives

Houghton County saw its number of COVID-19 positives jump by 41 during the Labor Day weekend, state and local health officials reported.

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department attributed the spike to “an increase in Houghton County COVID-19 related to surveillance testing at Michigan Tech.” The Houghton-based Michigan Technological University opened in-person classes Aug. 27.

“The increase in cases was not unexpected due to the congregate living situations on and near campus,” the WUPHD stated on its Facebook page Monday. “We are working closely with the university and health care providers to monitor the situation. Students are encouraged to answer any calls that they may receive from the health department or from state or university contact tracing staff.”

The department provided no other information on where the cases have occurred. Already this semester, the WUPHD advised Aug. 29 that an off-campus organization, the Theta Tau-Beta Chapter, may have been a potential COVID-19 exposure site during events earlier that week. The group, which is not recognized by MTU, did not practice social distancing or wear face coverings while gathering, according to the WUPHD.

The Upper Peninsula in all added at least 60 new virus positives since Friday, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 data site. Along with the Houghton County increase, new cases included seven in Delta County; two each in Dickinson, Iron, Gogebic and Luce counties; and one each in Menominee, Marquette, Chippewa, Mackinac and Schoolcraft counties. The state also reduced Alger County’s total by one and took away a death listed for Houghton County.

On the Wisconsin side of the border, that state’s COVID-19 data site showed 14 new positives in Marinette County, with a seventh death; plus 13 in Forest County; four in Vilas County; and one in Iron County. The state also reduced Florence County’s tally from 32 to 29 by Sunday, but then Monday upped the number to 31. Health officials in that county had posted Friday on Facebook that the state’s total of 32 last week was incorrect.

For the Upper Peninsula, the MDHHS data site Monday had Keweenaw County with four confirmed cases; Luce County, eight confirmed cases and one probable; Baraga County, six confirmed cases and two probable; Schoolcraft County, 15 confirmed cases and one probable; Alger County, 16 confirmed and one probable; Mackinac County, 33 confirmed cases and 11 probable; Iron County, 36 confirmed cases, two probable and one death; Ontonagon County, 35 confirmed and one probable; Chippewa County, 44 confirmed cases and 21 probable; Dickinson County, 68 confirmed cases, one probable and two deaths; Houghton County, 137 confirmed cases, 25 probable and one death; Gogebic County, 137 confirmed cases, 10 probable and a death; Delta County, 157 confirmed cases, 29 probable and three deaths; Marquette County, 225 confirmed cases, 40 probable and 11 deaths; and Menominee County, 230 confirmed cases and 31 probable. State numbers are updated daily but can lag behind local reports or have other discrepancies.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also earlier separately had prison inmates who were positive in Luce and Chippewa counties.

Using only the state figures Monday, the Upper Peninsula has had 1,153 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date with 19 deaths.

The MDHHS reported 838 confirmed new COVID-19 cases in Michigan on Saturday and 1,156 new cases Monday — after not providing figures Sunday — for a total of 107,371 to date.

The state added eight new deaths Saturday — including three that happened earlier but recently were verified through vital records and testing, according to the MDHHS — and four deaths Monday for a total of 6,538.

For Wisconsin counties in the region, the state Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 data site Monday had Marinette County with 641 confirmed cases, 18 probable cases and seven deaths; Iron County, 131 confirmed, six probable and one death; Vilas County, 128 confirmed and three probable; Forest County, 107 confirmed, two probable and four deaths; and Florence County, 31 confirmed. As with the Michigan data, the state numbers are updated daily but can lag behind local reports or have other discrepancies.

Wisconsin recorded 946 new positives in the state Saturday, 893 on Sunday and 567 on Monday for a total of 81,760, according to the state DHS data site. The state had 15 new COVID-19 deaths Saturday, but none on Sunday and Monday to hold at 1,168.

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