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Michigan health official warns of second wave; UP a hot spot

Marquette Branch Prison dealing with virus outbreak

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s chief health officer warned Tuesday that the state could be beginning a second wave of the coronavirus as cases rise along with the number of people in hospitals.

Michigan had 89 new cases per 1 million people per day, up from 81.6 cases last week, the health department said.

About 700 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals, up about 20% from last week. The rate of positive tests has ticked up to 3.6% from 3.4%. It was under 3% in June.

“It is very possible this is the beginning of a second wave,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan chief medical executive. “The virus has not changed. It is an opportunist. If people are not wearing masks, if people are gathering, if people are not washing their hands, it will spread.”

The number of new cases reported statewide Tuesday was 1,237.

The Upper Peninsula is a hot spot. Nick Derusha, a health officer in four U.P. counties, said there’s “pandemic fatigue” among some residents.

Derusha said some people doubt the severity of the coronavirus.

“We need all yoopers to wear your mask,” he said.

Brian Peters, chief executive of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, said hospitals aren’t in a capacity crisis “but we must stop this trend.”

An Upper Peninsula prison is bringing in extra staff to help it deal with a coronavirus outbreak that has idled 79 staffers while 158 inmates have tested positive.

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz says 28 Marquette Branch Prison staff are off right now after testing positive, 37 staff are off work as close contacts, and 14 staff are off because they are symptomatic.

Many state prisons are already “significantly” understaffed, and that is exacerbated during the virus outbreak, said Byron Osborn, president of the Michigan Corrections Organization union.

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