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Florence County reports two possible virus exposure sites

Florence County health officials advised Wednesday of a possible COVID-19 exposure earlier this month at two restaurants in the county.

The Florence County Health Department was notified Tuesday that on July 10, an unvaccinated person who was later confirmed positive ate at both Barb’s Café in Florence, Wis., and Annie’s Trading Post in the Keyes Lake area during their infectious period, said Annette Seibold, health officer for the county.

“If you visited or worked at one or both of the facilities, have had close contact with someone who visited or worked at one or both of the facilities, and have experienced a fever, cough, or shortness of breath since July 10 after being at one or both of the facilities, please contact your health care provider and inform them of a potential exposure to a confirmed case,” she said in a news release.

The health department stressed that COVID-19 remains a real health threat and encouraged those who are symptomatic to stay home and those who are unvaccinated to consider getting the vaccine to decrease the potential spread of the coronavirus.

For the five Wisconsin counties in the region, the state Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 data site Wednesday had one new confirmed positive, in Forest County.

The DHS COVID-19 data site Wednesday had Marinette County with 4,242 confirmed cases, 477 probable cases and 68 deaths, six probable deaths; Vilas County, 2,298 confirmed, 149 probable and 42 deaths, three probable; Forest County, 971 confirmed, 82 probable and 24 deaths, three probable; Iron County, 591 confirmed, 120 probable and 21 deaths, 21 probable; and Florence County, 457 confirmed, 55 probable and 13 deaths.

Wisconsin on Wednesday had 361 new positives for a total of 615,739 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date. The state recorded seven new deaths to reach 7,390.

In the Upper Peninsula, the Marquette County Health Department announced it has confirmed the first U.P. case of the COVID-19 Delta variant in a Marquette County resident, adding that the appearance of the more contagious strain isn’t surprising and other cases likely will follow.

Dr. Robert Lorinser, MCHD medical director, noted while the number of new virus cases in Marquette County recently has stagnated, the Delta variant is different.

“The Delta is much more contagious,” he said. “There’s no question about that.”

Where the natural virus would probably infect two or three unvaccinated people, the Delta virus would infect eight or nine, he said.

“It doesn’t mean it’s any more deadly or serious,” Lorinser said.

However, he did have a few recommendations.

“If you are vaccinated, your risk is very low,” he said. “If I was 80 years old with an immunocompromising condition, would I go into a beer festival with a bunch of boisterous young people who are not vaccinated? You’ve got to be kidding me.

“If you’re otherwise healthy and (have) been vaccinated, I don’t think it would change your behavior,” said Lorinser, who stressed people don’t have to wear masks and stay inside their homes. “If you’re not vaccinated, my recommendation is to get vaccinated, right? It comes down to the vaccine most of the times. But it’s always a risk-benefit ratio.”

Lorinser said the Marquette County vaccination rate is about 60%. He also said the variant has not yet been detected elsewhere in the Upper Peninsula.

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Christine Mastric of the Mining Journal in Marquette contributed to this report.

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