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K-6 mask order in Dickinson, Iron schools

Health department cites recent significant rise in region’s COVID-19 activity

KINGSFORD — Health officials Thursday issued an indoor mask order for all students in kindergarten through sixth grade at all educational facilities in Dickinson and Iron counties, effective Monday.

The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department order also requires anyone “providing service to any child in kindergarten through grade six properly and consistently wear a face mask while inside any enclosed building or structure of the institution,” regardless of vaccination status.

The mask order will remain in effect until six weeks past the date the COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and available for ages 5 through 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention transmission levels reach “low” or until further notice from DIDHD Health Officer Daren Deyaert, according to a news release Thursday afternoon.

The DIDHD has had 382 cases of COVID-19 reported since the start of September through Thursday, with school-age children accounting for 37% of the cases. Since the start of the school year, school-age cases have increased by one and a half times each week.

A review of school district websites indicated since classes resumed in late August that Breitung Township has had 20 students test positive and 25 considered probable, along with one positive staff member; Iron Mountain has had 11 students and one staff member positive; Norway-Vulcan has eight confirmed cases, one in the middle school and the rest in high school; North Dickinson County has 25 students positive, 21 of them added Sept. 10; Forest Park has 17 positive students and another 21 quarantined due to exposure or other virus-related factors; and West Iron County has six high school/middle school students and one elementary student positive.

Currently, both counties are designated by the CDC as having a high level of community transmission of COVID-19; both test positivity and new case rates are increasing, according to the health department.

Dickinson County has a 9% positivity rate and a weekly case rate of 590.3 per 100,000 population from Sept. 8 through Tuesday, while Iron County has a 9.2% positivity rate and a weekly case rate of 334.3 per 100,000 population for the same period.

“By watching these alarming trends in our local data, I feel that this is an important time to act,” Deyaert said in the news release. “This act is warranted and temporary to protect those who are not yet eligible to receive protection from the COVID-19 vaccination.”

A complete copy of the signed order can be found at http://www.didhd.org.

The DIDHD on Wednesday had warned of escalating coronavirus activity locally in August and now September.

Local health officials late Thursday morning reported 80 new confirmed COVID-19 positives in Dickinson County in the past week, plus 87 probable cases. It brings the county’s total number of active cases to 422, compared with 185 at the beginning of the month and only 16 in early July.

Iron County added 23 new confirmed positives since Sept. 9, along with six probable cases, according to the DIDHD’s Facebook post. Dickinson County did have 34 people now considered recovered from the virus and Iron County six recovered cases.

The DIDHD had Dickinson County at 2,638 confirmed positives and 623 probable cases to date, with 2,766 recovered, 73 deaths and 422 cases still active. For Iron County, the agency had 1,129 confirmed cases and 102 probables, with 1,042 recovered, 50 deaths and 139 active cases.

The Upper Peninsula as of Wednesday had 28 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 12 adults in intensive care and two on ventilators, according to the DIDHD, citing tracking data. Statewide, 1,426 adults are hospitalized for COVID-19, 400 in ICU beds and 184 on ventilators.

State numbers for the Upper Peninsula were not available Thursday, as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updates its COVID-19 data site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

For the five Wisconsin counties in the region, the state Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 data site Thursday had 30 new confirmed positives in Marinette County, 13 in Vilas County, six in Forest County, three in Iron County and two in Florence County.

The DHS COVID-19 data site Thursday had Marinette County with 4,630 confirmed cases, 646 probable cases and 69 deaths, eight probable deaths; Vilas County, 2,480 confirmed, 158 probable and 45 deaths, three probable; Forest County, 1,170 confirmed, 94 probable and 25 deaths, four probable; Iron County, 642 confirmed, 140 probable and 21 deaths, 21 probable; and Florence County, 474 confirmed, 70 probable and 13 deaths.

Wisconsin data Thursday showed 3,441 more positives for a total of 690,539 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date. The state recorded 15 more virus-related deaths Thursday to reach 7,806.

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