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Rise in local virus cases strain contact tracing efforts

Local health officials Wednesday warned of climbing COVID-19 cases in the area, calling it “a disturbing trend.”

In a news release, the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department stated that Dickinson County cases have been 7.5 times higher compared with August 2020 and Iron County cases are three times higher.

“Now that schools are back in session, we have already surpassed the number of cases reported last month and we are only halfway through September,” said Ruth Manier, DIDHD director of community health services. “We know that more than 95% of the cases reported to us are unvaccinated individuals. We also know that local health care systems are starting to feel the effects of the surge.”

The increasing number of positives has the DIDHD struggling to do contact tracing, so other agencies have been enlisted to help, Manier said.

Individuals with COVID-19 positive results may be contacted one of three ways: directly by a DIDHD nurse, through text message/email sent by Patient Education Genius or by a contact tracer working with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Participation in case investigation allows us to identify and address potential outbreaks early, which helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. All forms of case investigations are secure and confidential,” the news release stated.

If communication is delayed, COVID-19 positive individuals should remember to isolate for 10 days, either from symptom onset or the day the positive test was taken if asymptomatic. Identify and notify any close contacts that were made 48 hours before symptoms started or the day of the test. Instruct close contacts to monitor their symptoms and quarantine for 10 days, if not vaccinated. Those who are notified that they are considered a close contact with a confirmed coronavirus positive should quarantine and monitor for symptoms.

State data Wednesday showed 266 new confirmed COVID-19 positives in the Upper Peninsula since Monday, including 23 in Menominee County, 19 in Dickinson County and six in Iron County.

Across the border, Marinette County in Wisconsin has had 46 new cases in the past two days, according to that state’s data site.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus website Wednesday listed 86 new confirmed COVID-19 positives in Marquette County, 44 in Delta County, 23 in Menominee and Houghton counties, 19 in Dickinson County, 14 in Chippewa County, 12 in Mackinac and Alger counties, 10 in Gogebic County, seven in Baraga County, six in Iron County, five in Luce County, three in Ontonagon County and two in Keweenaw County. The state recorded two more virus-related deaths in Delta County and one in Houghton County.

Using only the MDHHS numbers, the Upper Peninsula as of Wednesday has had 22,752 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 461 deaths.

Across the U.P., the MDHHS data site Wednesday had Keweenaw County at 161 confirmed cases and 34 probable, and one confirmed death and one probable death; Luce County, 245 confirmed cases and 297 probable, four confirmed deaths and one probable death; Alger County, 395 confirmed, 241 probable and three deaths, four probable; Schoolcraft County, 408 confirmed cases and 125 probable, four deaths and one probable; Ontonagon County, 488 confirmed, 61 probable and 21 deaths, one probable; Mackinac County, 594 confirmed cases and 296 probable, four deaths; Baraga County, 793 confirmed cases, 144 probable and 41 deaths, two probable; Iron County, 1,119 confirmed cases and 97 probable, 43 deaths and 10 probable; Gogebic County, 1,205 confirmed cases and 373 probable, 24 deaths and 29 probable; Chippewa County, 1,244 confirmed cases and 1,597 probable, and 30 deaths, five probable; Menominee County, 2,082 confirmed cases, 498 probable and 43 deaths, three probable; Dickinson County, 2,596 confirmed cases and 600 probable, 60 deaths and 15 probable; Houghton County, 2,762 confirmed cases, 636 probable, 38 deaths and nine probable; Delta County, 3,929 confirmed cases and 837 probable, 79 deaths and 19 probable; and Marquette County, 4,730 confirmed cases, 950 probable and 66 deaths, one probable. State figures can lag behind local reports or have other discrepancies.

The MDHHS on Wednesday had 6,604 confirmed new coronavirus positives in Michigan since Monday, or an average of 3,302 per day for the two days, for a total to date of 983,109. The state Wednesday added 44 deaths attributed to the virus — including 41 that occurred earlier but were recently verified through a vital records review — to reach 20,597.

The state issues new COVID-19 data on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

For the five Wisconsin counties in the region, the state Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 data site Wednesday had the 46 new confirmed positives in Marinette County; 31 cases in Forest County, along with a new virus-related death; 17 in Vilas County; four in Iron County; and one in Florence County.

The DHS COVID-19 data site Wednesday had Marinette County with 4,600 confirmed cases, 645 probable cases and 69 deaths, eight probable deaths; Vilas County, 2,467 confirmed, 158 probable and 45 deaths, three probable; Forest County, 1,164 confirmed, 94 probable and 25 deaths, four probable; Iron County, 639 confirmed, 140 probable and 21 deaths, 21 probable; and Florence County, 472 confirmed, 69 probable and 13 deaths.

Wisconsin data Wednesday showed 5,474 more positives in the past two days for a total of 687,098 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date. The state recorded 32 more virus-related deaths since Monday to reach 7,791.

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