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Health officials urge sticking with virus precautions

After weeks under stay-at-home orders, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has lifted several measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, letting businesses and restaurants reopen and allowing some larger group activities.

Unfortunately, some are taking relaxing these restriction as a green light to behave as if it’s a normal summer.

Look around. People are milling at bars and restaurants. They’re not bothering to don a mask as they enter stores, even at establishments that openly request they do. They’re not maintaining social distancing.

In short, a good number of people have decided they’re done with COVID-19 avoidance precautions.

It prompted the Marquette County Health Department this week to urge “people to continue safe practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Granted, Marquette County has almost 60 positive cases of the virus and 11 deaths, both the most by far in the Upper Peninsula.

But it’s also recognizing that in summer, Yoopers aren’t the only people roaming the Upper Peninsula. A lot of homes in the Northwoods have owners who come from areas that have much higher COVID-19 infection rates.

In this area, the past couple weeks have seen a new, active case in Dickinson County and the first two positives in Iron County. Menominee County’s count continues to climb.

Across the border in Wisconsin, both Marinette and Forest counties are contending with outbreaks.

In other words, COVID-19 remains in the region.

So the Marquette County Health Department reminds individuals “they still are responsible for reducing the risk of further infection and ensure the health system capacity is not overloaded.”

In particular, the health department points out “that people with no symptoms still could be carriers of the novel coronavirus, and public gatherings increase the likelihood of infection.”

While COVID-19 can be serious and deadly for some, it’s also known those infected may only have mild symptoms or even show little evidence of illness. Keweenaw County’s first case this past week was asymptomatic, discovered as part of a preoperative screening.

That’s what is so dangerous about those infected with COVID-19 — they might have little to no idea they are carrying the virus, much less potentially spreading it.

That’s why the mask is recommended — not to protect you from COVID-19 as much as to protect others from your breath if you have been exposed yet show no signs.

“A second wave of infection in the community can be prevented if people continue social distancing, wear a face cover in public when they are unable to maintain a minimum of 6 feet distance from people outside of their household, and wash and disinfect hands frequently,” the Marquette County Health Department recommends.

People also are asked to stay home if they feel sick. Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms — including fever, cough or shortness of breath — are encouraged to contact their health care provider by phone to explore testing options.

So do it for others, not just yourself: take the steps recommended to at least limit the spread of COVID-19. What can it hurt to make these few alterations to a normal routine, if it might spare someone else developing this disease?

After all, risking exposure to COVID-19 isn’t just gambling with your own health, but others as well.

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