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Gatherings, events spread COVID-19 cases in parts of U.P.

GOGEBIC COUNTY – The Weatern Upper Peninsula Health Department is raising concerns over recent case count increases in Gogebic County. Cases in Gogebic County have been steadily increasing, with over 90 cases reported in the last 30 days. Overall numbers for the local health jurisdiction climbed by about 120 cases during that same period.

WUPHD has traced COVID-19 exposures in the county to players and spectators at recent softball tournaments in Marenisco, Mich., on the weekend of July 17 through July 19; Mercer, Wis., on the weekend of August 1 through August 2; and the Chairmen’s Open Golf Tournament in Watersmeet, Mich., on July 25. Cases have also been traced to attendees at other large gatherings such as weddings and funerals.

These events increase your risk of exposure for several reasons, including:

Travel between areas within Michigan and other states that have a high-risk of exposure. Travel can make following precautions such as frequent handwashing, social distancing, and the wearing of masks difficult.

Spending time outdoors in public places where there are large groups without masks. Virus droplets can travel at least six feet. Social distancing is difficult to maintain on crowded beaches, standing at a busy service counter, or waiting in lines.

Attending big events such as family gatherings, parties, or sporting activities. These events often take place where individuals who are not from the same household interact and mingle. This can also make contract tracing more difficult.

People attending may be asymptomatic, meaning they can pass the virus on to others and never have symptoms. Some studies estimate that up to 40% of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

“While we recognize it is summer and people want to be traveling and socializing, it is critical for individuals to make good choices regarding social events and large gatherings. It is also important for us to work together towards prevention by wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing,” said Kate Beer, health officer for the WUPHD. “Contact tracing also plays a critical role in containing an outbreak. People can help by providing health officials with accurate information regarding close contacts in recent days.”

The health department asks that if you have attended a tournament or a recent large gathering, or have had close contact with someone who attended one of these events, and have or develop symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, or a new loss of taste or smell, that you immediately isolate and call your healthcare provider and inform them of any potential exposure.

If your symptoms worsen to the point of needing emergency care, call 911 and notify the dispatcher of your symptoms or any potential exposure.

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