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LMAS health dept. reports spike in virus cases

MANISTIQUE — The LMAS District Health Department has announced a rapid increase in COVID-19 case numbers and is warning the public to remain vigilant to avoid contracting or spreading the virus.

According to the health department, between March 1, 2020 and Sept. 16, 2020, Luce Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft counties had a total of 103 cases of COVID-19. In July of 2021, a total of 15 cases were reported in the LMAS District; another 221 were added in August; and from Sept. 1 through Sept. 17, another 302 cases were added.

“In June and July it felt like we were in the homestretch and preparing to put the pandemic behind us. The COVID vaccines were reducing infections and keeping people out of hospitals and from dying. Then the Delta variant started taking hold in states in the southern part of the country,” LMAS wrote in a press release.

By August, the Delta variant, which is twice as transmissible as virus spreading across the country a year ago, was spreading across the Upper Peninsula.

While so-called “breakthrough cases,” when vaccinated individuals become infected with the virus, do occur, vaccinations within the district are relatively low. As of Friday, 43.2% of Luce County residents, 61.1% of Mackinac County residents, 61.3% of Alger County residents, and 56.1% of Schoolcraft County residents were fully vaccinated against the virus.

Twenty-one people have died within the district over the course of the pandemic out of the 2,639 people who have been infected.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is clearly not over. Hospitals are reaching capacity and beyond with COVID patients and other medical issues. Our four critical access hospitals are facing challenges in getting critically ill patients the care they need because receiving hospitals don’t have capacity,” wrote the district.

Residents are encouraged to get vaccinated, stay home if sick, get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, wear masks indoors and avoid crowded indoor places.

Testing and vaccination locations in Luce, Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft counties can be found online at LMASDHD.org.

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