MARQUETTE — COVID-19 is here and spreading, officials say. Upper Peninsula health officers and medical directors from six health departments are sending out a warning about a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in the last several weeks.
The region has gone from being considered “low risk” for infection to “medium risk” and is “moving toward high risk,” a Friday news release from the Marquette County Health Department states.
Officials say infection rates in the region have increased from 2 to 4 cases per million population per day to 32 cases per million per day as of Friday for the U.P. overall. The hardest hit counties are those bordering Wisconsin, with an average of 74 cases per million per day, officials said. Gogebic County was the highest with 123 cases per million per day, followed by Menominee County with 84 cases per million per day, as of Tuesday.
Multiple factors have contributed to the sudden rise in cases, according to the release, including “an influx of people from outside the area that brought the virus with them.”
“Our mobility has also increased,” the release states. “Data collection on cell phone movement indicates that Upper Peninsula residents have increased mobility more than the Lower Peninsula. Upper Peninsula residents have been lulled into a false sense of security because our region was ‘low risk’ until just recently. It seems that many people are being less cautious by ignoring six-foot distancing and not wearing a mask in public.”
Infections may continue to rise, and soon accelerated growth of infection with the virus may be evident, officials contend.
“It is equally, if not more important now than it was in April and May to limit travel, (locally and distant) reduce the number of people encountered, maintain physical distancing and wear a mask in public,” the release states.
Individuals at higher risk such as older adults, those with underlying medical conditions, those who are obese, people who are immune compromised, or individuals who live in a congregate setting “must be particularly vigilant about these measures to reduce the spread of this virus.”
Officials are renewing their call for people to clean their hands often, scrubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer if you cannot wash; avoid close contact with people, particularly those who appear sick and stay home when sick and call ahead to your health care provider. For more information on precautions and COVID-19 numbers, visit www.mqthealth.org on the web.
U.P. business funding deadlines approaching
The deadline to apply for a share of $4,545,455 that will be administered to small businesses across all 15 U.P. counties is Aug. 5. Each applicant can receive up to $20,000 in funds. For more information, visit www.update906.com
≤ The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant is making $5.8 million available to help start, expand or improve rural cooperatives and mutually owned businesses in rural areas. The deadline to apply is midnight on Aug. 3. For more information, visit https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=RBCS-RCDG-2020.
≤ The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is offering $1.25 million to farms with less than 10 employees for COVID-19 mitigation costs. Grants will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis until all have been awarded. More information on the grant can be found at www.michiganbusiness.org/agsafety.
≤ Michigan farms and food processors can also benefit from a share of $15 million in Michigan Agricultural Safety Grants that are available to provide critical support to Michigan farms and food processors. Applications for the grant close on Aug. 5. More information on the grant can be found at www.michiganbusiness.org/agsafety.
Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is email@example.com.
Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox