In collaboration with the Western U.P. Health Department and Emergency Operation Centers in Baraga County, Gogebic County, Houghton County, Keweenaw County and Ontonagon County, Copper Country Strong Briefs will be shared regularly through the duration of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Currently, they are released on Thursdays.
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UPDATES FROM WESTERN U.P. HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Dramatic jumps in case rates in Gogebic, Houghton and Keweenaw counties have driven up the case rate of the Western U.P., which is now at 697.6 cases per 100,000 population. In the seven-days leading up to November 17, a total of six people in the Western U.P. died, including two each in Houghton and Keweenaw counties. Other notes during that stretch include case rates dropping in Baraga and Ontonagon counties and vaccination rates for all ages steadily rising in all five counties. Currently 53.8% of eligible people in the five-county region have received at least an initial vaccine.
If you're interested in getting a vaccine, many regional providers have same-day availability. Visit coppercountrystrong.com/vaccine to find out where you can get one in the Western U.P.
LIMITED COVID-19 ANTIGEN TESTING AND VACCINATION CLINICS
The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department announces that it has partnered with the Michigan National Guard to provide additional free community wide COVID-19 antigen testing and vaccination sites at several locations in the health district.
The new clinic schedule for November, including clinic locations are as follows:
- Tuesday, 11/23, and 11/30, Memorial Building, 213 S Marquette St., Ironwood, MI, 11 AM to 6 PM CT.
Moderna and J&J vaccine will be available at all clinics. Pfizer vaccine is available on a limited basis; please call your local health department office for more information. Booster shot are available per CDC guidelines.
Pre-registration is not required, and participants do not need insurance, a prescription or a doctor’s order to be tested. Participants are encouraged to wear a mask and bring a driver’s license or other photo ID.
Wastewater Monitoring Detects Increase of COVID-19 in Western Upper Peninsula Communities
As part of a continued statewide effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Western Upper Peninsula has partnered with local wastewater monitoring systems to test wastewater samples for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in human feces. Recent routine testing has shown an increasing trend in detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the following communities: Baraga, Bessemer, Chassell, Copper Harbor, Hancock, Houghton, Ironwood, L’Anse, South Range, Wakefield, and Watersmeet. This upward trend is an early indicator that COVID-19 cases in the community are increasing.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, can be detected in wastewater before an increase in positive clinical tests is seen in a community. The virus can be shed in human feces for weeks, including before a person becomes ill, while a person is ill, and in people who are not ill but are infected.
Since COVID-19 wastewater surveillance is still a new and evolving field of study, it is more appropriate to monitor and observe the trends of SARS-CoV-2 detected in wastewater, instead of focusing on the individual data points. The rising levels of virus in the community wastewater indicates positive cases in the community may soon be on the rise. To view wastewater monitoring data, visit the Michigan COVID-19 Wastewater Testing Dashboard.
The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department is utilizing this new information, along with clinical case data, to make better informed decisions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic response. Based on this data, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department is increasing public health communication in affected communities, alerting healthcare providers and congregate living facilities to prepare for a potential increase in cases, and increasing testing and vaccination efforts in the affected areas to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
It is important that residents get their COVID-19 vaccine and continue using other preventive measures, such as frequent handwashing, social distancing, and wearing face masks in public settings, to help prevent transmission of the virus in our community. If you are sick, stay home. If your kids are sick, do not send them to school. If you are exposed to a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and you are not vaccinated, you need to stay home and quarantine for 10 days. Due to the sheer number of positive cases in the community, the Western Upper Peninsula Health department does not have the capacity to contact all positive individuals. If you test positive for COVID-19, it is your responsibility to notify your close contacts that they have been exposed and need to quarantine.
Note: Due to grant budget and laboratory capacity, surveillance is not conducted in all communities in the Western Upper Peninsula. The sheer number of communities with trending increases and spikes in the level of SARS-CoV-2 in the wastewater is concerning and indicates widespread community transmission.
Update from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)
MDHHS will issue face mask advisory for the holiday season due to rise in cases of flu and COVID-19
With the increasing rise in COVID-19 and flu cases, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be issuing a face mask advisory and offering guidance to keep loved ones safe and prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses during the holidays.
MDHHS will issue a Public Health Advisory that recommends everyone over the age of 2 should wear a face mask at indoor gatherings regardless of their vaccination status. In addition, establishments should implement a policy to ensure that all persons entering or seeking services, including employees, wear a mask. This face mask advisory will remain effect until further notice.
Read more at michigan.gov/coronavirus.
Update from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC Expands Eligibility for COVID-19 Booster Shots to All Adults
On November 19, 2021, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) expanded recommendations for booster shots to include all adults ages 18 years and older who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least six months after their second dose.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization and CDC’s recommendation for use are critical next steps forward in our country’s booster program – a program which will help provide increased protection against COVID-19 disease and death.
Read more at cdc.gov.
If you have an update you would like included in this daily brief, please contact the appropriate county or the health department. Contact information can be found at coppercountrystrong.com/contact.
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