Western U.P. Health Department monitors local testing efforts

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) reports that as of this morning there have been just over 50 people tested in the five county area for the COVID-19 virus, with no positives to report as of yet.

“Results have been slow to come from both the state and commercial labs, as testing resources are stretched thin,” Kate Beer, Health Officer for the WUPHD, said. “The state has prioritized the processing of tests for people that are known contacts of confirmed cases, people who are symptomatic with a travel history to a region with widespread transmission, healthcare related workers, and those with severe symptoms requiring hospitalization with no other identified illness.”

The health department is also working with state and federal partners to bring needed personal protective equipment or PPE, such as gloves, gowns and masks to the region. Initial deliveries are expected over the next few days.

“Priority for supplies will be given to high risk candidates such as healthcare delivery, medical transport, and support workers that may be exposed to suspect patients.” Beer said.

Individuals with symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath that have traveled in the last 14 days or that have been exposed to someone else who has these symptoms, should call their health care provider first with questions before seeking care.

Community members are encouraged to boost local mitigation efforts by practicing good, basic hygiene tactics like frequent hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces, avoiding touching your face, and staying home when ill. Businesses are also encouraged to review their emergency plans in the event that employees need to work from home or are unable to work due to illness.

WUPHD is working to coordinate the response with federal, state, and local officials, as well as community organizations. For more information, please contact the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department call center at (906) 487-5545.