Houghton County schools closing to quell COVID-19 spread
Sporting events through Oct. 12 canceled
The Western U.P. Health Department announced Thursday evening Houghton County schools are closing for two weeks starting Monday.
During that time, the WUPHD said schools will move to online-only classes until Monday, Oct. 12.
The decision means all high school sporting events during the two weeks are also canceled.
The WUPHD said Thursday evening “the move is necessary to help reduce the rate of COVID-19 spread within the community.”
The WUPHD’s announcement reverberated through the sports world Thursday, leading to a cancellation of Baraga’s Thursday night volleyball match at Dollar Bay-Tamarack City and Gogebic announcing it will not play Friday’s football game at Hancock.
“WUPHD points to a sustained increase in positive cases since the end of August as the major reason for asking the schools to make the temporary suspension of in-person classes,” said a WUPHD press release.
Houghton County reported 26 new cases Thursday, with 84% of its 336 cases coming in the last month, a figure Michigan Tech previously acknowledged was partly due to the influx of students arriving for in-person classes. The WUPHD said Houghton County has 125 new cases and 29 probable cases in the last week.
Earlier this week, Hancock High School volleyball canceled its games through Monday after multiple players were in known contact with a positive case at the school.
“The capacity of our local healthcare and public health system has been stretched thin by the steady increase of COVID-19 cases in Houghton County,” said WUPHD health officer Kate Beer. “The positive test rate for Houghton County has risen from 0.6% at the end of August to 5.1% as of Sept. 21. This pause allows us to work with the schools and other community partners to review and strengthen mitigation efforts as we move forward with the school year. The goal is to slow the spread so that local resources are not overwhelmed.”