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Western Upper Peninsula Health Department prioritizes case investigation for COVID-19

HANCOCK – The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) is notifying residents in Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties that over 750 cases were added within the five-county jurisdiction in the last three weeks, placing a significant strain on resources. Even with assistance from partner organizations, capacity has been reached. Individuals and their close contacts may not receive a call from the WUPHD.

Effective immediately, in order to maximize staffing resources and prevent outbreaks amongst vulnerable individuals, the WUPHD will begin prioritizing case investigation to notify those who are:

— Age 65 and older, especially those with chronic underlying conditions;

— Children who are 18 years old and younger, especially those attending school in-person;

— Individuals residing in congregate living environments, such as long-term care facilities;

— All other individuals as capacity allows

Residents are urged not to wait for the Health Department to call, but to take personal responsibility and action if someone becomes aware of a positive test result or potential exposure to COVID-19.

Individuals notified that they are positive or probable COVID-19 should do the following:

— Isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or 10 days from the day a positive test sample was collected if you don’t have symptoms. After 10 days, if your symptoms have improved (note symptoms do not need to be fully resolved, but overall improvement is required), and you are fever-free without the use of medications, it is OK to return to normal activities. If you are still feeling sick, please consult with a medical professional as some people can be contagious for a longer period.

— Please do your best to isolate away from the other members in your household to prevent them from contracting the virus.

— Notify your employer or school that you are a COVID-19 case.

— Notify all of your close contacts and ask that they quarantine for 14 days: a close contact includes those that you have been within six feet of for more than a total of 15 minutes any day you were contagious which is two days before symptoms begin or two days prior to a positive test if you are asymptomatic.

If you are a Close Contact you should do the following:

— Quarantine for 14 days from your last contact to the COVID-19 case. If you develop symptoms you should get tested and isolate away from other household members.

— Please notify your employer or school that you are a close contact and need to quarantine.

— If you are a close contact and considered an essential worker, please work with your employer to determine your return to work procedure.

— Please note receiving a negative COVID-19 test as a close contact does not mean that you will not get symptoms or test positive at a future time within your quarantine period. You need to complete the full 14-day quarantine period even if you do not develop symptoms.

The Health Department will continue to conduct case investigation and contact tracing in nursing homes, schools, high-risk congregate settings and assist businesses with COVID-19 related issues.

Letters to employers will no longer be issued, therefore if you are an employer seeking confirmation regarding employees please call our office at (906) 482-7382 to be given verbal confirmation.

For COVID-19 testing or medical concerns please reach out to your healthcare provider or a local healthcare facility for further guidance. In case of a medical emergency call 911.

For resources on how to stay safe during the pandemic, visit https://www.wupdhd.org/, https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus, and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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