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Progress made in prep for virus

To the editor:

I recently read a letter to the editor in the 10 March issue of the Mining Gazette written by a local physician. This letter might led people to worry that the local healthcare community isn’t prepared for COVID-19 and that our ability to respond when it eventually arrives in the Western Upper Peninsula may be hampered due to being unable to perform testing.

I think there’s been a lot of progress in our readiness since the letter was written a week ago. The CDC and the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department have been working to support local hospitals, emergency departments, healthcare providers, and clinics to prepare. Protocols for screening patients for possible exposure to COVID-19 have been developed and pushed out to the community. Local clinics are working to train their providers and staff to respond appropriately. Procedures for testing appropriate patients are now in place in most emergency departments, hospitals, and clinics in the area for the use of commonly available supplies conventionally used to test for other infections (like influenza). That said, we should also understand that testing may not be indicated or necessary in every situation, depending on the symptoms exhibited by each patient evaluated on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with the Health Department.

I think it is important that the local community understand the work that is being done to be ready for the spread of COVID-19 to our community. Admittedly, there are issues related to COVID-19 we can’t control, but in the meantime, having some trust in the healthcare community and cautious optimism is a good place to start.

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