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Gov. Whitmer visits Houghton County as coronavirus cases rise, urges continued face mask wearing

Mask up, Upper Michigan! That was the main point of advice from Governor Gretchen Whitmer Tuesday.
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 12:14 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 4:34 PM EDT
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HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: Mask up, Upper Michigan! That was the main advice from Governor Gretchen Whitmer Tuesday.

“I don’t want to have to roll things back, trust me no one wants that, me especially," Gov. Whitmer said during an afternoon press conference in Hancock.

The governor was in Hancock to speak with health officials about the rising cases in Upper Michigan. One of the hardest hit areas has been in Houghton County, with 375 of its 441 total cases recorded in September.

Governor Whitmer says that the current numbers in the Upper Peninsula are cause for concern.

“There are over 70 cases per million, which are some of the highest numbers in the state right now," she said.

The governor says much of that could be attributed to the beginning of the Fall Semester for many Upper Michigan schools.

“Clearly we’re seeing spread that is happening in any community that has a big school," Gov. Whitmer said.

All K-12 schools in Houghton County are now doing remote classes now through October 12. Additionally, both Michigan Tech and Finlandia University have limited gathering sizes due to outbreaks and have moved to remote learning.

Upper Michigan continues to stay in Phase 5, but public officials are watching closely. Governor Whitmer says the public can do their part to reduce the spread.

“We need to embrace this, because this is what life is going to be like for a little while," she emphasized.

Members of the Michigan National guard were present and Governor Whitmer thanked them for their work to provide COVID-19 testing throughout the entire State of Michigan. The Michigan National Guard is also being sent to Texas to assist with Border Patrol.

The governor said she knows the masks are often uncomfortable, and she’s not sure how long we’ll have to wear them, but she says they are the best defense we have against COVID-19.

Gov. Whitmer meeting in Hancock

Gov. Whitmer is meeting with U.P. community leaders in Hancock to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and response.

Posted by TV6 & FOX UP on Tuesday, September 29, 2020

ORIGINAL STORY: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is visiting Houghton County Tuesday to meet with local leaders as coronavirus cases there spike.

Gov. Whitmer gave an update to local press in the early afternoon. The U.P. remains in Phase 5 of her reopening plan, but the governor said last week she is concerned about U.P. hospital capacity. Coronavirus hospitalizations are rising. Houghton County has 205 active positive and probable cases, according to the Western U.P. Health Department.

Houghton County K-12 school buildings are currently closed. Michigan Tech and Finlandia University are moving most classes online temporarily.

One thing Whitmer emphasized during her press conference was the need to keep wearing a face mask to avoid going back on our progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“What we’re trying to avoid is going back a phase. You know, no one wants to avoid that more than I do,” Whitmer said. “I know that business owners want to avoid that. I know that parents want to avoid that. I know that our teachers and physicians want to avoid that, and yet, the increase in numbers is concerning, and that’s really why I’m here. We need people to mask up, and I know that, fortunately, this community wasn’t hit as hard as parts of downstate were, but right now, COVID is here, and it is a real threat. And so, the mask which is universally adopted in a lot of parts of our state, is not as, I think, worn here as frequently. And we want to increase that, so we increase the odds that we can stay in this phase and keep this economy engaged, and keep kids safe and their teachers safe, too.”

Whitmer also spoke of the small business grants awarded throughout the state. More than $69 million was awarded to more than 11,300 businesses statewide. Learn more about that here.

Check this story for continuing updates throughout the day about Gov. Whitmer’s visit, and watch your TV6 & FOX UP News for complete coverage..

Posted by Western Upper Peninsula Health Department on Monday, September 28, 2020

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