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UP health departments warn COVID spread is high ahead of holiday weekend

Covid 19
Covid 19(WMC)
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 10:47 AM EDT
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UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - Six U.P. counties are now in the CDC’s high-risk category for community transmission. Marquette, Delta, Schoolcraft and Luce Counties have joined Chippewa and Mackinac Counties at the highest level.

The CDC recommends that all community members wear secure, high filtration face masks when indoors at public settings and in close proximity to others in areas of high-risk transmission. This recommendation is made as an effort to reduce the continued spread of COVID-19 in the community.

In an effort to protect each other, especially those who are most vulnerable such as children under 5 and those with compromised immune systems, LMAS District Health Department and Marquette County Health Department (MCHD) encourage community members to take these small steps:

  • Get vaccinated, including a booster or fourth dose if eligible,
  • If you become ill with a fever and other symptoms (sore throat, cough, etc.) stay home until your fever subsides and symptoms improve,
  • Get tested, and if positive for COVID-19, notify your close contacts and talk to your medical provider about therapeutics,
  • Wear a well-fitting mask if in close contact with others in an indoor setting.
  • If reinfected, assess your risk of developing severe infection and discuss with your medical provider the use of antiviral therapies.

The MCHD medical director answered some frequently asked questions about the uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Why is Marquette having another wave of COVID?

“The simple answer is Omicron variants and reinfection community rates of cases are officially seven-fold higher than our nadir before this last wave. This is probably undercounted by two to eight-fold since nearly all home testing is not part of the statistics.”

Why is Marquette not having a proportional increase in severe cases, hospitalizations and deaths?

“Because of vaccinations and previous Omicron infections. This same answer can be given nationwide.”

Here is a recent review of UPHS-Marquette COVID positive admissions since May 9:

  • Out of the total patients in the hospital with positive COVID tests, what percent are admitted secondary to COVID, not incidentally positive? 41%
  • What percent of patients admitted for COVID are-up-to date with vaccines, meaning with at least one booster if eligible? 25%
  • Is anyone admitted for COVID requiring ICU care boosted? No
  • Age range of those admitted for COVID? 42-95
  • Length of stay of those admitted for COVID? 1-19 days; an average of 6 days

According to data released by the state Wednesday, 17 people are hospitalized with COVID in the U.P. and two patients with COVID are in the ICU.

Those who are vaccinated, and especially those who are boosted, continue to have strong protection against severe disease, even from BA.2.12.1. and BA.2 which are known as the Omicron variants, which are the two main circulating variants throughout the USA, the MCHD said.

These newer Omicron subvariants are better than earlier strains at evading the immunity offered by vaccines and prior infections, meaning even people who caught the original Omicron strain could be at risk of reinfection but in general are still protected from severe illness. People who are up-to-date with COVID vaccines and previously infected with Omicron are the most protected population, followed by those vaccinated and not infected; infected but not vaccinated; and finally those at highest risk are those neither vaccinated nor previously infected, according to the MCHD.

A current and local nursing home outbreak had 22 cases over the last two weeks. Nearly all the residents are double-boosted. In the past before the vaccine, this would have resulted in around a 20-30% hospital admission rate and 1-4 deaths. Instead, the MCHD said they are seeing minor cold-like symptoms with one patient with oxygen-dependent lung disease going to the ER for evaluation and then being allowed to return. Several patients on hospice care before being diagnosed with COVID are dying independent of COVID, so several deaths will be COVID-related, the MCHD said.

Can I count on not getting seriously ill, hospitalized or dying if I am fully vaccinated?

“No, but your chances are probably five to ten-fold lower being vaccinated.”

What is my absolute risk of getting seriously ill, being hospitalized or dying?

“It is very difficult to determine and hard to find, but if available would make counseling individuals easier.”

Based on data from the CDC, the MCMD says the risk of being hospitalized is about 2% for those age 50-64 and 12% for those older than 65. For death 0.06% for age 50-64, 0.2% for age 65-74, and 1% for age 75+.

LMAS has Free COVID-19 Testing Kits and Masks available to the public at all four LMAS offices – in St. Ignace, Newberry, Manistique and Munising. All households can also now order additional test kits at COVID.gov/tests. For more information or to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, visit LMASDHD.org. Visit COVID.CDC.gov to access the data tracker for the United States, individual states, or by county.

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