MACKINAC COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Schoolcraft District Health Department received confirmation of the B.1.1.7. variant of COVID-19 in Mackinac County.
The first cases of the variant in the Upper Peninsula were identified in Marquette County on March 16. Case investigation indicated that these cases were related to community spread. As of April 8, there are 18 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7. variant in the UP in Houghton, Chippewa, Marquette, Dickinson and Mackinac counties.
There are 2,262 confirmed cases of the variant in the State of Michigan, this is the second highest in the country.
“The B.1.1.7. variant is much more infectious than the original strain, and we certainly see that in the sudden surge in cases in our four counties,” said LMAS Health Officer, Nick Derusha. “The variant arrived in the Upper Peninsula at the same time that more things were opening up and more people have become less diligent in following the basic protocols of wearing a mask, limiting gatherings, washing hands, and staying home when sick. It was a perfect storm.”
Between February 4 to March 4, cases in the district increased by 58. Between March 11 and April 8, LMAS has added another 2015 cases. This represents a 270% increase from the previous period.
“If we’re going to stop the variant, and prevent additional variants from forming, we need more people to step up and get vaccinated,” said Derusha. “The vaccines are safe and effective. Right now across the state, we are seeing hospitalizations increase again, and more COVID patients in ICU beds, but many of those are now from younger age groups who have been less likely to get the COVID vaccinations. We can see the vaccines are working in the reduced number of older folks being hospitalized with COVID.”
LMAS District Health Department has vaccination appointments available at LMASDHD.org. Until a large majority of the population is immunized against COVID, everyone needs to properly wear a mask in public or with people who do not live in your immediate household, wash your hands, maintain at least six feet of distance, stay home when you don’t feel well and please get a COVID test by calling LMAS at 906-293-5107 extension 363. We have the power to stop this, but we must all work together.
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