Chippewa, Dickinson-Iron Health Departments discuss increase in COVID-19 case numbers


CHIPPEWA, DICKINSON, IRON COUNTIES, Mich. (WJMN) – Many counties across the Upper Peninsula are reporting an increase of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

In the U.P., there have been over 5,400 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. For the majority of the pandemic, Chippewa County was able to maintain under 100 confirmed cases up until these past few weeks. The county is now seeing cases ranging from children to older adults.

“As of Monday, [October 19], we had a total of confirmed and probable of 108 cases. As of yesterday, we had 168. As of Monday, we had 143. So in two days we jumped up 25 cases and in a week we jumped up sixty,” said Lana Steinhaus, the deputy health officer/public information officer for CCHD.

For Chippewa County, as of October 29, 2020, CCHD is reporting four new cases of COVID-19, three covered cases, and no deaths. Out of the total 176 combined confirmed/probable cases, 91 cases are still active.

Dickinson and Iron counties are also seeing a steady climb in case numbers. As of October 29, Dickinson County has had a total of 688 cases, and 452 cases for Iron County. The CCHD and Dickinson-Iron District Health Department (DIDHD) are noticing the virus is becoming community-spread. Both health departments express that contact tracing is becoming much more difficult.

“When we first started the pandemic, we were noticing for each positive case maybe four or five contacts,” said Daren Deyaert, the health officer for DIDHD. “Mid-way through when we started getting the contacts for our positive cases in the 20-30-year-old range, the contacts bumped up. Now maybe you’re talking 15 to 20 of them per case. And now when we get into the schools, now it seems to bump up even further, so. For each case a lot of the time we might see 25 to 30 contacts in the school setting. So, it’s making it very difficult, very time consuming for us.”

As of October 29, 2020 Dickinson County reports 21 new cases of COVID-19, four recovered cases, and one death. Iron County reports nine new cases of COVID-19 and 11 recovered cases.

“We can’t do this alone. This is a community-wide effort, and we’re trying to do the best we can. But, people really need to pick up the phone when we call. We need to be able to conduct our contact tracing, and people just need to do their part. This is something that won’t just go away on its own. This is something every person in the community has to take personal responsibility for if they want this to go away,” said Deyaert.

Both health departments stress the public to wear masks, wash your hands, and to get your flu shots.

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