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As new COVID cases dip in northern Michigan, positive test rate shows virus is still spreading fast

Interlochen Public Radio

The number of new coronavirus cases reported in northern lower Michigan appears to be falling, after surging to record highs last month. 

But public health officials warn the COVID-19 death rate is increasing, as well as the percentage of tests coming back positive.

The Traverse City region’s positivity rate is currently at 11.9%, according to the MI Safe Start Map. That’s well above the 3% positivity rate epidemiologists say indicates uncontrolled community spread.

Lisa Peacock, the Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, says she’s noticed the public’s tolerance for state-imposed restrictions is running low. As updates on increasing cases blur together and lose their significance to some, health officials are pleading with people to follow the guidelines.

“We are begging the community to stand strong together in making the safest choices and resist those choices that put others at risk such as gathering indoors in close proximity without wearing masks,” Peacock said in a call Thursday. “This is a directive rooted in public health principles with no other intentions.”

One bright spot is that local public health officials estimate the Pfiser vaccine may be coming to northern Michigan soon. They report there should be enough cold storage available locally to secure the vaccine before it’s administered.

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.