Dozens of exposure sites reported Up North, increasing cases in Grand Traverse County

Aug 19, 2020

 

Credit Interlochen Public Radio

Northwest lower Michigan health departments reported 37 possible COVID-19 exposure sites since Monday, August 10.

 

They included typical exposure sites, including restaurants, retail stores and airplane flights, but they also include other types of locations that have recently cropped up — a community pool, skate park and a ferry.

Some of the possible exposures appear to come from restaurant employees.

Health departments generally consider these sites “low risk” because the COVID-positive individuals often report having taken necessary safety measures, including masking, distancing and hand washing. But health officials still report them as a precaution, suggesting people who were present at the same locations during the times self-monitor for symptoms.

Daily reported COVID-19 case rise in Grand Traverse

While much of the region and state is seeing fewer newly reported COVID-19 cases, numbers in Grand Traverse County are still increasing. There is currently a total of 226 cases, 78 of which are considered active by the health department. Cases have been increasing steadily, with typically one to five reported each day. However, some days show a larger number of cases, such as Thursday, August 13 when 10 new cases were reported and over the weekend of August 15, 16 when 12 were added. The county hasn’t usually reported so many cases in a single day unless it’s tied to a larger testing event. 

Recent Grand Traverse County Health Department case investigations show people who tested positive were exposed to others with COVID-19, or had traveled outside the region prior to testing positive. 

UP deals with bigger outbreaks

In the Upper Peninsula, some counties’ proximity to Wisconsin has led to more cases in Michigan. Wisconsin re-opened earlier than Michigan and many yoopers crossed the border for meals and entertainment. Around that time, Gogebic and Menominee Counties began seeing COVID cases increase from around a dozen to more than 120. 

Health Officer for Delta and Menominee Counties Mike Snyder says small outbreaks began in a Menominee County congregate care facility and a family party, where people traveled from outside the area. He says the recent masking mandate in Wisconsin has cleared up some confusion about where people need to wear masks, and has helped decrease coronavirus spread among UP residents. 

Snyder’s more concerned with a lag in testing results — which can take up to two weeks to get back. He also is worried about the approaching seasonal flu, which could make managing COVID-19 all the more challenging as hospital resources and health department employees will likely be stretched thin.