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Presque Isle County resident recovered from COVID-19 before dying

Courtesy Image An illustration of the coronavirus provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ALPENA — The first Presque Isle County resident to die after testing positive for coronavirus infection had already recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and the death may not have been directly caused by the disease, a public health official said today.

The death may, however, have been caused by lingering effects of the disease or its treatment, the official said.

The Presque Isle County resident, who has not been publicly identified, was as of Friday counted among the 12 recovered Presque Isle County residents, meaning they were living symptom-free 30 days after testing positive for the disease.

As of Monday, however, District Health Department No. 4 reported the first pandemic-related death of a Presque Isle County resident and reported only 11 county residents recovered (a new 12th recovered Presque Isle County resident was reported today).

The Health Department does not determine whether a death is caused by COVID-19, Denise Bryan, public health officer for District Health Departments No. 2 and No. 4, told The News today.

When a death is reported, medical records are forwarded to the state and to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where officials establish whether the death should be labeled as COVID-19-related, Bryan said.

“Sometimes, a person can go the 30 days, recover, and then they die due to the lingering effects of COVID-19 or the intense treatment for it, or from another means,” Bryan said.

Meanwhile, Bryan said Alpena County residents should not rest on their laurels, despite the fact that, as of Tuesday, the Health Department reported no known active cases of coronavirus infection among county residents.

Since the virus hit Michigan in mid-March, 111 Alpena County residents have been confirmed infected. As of Tuesday, 98 of them have recovered, and the rest have died.

The Health Department still reports 15 Alpena County residents as probably infected, meaning they came in contact with a known infected person, but haven’t yet been tested, themselves. It also is possible for people to be infected but not show any symptoms and that people who had or have the virus never got tested to confirm it.

Bryan said it is not time for people to stop taking the necessary steps to slow or stop the spread, such as wearing masks when in public, staying at least six feet away from people outside their household, and washing their hands frequently.

She said a lot of progress has been made, but it can all be undone if people take their foot off the brake.

“It is time for us to double down, so we can give our schools the best chance to stay open,” she said. “This is a window of opportunity, and the best chance to have a positive impact on community spread.”

Gongwer News and Crain’s Detroit Business were reporting today that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is considering returning some restrictions Up North, but the governor’s office wouldn’t confirm it.

According to Bryan, Whitmer is concerned about the low number of tests done in the region and the number of people who may be asymptomatic and spreading the disease unknowingly.

She said there is also concern about young people — who are more likely to congregate — contracting the disease and infecting more at-risk residents.

Bryan said she has heard the state could be amping up for a testing and contact tracing initiative in the Alpena area, but she had few details about it today.

As of today, local health departments reported a total of 154 Northeast Michiganders infected since mid-March, including 111 Alpena County residents, 13 Presque Isle County residents, seven Montmorency County residents, and 23 Alcona County residents. Another 21 Northeast Michiganders — 15 Alpena County residents, one Presque Isle County resident, and five Alcona County residents — are probably infected, but haven’t been tested.

Fifteen Northeast Michiganders have died after being infected: 13 Alpena County residents, one Presque Isle County resident, and one Alcona County resident.

And 133 Northeast Michiganders have recovered, including 98 Alpena County residents, 12 Presque Isle County residents, five Montmorency County residents, and 18 Alcona County residents.

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