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Virus surges, Alpena Community College student infected

Alpena High, Onaway students return

News File Photo Thrifty shoppers, following masking orders, leave the St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store in Alpena in July.

ALPENA — Twenty-seven Northeast Michigan residents were confirmed infected with COVID-19 between Friday and today, local health officials said, the biggest three-day jump in positive tests since May.

Sixteen more Presque Isle County residents, six new Alpena County residents, four Montmorency County residents, and one Alcona County resident were confirmed infected.

In a busy day of coronavirus-related news today:

* Alpena Community College announced one of its students had tested positive for COVID-19, and at least one faculty member who may have been exposed was self-isolating. The campus remained open.

* Those present at the Eagle’s Club in Millersburg from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Friday or Havel’s Northland Bar in Onaway from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday may have been exposed to the coronavirus and should monitor for symptoms, health officials announced today.

* Students returned to in-person learning at Alpena High School today after students were sent home last week to learn remotely because one student tested positive for COVID-19 and two more students were presumed positive.

* Onaway Area Community Schools students were told they could return to school on Tuesday after the school closed today over a virus scare.

No new infections were reported at local long-term care facilities, according to state data.

Public health officials have long warned of a resurging virus as the weather cooled and people spent more time indoors, and that resurgence appears to be happening now.

Today saw Northeast Michigan’s largest jump in new cases 44 cases were reported April 19 to 23, according to The News’ record of data from District Health Departments No. 2 and No. 4.

For the time being, the virus appears to be causing less damage than its first surge in the spring. The last death of a Northeast Michigander who had been infected was announced Aug. 20, and coronavirus-related hospitalizations across the region remain low, though they are ticking upward.

Check out this interactive chart showing the coronavirus’ spread in Northeast Michigan. Story continues below chart.

ACC STUDENT INFECTED

ACC officials and officials from District Health Department No. 4 are contacting instructors and students who may have come in contact with the infected student, who attended the Alpena campus last week and began exhibiting symptoms late last week, the college said in a press release.

The student was tested for the disease on Friday.

“Those who may have been exposed will be required by ACC to self-quarantine for up to 14 days and are encouraged to get COVID-19 testing,” the press release said. “Anyone showing a negative test result may be allowed to resume attending courses in person.”

The college’s Alpena and Oscoda campuses remained open today.

In the meantime, anyone in the ACC community who suspects he or she may have been exposed to the disease or are showing symptoms should contact Dean of Students Nancy Seguin at 989-358-7212 or Vice President of Instruction Steven Fosgard at 989-358-7458.

AHS, ONAWAY RETURN

After sending students home last week to learn remotely because of at least one confirmed infected student, students at Alpena High School returned to in-person learning today after Alpena Public Schools “received word about mid-day, early afternoon on Friday that the probable cases came back with negative test results, and the Health Department was confident that meant the staff and students quarantined as a result could go back to normal operations,” Superintendent David Rabbideau said.

Meanwhile, Onaway students will return to class on Tuesday after getting the all-clear from local public health officials, Onaway Superintendent Rod Fullerton said.

Onaway schools were closed today as a precaution after officials learned of an infected student over the weekend but officials couldn’t reach the local Health Department.

“We couldn’t reach the Health Department to adequately come up with a plan of what to do,” Fullerton said. “So we made the decision to close and allow us a day to work with them to develop a plan.”

Fullerton said the student tested positive last week but hadn’t been in school since the week before. He said the Health Department’s epidemiologist determined the student was not contagious the last time he or she was in school.

Fullerton said staff continued cleaning and sanitizing today. Fullerton encouraged parents to continue to follow district protocols and keep their child or children home if either the student or themselves are sick.

Check out an interactive timeline of the spread of the coronavirus in Northeast Michigan. Story continues below timeline.

Onaway’s announcement was the seventh virus scare at a Northeast Michigan school since classes resumed this fall.

In addition to Alpena High School, Onaway, and ACC:

* APS in September temporarily required two third-grade classes — one at Sanborn Elementary School and one at Ella White Elementary School — and their teachers to self-isolate after students began showing symptoms after being exposed to an infected person.

* Alcona Community Schools also had two virus scares in September and temporarily required some students — students in a Head Start class and an Alcona football player — to self-isolate.

CUMULATIVE NUMBERS

Since the virus hit Michigan in mid-March, 139 Alpena County residents, 55 Presque Isle County residents, 25 Montmorency County residents, and 44 Alcona County residents — a total of 263 Northeast Michiganders — have been infected.

Seventeen of those Northeast Michiganders have died, and 189 have recovered from the disease.

Statewide as of today, 161,907 people have tested positive, of whom 7,211 have died.

Health Department officials continue to encourage Northeast Michiganders to wear masks and practice social distancing in public, to practice good handwashing, to get their flu shot, and to stay home when sick.

No-cost, contactless COVID-19 testing is available at Walgreens in Alpena and Cheboygan.

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