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2nd Montmorency County death reported

Alcona schools move online, court won’t halt indoor dining ban

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

ALPENA — A second Montmorency County resident has died after being infected with COVID-19, public health officials said today.

District Health Department No. 4 announced the death in a data update but provided no other information.

With the announcement today of 36 newly infected Northeast Michiganders, 239 area residents have been confirmed infected this week, according to Health Department data. That’s more than 20 times the weekly rate just before Halloween, and more than three times as bad as it ever got during the first wave of the virus in the spring.

As the virus surges anew statewide, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration on Sunday ordered all high schoolers and college students to learn online for three weeks and banned indoor dining, among other measures. A federal judge today refused to immediately halt the administration’s dining ban.

Meanwhile, all Alcona Community Schools students, including elementary students, will learn online-only beginning Monday after two confirmed infections and other probable infections connected to the school were confirmed this week, the district said in a press release today.

Multiple classrooms and employees are self-isolating and the district cannot staff multiple departments, causing the shift to remote learning, according to the press release.

Several other districts — including Alpena Public Schools — have been hit with confirmed or probable infections linked to their schools this week. Alpena students all are learning online because of the virus.

The interactive graphic below shows active infections in Northeast Michigan over time. Story continues below graphic.

Alcona officials anticipate a return to face-to-face learning on Dec. 9.

Chromebooks, other school supplies, and food will be sent home with students, with some details still to be ironed out today.

The Alcona school system said it is working closely with District Health Department No. 2 to ensure all precautions are taken with the children.

Children should be monitored for symptoms related to COVID-19, including fever, cough, difficulty breathing, headache, diarrhea, new fatigue, or loss of taste or smell. Parents who notice any change in their children’s health should keep them home and call a doctor.

542 ACTIVE INFECTIONS

Confirmed infected today were 20 Alpena County residents, four Presque Isle County residents, eight Montmorency County residents, and four Alcona County residents

That means that, as of today, 542 Northeast Michiganders were actively infected, meaning they’d been confirmed infected with COVID-19 but have not recovered or died.

As of Thursday, nine COVID-19 patients, two of whom were in intensive care, were hospitalized at MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena, according to state data. The Alpena hospital was 42% full.

As of today, 123 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection across the state-designated, 18-county health care region that includes Alpena, Presque Isle, and Montmorency counties, according to state data.

Since the pandemic hit Michigan in mid-March, 765 Northeast Michiganders have been infected, according to local public health agencies. Of those, 201 have recovered and 22 have died.

The interactive chart below shows cumulative infections, recoveries and deaths in Northeast Michigan over time. Story continues below graphic.

The state health department, meanwhile, reported a new daily high of confirmed COVID-19 cases, 9,779, and 53 additional deaths as the virus continued to spike.

DINING BAN STAYS

In a ruling today, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Kalamazoo said a restraining order halting Michigan’s indoor dining ban wouldn’t be appropriate, especially when the state hasn’t had a chance to respond to the lawsuit.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, which has thousands of members, is suing to try to stop the indoor dining ban that began Wednesday. The group said restaurants can take further steps to reduce coronavirus risk without cutting off customers.

The group said its members were being unfairly treated compared to other businesses. The judge, however, wasn’t swayed.

“Individuals who patronize the businesses that remain open can do so — and must do so — while wearing a face covering. … In contrast, individuals cannot eat or drink while wearing a mask,” Maloney said.

Maloney scheduled the next hearing for Nov. 30, nearly two weeks into the three-week ban.

Flip through the interactive timeline below to see how the coronavirus spread through Northeast Michigan. Story continues below the timeline.

Association president Justin Winslow said the denial of a restraining order means “several more restaurant workers will be losing their jobs in the coming days as restaurants remain closed.”

In-person classes at high schools and colleges are also prohibited for three weeks, and casinos, theaters and exercise classes are closed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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