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Local health officials confirm first case of Delta variant

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

ALPENA — Local public health officials announced on Friday an Alpena County resident is the first in Northeast Michigan to be infected by the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Health Department officials said in a news release they were notified by the State Health Department about the infected individual, who is an unvaccinated female.

“The Delta variant is more contagious and by the time it has been identified, an infected individual may have already exposed many more people,” District Health Department No. 4 Medical Director Josh Meyerson said in a news release. “Vaccination is more important than ever. The COVID-19 vaccines show effectiveness against variants and reduce the risk of serious illness that lead to hospitalization or death.”

The announcement comes as Health Department officials announced this week one more Alpena County resident died while infected with the disease. Additionally, 65 new or probable infections were reported in Northeast Michigan residents within the past seven days, including 44 Alpena County residents, nine Presque Isle County residents, 10 Montmorency County residents, and two Alcona County residents.

Health Department officials said a small percentage of COVID-19 positive test samples are sent on for genetic sequencing to identify any variant strains. Therefore, officials said, it is likely there are more unidentified cases of the variant in Alpena County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to list Alpena County as a substantial risk for the spread of COVID-19.

Montmorency County was upgraded to a substantial risk this week while Presque Isle and Alcona counties remain at a low risk for the spread of the disease.

The CDC recommends people in high- and substantial-risk areas of transmission wear masks while indoors no matter the person’s vaccination status.

The guidance also recommends individuals in K-12 schools wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. The recommendation applies to students, teachers, staff, and visitors.

Meanwhile the numbers of those fully vaccinated in Northeast Michigan continued to creep upward, according to the state. Presque Isle County had the highest vaccination rate in the region at 60.8%, followed by Alpena County at 56%, Alcona County at 55.9%, and Montmorency County at 54.1%.

Health Department officials recommend people continue to practice mitigation strategies to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and its variants. These strategies include:

*Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

*Wearing a mask in crowded indoor or outdoor areas

*Staying six feet apart from others

*Washing hands often

*Staying home when you feel ill

*Ventilating indoor spaces.

COVID-19 vaccines are offered at DHD No. 4 and other locations throughout the county. To find a vaccine clinic, visit dhd4.org/covid19vaccine or vaccines.gov.

VACCINES

NOTE: The chart shows the percent of Northeast Michiganders 16 and older fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, meaning they’d received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The “target” line above reflects that many public health experts say we can consider the coronavirus pandemic “over” once 70% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

INFECTIONS, RECOVERIES, AND DEATHS

NOTE: Northeast Michigan public health agencies have reported confirmed and suspected infections as one number since Feb. 18, 2021. A suspected infection represents a person who’d been in close contact with an infected person but hadn’t been tested themselves, such as a person who lives with a person confirmed infected.

Those agencies also stopped tracking recoveries after vaccine rollouts began in earnest in early 2021. The number of recoveries represents a News estimate based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of “recovered” as an infected person still living 30 days after infection.

ACTIVE CASES

NOTE: “Active cases” is a News estimate of the number of currently infected — and potentially contagious — Northeast Michiganders representing cumulative cases minus recoveries and deaths.

HOSPITAL OCCUPANCY

NOTE: One of the primary goals of state-mandated coronavirus restrictions has been to prevent hospitals from being overrun with COVID-19-infected patients, so hospital occupancy rates are a key metric state officials use when deciding whether new restrictions are necessary.

TIMELINE: THE FIRST YEAR

Click through the interactive timeline below for a look at how the coronavirus spread throughout Northeast Michigan in its first year.

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