Local cases increase again as residents urged to mask up
ALPENA — With cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 increasing in Northeast Michigan, District Health Department No.4 is adjusting its case investigation and contact tracing processes.
Due to the rise in cases, DHD4 said in a recent press release it will shift its focus to monitoring and providing infection prevention support to community groups and congregate settings – such as schools, nursing homes and workplaces.
“With more than 10,000 new COVID-19 case referrals per day being reported across Michigan – hundreds per week across our small, four-county jurisdiction – and the surge of omicron expected to continue, individual level case investigation and contact tracing are no longer as effective with respect to controlling COVID-19 transmission on a population level,” Devin Spivey, epidemiologist and community health director for DHD4, said.
Spivey indicated the health department will keep providing guidance and education at various levels so residents know what their test results mean and how they can avoid infecting friends and family.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends residents wear an N95 mask or a KN95 mask for more secure protection. DHD4 has a limited supply of KN95 masks available, free of charge, at their Alpena office during normal business hours, excluding lunch-time from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
They are first-come, first-serve and it is one, five-mask pack per person. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days or have symptoms are asked not to enter the building. Instead, they are asked to call the office and someone will meet them outside.
Meanwhile, the number of active infections in Northeast Michigan rose again over the past week.
As of Jan. 20, 715 Northeast Michiganders were actively infected with COVID-19, while about 57.95% of Northeast Michiganders 5 and older had been fully vaccinated against the disease.
This week’s active infections — a News estimate based on cumulative infections minus deaths and those who fit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of recovered — is 715, which is up from 525 active infections last week and way up from only 165 active infections two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, among those 5 and older, the state says 56.4% of Alpena County residents, 61.5% of Presque Isle County residents, 55.7% of Montmorency County residents, and 58.2% of Alcona County residents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The chart below shows the number of Northeast Michiganders actively infected with COVID-19, a News estimate based on cumulative infections minus recoveries and deaths. The story continues below the graphic.
Public health experts have said we could consider the coronavirus pandemic over once 70% of the population has been vaccinated.
In the past week, public health officials have reported 352 newly infected or probably infected Northeast Michiganders and the deaths of three Northeast Michiganders who had been infected with COVID-19.
The chart below shows the number of Northeast Michiganders 5 and older fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The story continues below the graphic.
Since February, Northeast Michigan health officials have reported confirmed and probable infections as one number. A person counts as a probable infection if they’d been exposed to a confirmed infected person and are showing symptoms but hadn’t been tested, themselves — such as family members of infected people.
The chart below shows the number of COVID-19 patients admitted at MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena. The story continues below the graphic.
As of Jan. 17, nine COVID-19 patients were admitted at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena, two of them in intensive care. The hospital was 82% full. That occupancy rate reflects how many of all of the hospital’s beds licensed by the state are full. However, the hospital may not be staffed to fill all of its licensed beds, so the working occupancy rate could be significantly higher.
State officials watch hospital occupancy rates closely to decide whether to impose new restrictions meant to slow the spread of infection.
Since the pandemic’s start in mid-March 2020, public health officials have reported 9,901 Northeast Michiganders infected or probably infected, and 251 related deaths.