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UPDATED: Masks urged in Presque Isle County

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

The Alpena News

ALPENA — Residents of and visitors to Presque Isle County should mask up as coronavirus infections ramp up, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The CDC has raised the threat level of coronavirus infection from medium to high for Presque Isle County, meaning the agency now recommends people wear facemasks while indoors in public there.

The CDC only makes recommendations. Masks are not mandated for the general public.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Presque Isle County schools would reissue mask mandates for students and staff. Officials in Rogers City, Onaway, and Posen schools could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The interactive graphic below shows the number of Presque Isle County residents newly infected with COVID-19 each week. Story continues below graphic.

The CDC still considers Alpena, Montmorency, and Alcona counties as areas of medium risk, meaning the agency recommends only that those at the greatest risk of severe illness from a COVID-19 infection, such as the elderly, consult with their doctors about whether they should mask up.

The CDC now considers 22 Michigan counties as areas of high risk of virus spread, including other Up North counties Cheboygan, Otsego, Crawford, Kalkaska, Antrim, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse, and Benzie in the Lower Peninsula, and Marquette, Delta, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa in the Upper Peninsula. Also considered areas of high risk are Southeast Michigan counties Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Washtenaw, Monroe, and St. Clair.

The new recommendation comes as more and more have gotten infected in recent weeks following several weeks of low infection counts. The CDC considered all of Northeast Michigan a region of low risk just a few weeks ago.

Forty Presque Isle County residents have contracted COVID-19 in the past month, according to District Health Department No. 4, compared to 15 in the month prior.

While other counties have seen more infections — Alpena County saw 65 newly infected residents in the past week, for example — the CDC’s recommendations are based on the share of infections in the population. Because Presque Isle County has a smaller population, its rate of infections is higher, leading to the CDC’s new recommendation.

While the virus has spread more quickly in recent weeks, it hasn’t been as deadly. District Health Department No. 4 last reported the death of a Presque Isle County resident on April 11, for example.

However, MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena had eight COVID-19 patients as of the last census on Monday, the most the hospital has reported since March 7.

Presque Isle County is the most vaccinated county in Northeast Michigan, with 63% of residents 5 and older receiving a complete initial round of inoculation against COVID-19, compared to 58% of Alpena County residents, 57% of Montmorency County residents, and 59.5% of Alcona County residents.

Presque Isle County also leads in booster doses of the vaccine, with 42% of residents there receiving a booster dose, compared to 36% in Alpena County, 35% in Montmorency County, and 37% in Alcona County.

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