WUPHD releases COVID-19 testing data
April 2, 2020
By TOM LAVENTURE
and CHARITY SMITH
The information released Tuesday from Western U.P. Health Department in Hancock, showed that as of March 31 there have been 40 individuals referred for COVID-19 testing in Gogebic County. So far 12 cases tested negative, 24 tests are pending, and one test was canceled.
Gogebic County is so far the only county in the western U.P. to have reported a death related to COVID-19. The announcement came in a March 26 press release with no prior report that there was a positive COVID-19 case.
“The test result on the person who passed was not received until several days after the death,” said Cathryn Beer, health officer and administrator of Western U.P. Health Department in Hancock.
The Gogebic County death was followed by a WUPHD press release that noted various businesses and other locations where the individual who died of COVID-19 had visited before they were quarantined. That practice will not continue, according to Beer.
“Our communities are so small that we are really walking a tightrope with HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance,” Beer said. “We found that when we do release some information, people tend to know people, who know people, and that’s how rumors get started.”
The second Gogebic County case followed the death announcement of the first case. The only other positive COVID-19 case in the western U.P. is in Houghton County, where the individual is being treated, Beer said.
Houghton County has so far tested 60 individuals. The county reported the one positive case with 31 more negative results and 18 more tests pending.
The five county western U.P has a cumulative total of 131 COVID-19 testings with three positive cases returned. There are 56 cases pending.
In Ontonagon County so far there are eight individuals who were referred for testing. Three cases have tested negative, three tests are pending, and two tests were canceled.
Baraga County reported zero positive cases among 16 tests. There are five negative test results and 10 tests pending with one test canceled.
Keweenaw County has referred seven individuals for testing with zero positives so far. There are three negative results, three tests canceled and one test pending.
WUPHD is reporting cumulative COVID-19 testing statistics for the five-county jurisdiction. The agency will also immediately report a confirmed first positive case in counties where the presence of COVID-19 is not yet confirmed.
WUPHD encourages residents to behave as though the virus is present when in public places, to include businesses and buildings that are open under the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-21.
Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate for 14 days to avoid potentially exposing others. Symptoms typically include a fever higher than 100.4 degrees, a dry cough and shortness of breath.
Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure to the virus. People who feel well do not need to be tested. Those who do become ill should call their primary care physician before going to the office. Testing will be determined based on a risk assessment.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, people should stay home if they are sick; wash hands frequently; avoid close contact with sick people; disinfect commonly touched surfaces; avoid touching the face or shaking hands, and follow guidelines for social distancing.
For more information, contact the WUPHD at 906-482-7382. Updates are available at wuphd.org.
The COVID-19 informational call line at 906-487-5545 is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. The state informational hotline at 1-888-535-6136 is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. The MDHHS COVID-19 online resources are at michigan.gov/coronavirus, or the CDC website at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.