Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Health department releases testing event data


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Hurley — The Iron County Health Department released the results of last month’s testing events in Hurley and Mercer Monday.

A total of 251 tests were administered at the July 23 testing event in Hurley, with 17 positives cases reported; while there were 228 tests and six positive cases at the July 24 event in Mercer.

Health Department officials said not all the positive cases were Iron County residents.

Health department officials are pleased with the testing events themselves, but acknowledged there have been some issues with people receiving their results.

“We think the actual testing events went really well. People were impressed — they were professionally done, there was very little waiting,” according to Zona Wick, the department’s public information officer. “Now we’ve had some difficulty in 100% of the people getting their results, so we have had some difficulty in that respect.”

She said the issues seemed to primarily be with those people who tested negative. While any positive tests from those who don’t live in Iron County were referred to their local health departments, Wick said everyone in Iron County who tested positive through the testing events has been contacted.

Anyone who participated in the event and hasn’t received a phone call with results should contact the health department at 715-561-2191.

Wick also said the number of positive tests found through the event wasn’t surprising and largely in line with what the department was expecting.

Iron County reported a total of 73 positive COVID-19 residents as of Monday, with seven positive non-residents. Fifty-eight of the 73 cases are considered recovered and only three have ever required hospitalization. There have been 984 negative tests in the county, according to the health department’s news release Monday.

Department officials also warned that the increase in testing and fear surrounding the coronavirus pandemic is being used by scammers.

“Don’t give out any financial information and never pay someone who claims to be a positive case interviewer or contact tracer,” Iron County Health Officer Katie Hampston said in a release about the testing.

Along with never asking for payment, legitimate contact tracers also won’t ask for a social security number or immigration status, Hampston said.

Iron County uses seven contract tracers who introduce themselves by name and with contact information, according to Hampston.

“If anyone is ever concerned that somebody is not who they say they are, we’ll give them a phone number they can verify,” Hampston said, adding contact tracing is also always done via phone and people should be cautious of any links or things that need to be downloaded they receive, as well as anyone visiting in person to complete contact tracing.

As of Sunday, Gogebic County had 89 positive cases and an additional seven probable cases, according to information on the state’s coronavirus website. Ontonagon remained at three confirmed cases and one probable case, according to the state data.

Gogebic County’s cases increased by 17 from the 72 positive cases the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department had reported Thursday.

Officials in both states continued to encourage people to take steps to prevent the spread of the virus — including wearing masks or face coverings, staying home and limiting travel as much as possible, practicing social distancing and properly washing hands.

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