Coronavirus in Michigan: Day 76

Reports: Visitors spread coronavirus Up North

Relaxed restrictions draw crowds north for Memorial Day weekend

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MONDAY, May 25 — As crowds headed north for the holiday weekend, the spread of COVID-19 to northern Michigan’s otherwise insulated communities was already forcing some residents into quarantine.

The Grand Traverse County Health Department confirmed earlier today that two out-of-state travelers who came Up North to visit family this weekend have tested positive for the coronavirus, reports the Traverse City Ticker. Both were reportedly symptomatic. One is in the hospital and the other — along with six of their family members — are now self quarantining.

Health Officer Wendy Hirschenberger told the Ticker that her department conducted a case investigation and there does not appear to have been community exposure, but she also warned others hosting family members from downstate regions to reduce contact with others.

“I think we're going to continue to see things like this throughout the rest of the summer, if we're being honest,” Hirschenberger added. “It’s going to be on us to be as proactive as we can on following up quickly and getting people isolated and quarantined.”

The reports follow last week’s directive from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that allowed bars and restaurants to reopen at half-capacity across much of northern Michigan. And just days before the holiday weekend, the news reportedly took some of its local health officials off guard.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that regional officials have been rushing over the last few days to provide precautionary guidance to businesses, citizens and law enforcement — and to respond to public comments from residents worried an influx of tourists could bring the virus.

“It’s scary to think about a lot of people coming here,” Hirschenberger told the Record-Eagle. “I understand the concern from citizens. We’re going to have to take it day by day, and rely upon each other to do the right thing and protect one another.”

Recent Michigan State University graduates were among those waiting to be allowed inside U&I Lounge, a bar in downtown Traverse City. Other Up North pubs banned downstate customers from entry. And some places, such as The Arcade, were packed with guests playing corn hole.

Across Michigan, sheriff’s deputies and beach patrols tried to make sure people kept their distance from others as they soaked up the rays on the sand and at parks and other recreation sites around the country, reports The Detroit News. Not many problems have been reported.

The Port Huron Recreation Department opened beaches on Thursday with regulations to limit the spread of COVID-19. The department encouraged patrons to practice social distancing and keep at least six feet apart. Police there and in Macomb and Oakland counties frequently passed through the beaches to enforce the rules, according to reports The Detroit News.

The same adherence to the safety protocols, however, couldn’t be said for Florida. The Associated Press reports that crowds were so big in the Tampa area along the state’s Gulf Coast that authorities took the extraordinary step of closing off its parking lots from guests.

Yesterday, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend, AP reports.

“We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. If you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” Birx said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Officials at Isle Royale National Park, a remote island in Lake Superior, said they’re delaying the summer opening because of coronavirus restrictions, reports the Associated Press. Camping might become available by late June or July, but there will be no ferry to travel back and forth. That could mean visitors would need to arrive with their own boat or seaplane when it reopens.

Meanwhile, an electronic billboard on southbound I-69 and south of the interstate toll road encourages Michiganders to take a trip to Indiana, where there is currently no-stay home order. Steve Swick, president of Swick Broadcasting Co. and owner and author of the billboard, told the Detroit Free Press the message is meant as a positive one to encourage local tourism.

In the numbers…

At least seven new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Greater Lansing since yesterday, with no additional deaths reported across the tri-county region. The regional death toll still stands at 41 with at least 1,017 confirmed cases reported in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties to date.

Statistics show daily case spikes in Greater Lansing have been gradually diminishing — a sign that the coronavirus curve is flattening locally and across Michigan. And whether a second viral spike eventually arrives depends largely on how people handle social distancing, officials said.

Michigan tracked at least another 202 coronavirus statewide cases this afternoon with another 12 virus-related deaths, edging up the case count to nearly 55,000 with more than 5,200 deaths.

Ingham County                     

Cases — 701 (+5)

Recovered Cases — 368

Recovery Rate — 52.5%

Deaths — 25 (No change)

Fatality Rate — 3.6%

As of yesterday, zip code 48911 tracks 211-220 cases. Zip code 48910 tracks 81-90 cases. Zip code 48823 tracks 61-70 cases. Zip code 48854 and 48906 tracks 51-60 cases. Zip code 48864 tracks 41-50 cases. Zip codes 48842 and 48912 each track 31-40 cases. Zip code 48915 tracks 21-30 cases. Zip codes 48917, 48840, and 48895 each track 11-20 cases. Zip codes 48285, 48819, 48827, 48892, 48933, 49251, 49264 and 49285 each track 10 cases or fewer.

Eaton County                 

Cases — 178 (+2)

Recovered Cases — 153

Recovery Rate — 86%

Deaths — 6 (No change)    

Fatality Rate — 3.4%

Clinton County                                                                                

Cases — 138 (No change)

Deaths — 10 (No change)

Fatality Rate — 7.2%

The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.                   

Michigan                        

Cases — 54,881 (+202)

Recoveries — 33,168 (as of 5/22/20)                

Recovery Rate — 60.4%

Deaths — 5,240 (+12)

Fatality Rate — 9.5%

Widespread flooding near Midland has dredged up muck thick with debris and potentially deadly pathogens. Though, health officials are uncertain whether the contaminated floodwaters will pose any additional risks for the transmission of the coronavirus, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Local health officials, volunteers and the Red Cross did all they could, reports the Free Press, to mitigate the possibility of COVID-19 spreading inside the shelters set up at Midland, Coleman and Bullock Creek high schools and a pair of community centers. Every person who entered a shelter was reportedly screened for flu-like symptoms. And each had a temperature check, too.

U.S.                  

Cases — 1,653,904

Deaths — 97,948

Fatality Rate — 5.9%

Source: CNN    

As of today, Michigan reports the eighth most cases of any state, behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas. Michigan for weeks has ranked fourth in the country in virus-related deaths, behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

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