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2 Marquette County deaths confirmed

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Health Department has confirmed the county’s first two COVID-19 related deaths.

Dennis William Burkman, 73, a resident of the Norlite Nursing Center, was the first confirmed death. He “passed away suddenly from the coronavirus,” according to his online obituary. He died late Friday night, officials said. The death was reported by the Marquette County Health Department on Saturday.

The second Marquette County COVID-19 related death was confirmed this morning by Dr. Kevin Piggott, medical director of the Marquette County Health Department.

The Mining Journal previously published that Republic resident Gary Johnson, 74, had died of COVID-19 at UP Health Systems on Sunday, based on obituary information.

Burkman, who was the first COVID-19 related death reported in Marquette County, was one of three residents at the Norlite facility who tested positive for the disease after coming in close contact with an asymptomatic employee who was later diagnosed with the virus.

Norlite Nursing Home administrator Wayne Johnson said two female Norlite residents who tested positive are in stable condition.

Johnson said Norlite sent out a total of eight COVID-19 tests, which include the three positive cases, four negative and one pending.

He said he is grateful for the health care workers in his facility.

“Our caregivers are some of the most compassionate people in the world,” Johnson said. “My heart goes out to them for coming to work every day and facing this on the front lines. I want to go out and thank them because they are some of the best.”

As of 3 p.m. Sunday, 14 individuals in Marquette County had tested positive for the virus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The MDHHS reported a total of 15,718 to date COVID-19 cases in the state, with 617 deaths.

“Based on the occurrence of COVID-19 positive cases within Marquette County and throughout Michigan, it should be assumed that COVID-19 is present within your community,” the Marquette County Health Department press release states.

Michigan is ranked third in the nation for the number of COVID-19 cases, according to a New York Times database.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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