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New COVID-19 cases reported in Alger, Houghton counties

County health department releases guidance for reopening buildings

A window in a downtown Marquette business contains a message of encouragement. (Journal photo)

MARQUETTE — Munising Memorial Hospital announced on its Facebook page that a lower Michigan resident tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility this week.

The person, according to the post, visited their second home in Alger County but had minimal contact with others while in the area.

The hospital said it has taken precautions to be certain it has been sanitized and deep cleaned for patients’ safety.

Multiple new COVID-19 cases in Houghton County

A total of five new cases have been reported in Houghton County this week, according to the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department.

For Friday, May 29.

The two initial cases were reported in a Tuesday press release and were not related to one another, officials said.

One of those two people had recently traveled from another state to visit family, while the second COVID-19-positive person had returned home after wintering in another state.

Three additional cases were reported Wednesday on the WUPHD Facebook page.

Two of the cases are connected to the two cases reported Tuesday, the post states, while the third is not related and does not have a history of travel.

The official total cases in Houghton County remains at five, because not all of the new cases will be reported under state protocol as Houghton County cases as they are not all Michigan residents.

The health department is continuing to investigate the cases and the contact tracing process, officials said.

“The ability of people to travel more and to gather in groups of 10 or less as we reopen brings increased risk of exposure,” Kate Beer, health officer at WUPHD said in the Tuesday release. “We must continue to take safe steps to reduce the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.”

Marquette County Health Department issues guidance for reopening buildings

The Marquette County Health Department issued guidance Thursday for the safe reopening of buildings.

“As businesses and other places of work begin to open, the Marquette County Health Department is encouraging building managers not only to implement best practices for COVID-19 prevention of spread, but also to evaluate other potential hazards including stagnant, unsafe drinking water,” the release states.

Stagnant water lines within buildings may result in the growth of pathogenic bacteria that can cause illnesses including Legionnaire’s disease, according to the release.

MCHD also warns that stagnant water lines can cause “elevated levels of metal having negative health effects, such as lead and copper.”

The health department recommends that building owners and businesses follow recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for reopening buildings at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html.

Foster families needed amid pandemic

As Michigan takes measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, families are still needed to provide temporary foster homes for children.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services wants to raise awareness of that need this month, which is Foster Care Awareness Month.

The department also wants to inform prospective foster parents about actions that are being taken to protect them and the children who are in foster care from COVID-19.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, many Michigan families continue to provide safe and loving homes to Michigan children in foster care,” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Children’s Services Agency in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in a news release. “Foster families from around the state have shown tremendous grace and flexibility during these uncertain times. MDHHS provides resources to families to keep them together whenever possible, but placement in foster care may be necessary when a child is not safe at home.”

While MDHHS is thankful for the families who are already caring for youth in foster care, there is always a need for more families to open their hearts and homes to fostering, even during the pandemic, officials said.

Michigan has around 12,500 children in foster care.

During the pandemic, MDHHS is informing prospective foster parents of a child’s health status prior to placement. The department is also asking health screening questions of all household members in a foster family before placement. MDHHS has changed policies to temporarily decrease in-person contact and put practices in place to help keep everyone healthy and safe.

The first step to becoming a foster parent is contacting a foster care navigator.

Navigators are experienced foster parents who can answer questions, help individuals find an agency that’s right for them and provide guidance along their journey to becoming a foster parent. Foster care navigators are ready to assist families through the foster homes licensing process. Navigators can be reached at 1-855-642-4543.

Christie Mastric can be reached at cbleck@miningjournal.net. Lisa Bowers can be reached at lbowers@miningjournal.net

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