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Free virus testing available this weekend

Berry Events Center local site

For Thursday, June 11.

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Health Department is coordinating with the Michigan National Guard to provide free community-wide testing for anyone wishing to be tested for COVID-19.

Drive-up testing will be offered at the parking lot of Northern Michigan University’s Berry Events Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Anyone age 18 and older can be tested. No prior doctor’s visit is necessary. Testing is free of charge. Participants must bring a driver’s license or photo identification to register.

Free COVID-19 testing also will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Schoolcraft County Road Commission garage. 332 N. East Road, Manistique. The testing will be offered by the Michigan National Guard in partnership with Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft Health Department, Michigan State Police, Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Schoolcraft County Road Commission.

Residents do not have to show symptoms of the virus to be tested, nor do they need a doctor’s note. No appointment is needed to receive testing. A state of Michigan ID is required and testing is only for those 18 years and older.

Distance fee suspended

Northern Michigan University is suspending the per-credit online fee for all distance learning courses this fall as it did for the winter and summer semesters.

This also applies to Global Campus students.

NMU continued the waiver because some courses originally scheduled for face-to-face instruction might be modified or put online to accommodate social distancing mandates.

Students and faculty with high-risk factors might consider online as an option this fall.

Libraries change operations

The Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library plans to begin a curbside pickup program beginning Tuesday.

With the stay-at-home order lifted in Michigan, libraries are permitted to expand their services beyond digital and virtual services. The Ishpeming facility already has begun to accept returns in its book drop Monday through Friday.

Patrons may begin placing holds on books and other materials ahead of the roll-out of the curbside pickup program. They will be notified when their orders are ready, and then can schedule a time and day to pick up their materials.

“Libraries are the great equalizer,” library Director Jesse Shirtz said in a news release. “Their resources are available to everyone. We are excited to now have a safe way to make our physical items available in addition to our digital offerings.”

Curbside pickup service will be active from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday to start, with expanded hours and services to follow in the ensuing weeks and months. The library also is working on its summer reading program, which is set to start on June 29.

“We miss our patrons and we know people are eager to get back to using their library, so we are starting with curbside now and simultaneously working on ways to open up more and more of our services to the public,” librarian Kelsey Boldt said in a news release.

The Negaunee Public Library also said it’s working on reopening plans, which have been approved by the library’s advisory board and City Manager Nate Heffron.

“We are adopting protocols for workspace cleanliness and procedures for interacting with patrons and handling materials to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19,” said Jessica Holman, library director, in a news release.

The library will reopen in five phases. Phase 1, which will provide “minimal contact curbside service,” begins Monday. Patrons will be able to return library items in the drop boxes, located on Kanter Street outside Negaunee City Hall, and at the Negaunee Township Hall at 42 East State Highway M-35. Patrons can call the library at 906-475-7700 ext. 18 or email npl@uproc.lib.mi.us to reserve a pickup time to check out library items. Tax forms and free bookmarks can also be provided.

At curbside pickup, the library staff will wear a mask and gloves, and place items in a vehicle’s trunk or on an empty passenger seat. If the patron walks or bicycles to the library, staff will place the items in a dry location and move away to a distance of at least 6 feet. Items will be quarantined for three days after returning to the library, and will be unavailable.

To help kick off the library reopening, musician Troy Graham will live-stream a concert at 6 p.m. Monday on the library’s Facebook page.

In Phase 2, which will occur later this summer, the library will offer expanded curbside services. This will include copying, faxing and printing services; interlibrary loans; and summer reading programs. With increased exposure, staff will wear face shields as well as masks and gloves. Patrons are encouraged to wear masks as well.

“We have not set dates, beyond our initial reopening, due to the ever-changing nature of the situation,” Holman said. “It may be that at any point, we might have to revert back to another phase if there is an increase in cases in Negaunee. We would close if a staff member became ill with COVID-19. We want to check out books and smiles to our community, not viruses.”

Phase 3 will offer limited library access. Curbside services will continue. Masks will be required, except for infants and those unable to wear masks, and will be offered on a limited basis. The number of patrons allowed in the library space will be limited and enforced. Outdoor, socially distanced events may be held with permission of the city manager. Library items will still be quarantined and unavailable for three days after return.

In Phase 4, library access will be expanded. Computer use will be limited, and computers will be cleaned after each use. Small indoor meetings and events may be held. The library will heed guidance from health and city officials on whether masks will still be required, and whether items will still be quarantined upon return. Curbside services will continue.

Phase 5 will be a complete reopening of the library to coincide with the widespread availability of a vaccine, or the end of the pandemic as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and/or the World Health Organization. Curbside services will still be offered upon request.

Richmond Township Library also will begin curbside service on Monday. Patrons can call 906-475-5241, email richtown@uproc.lib.mi.us or send send a personal message through Facebook to send book requests.

The library requests patrons call the facility before they leave their homes to provide descriptions of their vehicles, and mention if they are walking to the library.

Patrons then should open their trunks or roll down their windows. The librarian then will bring the items to their vehicles. The librarian will bring items in a bag and set them on an outside table for pedestrians.

Returns are to be placed in the return box outside the library since the items will be quarantined for 72 hours before they can be checked out again.

The inside of the library will be tentatively open from June 29 to July 12 by appointment only, and open with no appointment needed starting July 13. This date is tentative. However, a limited number of patrons will be allowed in the library, with patrons to use masks, practice social distancing and sanitize their hands. Curbside service still will be available.

Wi-Fi hotspot map available

The state of Michigan, in partnership with the Connected Nation Michigan, has released a statewide Wi-Fi hotspot map to help residents who lack internet access at home.

The map is available under the COVID-19 section at Michigan.gov.

The transition to remote and distance learning has increased the need for residents and students to have easy access to broadband services. The Wi-Fi mapping effort, spearheaded by the Michigan Public Service Commission and Connected Nation Michigan, along with the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the Michigan Department of Education, is an interim step to spotlight publicly available broadband hotspots for households.

To date, more than 300 Wi-Fi hotspot locations are available from the parking lots of public schools, libraries and other locations in Michigan. The map also contains details on how to access the Wi-Fi hotspots’ networks.

Local Wi-Fi hotspots are the Peter White Public Library, Negaunee Public Library, Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library, Forsyth Township Public Library and Richmond Township Library.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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