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Park staffer, NMU student test positive: Response protocols in place

MARQUETTE — A city of Marquette staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, the city announced on Monday.

The individual, an employee at the Tourist Park Campground, last reported to work on Wednesday. The city announced it was notified of the positive test result late Sunday afternoon, at which time the city enacted COVID-19 response protocols.

City employees who feel ill or who display symptoms of COVID-19 are directed not to come to work. To respect the employee’s privacy, no additional details will be provided at this time, city officials said.

The Marquette County Health Department is actively involved in investigating the case as well as contact tracing.

NMU student tests positive

A Northern Michigan University student living on campus has tested positive for COVID-19, the university announced.

NMU officials were notified Sunday by the Marquette County Health Department of the positive test result.

The notification activated established university protocols concerning the diagnosis and contact tracing has been conducted.

This communication to the university community of the first known campus case is following the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Education and the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information.

Due to privacy laws, no other information about the individual will be provided, officials said.

NMU is working closely with the Marquette County Health Department, according to the university.

The health and safety of the community are of the utmost importance, the university announcement stated, and everyone is urged to follow the latest prevention guidelines that have been published widely.

Specifically, this means mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding large gatherings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone who feels sick should seek medical advice by first calling a medical professional. A medical professional is in the best position to recommend whether further action is needed, NMU officials said.

For the latest updates and information about NMU’s response to the ongoing coronavirus situation, visit nmu.edu/covid.

Norlite reports a new case

Norlite Nursing Center, located in Marquette, posted on its Facebook page Friday that through weekly testing, it was able to identify a COVID-19-positive employee who had traveled to the Muskegon area the previous week.

That employee is at home and quarantined, and had performed work at the facility before receiving the positive result. However, the employee worked with appropriate personal protection equipment, including an N-95 mask and surgical overlay for the duration of her shifts.

“We do not believe any other individual has been exposed, but time will tell,” the post read. “We are proceeding cautiously and testing all residents and staff — with repeat testing at least weekly until we have 14 days with zero additional positives — and we are confident no transmission has occurred.”

Staff in close vicinity are being quarantined out of an abundance of caution, it said.

“This is the point of testing: to identify, isolate and protect our residents, staff and families,” Norlite said in the post. “We are thankful for the tools we have today that we did not have back in March.”

Norlite had reported eight deaths related to COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.

Program focuses on retail

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched the State Emphasis Program, which is focused on retailers, restaurants, bars, gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores and other service industry and retail establishments.

The SEP will educate and seek compliance with guidelines and rules to protect workers and customers in locations serving the public where community spread of COVID-19 is a risk.

MIOSHA will conduct inspections by referral or randomly at bars and restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores.

While inspections will seek to help employers comply with safety standards, if the inspections determine major deficiencies in the employer’s COVID-19 preparedness and response plans, citations and penalties up to $7,000 may be issued.

It addresses the need for increased partnership, education and enforcement to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“This new initiative is aimed at helping them educate employees and customers on best practices and assure that all workplaces remain safe for the community,” Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio said in a news release from the State Emergency Operations Center.

Steps the affected businesses must take include conducting daily health screenings of employees and contractors, requiring employees and customers to properly wear face coverings, and implementing enhanced cleaning protocols when employees or the public become sick.

Other steps include maintaining proper social distancing and capacity limits, creating a preparedness and response plan, and posting signs and notifying customers of their obligation to wear face coverings if medically tolerated, and not entering if they feel sick.

Guidance and resources are posted at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety per requirements of the governor’s executive orders, CDC guidance and OSHA guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19.

Savings to be seen

Michigan consumers and businesses will see an estimated savings of around $96.8 million as a result of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services’ orders requiring that insurers provide adjustments or credits for worker’s compensation policies and partial refunds of automobile insurance premiums, according to the State Emergency Operations Center.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many insurance companies saw a significant drop in claims, so the premiums paid by their customers could not be justified.

“Consumers and businesses should not be required to pay insurance premiums that do not reflect the changes they have made to day-to-day activities during the pandemic,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox said in a news release. “As a result of COVID-19, businesses have made significant changes to the way they operate, and individuals have significantly reduced the amount they are driving, both of which have significantly reduced insurers’ payments on claims.”

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

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