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Community urged to protect vulnerable as cases rise in U.P.

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Health Department is reminding the community of the importance of protecting its most vulnerable residents.

A Friday MCHD release cites a “recent and continuing rise in COVID-19 cases within the county and throughout the region” along with the impending return of Northern Michigan University students to the area as reasons for citizens “to be cautious and considerate of vulnerable populations within our community.”

The health department has been collaborating with NMU as it plans for the safe return of the student population to campus in Marquette and is “confident” in the university’s strategies to address COVID-19, officials said in the release.

“However, it is important that we all remain considerate of vulnerable populations that are more susceptible to severe outcomes of COVID-19 as we move through the community in the coming months,” the release states. “Vulnerable populations include individuals at higher risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 infections, such as older adults, and individuals with underlying medical conditions, obesity, (those) who are immune compromised or live in congregate settings.”

MCHD officials are asking residents to consider limiting travel, reducing the number of people encountered, maintaining physical distancing, and wearing a mask in public.

“Likewise, high-risk individuals should stay vigilant and continue to practice standard precautionary measures to prevent becoming infected by the virus,” the release states.

Residents are reminded to clean hands often; use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not possible; avoid close contact with people, especially with those who appear sick; stay home when you are sick; clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces; and maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and people who are not members of the same household. The release also urges residents to “wear a mask — it ultimately protects us all.”

Whitmer prohibits discharge, discipline, retaliation for

employees who stay home sick

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-166 on Friday to “reinstate protections for Michigan workers as the state continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a news release from Whitmer’s office.

Under the order, the governor prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining or retaliating against employees who choose to stay home when they or their close contacts are sick.

“Since day one of this fight, I have urged people to do their part to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19, and that includes staying home when you are sick. But after the federal government allowed pandemic unemployment assistance benefits to lapse at the end of July, more working people are feeling pressure to return to work so they can provide for themselves and their families, even if they’re sick,” Whitmer said in the release. “As we have re-engaged sectors of our economy, and in turn put thousands of Michiganders back to work, it is still vital that employees feel empowered to make the right choice to stay home if they, or someone they have been in contact with, is sick. These protections will help to slow the spread of the virus and save lives, but we still need the federal government to work together in a bipartisan way to expand unemployment benefits and provide support for our workers and their families.”

Under Executive Order 2020-166, employers must treat employees who stay home when they are sick as if he or she were taking medical leave.

Any and all Michiganders who test positive for COVID-19 or who display one or more of the principal symptoms, such as a fever, sore throat, a new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, severe headache, and new loss of taste or smell, should stay home.

Individuals must remain home until 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without medication or 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared or were tested positive.

As a rule, if an individual has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or has had close contact with a confirmed positive case they should only leave their home for essential trips, to obtain food, medicine or medical care. Additionally, they may leave to partake in an outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, running, cycling or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least 6 feet from others.

State offers college town

COVID-19 workplace

safety webinars

As students return to Michigan college and university communities, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has begun hosting a series of webinars for retailers, bars, restaurants and other businesses in seven Michigan college towns, including Marquette.

The information presented in the webinars will help businesses that serve college students — like retailers, restaurants, bars and gyms — understand the most up-to-date rules and protocols they need to protect their patrons, employees and communities this fall, a Friday LEO release states.

The webinar for Marquette-area businesses will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 and can be attended by visiting https://bit.ly/31JbYnN on the web.

“The return of college students presents a new challenge and our businesses must be ready,” Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan said in the release. “To beat COVID-19, everyone must be aware of the latest information and follow key safety and health behaviors. We want to help local businesses understand exactly how to do that, so that together we can slow the spread of the virus and keep the economy moving.”

More information about COVID-19 Workplace Safety can be found on the web at michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety.

Michigan National Guard to

assist with COVID-19 testing in Watersmeet today

No-cost community COVID-19 testing will be offered at Northern Waters Casino at 5384 U.S. 45 in Watersmeet from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT today.

The testing is made possible by a continued partnership between the Michigan National Guard, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments.

“The Michigan National Guard has more than 20 trained testing teams ready to assist with community COVID-19 testing initiatives. These three-member teams include a certified medic to conduct the testing and two members to assist with paperwork, logistics and non-medical tasks,” the release states. “All team members from the Michigan National Guard have tested negative for COVID-19 and have been following strict medical protocols to ensure health and safety and to protect Michigan communities.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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