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NMU begins coronavirus testing: 5 positive results so far

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University has begun COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty and staff, it announced in a Sunday alert. The university has conducted 3,800 tests and received 900 results, five of which were positive.

None of the people with positive tests live on campus.

“Following established university protocols, contact tracing has been initiated,” the alert read. “This communication to the university community of the cases is following the guidelines of the (U.S.) Department of Education and the Clery Act. Due to privacy laws, no other information about the individuals will be provided.”

NMU noted it is working closely with the Marquette County Health Department.

“The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance, and we implore all to follow the latest prevention guidelines that have been published widely, specifically, mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding large gatherings,” the alert read.

It urged anyone who feels sick to seek medical advice by first calling a medical professional, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A medical professional is in the best position to recommend whether further action is needed.

NMU recently announced its “Passport to Campus,” which lays out procedures for how the university reopens.

The process begins with students coming to the Northern Center, where their temperatures will be taken and COVID-19 nasal tests administered to them. Following that procedure, the students will receive their room keys, laptop and parking pass.

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

Naloxone kits available

NMU Pharmacy has received 492 naloxone kits from the Michigan Department of Human and Health Services. The kits will be distributed free of charge at NMU’s Fall Festival on Aug. 18.

Janice Nolan, a pharmacist at NMU Pharmacy, said in an email that data has shown suspected overdoses have increased nationally by 18% in March, 29% in April and 42% in May compared with 2019.

Several suspected factors have been linked to the increasing numbers, she noted, including social distancing, financial stress, limited health care and disruptions in drug trade.

Overdoses have become the hidden epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic, said Nolan, who pointed out that research has shown up to a 40% decrease in opioid prescriptions form 2014-19 — yet this has not correlated with a decrease in opioid overdoses.

Lakes convention moved online

The Michigan Inland Lakes Convention, which takes place every two years and is hosted by the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, will move to a virtual format because of COVID-19. It will be held Sept. 16-18.

This year’s theme is “Conserving Lakes in a Changing Environment.” The event will feature three days of workshops, presentations and networking opportunities.

Registration fees are reduced relative to the change from a face-to-face event to a virtual one: $30 all-inclusive for three days, $15 for speakers and free for students. The fees will support technical and administrative costs and cover student participation.

For details on registration visit www.canr.msu.edu/ michiganlakes/convention/.

Demand for housing reported

The Michigan housing industry is slowly recovering from the economic decline that started earlier this year, according to the Home Builders Association of Michigan.

A total of 1,587 permits for new single-family housing were issued in June statewide compared with 1,547 in June 2019. A total of 6,046 single-family home permits have been issued across the state from January through June, which is still less than the 7,134 permits issued during the same time in 2019.

“We are cautiously optimistic regarding an increase in June permit numbers compared to last year,” said HBAM CEO Bob Filka in a statement. “It is encouraging that despite an economic downturn, labor shortages and regulatory challenges, home construction permits continue to rise. The fact that increasing permits exceed our forecast is a further reason for optimism.”

The HBAM has long used an econometric model to provide forecasts of new home permit activity expected across Michigan. With the advent of COVID-19, that model had to undergo adjustment.

Based on outlooks by national economists, a “v-shaped” factor was incorporated into the forecasting model, which presumed a four-month impact period, beginning in March, before returning to a seasonal trend in July.

“Despite the statewide shutdown, which had a big impact on our industry, the drop in permits for March through May was not as deep as we expected,” Filka said.

With five months of the year remaining, the HBAM is forecasting that 13,556 permits will be issued for this calendar year.

HBAM has issued a proposed action plan to address challenges faced by the industry. Copies of the HBAM report, titled “Housing Challenges Threaten Our Economic Growth — Where Will Ten Million Michiganders Live?” can be downloaded at HBAofMichigan.com.

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

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