COVID-19 updates: UP200 canceled

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association announced Thursday on Facebook that it has canceled the 2021 UP200, Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30 sled dog races.

The UPSDA at its Wednesday board meeting decided to defer the 32nd running of the UP200 and Midnight Run to 2022, it said.

“The UPSDA has always prioritized safety of mushers, canines, volunteers and everyone involved,” the post reads. “After reviewing all possible options to continue the tradition into its 32nd running, it became evident that, given the ever-changing CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines regarding the current coronavirus pandemic, producing a safe race for teams, volunteers and spectators was too great of a challenge to overcome.”

The UPSDA called the cancellations “merely a break in the action.”

The UP200 was set for Feb. 12-14, with the Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30 scheduled for Feb. 12-13 and Feb. 13, respectively.

COVID app created

An app has been launched in the Lansing area to alert people exposed to the coronavirus.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget; and Michigan State University on Thursday launched a COVID-19 exposure notification app pilot program on MSU’s campus and for the surrounding community.

MI COVID Alert, according to the State Emergency Operations Center, is a voluntary, anonymous exposure notification smartphone app available at no cost. By submitting a non-identifying code provided by the public health department, app users with COVID-19 can confidentially alert students, faculty, staff and others who may have also been exposed to the virus.

“MSU has an opportunity to lead the way for all of Michigan in using this easy-to-use app to avoid a second wave,” said Robert Gordon, MDHHS director, in a statement.

The state will evaluate expansion of the app statewide based on results of the pilot program.

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they receive a pin from the local health department or state case investigators that allows them to share their test results anonymously on the app, which uses low-energy Bluetooth technology to detect nearby phones that also have the app. If an MI COVID Alert user has been in close contact with someone who submitted a positive COVID-19 test result, a push notification will be sent to their phone once the positive test result is entered into the system.

A notification means the app user was possibly within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes of someone who tested positive and shared their result. The app works in conjunction with traditional contact tracing, mask-wearing, hand washing and social distancing, but is not a replacement for these precautions or participation in contact tracing.

The exposure notification feature included in recent iOS and Android operating system updates works only with a companion app like MI COVID Alert. The app is available in the Apple and Google app stores.

UPHS limits visitors again

UP Health System-Marquette is reimplementing certain visitor restrictions. Since the Upper Peninsula continues to be at risk due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the increased rate of transmission, effective immediately, UPHS-Marquette will allow one healthy visitor per stay for inpatients only.

“Like many communities across the country, we continue to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the U.P.,” said Gar Atchison, UPHS market president, in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, we believe the proactive effort is necessary to do our part in keeping our patients and employees as safe as possible.”

Exceptions include: a support person with the patient in the Family Birthing Center at any time, including one certified doula or midwife during labor; a parent, foster parent or guardian of an individual under age 21 who is under the facility’s care; and a support person necessary for the provision of medical care, the support of activities of daily living, or the exercise of the power of attorney or court-appointed guardianship for an individual under the facility’s care.

Visitors accompanying outpatients are asked to wait outside the facility during the patient’s appointment/procedure. Visitors also are not allowed for patients in isolation, including those who are under observation for suspected or tested positive for COVID-19.

All designated visitors with approval to enter the facility are required to wear an appropriate mask or face covering.

Visitors are not allowed in the Emergency Department unless they are a parent/guardian of a minor. When it is necessary to support the care of the patient, a single visitor will be allowed.

Atchison stressed it is safe for the community to come to the hospital should care be required.

“COVID-19 cases are currently a smaller percentage of our total patient volume,” he said. “As a large regional hospital serving the residents of the Upper Peninsula, we are continuing to provide the necessary care our communities need.”

Eastwood suspends visitation

Eastwood Nursing Center, located in Negaunee, announced Thursday on Facebook that due to a jump in COVID-19 cases in Marquette County from Wednesday, the facility has suspended all visitation.

Eastwood said it plans to conduct mandatory twice-weekly testing “as we are predicting that Marquette County will have a positivity rate of greater than 10%, which would require us to test all staff twice a week.”

Bottle returns open

Michiganders who desire to redeem their outstanding 10-cent deposit on bottles and cans will now be able to go to any retailer that accepts returns, the Michigan Department of Treasury announced Thursday.

Effective immediately, all grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations and other retailers with bottle and can return facilities must open their return facilities, resume the collection of returnables and refund customer deposits.

Retailers that typically accept bottles and cans and provide deposits will reopen their facilities regardless of where such facilities are physically located, serviced by reverse vending machines, staffed by employees or some combination of the two.

All retailers with return facilities must ensure that those facilities comply with all state-mandated safety protocols to protect both workers and the public under the emergency order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Oct. 9.

Retailers may take various steps at their discretion, including limiting the number of beverage containers that may be returned by a single individual per day to a deposit refund of $25.

Results slowdown reported

The State Emergency Operations Center reported that due to a slowdown in the reporting of electronic laboratory results, the COVID-19 case count for Thursday contains additional case referrals that could have been included in Wednesday’s report.

Tens of thousands of test results are sent to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services electronically every day. These messages are processed through commercial software designed to act as an integrator that connects health reporting systems.

On Wednesday evening, a slowdown in the processing of messages from COVID-19 testing laboratories to the Michigan Disease Surveillance System was noted. The issue has been resolved, and no information was lost because of the slowdown.

Guidebook for remote working created

To aid with the transition to remote work, the Small Business Association of Michigan has created a new guide aimed to help small businesses navigate and thrive in these work situations.

“The pandemic has created many unprecedented circumstances for small businesses and that includes the transition to a predominately remote workforce for many companies,” SBAM President Brian Calley said in a news release. “Sorting out these arrangements can sometimes be complicated, so we created this resource to help businesses set up policies and arrangements that will help both the business and the employee thrive during these times.”

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Remote Work was created in partnership with the American Society of Employers and NuWave Technology Partners. The toolkit provides information and tips for small businesses on:

≤ Remote work policies;

≤ Remote work employee communications;

≤ Tips for productive remote work for both employers and employees;

≤ Cybersecurity and IT outsourcing;

≤ Investing in employees’ education; and

≤ Employee assistance programs.

The guide can be downloaded at www.sbam.org/the-small-business-owners-guide-to-remote-work.


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