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MCHD: Throttle is potential exposure site, state officials advise against trick-or-treating, MAPS addresses rumors

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Health Department announced Friday that its officials became aware through contact tracing efforts of a potential public exposure at The Throttle Bar and Grill, located at 1669 M-35 in Little Lake.

The health department recommends that anyone who visited The Throttle Bar and Grill on Tuesday monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact their medical provider if they become symptomatic.

Testing information can be found on the health department’s website at mqthealth.org.

“As always, MCHD continues to recommend adhering to all social distancing and hygienic practices needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing whenever you are around people in public, whether inside or outside of (a) building,” officials said in the announcement.

“Avoid physical contact with others and don’t share items such as water bottles or cell phones.”

State officials recommend against trick-or-treating

The MDHHS issued guidance on Friday that families should consider alternatives to trick-or-treating when celebrating Halloween today.

“COVID-19 cases are unfortunately on the rise in all parts of the state, and activities like trick-or-treating or indoor Halloween parties significantly increase the risk of transmission or exposure,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We recommend that families avoid trick-or-treating and consider other ways to celebrate this year.”

Alternative celebrations include scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treating, decorating the house, having a virtual Halloween costume contest with friends and family, or staying in and watching Halloween movies dressed in costumes, the release states.

For those who choose to participate in trick-or-treating activities, MDHHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend taking the following steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission:

Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters; give out treats outdoors, if possible; set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take; wash hands before handling treats and wear a mask when passing out treats.

Trick-or-treaters can do their part by bringing hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content and using it after touching objects or people, officials said. Parents should supervise young children using hand sanitizer. Officials also recommend washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds upon getting home and before you eat any treats.

For more information, find the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween.

For more information on Halloween guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, visit: https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339–540429–,00.html

Visit www.Halloween2020.org for more safety recommendations and tips about how to celebrate amid the pandemic.

MDDA spreads word about new MDHHS order, requirements

The Marquette Downtown Development Authority is providing its member businesses with tools they can use following updated Michigan Department of Health and Human Services emergency orders that further tighten restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday’s MDHHS order restricts indoor party sizes at a single table to six people at bars, restaurants and social events outside of private homes.

In addition, as of Monday, the order will require bars and restaurants to take the names and contact information of patrons to support effective contact tracing if necessary.

“Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that visiting restaurants is a risk factor for COVID positivity, and currently there are 12 outbreaks in Michigan associated with bars or restaurants with currently active clusters up to 12 cases,” an MDHHS press release states.

The MDDA is offering guidance as well as signage to member businesses, according to information distributed by events and promotions coordinator Tara Laase-McKinney.

“If you or your business has any questions or concerns regard(ing) these unusual times, please do not hesitate to reach out,” Laase-McKinney’s email states.

Khaldun said in the release that the orders are “centered on keeping the public safe and following best practices to reduce the spread of this deadly virus.”

“The alarming surge we are now seeing is exactly why we were so worried about the fall season,” Khaldun said. “We must remain vigilant, so we prevent long-term health consequences and unnecessary deaths, and protect our hospital capacity and the health of our frontline health workers.”

MDHHS has also released new measures to enhance enforcement, the MDHHS order states.

“While continuing to focus on encouraging voluntary compliance with its emergency orders, MDHHS has also issued rules that set forth fines for violations of these epidemic orders. Violations are punishable by a civil fine up to $1,000 and may also be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $200, or both,” the MDHHS release states. “In addition, failure to comply with orders may violate a business or professional’s licensure requirements or present a workplace safety violation.”

Residents seeking to report violations should consult the COVID complaints page at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus to find the appropriate form and department. Reports of general failures to wear a mask or physical distance can be directed to local law enforcement’s nonemergency line, the release states.

Marquette Area Public Schools addresses rumors

Superintendent Bill Saunders issued a letter available on the Marquette Area Public Schools website, addressing a rumor that the district had “been ordered to close,” and that Saunders “refused.”

“The truth is, due to rising cases countywide and in our community, it’s been suggested we consider closing to stem transmission of COVID. After a meeting on Oct. 19 with (UP Health System) and MCHD officials, I inquired if the data being shared was to be interpreted as an order to close,” Saunders’ letter states. “The answer I received back was that that decision would remain up to the (MAPS) Board of Education. It was further suggested by one official that I prep our board that a closure could be imminent. Anyone who watched local newscasts or read headlines in the paper saw that I did just that.”

He said if MAPS is ordered to close by one of its local partners, the district will comply.

“If we experience an inordinate number of cases or transmission within the schools, we will immediately close classrooms, buildings or the entire district,” the letter states. “We review these numbers on a daily basis and post all required COVID-related data as soon as we are aware. The MAPS Board of Education will continue to receive local and district data, such as the number of active cases within our school system, and perhaps more importantly the transmission of COVID between attendees, to guide their informed decision on whether the district continues to offer face-to-face learning or move entirely online. Our district is currently educating over 2,600 students face to face, an obvious priority for those families and school-aged children. Please know, the safety and security of these students, combined with our 400 employees, remain our highest priority.”

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

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