Virus testing sites abound

U.P. has 30 locations, 13 are free

MARQUETTE — A new list shows nearly 90% of Michiganders live within 30 minutes of a free COVID-19 testing site.

Sorted by the MI Safe Start Michigan Economic Recovery Council regions, the list shows all known testing locations in Michigan.

The list is available at Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest where people can search by city or zip code and identify sites that offer free testing, tests for people without symptoms, do not require a doctor’s order or test uninsured individuals.

The Upper Peninsula has 30 sites, 13 of which are free. Marquette-area locations include the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center sites in Marquette, Gwinn and K.I. Sawyer.

Residents may call the COVID hotline at 888-535-6136 to find a nearby location and schedule an appointment. The hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Keep those masks on

The Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department is urging people to wear masks and avoid holiday gatherings to help stem the surge of COVID-19 cases.

Issuing a joint statement Tuesday were Nicholas Derusha, director and health officer of the LMAS District Health Department; Hunter Nostrant, CEO of Helen Joy Newberry Hospital and Healthcare Center; Robert Crumb, CEO of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital; Karen Cheeseman, president and CEO of the Mackinac Straits Health System; and Dr. John Reynolds, interim CEO of Munising Memorial Hospital:

“We have been working together since late February to plan, prepare and respond as we watched COVID-19 begin to spread nation to nation, state to state and county to county,” they said. “Back in March, there were hearts on windows and banners declaring health care and public workers as heroes as we worked together to protect all our communities.

“Many heeded the early messages to slow the spread of the virus, yet here we stand in mid-November with case numbers and hospitalizations spiraling upward at a rate that endangers not only the health of others, but limits public health capacity to contain the spread, and reduces hospitals’ ability to care for all patients in need of medical services whether for COVID, flu, heart attacks or car accidents.”

The reasons behind this “critical point,” they said, include general COVID fatigue, political divisions, conspiracy theories and a “growing lack of compassion for each other.” Without “broad cooperation and basic consideration for others,” things are going to get much worse.

The health officials acknowledged there are signs of hope with a promising vaccine on the horizon, but until one is widely available and accepted, people should wear masks that completely cover their mouths and noses, stay home when not feeling well, wash their hands and refrain from participating in any size gathering — which includes anyone not living in their immediate households.

“It is imperative that we all work together,” they said. “This has been a long haul, and we’re not done with COVID-19 yet. We must slow the spread of the virus, but it is up to you to choose to do the right things, and have compassion for others even if it means you must make some small personal sacrifices like wearing a mask and skipping a holiday gathering.

“These are small prices to pay to protect your life and the health and lives of others.”

Lorinser named to new posts

Robert Lorinser, M.D., has been named medical director of the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, Dickinson-Iron Health Department, and Public Health Delta & Menominee Counties.

“I am eager to share my years of experience, skills and knowledge to guide the efforts of local public health, especially during the COVID crisis,” Lorinser said in a statement.

Lorinser, who also serves as medical director for the Marquette County Health Department, has lived since 1989 in Marquette, where he practiced family medicine. In 2011, he accepted a position as regional medical officer with the Foreign Service. During his tenure with the U.S. State Department, he completed five tours, providing medical care to U.S. government employees and their families in Pakistan, South Korea, Afghanistan, Morocco and Iraq.

Chocolay Township

offices closing

Chocolay Township offices will be closed until Dec. 8, the township announced on Tuesday. Staff, other than emergency personnel, will work remotely. Staff will check voicemail, email, the drop box and mailbox regularly.

Anyone submitting payments are asked to use the drop box on the front of the township building, located at 5010 U.S. 41 South in Harvey. If residents need to speak with somebody, they are asked to call 906-249-1448 and choose the proper extension.

Casino closing

Effective at noon today, Bay Mills Resort & Casinos will close for three weeks. The closure is in partnership with the state of Michigan’s efforts to reduce the numbers of cases of COVID-19 throughout the state.

BMRC employees will be paid during the three-week closure.

“This pandemic is unpredictable,” Bay Mills Indian Community Tribal Chairman Bryan Newland said in a news release. “Fortunately, we budgeted CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funds in anticipation another shutdown might occur. We believe in protecting our community as well as our employees.”

BMRC plans to reopen on Dec. 8. Back Bay Grill and Games is considering staying open for takeout dining, but a decision will be announced shortly.

BMIC remains at a level 4 restriction in its Pandemic Response Plan. Additional information about level 4 operations, which are in place until 12:01 a.m. Dec. 11, can be found at www.baymills.org.

Ishpeming school district announces schedule

Ishpeming Public Schools on Monday announced in a Facebook post its schedule for remote learning.

Students in grades 9 through 12 at Ishpeming High School will go to distance learning beginning Wednesday. They will return to face-to-face learning on Dec. 9.

The early childhood education class will take part in distance learning Monday through Nov. 25, returning to face-to-face learning on Nov. 30.

Students in pre-K through eighth grade at Birchview Elementary School and Ishpeming Middle School will move to distance learning Monday through Nov. 25, and return to face-to-face learning on Nov. 30.

Ishpeming parade


Due to COVID-19 concerns and the current social gathering restrictions in place in Michigan, the Ishpeming Community Events Committee has canceled the Ishpeming Christmas Parade, which typically is held on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The committee will determine at a later date whether other Christmas activities can take place after Dec. 8.

NMU updates case


The most recent cumulative numbers on Northern Michigan University’s Safe on Campus dashboard, found at https://nmu.edu/safe-on-campus/, show that between July 27 and Tuesday, there have been 245 COVID-19 positive cases, with a 3.25% positivity rate. These cases include 101 on-campus students, 122 off-campus students and 22 employees.

There are 68 active positive cases — 34 on-campus students, 28 off-campus students and six employees.

Store adjusting shopping

The Gathered Earth Gift Shop, 131 W. Washington St., Marquette, is adjusting holiday shopping to accommodate the current guidelines issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Customers may register for private shopping blocks through the Gathered Earth’s Facebook page or calling the store at 906-273-1617. Shopping sessions last for 25 minutes each and are available at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. through Monday. Private shopping will be extended to 9 to 11 a.m. starting next week.

Shopping parties of up to six people are permitted, and the store will disinfect and sanitize between shoppers. Regular store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Customers who visit the store during hours reserved for private groups will be notified upon entering the store that they might need to return at a later time if a pre-registered shopper is expected soon.

Museum announces

operational changes

Although the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum is not allowing walk-ins at this time, it invites area residents to book a two-hour block of private playtime, or “Bubble Bookings,” in the museum. There is no extra fee for booking during regular business hours. Admission is per person, and is $6 for adults and children ages 2 and older. Infants are admitted free of charge.

The offer runs until Dec. 9 and masks are required.

To book a time slot, call 906-226-3911 between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To book after-hours private parties and sleepovers, email museummrjim@ gmail.com.

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


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