NMU is virus free

University has no current active cases, no one in quarantine

Northern Michigan University freshman Grace Mattson goes through the Passport to Campus event. NMU officials report that the campus is COVID-19 free, with no active cases of the virus and no one in quarantine. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University, as of Monday morning, has zero students in quarantine and no active positive cases of COVID-19.

NMU’s live COVID-19 reporting dashboard featured “many zeros” on Monday, said NMU Chief Marketing Officer Derek Hall.

“Zero active cases in our population of 6,630,” Hall said in an email. “Zero residential hall students living in Spalding Hall, the campus quarantine site. Zero faculty and staff with a positive test result. Zero cases found in last week’s randomized surveillance testing.

“The zeros are a credit to our campus community and their vigilance of making good decisions related to remaining healthy.”

NMU is conducting 300 randomized surveillance tests each week and will continue to conduct them throughout the semester, said Hall, who pointed out that students are attending classes, both in-person and virtually, and are one-third through the 15-week semester.

Hall said that every Monday, NMU has a group — employees, off-campus students or residential students — involved in random surveillance testing. NMU athletes are tested more frequently due to NCAA rules.

According to NMU’s COVID-19 reporting dashboard, found at nmu.edu/safe-on-campus/dashboard, there have been 42 positives — 27 off-campus students, 10 on-campus students and five employees — from Jan. 4 through Monday.

“Our first case happened just prior to school starting in mid-August,” Hall said. “We did not have any number to report from Thanksgiving to Jan. 6. In the past five weeks we have had a total of 42 positives prior to today’s zeros. Those 42 have since recovered, giving us the zero active cases.”

NMU President Fritz Erickson on Monday sent a letter to the campus community, congratulating students, faculty and staff on their efforts to keep COVID-19 in check.

Their “great work,” he said, includes wearing their masks properly when they are around people out of their households, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, washing their hands frequently, not touching their faces with unclean hands, limiting their travel out of their area to essential travel to avoid bringing new COVID-19 variants to campus, monitoring for symptoms daily and staying home when they are sick.

“It would be great if the rest of the week and weeks into the future have just as many zeros on the dashboard as we have today,” Erickson wrote.

He said campus members have been finding the new COVID phone information at 906-227-2684 helpful.

“When you don’t know who to contact with COVID-related questions, the line can help direct you to the right office or person for answers,” Erickson said.

Mask up, but correctly

Regardless of the vaccine output, face masks are still an important tool in fighting COVID-19.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is expanding its statewide paid media campaign to remind all Michiganders, including those who have already received the vaccine, to continue wearing masks as the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is administered throughout the state.

“We are making great progress towards our goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders as quickly as possible, but it is important people remain vigilant in preventing spread of COVID-19 even after receiving a vaccine,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, in a statement. “Wear the right mask and wear it properly over your mouth and nose every time you will be around someone outside of your household.

“Masks, social distancing and washing hands are still very important in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and ending this pandemic.”

The $1 million mask campaign runs through April and includes television, connected TV, radio, audio streaming, digital media, search, print in minority publications and social media. Digital ads with specific messaging and targeting parameters were also developed to connect with minority populations.

MDHHS reminds Michiganders to follow these tips when wearing a mask:

≤ Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face since gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask;

≤ Pick a mask with layers to keep respiratory droplets in and others’ out, with two or three layers recommended. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside a mask or escaping from it if the person is sick.

Non-medical disposable masks are acceptable as are masks made with tightly woven fabric or breathable cotton as well as those with inner filter pockets, the MDHHS said.

Not acceptable are masks made from loosely woven fabric or knitted, those that have exhalation valves or vents and those made from materais that result in breathing difficulty. Wearing a scarf or ski mask does not substitute for a proper face mask, it said.

The MDHHS noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing two masks to increase protection, with double masking also providing a way to improve fit and therefore block out more particles.

The CDC said one cloth or medical mask will block 40% of particles, but a cloth mask worn over a medical mask will block 85% of particles, and two medical masks worn or a medical mask knotted and tucked properly will block 95% of particles.

Other options to improve fit include wearing a mask fitter or wearing a nylon covering such as a gaiter over a mask.

Anyone needing a free mask can contact their local community action agency or local DHHS office.

Festival update given

The Hiawatha Music Co-op said in an announcement that organizers are considering whether to hold an in-person Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival this year, noting there are many factors that play into the decision.

They said they are meeting with key festival coordinators to determine the impact of COVID-19 precautions and safety measures that might affect the event’s tasks and volunteers.

They plan to have a decision at its March 3 board meeting.

The 2020 festival was canceled due to the pandemic.

New appointments


The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department is accepting new appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations for those within the Phase 1B Priority One and Two groups.

The Phase 1B Priority One group includes those age 65 and older. The Phase 1B Priority Two group include first responders, educators, corrections staff and child protective service workers.

Scheduling for Iron County residents started this morning, but for Dickinson County residents, appointments can be made starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday. A link also will be posted on didhd.org at the same time so individuals can schedule their own appointments online. Those who do not have computer access can call 906-774-1868 to schedule.

Appointments must be made in the county an individual lives since vaccines are allocated based on a county’s population.

Appointments are required to receive the vaccine; no walk-ins will be accepted. The Dickinson County vaccine clinic will be in the yellow administration building on the county fairgrounds in Norway.

Consent forms and other information regarding COVID-19 can be found at didhd.org. Those scheduled for vaccination are asked to print and fill out the online consent form in advance if possible to help keep the clinic flow moving. Consent forms will be available at the clinics.

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


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