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NMU to receive vaccine allocation for students

Variant ID’d in Mackinac Co.

Northern Michigan University freshman Grace Mattson prepares to take a nasal swab to test for COVID-19 at the Northern Center during the Passport to Campus event in August. NMU plans to hold vaccine clinics for students on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University will receive an allocation of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, with clinics to start on Tuesday, the school announced Friday.

NMU’s Ada B. Vielmetti Health Center confirmed that it will be receiving the allotment, and because the vaccine requires a single dose, students will have the opportunity to get vaccinated before leaving campus at the end of the semester on May 1, officials said.

NMU will offer its first vaccine clinics for students on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Students will receive an email with details on dates, times, location and registration process,” NMU President Fritz Erickson said in a news release. “We hope to have another allotment the following week for more student vaccinations. Being able to offer clinics for students next week, and possibly beyond, is exciting news.”

Erickson said appointments through the school are open to only full-time and part-time students.

“For now, we’d like faculty and staff to sign up through the health department or local pharmacies since the state-allotted vaccine coming to NMU this time is designated for student-use only.”

The vaccines will be free and require no insurance. Appointments will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and NMU will also provide a waiting list to account for potential cancellations.

The school is also urging its students, faculty and staff to sign up for the ongoing vaccine clinics through the Marquette County Health Department. MCHD has been administering mostly Pfizer-BioNTech and Morderna vaccines, which are both two-dose series that require roughly a month-long wait between doses.

“According to the MCHD, it is possible for students to get a first shot in Marquette and the second shot in their hometowns, as long as it’s the same type of vaccine,” Erickson said. “Several area pharmacies are also providing vaccines, including some giving the Johnson & Johnson version.”

Erickson is urging the NMU community to get vaccinated for many reasons, including decreased illness if they contract the virus, less chance of transmitting the virus to others, avoiding a quarantine period if identified as a close contact and increasing the school’s percentage of protected individuals.

“It helps the efforts toward face-to-face instruction, less restrictive on-campus living and working, and being able to hold and participate in large group campus activities,” he said.

To date, NMU has had 112 positive COVID-19 cases throughout the winter semester. That includes 65 off-campus students, 37 on-campus students and 10 employees.

As of Friday, the school is reporting 29 active cases, including 19 off-campus students and 10 on-campus students. The school has a student population of 6,530.

NMU’s Temaki and Tea, Smoothie King pause

indoor seating

In line with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urging a two-week pause of in-person high school classes, youth sports and indoor restaurant dining, NMU announced Friday that two of its on-campus restaurants, Temaki and Tea and Smoothie King, will pause indoor service beginning on Monday through April 23.

School officials announced that the decision was made to conform with Whitmer’s recommendation in an attempt to reduce COVID-19 community spread.

Temaki and Tea and Smoothie King share the same building at 1422 Presque Isle Ave. near the Superior Dome.

The restaurant will continue to offer call-ahead and drive-thru service during the pause. Temaki and Tea is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Smoothie King is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

NMU Dining Services said that the university’s dining halls for on-campus students, Northern Lights Dining and The Wildcat Den, will continue to provide reduced-capacity indoor seating per the state of Michigan’s current epidemic order.

Fieras, located in the lower level of Harden Hall, along with Starbucks in Jamrich Hall, will continue to offer takeout service with no in-house seating available. Melted in the C.B. Hedgcock Building remains closed.

For more information on NMU’s dining operations, hours and menus, or NMU Dining Services’ mobile app for online ordering, visit nmu.edu/dining or call 906-227-2520.

B.1.1.7 variant confirmed in Mackinac County, LMAS reports rise in cases

A Mackinac County resident has tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, the Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department announced Friday.

As of Thursday, there are 18 confirmed cases of the variant in the Upper Peninsula across Houghton, Chippewa, Marquette, Dickinson and now Mackinac counties. Marquette County was the first to confirm a case of the variant, which was reported March 16.

The state of Michigan has reported 2,262 cases of the variant statewide, second only to Florida, according to a news release from LMAS.

“The B.1.1.7 variant is much more infectious than the original strain, and we certainly see that in the sudden surge in cases in our four counties,” LMAS Health Officer Nick Derusha said in the release. “The variant arrived in the Upper Peninsula at the same time that more things were opening up and more people have become less diligent in following the basic protocols of wearing a mask, limiting gatherings, washing hands and staying home when sick. It was a perfect storm.

“If we’re going to stop the variant, and prevent additional variants from forming, we need more people to step up and get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe and effective. Right now across the state, we are seeing hospitalizations increase again, and more COVID patients in ICU beds, but many of those are now from younger age groups who have been less likely to get the COVID vaccinations. We can see the vaccines are working in the reduced number of older folks being hospitalized with COVID.”

LMAS said it has vaccination appointments available for scheduling at LMSADHD.org.

To schedule a COVID-19 test, call the LMAS health department at 906-293-5107, ext. 363.

“Until a large majority of the population is immunized against COVID, everyone needs to properly wear a mask in public or with people who do not live in your immediate household,” officials said in the release. “Wash your hands, maintain at least six feet of distance and stay home when you don’t feel well. We have the power to stop this, but we must all work together.”

State reports over 5 million vaccine doses given

The state of Michigan has surpassed 5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine administered, officials announced Friday.

“Administering more than 5 million doses of the safe and effective COVID vaccine in under four months is a big deal, but we’ve still got a lot more work to do,” Whitmer said in a news release Friday. “Right now our numbers are alarming, and we all have a role to play to get our state moving in the right direction again. That’s why I’m renewing my call on the federal government to surge additional vaccines to our state, and it’s why I’m urging high schools and youth sports to voluntarily suspend in-person activities for the next two weeks.

“This is a team effort. It’s on all of us to do our part by masking up and getting vaccinated to protect ourselves and our families, so we can get back to normal. Let’s get it done.”

While multiple states ended most or all of their COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks, health and safety protocols such as a mask mandate, indoor social gathering limits, expanded coronavirus testing requirements and pop-up testing sites remain in place in Michigan.

With the state surpassing the 5 million mark in administered vaccines, it’s closer to achieving its goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible.

Last week, Whitmer announced a new goal of 100,000 shots per day, up from her initial goal of 50,000.

Michigan announced it had administered 4 million vaccines on March 29, meaning another 1 million were administered during this two-week period.

Michigan reported 7,834 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with 26 new deaths.

For the latest statewide COVID-19 data and information, visit Michigan.gov/coronavirus.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.

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