Gwinn schools switching to remote learning starting on Monday

MARQUETTE — Gwinn Area Community Schools is switching to remote learning from Monday through Friday.

The reason, of course, was the recent COVID-19 surge.

“This decision was not made easily,” Superintendent Brandon Bruce said on the district website. “However, as we saw a steady decline in attendance this past week with an anticipation of continued cases going up through the weekend, we decided to use the whole week.”

This action, he said, will give the district 10 days to mitigate and the opportunity for students and staff to return to school healthy.

“We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work through things we have never dealt with before,” Bruce said. “COVID is here to stay and we will continue to work together to keep our kids in school.”

LMAS updates numbers

The Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department announced in a Wednesday Facebook post that there have been 410 cases in its four counties in the previous five days. They include two deaths: one a Luce County resident and another a Schoolcraft County resident.

There have been 1,186 cases and eight deaths so far this month, LMAS said.

The post reads, “So, what do we do? Better question, what are you going to do? If you test positive for COVID, there’s a good chance you might not hear from us or anyone else. Most likely you will receive a text or email with instructions — if you provided your contact information at the testing site.”

LMAS stressed that the health department cannot keep up with the number of cases, focusing instead on schools, long-term care facilities, adult foster care homes and other congregate settings. Guidance on how individuals can protect themselves and others can be found at Michigan.gov/ContainCovid.

“All of us need your help to slow this very rapid spreading variant down and reduce the risk for everyone,” LMAS posted.

It urged people to get vaccinated and boosted, and wear a multilayer mask that fully covers the mouth and nose and fits against the face without gaps at the sides, top or chin.

“A multilayer cloth mask over a surgical mask is a pretty good combination,” the health department said. “If you have or obtain an N95 or KF94, those are excellent, but if they don’t fit you properly and aren’t worn properly, they won’t do much good.

“The important thing to do is use a multilayer mask without gaps and worn properly over the mouth and nose every time you go out in public or to a private gathering. Regardless of your vaccination status, you need to mask up, properly and consistently.”

LMAS also urged people to stay home except to seek medical care.

“It is difficult to know how to get across to you how serious this is and how very much we need each of you to help and do the things that are standard public health measures to slow the spread of disease and protect lives,” LMAS said.

Aspirus update

The latest chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic is being written by the omicron variant and it extends beyond the walls of its hospitals, announced Aspirus Health, based in Wausau, Wisconsin, in a Wednesday news release.

Aspirus reported that the latest surge and demand for COVID-19 testing, combined with increased levels of other seasonal illnesses such as influenza, is significantly impacting outpatient settings such as family health clinics and emergency departments.

Omicron has taken over as the dominant variant and it’s fueling increased volumes in emergency department and outpatient settings, it said.

“We have been seeing very high volumes of patients that have been coming to us for either COVID testing or treatment of COVID-related symptoms,” said Andrea Allard, Aspirus vice president of operations for Aspirus Medical Group, in a statement. “We saw a significant spike right around the week of Christmas and we’ve really maintained those high volumes.”

The number of COVID-19 tests administered since Jan. 1 has at least doubled across all clinics in the Aspirus Health system compared with the last two weeks in December.

Aspirus also saw a 62% increase in COVID-19 tests administered between Dec. 1 and Jan. 16 compared with the same period the previous year.

“This is causing us to dedicate more resources to COVID-19,” Allard said. “At the same time, we’re facing the same staffing challenges as everyone else. So, we continue to need to do more with less.”

Aspirus said patients can help alleviate the stress on outpatient clinics and emergency departments by using the MyAspirus app to access test results, schedule E-Visits and manage appointments. Patients are also asked to go to an emergency department only if they need emergent care.

“Be kind, be patient,” Allard said. “We are really doing our best to make sure that we rise up and meet the needs of our patients.”

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


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