NMU closely monitoring virus variant
MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University continues to monitor cases of the COVID-19 BA.2 variant.
Interim President Kerri Schuiling said in a Tuesday campus-wide letter that the variant has caused an increase in positive cases in some areas of the country.
“We observed a slight uptick of positive cases on campus over the weekend,” Schuiling wrote. “However, our overall numbers remain low. One campus, Howard University, has returned to online classes and some campuses (American, Columbia, Barnard, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown) have felt the need to return to more restrictive mask wearing measures.
“For now, we feel safe in our current requirement of wearing masks in classrooms and labs. Our surveillance testing and wastewater testing have not indicated a need for a change to our current practice.”
Schuiling said NMU plans to hold commencement and end-of-semester events in person and without mask requirements.
Commencement is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. April 30 at the Superior Dome.
“We stand ready to pivot if needed, but for now, no changes are considered necessary,” she said. “That said, please continue to monitor for COVID symptoms and if you have any, get tested.”
Individuals may call the NMU Vielmetti Health Center at 906-227-2355 for an appointment.
Schuiling noted that anyone needing replacement masks to wear in classes and labs can pick them up at the Dean of Students office in the Hedgcock building during regular business hours or at the NMU Police Department in the Services Building on Sugar Loaf Avenue 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Schuiling issued a reminder that Pfizer-BioNTEch vaccination and booster shots are available at the NMU Health Center Pharmacy. To schedule an appointment, call 906-227-1605.
The pharmacy can also assist with obtaining at-home COVID tests for NMU employees.
Northern’s employee insurance covers eight tests per insured individual every 30 days, she said.
At-home tests available
All Luce-Macknac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department offices have free at-home COVID testing kits and KN95 masks available for the community.
The district announced on Facebook that a test kit consists of two tests per person, while there are five masks per person in a pack.
Other locations that have at-home test-kits and KN95 masks are:
≤ Luce County — Newberry Hometown Pharmacy, Snyders Drug Store in Newberry and the Luce County Community Action Agency;
≤ Mackinac County — Clark Township, Bois Blanc Medical Center and Mackinac Island City Hall;
≤ Alger County — Putvin Drug Store in Munising and the Chatham Co-op;
≤ Schoolcraft County — Manistique Senior Center and Putvin Health Mart in Manistique.
Information on testing is available at lmasdhd.org.
Second booster doses
Dr. Bob Lorinser, medical director of the Marquette County Health Department, said in an email that open appointments for all boosters after counseling — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are available at Westwood Mall in Marquette Township, local pharmacies and several providers’ offices.
Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center, based in Iron Mountain, announced it will offer the COVID-19 second booster dose to employees, eligible veterans, and caregivers 50 years of age and older at least four months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
A second booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be administered to individuals 18 years of age and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised at least four months after the first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine, the facility said.
Iron Mountain VA will issue all COVID-19 vaccines to veterans on a walk-in basis from 10 to 11 a.m. every weekday, or during scheduled times at its community-based outpatient clinics. Eligible veterans or caregivers should call their local clinic or the main facility at 906-774-3300, ext. 33115, for COVID-19 vaccine clinic information.
Food assistance available
Michiganders will receive additional assistance to put food on the table this month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Tuesday.
Whitmer indicated that all Michigan families eligible for food assistance benefits will continue to receive at least an additional $95 monthly payment this month to help lower the cost of groceries.
The additional assistance will help approximately 1.31 million Michiganders in more than 700,000 households.
Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Cards through Monday. These benefits will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance provided earlier in the month.
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.