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First Marquette COVID-19 related death reported

MARQUETTE – The first COVID-19 related death has been reported in Marquette County.

The man, described as being in his 70s, died late Friday night. He was a resident at the Norlite Nursing Center in Marquette, one of three residents at the facility that tested positive for the disease after coming in close contact with an asymptomatic employee who was later diagnosed with the virus. The employee was tested after she was found to have a fever during a routine screening on prior to her shift at the facility March 26, a previous Mining Journal article states.

The man who died suffered from “many comorbidities” said Norlite Administrator Wayne Johnson in a phone interview Saturday. Two female Norlite residents who tested positive are in stable condition, he said.

“I will say they are doing well when they have a negative test (result) in the next couple of weeks,” Johnson said. “We have done a good job of isolating those patients and we are continuing to stay in very close communication with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking all the appropriate steps and following CDC guidelines.”

He said the facility has sent out a total of eight COVID-19 tests, which include the three positive cases, four negative and one pending.

Johnson noted that the residents who tested positive for the virus were long-term patients, and not individuals who received short-term or rehabilitation-to-home services.

For now, the facility has enough personal protective gear, but is actively seeking to replenish its supply, which has become problematic due to nationwide supply chain issues, Johnson said.

“We have the protective gear and are always sourcing more for the long hall,” he said. “We have been following MDHHS and CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) guidelines to preserve the equipment from the beginning.”

He said he is grateful for the health care workers in his facility.

“Our caregivers are some of the most compassionate people in the world,” Johnson said. “My heart goes out to them for coming to work every day and facing this on the front lines. I want to go out and thank them because they are some of the best.”

As of Saturday at 3 p.m., 11 individuals in Marquette County had tested positive for the virus, according to the Michigan Health and Human Services. The MDHHS reported 479 new COVID-19 cases in the state, with a total of 12,744 to date. It reported 62 new deaths for a statewide total of 1,953 to date.

Michigan is ranked third in the nation for the number of COVID-19 cases, according to a New York Times database.

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