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The Delta variant of COVID-19 is twice as transmissible as the COVID we were dealing with one year ago. From March 1, 2020 to September 16, 2020, Luce, Mackinac, Alger, and Schoolcraft counties had a total of 103 cases of COVID-19. In July 2021, a total of 15 cases of COVID were reported in the LMAS district. During the month of August, another 221 were added. From September 1 – September 17, 2021, another 302 cases have been added.

In June and July, it felt like we were in the homestretch and preparing to put the pandemic behind us. The COVID vaccines were reducing infections, and keeping people out of hospitals and from dying. Then the Delta variant started taking hold in states in the southern part of the country. By August, the Delta variant was spreading across the Upper Peninsula.

The COVID-19 pandemic clearly is not over. Hospitals are reaching capacity and beyond with COVID patients and other medical issues. Our four critical access hospitals are facing challenges in getting critically ill patients the care they need because receiving hospitals don’t have room.

It is time for everyone in our four counties to take steps to manage their risk. Get vaccinated. Stay home if you’re sick. Get tested if you experience COVID symptoms. Wear a mask indoors. Avoid crowded indoor places.

These are things we need everyone to do again. These are small action steps that will make a significant difference in protecting each other.

Go to LMASDHD.org for testing and vaccination locations.