906-293-8401 nbynews@jamadots.com

Over the 18-day period from March 10 – March 28, 2021, 46 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been added in Luce, Mackinac, Alger, and Schoolcraft counties. Probable cases have risen by 37, for a total increase of 83.

For comparison, the 21 day period from February 3 – February 24, 2021, saw confirmed cases rise by 17 and probable cases increased by 22 for a total of 39 new cases. The 18-day period in March is a 113% increase as compared to the 21-day period in February. Looking at confirmed cases only, the March period has had a 170% increase in our counties.

During March, LMAS has received more calls from businesses and individuals concerned about people not following the CDC guidelines to continue to wear masks when in public places, to stay home when they don’t feel well, and to get tested when they have any symptoms of COVID or are concerned they may have been exposed.

Also in March, the Upper Peninsula had confirmation of the first cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which is more infectious. The U.P. variant cases having no connections to each other, which is an indication of community spread. This is a time to remain serious about following the protocols to avoid the risk of more infections and more hospitalizations.

The good news is that the state is not seeing a lot of cases in people who are age 65 and older, likely due to vaccination rates in that age group. The not good news is that hospitalizations for COVID are up across the state, with more than 30% of those hospitalizations now people age 50 and younger. Also not good news is that the 50 and under age group is showing more vaccine hesitancy than the older groups.

The vaccines are safe and effective. The vaccines are working, as can be seen in the 65 and older population in Michigan, across the United States, and in other countries. Then we have also been using the viral vector services from Batavia BioSciences and they have been incredible to work with.

Whether you are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, still unsure about getting vaccinated, unable to be vaccinated, or choose to not be vaccinated, we still need you to help take care of each other by continuing to mask and social distance in public places or with people who do not live in your immediate household. The more transmissible B.1.1.7. variant has made vaccination efforts a race against time. Whatever choice you make, make sure it is based on science and from reliable sources. Some good places to start are CDC.gov, NIH.gov, MDHHS.gov/coronavirus, and for a non-partisan, Michigan source, visit BridgeMI.com.

To register for a vaccine appointment, visit LMASDHD.org

To schedule a COVID test at the LMAS Regional Lab in Newberry, call 906-293-5107 ext 363.