See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Governor Whitmer, Lt. Governor Gilchrist encourage communities to designate areas for peaceful demonstrations

LANSING -- Today, May 30, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II issued the following statement encouraging communities across Michigan to designate areas for peaceful demonstrations: 

"As Americans, this is one of the most
challenging periods in our lifetimes. People in communities of color across the nation and right here in Michigan are feeling a sense of exhaustion and desperation. Communities are hurting, having felt that calls for equity, justice, safety, and opportunity have gone unheard for too long. We stand in solidarity with those who are seeking equitable justice for everyone in our state. We can’t live in a society and a country where our rights and our dignity are not equal for all. The First Amendment right to protest has never been more important, and in this moment when we are still battling a killer virus, it is crucial that those who choose to demonstrate do so peacefully, and in a way that follows social distancing guidelines to protect public health. Our administration is working closely with local elected officials, public safety, and faith, and youth leaders to encourage communities across the state to designate areas for peaceful demonstrations where people can make their voices heard. There will no doubt be more tough days ahead, but we must pull together and treat our fellow Michiganders with dignity, compassion, and humanity."

Inset photos: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. (Photos courtesy michigan.gov)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

UPDATED: Western UP Health Department reports two new positive COVID-19 cases in Houghton County

HOUGHTON COUNTY -- The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) is investigating two unrelated new positive COVID-19 cases in Houghton County. The first person recently traveled from another state to visit family. Local testing reports will list this case as a non-Michigan positive while they recover in the area. The second person recently returned home after wintering in another state. WUPHD is currently conducting case investigations and will inform any close contacts about exposure risk.

[UPDATE, May 28: WUPHD testing statistics report a third new positive case in Houghton County, posted on the WUPHD Facebook page and in the May 27 Testing Statistics page for the 5-county area. Their Facebook page states, "There are additional positives in Houghton County. Two are connected to yesterday's cases. The third is not related and does not have a history of travel. The Health Department continues the case investigation and contact tracing process."]

"The ability of people to travel more and to gather in groups of 10 or less as we re-open brings increased risk of exposure," said Kate Beer, Health Officer at WUPHD. "We must continue to take safe steps to reduce the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19."*

The following are tips for a safer gathering:
1. Keep it small. A gathering should be under 10 people.
2. Meet outside.
3. Stay at least six feet apart.
4. Wash or sanitize hands often.
5. Wear masks if possible.
6. Do not share food, drinks, or other items. Have everyone bring their own snacks or serve food with single-use serving utensils.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. People with these symptoms or combinations of
symptoms may have COVID-19:
• Cough
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of these symptoms:
• Fever
• Chills
• Repeated shaking with chills
• Muscle pain
• Headache
• Sore throat
• New loss of taste or smell
People should seek immediate medical attention if they have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, or bluish lips or face.

A State informational hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Time) seven days per week. That number is 1-888-535-6136. Additional information on COVID-19 can be found on the WUPHD website, the MDHHS website, or the CDC website.

Click here for the WUPHD May 27 Testing Statistics.

*Editor's Notes:

See Gov. Whitmer's May 21 Executive Order 2020-96, Temporary requirement to suspend certain activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. It explains activities that are permitted, with restrictions for protection against spreading the virus.

According to Gov. Whitmer's May 22 Executive Order 2020-100, Executive Orders 2020-62, 2020-69, and 2020-96 will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on June 12, 2020.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Fresh, Local, Dependable: Nurturing UP Food Systems

By Kelley Christensen, Michigan Tech Science and Technology Publications Writer
Posted May 12, 2020, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted in part with permission 

Michigan Tech facilitates conversations among farmers, farmers market coordinators and area food banks to ensure people can get the food they need while supporting local growers and increasing food access efforts in the UP. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Michigan Tech is partnering with local agencies to strengthen western Upper Peninsula food systems during the pandemic and beyond.

It’s said that to survive and thrive in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it takes a healthy serving of "sisu" -- a Finnish word that roughly translates as "grit." The term is also apt for describing how scientists, health care professionals and planners have pivoted to ensure Yoopers have access to nutritious, local food and to gardening despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last fall, Angie Carter, assistant professor of environmental and energy justice, received a Michigan Technological University Research Excellence Fund grant to study local food systems in the Keweenaw Peninsula, including community gardeners, community-supported agriculture (CSA) farming, and farmers markets. When Michigan's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order went into effect, at first Carter thought she couldn’t continue her research, as it had included numerous face-to-face interviews and in-person meetings.

Then she recognized the opportunity the stay-home order provided -- it was a chance to strengthen the area’s food system for the long term. When people source their food locally, they aren’t reliant on far-flung supply chains, which have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, this new focus to Carter’s research could be conducted remotely.... Click here for the rest of this article.