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, August 29, 2020

Western UP Health Dept. confirms first Houghton County death from COVID-19; potential COVID exposure site in Houghton also identified

HOUGHTON COUNTY -- The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) has confirmed that a person has died of complications surrounding COVID-19 in Houghton County. The elderly person was an inpatient at a local hospital at the time of death. To date, there have been two deaths related to the virus within the five-county jurisdiction -- the first was in Gogebic County.

"Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to the family who has lost their loved one," said Kate Beer, Health Officer at WUPHD. "This is a sad reminder of the seriousness of the COVID-19 threat. We must continue our prevention efforts, especially for the safety of our elderly and vulnerable populations."

WUPHD reminds people to avoid close contact with people who are not part of your household as even people with mild or no symptoms can spread the virus. Masking, washing hands, and maintaining a 6-foot distance are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

WUPHD is working to coordinate their response with federal, state, and local officials, as well as healthcare professionals, institutions, schools and community organizations. For more information, please contact the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department at (906) 482-7382. Updates are also available at

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 MDHHS website or the CDC website.

Potential COVID-19 exposure site identified in Houghton

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) has identified the Theta Tau-Beta Chapter, located at 407 Fairview Street, Houghton, MI, as a potential exposure site for COVID-19. Exposure may have occurred during events held at the site on Monday, August 24, and Tuesday, August 25. Case investigation has revealed that social distancing and masking were not followed at these events during the times that a positive case attended. Theta Tau-Beta Chapter is an off-campus student fraternal organization that is not recognized by Michigan Tech.

WUPHD asks that if you attended these events, or have had close contact with someone who visited this site, and have or develop symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, or a new loss of taste or smell, that you call your healthcare provider and inform them of your potential exposure. For general information, call the WUPHD at (906) 482-7382, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If your symptoms worsen to the point of needing emergency care, please call 911 and notify the dispatcher of your symptoms or any potential exposure.

Editor's Note: See Copper Country Strong (linked in our right-hand column) for updates on COVID-19 cases in the five-county area.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Western UP Health Department provides decision-making guidance to school administrators

HANCOCK -- The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) provides additional details on how they are working with the Copper Country Immediate School District (CCISD) and the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District (GOISD) to ensure the safety of children as they return to school.

"One of our greatest challenges during this pandemic is the safe return of children and teachers to school this fall," said Kate Beer, Health Officer at WUPHD. "Working with our school partners, we are developing a framework for making decisions on conditions that would trigger a reduction of in-person classes or a transition to virtual classes. The end goal is to ensure that all children receive a safe, equitable education during these unprecedented times."

The WUPHD will utilize the State of Michigan’s MI Safe Start Map, found at, as their primary source for statistics relating to the safe re-opening of schools. This state website provides the most up to date information available on county and regional case counts and testing levels. These statistics will help determine the COVID-19 risk level in a community.

"The state map is a starting point," said Beer. "Information regarding local outbreaks will also play an important role in the decision making process. We will need to weigh community outbreaks differently than facility outbreaks, for example."