by Peter Jakey —Managing Editor
Presque Isle County remains on a short list of Michigan counties that has avoided a positive test for coronavirus (COVID-19).
However, the first presumptive positive was reported in Cheboygan County, one of the four counties in District Health Department No. 4 (DHD4) that includes Presque Isle, Alpena and Montmorency counties.
The number of Presque Isle County COVID-19 tests as of Monday were: 12 tested; eight negative results, four pending results. Still no positive, even though an outside contractor from Canada, who had been working with a pair of Carmeuse Lime & Stone (CLS) workers, became ill after leaving the site. The contractor later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The local crew members developed flu-like symptoms, but now are doing fine with no COVID-19 symptoms, according to Kevin Whyte, Carmeuse Americas senior vice president legal, environmental and business development. He said 35 CLS employees are in self-quarantine (as of Monday) and 77 are still working at the Calcite plant.
“We continue to monitor individuals who are in quarantine related to the exposure at Carmeuse, and asking any individuals who are ill to remain in isolation at home,” said DHD4 medical director, Dr. Josh Meyerson. “No results from testing have been received at this time.”
Whyte said the start of the shipping season at the Port of Calcite will be delayed “by a week or so. Carmeuse intends to meet all customer needs.”
Regarding the Cheboygan County case, Meyerson said, “We are hoping that this individual has a complete recovery. We also are beginning to see evidence of community spread and therefore, community mitigation and prevention strategies are even more imperative.” The female victim had no known travel activity.
Denise Bryan, DHD4 health officer said, “At this time, I advise the public to prepare and not panic for COVID-19. Our first case (in DHD4 jurisdiction) highlights our need to be vigilant and follow the governor’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe,’ order to slow the potential spread of disease.”
Meyerson believes the way the community can protect themselves is by staying home, minimizing trips to public places and maintaining physical distancing as much as possible.
“And washing our hands well, and often,” he said. “Our goal is that by taking these actions we can limit disease transmission so that our health care facilities are able to provide necessary care to everyone that needs it without becoming overwhelmed.”
(As of 3:30 p.m., 3/31/2020, District Health Department No. 4’s jurisdiction of Alpena, Cheboygan, Montmorency and Presque Isle Counties has ONE confirmed positive test of COVID19 in Cheboygan County. 101 tests have been submitted-36 results pending and 64 NEGATIVE test results received.)