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Health Department issuing free masks

The latest COVID-19 report from the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department shows a significant decline in case count. For the seven-day period ending Wednesday, Houghton County dropped from 513 the week prior to 215. Baraga County fell to 75 cases and Keweenaw edged down to 19 from 23. The results echo the guidance given by Chief Health Officer Kate Beer. She told Keweenaw Report early Thursday she was expecting an overall decline of 50 percent.

There is a caveat to the numbers. As home test kits become more rapidly available, many are getting results through that avenue. If a rapid test administered in a home comes back positive that cannot be included in the official statistics. Beer says rapid tests done at a medical facility, or at one of the region’s health department locations, are treated differently. Because they are overseen and witnessed by a health professional, they can be entered as a probable case. PCR tests are the most widely accepted results. The positivity rate remains elevated. In Houghton County it is still above 27 percent. There were two deaths in Baraga County and one in Houghton.

The health department is handing out free KN95 masks. They are available during normal business hours at any department office. Each person is limited to one package, which contains five masks. Cloth or surgical coverings are no longer recommended in the wake of increased transmissibility from the omicron variant.

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