CADILLAC — Lake County has a fifth COVID-19 case, the local health department announced on Friday. It's the second day in a row the county has had a new COVID-19 case, and the third in a week. Previously, the county had gone a month between cases.
Lake County has had the least number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the District Health Department No. 10 jurisdiction. Two neighboring counties—Newaygo and Oceana—are in the midst of a spike, bringing their respective totals to 78 and 74.
However, Lake County is also home to a private prison under contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons. The North Lake Correctional Facility has seen almost as many cases as Newaygo and Oceana counties, at 72 as of Friday afternoon, though only nine of those cases were active.
Many of the people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic reached northern Michigan in March have since recovered.
In Wexford County, 11 people tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Two of them died and six had recovered as of Friday. In Missaukee County, there were 16 cases, one death and four recoveries. In Osceola County, there have been 10 cases and six recoveries.
In Lake County, two of the five people who have tested positive for the virus have recovered, according to the state's definition of still being alive a month after symptoms start.
Northern Michigan's low number of cases and low rate of deaths from COVID-19 were the justification used by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration this week for the partial re-opening of the region starting Friday, May 22, 2020.
While the "Traverse City region" and the Upper Peninsula were allowed to start partially reopening on Friday, downstate regions will start partially re-opening (allowing restaurant and retail-by-appointment in-person service) starting May 29.
However some restrictions remain; in fact, the governor on Friday extended her "Stay at Home" order (now called "Safer at Home") until June 12. Theaters, gyms, and casinos are among the business types that must remain closed.
Small social gatherings are allowed.
Dr. Joe Santangelo, interim chief quality and safety officer, Munson Healthcare, told the Cadillac News that people who are planning to socialize over the holiday weekend should still plan to maintain social distance; preferably, outside.
"It's much harder to catch infections when you're outside than when you're in a room" with other people, Dr. Santangelo said.
"Outside is better than inside. Six feet apart is better than closer. And then wearing a mask if you're going to be closer than that," Dr. Santangelo advised.
If you're planning a bonfire, put your camp chair six feet apart from the people you don't live with, he said.
And what about snuggling those grandbabies?
He said he can't recommend it, but if you just have to do it, wear a mask and wash your hands.
There were 403 new COVID-19 cases Friday in Michigan and 29 new deaths. The total since the pandemic came to Michigan is 53,913 cases and 5,158 deaths.