In a photo shared by the Michigan State Police, hordes of people — not social distancing or wearing masks — can be seen gathered at Torch Lake over the festive weekend.
“If you were at the Torch Lake Sandbar party over 4th of July weekend, you should monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and seek testing if symptoms should develop or if you were at high risk for exposure due to being in close proximity with others or not wearing a cloth facial covering,” the Health Department of Northwest Michigan said in a Friday statement.
The department added that it doesn’t know how many cases are associated with the Torch Lake events last weekend.
“The positive cases were not able to offer identifying information for all potential contacts and therefore we want to make the public aware that those who attended could be at risk for exposure and additional cases could be seen in the coming days,” the press release said.
“This situation reminds us of how important it is to take precautions such as avoiding large gatherings whenever possible especially without social distancing and masking,” Northwest Michigan Health Officer Lisa Peacock said in the release.
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event and leaves our community at risk when close contacts are not able to be identified and alerted to quarantine,” she continued. “We can’t stress enough how that it is imperative that we each do our part to stay safe and stay open.”
The annual celebration, where boaters dock on the lake’s sand bar to party, draws big crowds every year. This year, hundreds attended despite a global pandemic, The Detroit News reports.
According to USA Today, the Washtenaw County Health Department in Michigan has identified 43 confirmed cases of the virus and 66 exposed contacts from a house party on July 2 or 3.
“This is a very clear example of how quickly this virus spreads and how many people can be impacted in a very short amount of time,” Jimena Loveluck, health officer with Washtenaw County Health Department, said in a news release. “We cannot hope to accomplish our goal of containing COVID-19 and preventing additional cases, hospitalizations and deaths without full community support and cooperation.”
Similarly, an outbreak at a bar in East Lansing led to further cases reported across the state, per the Detroit Free Press. More than 150 cases have been connected to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub as of July 2.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Michigan had more than 77,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.
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